"KickStart": Strategies for Pre-Commencement Student Engagement

Leigh WOOD
Macquarie University, Australia
Leigh.wood@mq.edu.au

Yvonne BREYER
Macquarie University, Australia
yvonne.breyer@mq.edu.au

Mauricio MARRONE
Macquarie University, Australia
mauricio.marrone@mq.edu.au

Abstract

Creating a sense of belonging and of being part of a community has been identified as a crucial factor in improving student engagement and success (Thomas, 2012). Research around pre-commencement strategies to improve student engagement is emerging at the moment. The impact that student engagement has on retention, progression and success is increasingly recognized (Kuh et al, 2008). This project aims to contribute to this important field with a focus on engagement with the subject matter before session start. Generally, students have very limited information beyond a description of the unit at this early stage and as a result, engagement generally does not occur before the first day of the session. This project delivered a range of resources and activities to students two weeks out from session start in the form of a "KickStart"-package via the online learning management system (LMS). These included an introduction by the instructor (on video), readings, games (to help students relate personal experience to the subject), quizzes to self-test prerequisite skills, and shared experience material (incl. study tips by previous students). The approach is a pilot in our institution to investigate student uptake and student experience of this strategy. The evaluation framework consists of data from the LMS, student management system, a student survey and staff interviews. The evaluation will identify those activities and resources which have the greatest impact on student engagement and develop scalable and sustainable models for a future institution-wide roll-out.

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