The First Class: Using Icebreakers to Facilitate Transition in a Tertiary Environment

  •  Marie Kavanagh    
  •  Marilyn Clark-Murphy    
  •  Leigh Wood    


Transitioning to university can be difficult and encompasses many changes. This paper is concerned with identifying how initial student experiences on campus can be enhanced in order to influence students’ perception of university. Universities are now under pressure to develop in graduates a wide range of skills, and we highlight the fact that equal emphasis needs to be placed on successful academic and social integration. Research reflecting processes to develop the concept of “social support” and overcome the feeling of “not belonging” at university is scarce. In this paper the concept of icebreakers in the first weeks of student university experience is explored. Icebreakers can also be used as students move to new learning situations through their learning journey. We trialled icebreaking activities in a workshop program designed to facilitate student engagement and develop particular graduate skills. Practical examples from both across and within disciplines are provided. Comments from workshop participants highlight the outcomes of these activities and provide criteria for success.

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