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23/05/2022

Hear from our Professional Studies Expert

Hi, I am Laura O’Brien. A lecturer in the Faculty of Professional Studies and recently the BA (Hons) Education and Learning. I love creative Pedagogy! Colourful assessments and professional dialogue. For the last five years, my focus and passion have been stamping out Imposter Syndrome in students who have come to the University via a non-traditional entry route. I have a keen interest in widening participation and equity in Education. Teaching about the University's hidden curriculum to ensure students have the necessary skills and toolkits to be the best in their future degrees. Over the years, it has been a rewarding experience to see students who start off with feelings of being a fraud and who become less self-critical of their abilities. In addition, finding that students who were self-assured, learn that increasing in knowledge, skills and experience is constant and even I, as an academic, am still learning. Student from Laura's class

This year, I can say I have had those same feelings of being a fraud. This year I started to teach in the BA (Hons) Education and Learning. It was a refreshing but also a daunting experience at the same time. Taking that leap from one level, whether it be from college into your first year of university or transitioning to the final year of a degree course.  It’s hard! Even during our course of employment, we lecturers experience some of these same feelings and emotions as students. No matter where you are in your career. 

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I was hoping to provide a useful example that will help you to transition more easily onto the degree. What is transition? This is the process of change from one level to another (Oxford Dictionary, 2018). So, what does it really mean for the BA (Hons) in Education and Learning? Well, for students it’s the expectations, not only in lectures and seminars but also in their own academic practice.  I have been a transition lecturer for five years, and my key area of interest is cultivating an environment that focuses on improving widening participation and supporting society with transitional coaching and High Impact Teaching methods. Those observed transitioning to university and engaging in the additional support such as ‘The Ready Steady Study courses’, 'Shut Up and Write’, and LEAP workshops significantly drive their own experience. These transition activities and coaching allow learners to connect on a deeper level with the hidden curriculum. If you engage in these additional academic enrichment sessions you are less likely to feel uncomfortable asking questions and engaging in professional dialogue on your course; the language used, and approach can have a positive impact.  Students are always at the heart of what we do, you are potentially future colleagues and peer academics. The BA (Hons) Education and Learning is not a traditional course, and as a transition specialist, it’s really great to see how a whole team shares their expertise to develop an education of which students are proud. 

Utilising key transitional strategies and High Impact Teaching methods can foster a deep sense of agency in those who engage in transition. Moreover, I have seen many students flourish from unconfident, self-doubting students to strong, resilient fellow colleagues who can revolutionise the next generation of learners. Seeing students transition through the phases has been a rewarding opportunity for me. It’s been a pleasure to work with students knowing that I have made a difference and to know that so will they! 

Picture from Laura's class
 REMEMBER it is not just about the outcomes, but the reflection on the journey itself. We know it’s not just about metrics but the shared experience between colleagues and students that eradicates the power dynamics and uses compassionate pedagogy of dialogue to foster belief and shared values. The journey is what you make it!  It’s good to have an end goal but the reflections of how you got there are truly what matters. Enjoy the journey, engage in the journey, and seek out answers to questions and the outcome will happen! 

Come and find out for yourself! 

The BA (Hons) Education and Learning team are like no other. They do really believe in you. I am a product of that success and without my fellow colleagues who were once my teachers at Bolton, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope to see you in September, and that you decide to come and enjoy #UniAsItShouldBe. 

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