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Student Integration


Information, case studies and reference in this section will support the area of student integration into University.   

Integration Infographic

This infographic provides information and ideas around student integration. It can be downloaded using the PDF link at the bottom. 



Personal Integration

It is the responsibility of the School and the course team to ensure that all new students, regardless of background, culture, disability, or other characteristics are able to fully integrate into the University and into their course. Personal integration of all first-year students is best achieved through proactively and positively promoting widening participation in an inclusive learning environment. 

Belongingness relates to emotional engagement of students. Trowler (2010) suggests that “students who engage emotionally would experience affective reactions such as interest, enjoyment or a sense of belonging” (p5). On entering higher education many students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, can encounter alien language and procedures, feelings of isolation and lack of sense of positive identity.  Mortiboys (2006) argues that it is critical to recognise the power of emotions in learning and to teach with emotional intelligence.

The curriculum can play an important role in supporting personal integration. An inclusive curriculum that relates to a student’s personal context and an environment that celebrates diversity underpin personal integration. The NUS’s ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ campaign (2015) suggests proactive choice of case studies and books and use of personal experiences to describe content can support developing the voice of BME students within a course. Some forms of assessment may privilege some students so increasing assessment choices can support all students to perform better, feel happier and thus integrate better into their course. Care with the language about course work and course information, co-development of activities and co-development of assessment can all act to develop a sense of belonging. You can find out more about inclusive assessment practice in this guide.

Self-efficacy and a sense of belonging can be effectively nurtured through providing role-models. Peer mentoring schemes that provide opportunities for new students to be supported by established students who have faced and overcome similar challenges, can effectively underpin personal integration of new students whilst, at the same time, providing students opportunities to deepen social integration.  In Case Study 3, Simon Warren describes the  'Design Charrette' that enables fresher, undergraduate and postgraduate students from the whole School of Art, Architecture and Design to work together on a week-long design project.  Buddy schemes offer the potential to ease students with the transition into Higher Education. A well-structured buddy scheme can prove very useful amongst students who may struggle initially with the transition and may be particularly useful to support international students or students with a disability, or perhaps on specific courses in which personal integration is a recurring issue. 

Click here for links to case studies of how Leeds Beckett staff are supporting students in this area. 

Social integration

The first weeks of many courses, university induction programmes, and increasingly pre-entry initiatives are explicitly focused, in many cases, on students ‘getting to know one another’.  It is increasingly common for institutions to seek to begin to support social integration before arrival. The ELFYSE report ‘Supporting the First Year Student Experience Through the use of Learning Technologies’ reports that many institutions are developing online materials that are designed to both manage expectations and ease students into their academic and social life. 

Development of supportive relationships, meaningful interactions and cooperation among students, and between students and staff, are known to be linked to positive outcomes (Kandiko & Mawer, 2013; Chickering & Gamson, 1987). ‘Social engagement takes place in the social sphere of the institution, including social spaces, clubs and societies, the students’ union, in student accommodation and through shared living arrangements’ (Thomas, 2012 p. 14). Early formal and informal staff-student, and student-student contact is a factor in supporting social integration. “Relationships between staff and students and peers promote and enable student engagement” (Thomas, 2012, pg 8). Additionally, whilst working effectively with others and learning collaboratively can be a powerful facilitator of engagement (Wentzel, 2009), interactions with diverse peers have been shown to have particularly positive personal and social outcomes (Villalpando, 2002; Chang, Denson, Saenz & Misa, 2006).

Contact with staff has been shown to have a positive impact on student levels of engagement and feelings of self-efficacy (Pike et al, 2010; Yorke & Thomas, 2003; Leese, 2010). The personal tutor, academic advisor or online learning tutor can be significant in ensuring the integration of students, as can academic librarians and learning support staff. Both the number and nature of student-staff interactions is important. Contact with staff is especially effective when it responds to individual student needs and when it takes place outside the classroom (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).

The course team is ideally placed to ensure that new students are given opportunities to fully socially integrate onto their course. Social integration is best sustained through supportive, interactive teaching and learning methods that proactively focus on students and staff working with one another in an academic environment. A learning environment that prioritises supportive teaching approaches that scaffold relationships between each student and their teachers and peers, fostering social connections and providing, for example, opportunities for small group discussion, collaborative and active learning, and interactive activities that help to reduce barriers created by large group anonymity, can support social integration of students (Pickford, 2016).

