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12th March 2021 - Transition to Year 1 in Sept 2021

Our role as physics practioners took a sharp turn in March 2020 and we will still be feeling the effects of 12 months with limited time in classrooms, labs and lecture theatres for several years to come.  The lack of national exams and contact time in school is just one of many considerations we must make for our incoming first year students.  The organising team have reached out to colleagues teaching post-16 physics to give us their perspectives of current students and what we could and should expect from a cohort that has seen substantial disruption during their college years.

The physics LTHE community heard from Stuart Farmer (IOP) and Peter Sneddon (University of Glasgow) about the transition to University.  Then school teachers and IOP teacher coaches Niloufar Wijetunge, Mary Gorey, Keith Jones, Andrew Bailey and Steven Chapman gave us their perspectives on how this year’s incoming cohort will be different to previous years. Topics included increased digital skills, abilities with simulations and the lack of physical time with peers and lab equipment.

The recording of the presentations is here.

Break-out Room Discussions

For this meeting, he break-out rooms were very short, as was the feedback from room chairs but they all focused on the same theme. These brief notes were compiled by Helen Vaughan (University of Liverpool)

Room 1 – focused on the pastoral role needed as the students make the transition to HE.  It was agreed that it was important to make the students feel involved and integrated in their new homes and learning communities.  One suggestion was to have coffee rooms or small online groups to foster social interactions.

Room 2 – acknowledged that the transfer to year 1 in Sept 2021 will be more challenging than in Sept 2020 as the new cohort will have faced more disruption to their learning due to lockdowns. This will be seen as gaps in their knowledge and student confidence in all aspects will need to be built so that the students can gain a realistic view of their ability.

Room 3 – identified that the format of examinations and the associated expectations was going to be very different for this group of students. They will have had no experience of online (open book) exams for example. The group also reflected that the pastoral role of teaching sessions will need to play a large part in community building and supporting this cohort to make friends.

Room 4 – ascertained that the incoming students are looking forward to taking control of their studies and taking part in HE activities and “usual teenage life” and thus building a community between learners and HE staff will be important. The group also considered the benefit to students if the HE providers were more explicit about the intended learning outcomes which would help the students make better decisions about managing their study time.

Attendees who wished to have their participation noted

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