My Passport To Success - Empowering Students to Thrive in Higher Education through Critical Self-Reflection

Reimala Sivalingam (University of Manchester)
Jennifer Rose (University of Manchester)

Monday, April 4, 2022 12:30 PM - 1:15 PM

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Session Outline

This project is aimed at transforming the student learning experience by empowering students to thrive in higher education and beyond through critical self-reflection.

As lockdown began, we received feedback from students on the BSc Accounting Programme that they felt disconnected from their academic advisor and were in greater need of support. This was indicative of the challenges faced across the sector as in the Pearson/Wonkhe student expectations survey July 2020 where students indicated that one of the main ways online learning could be improved was through academic support - more 1:1 time with tutors. However, the academic advisors were also struggling with extra workload demands placed on them. This was not unusual for the wider sector where in August 2020 research revealed the "biggest problem reported or inferred for.. faculty …was, not surprisingly, the level of stress experienced" (Sangster, Stoner and Flood 2020). Thus, the extra workload of more 1:1 time with students which we knew students needed felt impossible to provide.

Considering the challenge of lack of time for academic advisors and increased need of support for students we started this project to improve the quality of academic advising meetings and to get students more involved in autonomous learning. We created an Academic Advising workbook called 'My Passport to Success' for students to encourage critical self-reflection and help students become independent learners with a growth mindset (Biggs and Tang, 2011). This workbook which guides students through the degree programme enables them to thrive by fully supporting student’s academic, well-being and employability needs.

We used Microsoft Teams to deploy the passport initiative by creating separate Teams for each academic advisor with channels for each year group to host the passport documents within the shared collaboration space. It was a more personalised and informal way to connect with academic advisors. The main benefit of using Teams was that it helped alleviate concerns around students’ mental well-being by providing direct access to advisees in a trusted space especially in a challenging academic climate.

Given the strong emphasis on skills development to be employability ready and concerns around students’ well-being, this project seeks to promote an inclusive and cohesive approach in building self-directed learners through the academic advising process. It is also an innovative way to ensure that students are prepared for academic advising meetings and in tracking their own journey throughout their time at university.

As an interactive workshop, we are keen to hear the experiences and challenges faced by academics in supporting their students learning needs whilst sharing how we have used our passport initiative to address concerns in this area. We will share early feedback received from students and seek constructive feedback from the audience on improving this initiative.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
P2 - Appreciate students’ views and cultures, maintain a student-centred approach and mindset, and treat students with sensitivity and fairness
R3 - Motivate, encourage, and support students to recognize their potential, meet challenges, and respect individuality
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners