Authors (ordered alphabetically by last name): Anna Maria Jones, Danielle Kurtin, Tianshu Liu, Georgia Simmons, and Alisia Southwell
What is Adapt To Postgrad (ATP)?
Anna Maria Jones
Adapt To Postgrad (ATP) is an online, non-credit bearing course developed within the Faculty of Medicine to support PGT students with the transition to Master’s-level learning, in advance of and during their study. The ATP course piloted in September 2020 and has thus far received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, with 84% of over 200 students who completed the evaluation survey for its largest module, ‘Module 1: Preparing for Master’s study’ indicating that they found the course to be useful. Many staff and students across the Faculty and Institution have had input into the ATP course, particularly our student partners (funded by StudentShapers) who have played a pivotal role in its development and pilot evaluation. The ATP student partners give their insights into the course’s design and evaluation below.
How does ATP help?
Created in partnership with staff and students within the Faculty of Medicine, ATP was introduced as an online, pre-arrival short course targeted at improving the transition to postgraduate study at Imperial. The course was designed to (1) provide students with key information for their upcoming study, (2) prepare them for what to expect of Master’s-level study, and (3) direct students to resources and services available to them. ATP addresses the transition to postgraduate study in a manner reflective of the independence Imperial wishes to cultivate in postgraduate students, as well as introducing students to active learning
Anatomy of ATP
Adapt To Postgrad is composed of three Modules. Module 1 is the only pre-arrival module and comprises the bulk of ATP. Within Module 1 students engage in 9 Units covering topics such as ‘What to Expect at Imperial College London’, ‘An A-Z of Helpful Resources’ and ‘Learning How To Learn in Online Environments’. This last unit was designed to aid the transition to remote learning due to COVID-19, which added another layer of difficulty to the transition to postgraduate study. At the end of Module 1, students complete an Action Plan for their Master’s-level learning experience. Module 2, which is released in late October, provides students the opportunity to check in with the goals they previously wrote and assess what further support they may need to achieve them, or whether they need to re-strategise having experienced some of what Master’s study is like in actuality. Finally, Module 3 provides support for ‘outduction’ where students reflect on their postgraduate journey, and support them in a strong finish of their program.
This was ATP’s pilot year!
For ATP’s inaugural year, we wanted to understand student engagement, how long it took students to complete the course, and how useful they found ATP. For Module 1, we analysed student engagement in two ways: (1) We looked at the number of students who enrolled, completed each individual unit, and completed Module 1 as a whole; (2) We looked at the activity (recorded as number of clicks) per unit and corresponding time points. The course opened a few weeks before the first term, and we could see that there was plenty of engagement in the first few units leading up to the time that courses began (over 600 students accessing the course!). As the term progressed, we observed a dip in engagement, both in unit completion and in number of clicks. Reminders helped to increase engagement, and there were noticeable spikes when emails were sent out to students.
We were also able to look at how long it took students to complete each unit. For example, we learned that Unit 5 took particularly long for many students, so we opted to split that into two units for next year’s delivery. We have not yet been able to conduct evaluation for Modules 2 or 3 and so we are less sure of engagement for those, but as they were not pre-arrival components we suspect that it may be less so than with Module 1, recognising the intense nature of Master’s study.
What students say
Since Module 1 was the first to launch and is the largest module, we wanted to hear from students about their overall feeling towards this Module as this could help us better plan for Modules 2 and 3, as well as update Module 1’s design for the next academic year. We included a survey at the end of Module 1 and conducted two paid focus groups (thanks to funding from ICL’s Medical Education Research Unit and TF Development Fund), hoping to get as much student feedback as we could. We received plenty of valuable feedback!
Some particularly positive survey we received from is shown below:
“I felt really unprepared starting my master’s but [ATP] reminded me of why I wanted to do a master’s in the first place and how to make the most of it… thank you for creating ATP!”
“As an overseas student, I feel a little more confident about my Masters”
“It helped me discover more about how I learn and what I need to implement in order to be successful in my course”
“It was very helpful to reflect on my past learning experiences to be better prepared”
“Changed my perspective on what a Master’s degree is about, what is required of me and what I can gain from this degree. I think its such a good course and would really recommend it”
“Addressing potential worries before the course is amazing. The section about online learning was also particularly reassuring since I was concerned about this myself.”
“Hearing from two students that have already experienced this and listening to their tips was great”
We are grateful for all of the feedback we have received from students who have undertaken the ATP course, and we hope that some of the improvements that we have put in place as student partners will further enhance the way that the course supports incoming PGT students for years to come.
If you would like to learn more about the Adapt To Postgrad online course, you can visit our webpage or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !