The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Bridging activities/resources to help transition to university at UG/PGT level

Over the summer 2020, the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick introduced a series of written resources and recommendations in the form of e-books to help students and staff transition to a blended learning approach to teaching and learning (T&L). These resources were collected in the virtual learning environment to create the Course for Online Learning in Economics, COLE.

COLE was born as a bridging activity for returning first-year students to help their transition to online learning during the COVID 19 pandemic. However, given the incredible amount of information included in the course (and to make sure colleagues knew how students were supported in moving to online T&L), the department decided to make it available to all students and staff during and beyond the pandemic. As universities transition back to traditional routines, several have chosen to retain aspects of blended learning in their educational offerings, making resources like COLE invaluable for assisting students in becoming acquainted with the online components of their course.

Over the years, COLE has evolved into the Learning to Learn in Economics (LtLE) resource which is now used as a bridging resource to help students transition to university, together with other skills resources established in the department for incoming UG students.


Course content

LtLE is a self-study course structured as four e-books and two more collections of resources:

  1. The departmental teaching and learning strategy. This section introduces principles of online education and outlines our departmental T&L approach, including ways to engage with it. Here students have an opportunity to learn about and become familiar with the terminology used at university. This includes blended learning, asynchronous/synchronous lectures and their complementarity, small class seminars, advice and feedback classes, the code of conduct, types of assessments (including the distinction between formative and summative assessments), exam arrangements, and tips for studying effectively in the department. In addition, there is a bespoke session on group work and its relevance to success at university, followed by an introduction to diversity, inclusion, and unconscious biases. The e-book concludes with a section dedicated to feedback including how to receive it from staff and peers. Quizzes are used to test students’ understanding of the material as they navigate the Moodle page.
  2. Moodle as the VLE and other technologies used in the department. In this e-book students gain an understanding of how different technologies can assist their learning process. These span from systems used to register into core/optional modules, to tools used in the administration of the UG and PGT programmes, MS Teams, and Moodle. Material provided varies depending on the tool, but in general combines icons, videos, and links to showcase how resources appear and their different uses.
  3. Wellbeing support in the department. This section outlines the key principles of the departmental wellbeing support along with offering guidance on how to deal with unforeseen circumstances that may affect students’ learning experience. Specifically, the e-book provides an opportunity to outline different pastoral support systems offered for different year groups, and understand and appreciate the difference between extensions, exemptions, self-certification, and deferral policies. It also offers links to the university policies that regulate these procedures.
  4. Wider opportunities, students’ engagement, and career planning. This section introduces students to the wide number of opportunities offered at departmental and university level in terms of student engagement and support. Information on career planning, career consultants, departmental employability skills resources are offered in the section together with career opportunities offered by the department and students’ societies. This is followed by a personal development section for students interested to use a coaching approach to set goals, find their way through challenges, grow in self-awareness, and learning and embedding new behaviours.
  5. Other transition to university resources. This section links LtLE to other resources developed within the department to consolidate students’ self-efficacy skills, that is:
    1. “Refresher Mathematics for Economics”, a pre-sessional resource to refresh mathematical skills and techniques in preparation for an undergraduate degree in economics (Elliott et al. 2024).
    2. “Academic writing skills”, a self-study module that equips students with the necessary writing skills needed to tackle any writing task related to the subject area[1].
    3. "Transition to Economics”, a self-study module designed to equip first year students with the basic micro/macroeconomics concepts that will be explored more in depth throughout the degree programme, tailored to students lacking prior knowledge of Economics at A-Level (Ghosh 2024).
  6. Other important sources of information. This section concludes the resources available to students in LtLE, and offers information on university library resources, links to UG/PGT handbooks which have more details on the degree programmes, and hands-on advice on how to contact the UG/PGT office as well as useful links to university safety guidance, values, IT guidance, and the Students Union welcome week programmes.

The module also includes a space to provide feedback. The resource remains available throughout the academic year to provide students with updates and new information and resources where appropriate. On its first iteration, resources in the module were accessed 14,822 times by students[2].

Responses to the course

Students commented positively on the resource and described the information provided as very useful, all in one place, and easy to access. An anonymous student says:

“…the information provided on COLE has been very effective in helping me get to grips with how the university will adapt the learning techniques to provide the best online experience. I found the short quiz on synchronous and asynchronous lectures very useful, since it gave me better awareness of how I can structure my learning.”

Similarly, the university “…welcomed the department’s approach as good practice and that in particular, the resource had been released to students (including incoming first years) two weeks before the start of term 1. Student representatives observed that the tool had been cohesive and well put together, effective in supporting both UG and PGT students”. For this reason, it was decided to keep the resource active in future years.

