Get Ready for Languages
An online transition tool for incoming
Modern Language undergraduates
Juliet Solheim and Kirsten Söntgens
Modern Languages
27th June 2011
Contextualisation and Overview of the
GRfL Project
Rationale and Impetus
– Centre for Language Study/ Modern Languages
– The school to HE “transition” agenda and UoS’s widening
participation strategy (2006-2010)
– Addressing the perceived need for learner training/study skills for
new students:
- existing integrated course for Year 1 students
– LATEU-funded development of a ‘pre-arrival’ resource on
Blackboard VLE based on an existing concept
– First implemented in 2009-2010, revised in 2010-2011
– Greater (perceived) input in the light of increased fees
Design of Blackboard-based resources
Introductions and navigational advice
Design of Blackboard-based resources
Mentor information and contacts
Access to current languages students and societies
Design of Blackboard-based resources
Practical information from current students, SUSU,
StudentUK etc
Design of Blackboard-based resources
Overview of UoS structures and ML teaching
Interactive ‘Learning Objects’ and external links
Design of Blackboard-based resources
Language/Field-specific introductions and activities
Evaluation 2010 – 2011
GRfL: Student Introduction and Data Collection
• Confirmed incoming 2010-2011 students were informed of GRfL:
– in an email from Admissions Office in late August 2010
– on Modern Languages Induction website in early September 2010
• Online survey (Survey Monkey) made available to Year 1 students
Semester 1, Week 4 via language unit Blackboard courses
– Quantitative and qualitative data
• Total responses (n) = 46 out of 173
– 26.6% response rate
Access to GRfL: Blackboard and/or Facebook?
• Of the 17 ‘Neither’ responses:
– 6 were from ‘languages option’
Bb Only
Fbk Only
– 6 were not aware it existed
– 3 forgot to access it
– 1 found it too confusing
– 1 did not know how to access it
Mentors: Pre-arrival Contact
– 17 said they were not aware they
had one
Of the 42 students who did not contact
their designated mentor pre-arrival:
– 13 said they felt no need to contact
The 4 students who did contact their
mentors commented positively:
– “extremely effective at putting my
mind at ease”
– “I had worries about not being able
to cope with work, not meeting
people. My mentor was very kind
and gave good advice”
– “very useful. Discussed textbooks
and pre-reading”
Synthesis of findings
Good Features
• staff/student videos
• introductions to UoS
language societies
• tips from Year 2 students
• reading lists and book
• certain language
activities for subject
• helpful and supportive
Bad Features
• home page is too wordy
• unsure of the overall
purpose of GRfL/whether
work was required
• information overload at
• Facebook group was
• lack of F2F follow-up
post-arrival with Mentors
Ugly Comments
• “Little information, bit
dissapointing [sic]”
• “I remember finding the
whole thing very confusing”
• “I only visited the site
briefly and felt
overwhelmed by it all”
• “Few features of use here
other than raising
awareness of blackboard”
Next Steps
The way forward
• Clarify purpose of GRfL in initial information sent out to
incoming students
• Exploit better opportunities for dialogue between new and
existing students
• Conduct further evaluation beyond basic survey
Thank you for listening!
Any questions or comments?
Please contact us:
Juliet Solheim
Kirsten Söntgens

Get Ready for Languages