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The First Year Experience: A Case Study at ITB

Author Helen Byrne, Joanie Cousins, Conn Cremin (Chairperson), Gareth Curran, John Durkin, Arnulf Horne, Margaret Kinsella, Denise Lyons, Colm McGuinness, and Larry McNutt,
Abstract It is well recognised that the transition to third level is a major challenge for all student cohorts. The increasing diversity of our learner population presents an opportunity to review current practice. As part of the feedback received from stakeholders during ITB's institutional review, a small cross functional team was established to explore this issue. The team decided to adopt an Appreciative Inquiry approach to their investigation of the theme first years on campus- how to improve their experience. A critical first step for this group's work was the consultation with key stakeholders, including students, staff, managers and team leaders. The challenge of creating an optimal first year experience using this approach required the team to coordinate focus groups and workshops with staff and students that would encourage them to (i) envision what this optimal experience would look like and (ii) describe the steps required to realise this vision. This group's recommendations were to adhere to the following guiding principles: 1. Be practical and realistic 2. Be cost effective 3. Be easy to implement on an on-going basis 4. Have the support of key stakeholders From this consultation and also from an analysis of existing best practice in this area, a set of short and medium term goals were identified and prioritised for implementation. This paper will describe the approach adopted by the team, their experiences in facilitating the various sessions and will conclude with a summary of their findings and recommendations for the next stage of this initiative.
Keywords Appreciative Inquiry, first year experience, study group, stakeholders
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2012
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