Supporting students to gain a sense of place during transitions by applying The tourist metaphor

Authors: Devis-Rozental, C.

Start date: 21 June 2018

Background Commencing undergraduate students unfamiliar to higher education environments may feel that their sense of place is lost, developing a feeling of dislocation (Todres et al. 2009). This may be related to physical environments, but it also accounts for a sudden loss in their sense of belonging, security, or continuity, especially to those away from home for the first time and having to manage life skills they may not have done before. With a raise in students mental health issues when starting university (Devis-Rozental 2018), it is vital that those involved in this transition support students to settle and thrive. Aim In order to help students develop a sense of place, I propose that within our induction we should see these students through the lense of the tourist metaphor (Devis-Rozental 2018). This metaphor sees students both home and international as tourists to our country (our university), using different currency (marking criteria), laws (policies and procedures), language (academic skills, technical vocabulary), guides (University staff , who does what?) geography (campus), customs (independent learning, teaching styles), time zone (timetable), welfare (wellbeing centre, additional learning), entertainment (clubs and societies) and more.

Conclusion By gaining this perspective we avoid presuming what students know, helping them in developing a sense of belonging improving their student experience and perhaps proactively protecting their mental wellbeing as they progress. This type of practice will further embed humanisation practices within higher education, supporting students in developing their sense of place, their personal journey, their insiderness and other dimensions within the humanisation framework.

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