The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Highly Commended at the 5th eSTEeM Scholarship Projects of the Year Awards 2022.
The need for consistent induction for novice Associate Lecturers (ALs) in the STEM faculty at the Open University was identified. Here we report the findings of two consecutive projects in which induction programmes at a module, school and faculty level were developed and evaluated. Information about ALs’ previous experience, confidence levels, and induction experiences were collected via questionnaires and focus groups. Opinions of AL managers, and mentors were also sought.
Key findings were that novice ALs come to the OU with varied backgrounds, experience of higher education and of teaching online. When they start, ALs are least confident about using online tutorial platforms and forums, and about supporting students - especially those with disabilities. By the end of the first presentation (module cycle) confidence had increased in all tasks, but not in supporting disabled students. ALs value opportunities for face-to-face workshops and informal meetings. They feel more confident in their role following induction, but time for induction must be allocated, and clear communication about induction requirements given. AL managers were supportive of the introduction of a new central programme. The value of the AL mentor was established, along with the need for clear mentor and mentee guidance.
Findings have informed the development of a STEM faculty induction consisting of online and face to face programmes along with a supporting webpage, discussion forum and online room and the development of a new OU-wide induction resource for ALs. We set out recommendations for induction that apply both within the OU and more widely for HE practitioners working remotely.
Read about stage one of this project - Assessing the effectiveness of the induction process for novice Associate Lecturers in the School of Life Health and Chemical Sciences in preparing them for the Associate Lecturer role.