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5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES
Universities are increasingly seeking to open access routes and identify ways of encouraging under-represented groups to consider higher education as an option. This cohort of students often have distinct challenges associated with disability, maturity and socioeconomic disadvantage. Maynooth University, through the Maynooth University access programme (MAP) and the Launchpad Orientation Programme (Launchpad), has proven successful in supporting these groups, helping them transition into and through higher education. Unfortunately the challenges associated with under-represented groups can lead to increased, often unarticulated difficulties, resulting in greater reliance on services and higher dropout rates compared to the average student. We discuss here a pilot study exploring the use of the design process to act as an agent of transition for MAP students entering 3rd level education. Learning was achieved through a multi-session, action based programme, where MAP students and staff, together with the University’s department of design Innovation, worked together to co-understand and co-design the transition. The pilot was a success both in terms of student engagement and future programme improvement. For students, the design workshops enabled valuable sharing of experiences and allowed them to contribute their ideas based on defined problems. For MAP staff, the research data collected provided actionable insights into the unarticulated needs and experience of students, reframed their understanding of the problems and provided new tools and collateral for further use.
Vaugh, T. et al. (2018) Designing the Transition to Higher Education for Students from Under-Represented Groups, Universal Design & Higher Education in Transformation Congress,30th October -2nd November 2018, Dublin Castle.