To help you make sure you are ready for your university studies, we have gathered together a range of course related activities including some suggested reading. We have also included information and tasks that will give you an introduction to what university work will be like. It will highlight some of the important skills you will be developing throughout your time at university.
Some of these tasks will be used in the sessions in Induction Week and throughout the first semester. It is therefore, very important that you engage with these tasks to give yourself the very best start to your university degree programme. We have highlighted the sections that have mandatory tasks and we suggest that you keep your responses and notes together in a portfolio of pre-course work and bring them with you when you start the programme.
Please note, all other tasks are optional, however we would encourage you to try and do as many as possible so that you are as ready as you can be to start your programme.
The Faculty of Education has created ‘Launchpad’, a unique series of online sessions that will help you to get ready to start your programme in September. Join online to explore areas that will be key in your studies and learn how to master the skills you will need from the ground…..upwards.
Please note, to join each session you will need to have access to Microsoft Teams. You can download Microsoft Teams using the links below:
Explore key theories
We strongly advise you to prepare for your course by doing some reading and by taking opportunities to think about the key aspects and challenges of working with children and young people. Try to explore some key theories that underpin current practice, such as:
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- Dewey’s, Vygotsky’s and Bruner’s theories of learning.
Start to think about the role of the adults working with children and the skills required to be an effective practitioner and a teacher.
Suggested reading list
You will be given far more information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many eBooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive but if you can pick some up second hand, or access them online, we recommend the following texts to prepare for your Year One modules:
- Learning to teach in a Primary School, by T. Cremin and C. Burnett. 2018 4th ed. Oxon, Routledge
- How Children Learn: From Montessori to Vygotsky, by L. Pound. 2006. London, MA Education Ltd
We also recommend the following texts to support you with starting your course and developing your academic skills:
- Buzan’s Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading, by T. Buzan. 2011. London, Pearson.
- The Study Skills Handbook, by S. Cottrell. 2019 5th ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan
- Critical Thinking Skills, by S. Cottrell. 2017 3rd ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan
- Reading and Making Notes, by J. Godfrey. 2010. New York, Palgrave McMillan
- How to Use Your Reading in Your Essays, by J. Godfrey. 2013. New York, Palgrave McMillan
- Improve your Grammar, by M. Harrison, V. Jakeman and K. Paterson. 2012. New York, Palgrave McMillan
What is expected from you at University?
Studying at university is very different from studying at school or college. You will receive a lot of support from your tutors, but you will also be expected to work independently as well. You will need to be good at adapting to new people and environments, working in larger groups and also be flexible in your learning style. Listed below at the key expectations:
- Independence – you must be able to ‘stand on your own two feet’. However, there is help available from key Support Services around the University. Student Academic Mentors will also be assigned to support each group with their assignments.
- Self-motivation – one of the main ways of working at university is through independent study. You need to ensure that you are prepared for sessions and undertaking any sets tasks and readings.
- Ability to work with others – part of university life is working with your peers in and out of sessions. Organising study group sessions with your peers as part of your independent study is highly recommended.
- Organisation – it is your responsibility to ensure that you know when and where all sessions are and work to your deadlines for submitting assignments.
- Goal setting – learning at university requires you to be in charge of your own learning and progress. This includes working things out for yourself and setting yourself goals to improve your work. Make sure you use your tutors’ feedback to help you work towards achieving your goals.
- Attendance – attending all sessions and being there on time is essential to ensure that you get the most from your course.
Teaching Styles – Mandatory task included
There are many different ways that you will learn at university, some of which may be different to the ways you have previously worked at school or college. We all have different ways that we learn best, however, it is important that you adapt to the different teaching theory methods in order to get the most from your programme. Below are the main ways that you will learn:
- Seminars – many of your sessions at university will take place as seminars in groups of approximately 30 students with a lecturer. In seminars you will take part in group work, independent study and group discussions. It is important to prepare for seminars by looking in your module handbook and on Blackboard and conduct any activities and reading needed to prepare for the session.
- Independent study – this is an essential study time where you prepare for seminars and lectures, complete readings for the module and work towards the learning outcomes of the assessment. Many students find it useful to organise study groups as well as work alone.
- Tutorials – these are one-to-one sessions between you and your tutor to discuss the feedback from your work and general progress. It is important to prepare for tutorials in advance. Academic tutorials will take place as part of your academic support within modules. You will also have personal tutorials to look at your progress and support you with your studies throughout the year.
- Lectures – some of your session may take place with students from other groups. Lectures are led by the lecturer and students need to make notes throughout the session and complete any set readings and activities given.
TASK – identify which teaching method will most suit your learning styles and which ones you will find most challenging. What steps can you take to ensure that you get the most out of all of the teaching methods?
Adapted from The Study Skills Handbook, by S. Cottrell. 2013 4th ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan
INSPIRE Strategy for Learning
To be the best student that you can be on this programme, and to prepare you for your future career in teaching we aim to INSPIRE:
TASK – Consider each of the key aspects of INSPIRE and think about how you already portray that quality.
Assessments – Mandatory task included
An assessment will take place at the end of each module to assess your ability to meet the required learning outcomes. Academic support sessions will be timetabled as part of each module to support you with meeting the learning outcomes. This is where your Student Academic Mentor will be able to support your learning too.
A range of different assessment styles take place throughout the course to allow you to demonstrate a range of different skills. Whilst you will write academic assignments, you will also undertake work based learning placements, presentations, skills audits, lesson plans and picture analysis assignments.
TASK – reflect upon each of the activities list below which you will undertake as part of your assessment. How do you feel about each one? Have you any experience with that type of assessment or will it be new to you?
