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New academic orientation leaves them wanting more

A new approach to USQ’s orientation sessions for new teaching academics has left participants wanting more. Session evaluations reveal different participants suggesting: “What I would have liked was for it to be a longer event”; “Maybe the session needed to be longer”; and, that “A longer session” would have enhanced the usefulness of the orientation session.

Developed as a collaboration between USQ’s Academic and Academic Services Divisions, the new orientation session ran on 23 February at the USQ Springfield campus. 13 new full-time teaching staff and 8 more experienced teaching and support staff participated - many making the journey from Ipswich and Toowoomba. Prior to the sessions they introduced themselves via TeachDesk that also gives week by week guide to help academics navigate the intricacies of learning and teaching at USQ.

It appears that at least some of the success of the session arose from the session’s focus on helping participants answer two questions all new teaching academics face when joining USQ. Does my course meet expectations? What is my semester looking like?

Answers to these questions were developed through engagement in blended learning experiences that involved both new and slightly more experienced participants sharing and building on each others’ knowledge. The session’s learning experiences were also designed to model innovative use of digital technology, including TeachDesk. One participant commented that they ...really liked that the sessions were interactive and that we also had the opportunity to discuss other curriculum issues with the people on the table. Great use of technology - to assist with the learning and recording each tables ideas.

2017 Orientation attendees 2017 Orientation attendees 2017 Orientation attendees
              

As they collaborated around the two driving questions participants generated a list of 13 suggestions for improvements and 18 questions yet to be answered about teaching at USQ. These suggestions and questions have been transcribed and are being passed onto relevant USQ experts and will be intergrated into future activities.

There are ongoing orientation sessions held throughout semester one to provide new staff members with ‘just in time’ information about USQ policies, procedures and processes. Presenters are drawn from key roles within the academic division, experts in their respective areas. Topics include: The Role of Course Examiners and Moderators, Research Matters @ USQ, Student Matters, Course Evaluation and Renewal, Assessment Policy and more.

As this was the first offering of a new approach there is much to learn.The next USQ orientation for teaching staff at USQ will leverage these lessons to help new staff make a positive start to their teaching career at USQ.

Many of the resources used as part of the initial orientation session can be found online or email learnteach@usq.edu.au