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Induction Week

September 20, 2011 1 comment

This week saw the start of the School of English induction week at the university, and we’re half-way through with minimal amount of hardship or stress (huzzah!), with what seem quite contented and motivated students. This is especially noteworthy because this year’s induction week was organised by yours truly, and generally, my organisational skills are nothing to write home about (at least if I could find the address). But I managed to put together a good programme of events for them, yesterday a few of our current 2nd and 3rd year students gave the new 1st years their own perspective on being a student in the department, and today we had a reasonably well attended ‘social event’ with fantastic crisps, pretzels and o.j. (of the juice variety, not the Simpson variety).

What I’ve been struck by, though, is the amount of stuff that we have to get through in induction week just to get new students up to speed with all the technical demands of being a student; CICT training, moodle, printing, logging in to the computers, finding out where things are, learning about referencing, academic writing, where the cash points are, how to use the library, JSTOR, LION, where lectures are, how the seminars work, assessments, etc etc etc. It seems almost never-ending and today when I was talking about academic writing, I couldn’t help but think that their poor brains must be on melt-down trying to take in this over-load of information…

And it’s not as though we don’t have a choice in not going over this stuff since it’s so important for students just being able to function effectively. Of course, a lot of them will learn as they go, but we still have to at least flag up the kinds of things that I mention above. Since 1st year students tend not to be particularly inquisitive, if we don’t make them aware that resources like the library exist, I’m sure it would take them the better part of their 1st year to figure out where the library is, and another six months to figure out how to use it.

But just how realistic is it to expect that all of what we cover in induction week will actually stick? What kinds of things to other people cover at their inductions? Are they compulsory or optional? How much detail do you go in about academic writing (I nearly wrote ‘anemic writing’ there… Freudian slip or getting tired?), for example? Are the kinds of things we (i.e. academic staff) think are useful actually useful? What do students think is useful and what would they like to see (we do try and make our induction weeks iterative and build on feedback from previous years)?

Anyway, it would be good to hear people’s thoughts on induction week, either ones you’ve been involved in, ones you’ve attended, or ones that you’re in the middle of. Only 3 days left of mine to go…

The Social Linguist

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