- Academic assignments
- Work based placements
- Skills audit
- Lesson planning
- Picture analysis
The role of independent study
This course includes a large proportion of independent study. This is where you complete any set tasks and readings, but also where you take control of your own learning and work towards achieving the learning outcomes for the module.
TASK – What does independent study mean to you?
- List all the words that you associate with independent study for yourself.
- List words which you would like to associate with yourself and independent study.
- What steps can you take to work towards your identified goals for working independently?
Adapted from The Study Skills Handbook, by S. Cottrell. 2013 4th ed. New York, Palgrave McMillan
Work based learning – Mandatory task included
Work based learning is designed to enable you to develop a range of appropriate skills and strategies and reflect on your experiences and observations to enhance your understanding.
The work based learning placement is a school-led learning activity where you will demonstrate your progress in relation to targets you will set yourself at the start of the year. It provides the context in which complex inter-related skills of teaching – the application of subject knowledge, planning for learning, classroom management, teaching methodology, assessment, recording and knowledge of children’s development and learning – are developed.
Theory and practice are closely linked, offering you a coherent framework within which to develop your own knowledge, skills and understanding alongside the broader issues of working with young children.
Work based learning is an opportunity for you to apply the theory learnt throughout the first of the programme and apply it in practice. You will work alongside a class teacher, planning for, and teaching small groups of children as well as observing and reflecting upon examples of good practice. The placement is designed to be a supportive experience which will allow you to gain confidence through working with a partner setting. You will be assigned a school mentor to support you whilst you are on placement and also an Edge Hill visiting tutor who will visit you in your setting and keep regular contact to support you throughout.
TASK – Each student will start the course with a wide range of experience. Make a list of the experience you already have in relation to working with children. Then reflect upon each experience, what did this experience teach you? How will it help you with the course?
Student Academic Mentors (SAMs)
Our Student Academic Mentors will provide you with support during your first year of study. They are there to:
- Answer any questions via email such as: how to reference a book or journal, where to find the best texts for an assignment, how to plan and write an introduction to an assignment, how to plan for an effective lesson in preparation for school-based placement.
- Our mentors will also be available for face to face meetings either on an individual basis or with small groups for additional support
- Our mentors engage in a support programme with whole groups of students and the tutor in Academic Support Sessions, giving you additional, individual support with your studies.
Self-Management – Mandatory task included
Self-management is an essential study skill at university that will enable you to cope with the responsibility of taking charge of your studies and to fully engage in your learning.
TASK – Download this document to reflect on your own self-management skills.
People skills – collaborative working – Mandatory task included
As part of your course you will be expected to work with others as an integral part of your learning experience. You need to understand how to work alongside others, to give support and share ideas whilst also maintaining the integrity of your own work.
To make a group work you will need to:
- Be aware of people’s feelings
- Set ground rules
- Plan, to prevent difficulties
- Create an effective group environment
- Set clear agendas
- Check progress
TASK – The Value of Collaborative working.
Note down the following aspects of collaborative working. Which do you value? Highlight the ones that apply:
- Enjoying a sense of group solidarity
- Sharing ideas and stimulating each other’s thinking so everyone gains more ideas
- Gaining new and diverse perspectives
- Tapping into a wider pool of experience
- Learning to stay on task even when working with people whose company I enjoy
- Achieving greater outcomes than I could alone
- Learning ‘give and take’, rather than dominating a group or being dominated by others in the group
- Gaining confidence in asserting my viewpoint
- Learning to deal with challenge and criticism
- Helping and supporting others
Group discussions will also form part of your learning, below are some tips on being effective and getting the most out of the discussion.
- Be encouraging
- Build on others’ ideas
- Admit mistakes
- Make suggestions
- Offer information
- Listen to the others in the group
- Include everyone
- Sum up for the group
Getting the most out of a discussion:
- Before – read around the subject. Identify the question you want answered.
- During – make notes of the useful information and ask if you don’t understand something.
- After – go over your notes and add your own thoughts. Highlight activities that come out of the group.
If you understand how you personally learn the best, you can use this information to organise your study time.
TASK – Complete this questionnaire to find out what your learning style is.
Employers will be interested in your broader development and not just your specialism in your subject. You need to plan ahead towards your career whilst you are studying your degree.
TASK – typically a well-rounded students might be able to offer something in at least 3 of the following:
- The degree subject
- Complementary subjects
- Unusual technical experience
- Work experience
- Volunteer activity
- Contributing to the community
- A position of responsibility
- A broad set of skills that can be transferred to the workplace
In which of the areas above have you invested already?
Realistically, what else could you do in the next 6 months to develop your personal portfolio?
Successful people tend to have the ability to focus on the right task at the right time. Time management is a skill that can be developed. As a student you will need to balance the time you devote to study, family, work and social activities.
TASK – Take this quiz and make a note of your score and check your score interpretation. You should then use the quick summary of the main areas of time management that were explored in the quiz and the guide to the specific tools you can use for each.
Answer the following questions:
- What are my time management strengths?
- What are the areas I need to develop?
- How do you think you can improve your time management skills to help you best use your study time? Make a list of your top 5 skills to improve.
Other ways to prepare
To help you develop the skills you need to start your degree programme with confidence we have rounded up some fantastic online resources. Use the boxes below to find out how to build upon your academic skills and uni know-how and develop the tools you need for optimum mental health and well being.
Preparing you for University
University can be one of the most exciting and amazing experiences, and can offer the chance to learn, meet new people, gain independence and find out more about who you are.
We want to make sure you get the most out of your university experience! The following information provides an insight into what to expect when coming to university along with some good advice on how to navigate some of the potential challenges you may face.