Other bridging activities

Students’ transition to university can be daunting for both UG and PGT students, especially when coming from under-represented backgrounds. A bespoke transition-to-university programme has therefore been developed for UG and PGT students to support their transition at all adaptation levels (see Cheng, 2015), that is the pre-transition stage (before joining university), the shock stage (having just arrived at university), and the adjustment stage (during their first few weeks).

To this end, focus groups were arranged with UG and PGT students (including students coming from under-represented backgrounds) to explore solutions and better understand how to support students with resources to consolidate self-efficacy and self-management of expectations and orientate them towards the T&L philosophy of our department, as well as the academic and pastoral support provided. Some of these discussions led to the creation of the activities mentioned at point 5 above.

An “Economics Enhanced Induction Event” has also been introduced for widening participation students. Over the summer, contextual offer students from under-represented backgrounds are invited to attend a lecture at the beginning of September tailored to their needs and challenges. Moving from A-levels to undergraduate study is a big jump and some students may struggle more than others in this transition. This is true for all students, but it might be particularly relevant for students from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds (e.g., students with caring responsibilities or students with special needs), who may encounter additional barriers and challenges. The objectives of this event are to:

  1. Meet key members of staff in the department, so that students can start to familiarise with the departmental structure and identify academics and Personal Support Services staff who may be contacted (when appropriate).
  2. Meet one of our alumni who has been in their position before and ask them any questions about transition to university, degree programmes, or the broader students’ learning experience at university.
  3. Find out more about the well-being and pastoral support available to them within our department and how they can benefit from different opportunities/initiatives offered by the department (e.g., in the personal development module, or with a mentoring scheme).
  4. Learn more about the university transition programmes and networking opportunities designed for widening participation students, giving them information on what is like to study at university (including financial advice, and bursary opportunities).

One aspect that students enjoy about this session is the hints and tips received by each staff member/student invited to the talk. Examples are:

  1. Never give up!
  2. Rely on your learning strategy. Identify a recipe for success. And when the recipe works, don’t change the ingredients.
  3. Don’t miss out on learning and social opportunities!

In addition to the “Economics advanced induction event”, a lecture on transition to university is now timetabled and delivered to all UG and PGT students during the welcome week. This highlights the key challenges that students can face as they join university and develop as independent learners. It suggests ways to overcome those challenges based on the support and opportunities available at departmental and university levels. This is a 1.5-hour lecture starting with a presentation of the W-curve hypothesis model of students’ transition to university (Hoffenburger et al., 1999)[3], followed by a discussion on learning strategies (no one is perfect!), expectations from students and staff, attendance and its impact on students’ performance, ways to provide/receive feedback, and an introduction to all resources available in the department to facilitate transition to university (see section 5 above). The session proceeds with a conversation on the students’ broader experience and related activities/events offered both at departmental and university levels. It concludes showing a checklist of key things to do when starting their UG/PGT degree.

Starting from the summer 2020, a ‘virtual’ departmental study buddy scheme has also been created for students to meet and interact with other peers, and work with them to support each other (Gamlath, 2022). Study groups are now embedded in all UG/PGT Moodle pages; they are used by members of staff to facilitate students’ interactions and by students (especially at the beginning of the academic year) to meet peers and work in groups.

To facilitate students’ transition to university and integration, as well as to help them achieve their potential by playing on different strengths, assessments can also play a crucial role. Reducing the weight of final exams to allow students to engage with different types of group work can not only facilitate peer learning and consolidate knowledge among students but can also expose them to alternative views promoting diversity and inclusion (Gibbs, 2010; and Tai et al., 2021), thus helping them to develop skills that are fundamental to grow as global citizens.


[1] Note that this module has been designed specifically for UG year 1 students.

[2] The resource continues to be accessed by students with 5,000 views per year on average.

[3] The PGT version of the lecture doesn’t cover the basics of transition to university, but it is structured in a similar manner and adapted to more “mature” students.


Cheng, M. (2015). Transition skills and strategies: Transition models and how students experience change. QAA Scotland report

Elliott, C., Brendon-Penn, A., Kostadinov, E., & Smith, J. (2024). Supporting Economics Students’ Transition to University with Mathematics Revision Resources. Ideas Bank. The Economics Network.

Gamlath, S. (2022). Peer learning and the undergraduate journey: a framework for student success. Higher Education Research & Development, 41(3), 699-713.

Ghosh, A. (2024). Transition to an Economics degree: Key Resources. Ideas Bank. The Economics Network.

Gibbs, G. (2010). Using Assessment to Support Student Learning. Leeds Met Press, Leeds.

Hoffenburger, K., Mosier, R., & Stokes, B. (1999). Transition experience. In JH Schuh (Ed.) Educational programming and student learning in college and university residence halls. Columbus, OH.: ACUHO-I.

Tai, J., Ajjawi, R., & Umarova, A. (2021). How do students experience inclusive assessment? A critical review of contemporary literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1-18.

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