Bill Johnston is Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. He collaborates with academics to develop their courses and pedagogy, and to research and publish on these topics. He contributes to the University's academic staff development programme, including the post graduate certificate in advanced academic studies. His approach to educational development is student centred and entails: institutional strategic planning; curriculum development; course evaluation and design; academic staff development; and student learning support. His research interests include: information literacy and disciplinary difference; student employability and curriculum; the relationship between work and learning; and the first year experience .
Recently he has been involved with the Scottish Funding Council, Quality Assurance Agency's First Year Enhancement Theme. This is a major sector-wide programme of research and development combining international perspectives on the first year with in-depth case studies of good practice in Scottish universities. Bill is a member of the national steering committee for the theme, and co-director of a sector-wide, qualitative project to investigate student reflections on their expectations and experiences of first year, and their understandings of the key terms engagement and empowerment.
Bill is a member of the Society for Research in Higher Education, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
First Year Future Tense
University of Strathclyde
If universities are to maintain their reputation for adaptability into the 21st century, their leaders will need to manage the higher education curriculum in ways which are relevant to the times. A well-developed theory and practice of the First Year Experience (FYE) will be an essential strategic tool for this engagement with the changing environment. Universities which put effort into uplifting the status of FYE activity, are much more likely to be well placed to meet the challenges of the 21st century than those which do not.
The recent work on Transition Pedagogy carried out by Professor Kift and her colleagues, under the aegis of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Fellowship, offers institutions a powerful set of principles and practical measures which can be adapted to local strategic concerns. Transition Pedagogy is in essence a systematic alignment of all the components of successful teaching, learning, and student support. This contrasts sharply with approaches to the FYE, which rely on ad hoc and reactive measures, often narrowly aimed at mitigating local retention problems for example.
In this presentation I will explore some near future influences, which may condition institutional uptake of Transition Pedagogy. My broad path of argument is to conceptualise the FYE as a field of curriculum inquiry, which can be developed to influence the nature of whole degree courses, thereby shaping the nature of higher education in a given period. Inquiry can be pursued at a number of levels, including the historical and social, as well as the more obvious level of daily practice. There are three interrelated aspects of higher education and university development which I believe are key to development in the near future:
- The ramifications of the 2008 credit crisis
- Lifelong Learning
- Higher Education in an information culture.
All three will open up new ways of looking at the FYE and perhaps generate new ways of interpreting and applying the ideas developed in pursuit of Transition Pedagogy.