I’m nearly two months into my fellowship and suddenly I find the cashpoints are empty of ten pound notes. There are noisy, scruffy people everywhere trying to instigate conversations with me by exchanging stories of queues (this is flattering given my age) and the trees are competing with flyers to litter the streets. Smells like Freshers’ Week.I’ve been preparing for this moment since August but I’m still not 100% ready. Much of my role this year is involved with addressing transition issues at the HE interface i.e. what can we do to help students make the jump from school/college to university chemistry? This blog will outline some of the work I’ve been doing in this respect.

What are our students supposed to already know? …
I started by auditing the content of Year 1 courses against the advertised learning objectives and the questions asked in exams. This was particularly useful to give me an overview of the anticipated subject knowledge of the incoming cohort. At the same time I’ve been working with David Read at Southampton and have used his excellent A-level specification map to produce a series of traffic-light resources to give to lecturers highlighting key areas of subject knowledge specifically needed for their courses and the potential holes in comprehension that may be present following the changes to the GCSE specs in 2006 and A-level specs in 2008 which will be felt for the first time this academic year.
I have used both of these resources to produce an “anticipated knowledge” self-assessment tick sheet specific to lecture courses.