There are a number of case studies from Leeds Beckett staff available here showing the activities they have used to support students to socially integrate into their course and university. 

Learning community

A sense of community, particularly a sense of membership of a course, has been linked to increases in engagement (Zhao & Kuh, 2004). Students that are both personally integrated (have developed a sense of belonging) and socially integrated (have developed relationships) are empowered to be full members of a learning community. 

The ability to work with others on a course is a desirable undergraduate attribute. However, whilst it is an institutional responsibility to provide opportunities for all students to integrate both personally and socially, it is not the role of the institution to determine the nature of any individual student’s membership of a learning community. A student will choose the extent to which they wish to socially integrate into university life, they will choose their own friends and they will choose how to balance their involvement with their course with the other aspects of their life. 

Claims that ‘learning is a social activity’ and that ‘all graduates need to have learned how to work in a team’ have been largely unchallenged over the last two decades where group work and group assessment have been introduced as a plank of many university courses. Learning for many can be a social activity, and experiences of teamwork can be useful preparation for some student destinations. But groupwork needs to be carefully considered, well designed and well supported for it to be of benefit to the learners as it is often perceived negatively by students, particularly where it contributes to summative grades, and students have diverse personal motivations, goals, and graduate destinations.

Opportunities for personal social integration can be legitimately supported and embedded in a course where they have an overt academic purpose. For example, students can best develop an idea of academic quality through being exposed to a range of qualities of work and through appreciating multiple perspectives and a range of judgements about their own work, so that they can identify and close the gap between the quality of their own work and high quality work (Sadler, 1989). Providing new students, therefore, with opportunities to peer assess the work of others and to have their own work peer assessed, posting exemplar work on the VLE, and using student marking exercises, can effectively underpin academic integration, and may well also support social integration of students.

There are case studies from Leeds Beckett staff here about how they have created activities to support learning communities. 

Student Integration Case Studies

Here you will case studies activities from some Leeds Beckett staff on how they develop student integration.

Click here (you will need to login using your Leeds Beckett email address and password).

Student Integration References

Anagnostopoulou, K. & Parmar D. Eds. (2010) Supporting the First Year Student Experience Through the use of Learning Technologies. Higher Education Academy

Chang, M. J., Denson, N., Saenz, V., & Misa, K. (2006). The Educational benefits of Sustaining Cross-Racial Interaction Among Undergraduates. Journal of Higher Education. 77(3), 430-455. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/jhe.2006.0018

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin. 39(7), 3-7. 

Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and Identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kandiko, C. B., & Mawer, M. (2013). Student Expectations and Perceptions of Higher Education: Executive Summary. London: Kings Learning Institute.

Leese, M. (2010). Bridging the gap: supporting student transitions into higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education 34(2), 239-251. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098771003695494

Mortiboys, A. (2006). Teaching with Emotional Intelligence, Higher Education Academy.

National Union of Students [NUS] (2015), Why is my curriculum white? https://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/why-is-my-curriculum-white/ 

Pickford, R. (2016). Student Engagement: Body, Mind and Heart – A Proposal for an Embedded Multi-Dimensional Student Engagement Framework Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 4(2), 25-32

Pike, G., Kuh, G., & McCormick, C. (2010). An investigation of the contingent relationships between learning community participation and student engagement. Research in Higher Education 52(3). 300-322. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11162-010-9192-1

Sadler, D.R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional Science. 18, 119-144

Thomas, L. (2012). Building student engagement and belonging in Higher Education at a time of change, What Works? Student Retention and Success, Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Trowler, V. (2010). Student engagement literature review, The Higher Education Academy.

Villalpando, O. (2002). The Impact of Diversity and Multiculturalism on All Students: Findings from a National Survey. NASPA Journal. 40(1), 124- 144. doi: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2202/1949-6605.1194

Wentzel, K. R. (2009). Peers and academic functioning at school. In L. Rubin, W. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups. Social, emotional and personality development in context (pp. 531-547). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Yorke, M. & Thomas, L. (2003). Improving the Retention of Students from Lower Socio-Economic Groups. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 25(1). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13600800305737

Zhao, C. & Kuh, G. D. (2004). Adding Value: Learning Communities and Student Engagement. Research in Higher Education. 45(2), 115-138. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:RIHE.0000015692.88534.de
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