My first few months at Kingston : a qualitative study of new first year students and how they navigate academic and library support

Elves, Robert and Clark, Cheryl (2023) My first few months at Kingston : a qualitative study of new first year students and how they navigate academic and library support. In: Higher Education Institutional Research (HEIR) Conference 2023 : Addressing Equity in Higher Education Through Institutional Research; 07-08 Sep 2023, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The first term at university is crucial in the student’s journey. People settle in, meet new friends, visit new places, study, and prepare for their assignments. The ‘My first few months at Kingston’ project was about understanding how students negotiate those early experiences. Building on previous qualitative research undertaken by library staff at Kingston University and informed by Priestner and Marshall (2016) at Cambridge University and Phillips and Brzozowksa-Szczecina (2019) at Royal Holloway, library staff set about recruiting up to 20 first year students to take part in a cultural probe to explore how they had navigated the support on offer from the library and the wider university. Having a large pool of volunteers, the 20 students were selected to include a mix across all faculties, a mix between students in halls and commuting students, between home and international, and between 18-21 and mature students. During a two-week period after enrichment week in November 2021, the students reflected on their journey at Kingston by completing a series of daily tasks including writing diary entries, taking pictures and creating a storyboard. The tasks were designed to encourage reflection but also to be fun and engaging and to allow the participants to freely express themselves. All their work gave unique insight into their lives at this important period. The students were able to keep their diaries but shared scanned images with the research team. It was heartening to learn that by this stage students had identified their favourite place to study, whether on campus or not; knew the name of their subject librarian and the help available and many had also used the academic skills centre. They also had identified places on campus and in the local town centre that they loved and loathed. The students reflected on their first assignment and were grateful for the support they received but wished they had started earlier and contacted central services earlier. As well as allowing a reflection on how well students have settled and the academic services they had found, the findings also allowed library staff to reflect on services offered to new students and adapt some new services that were implemented in response to these findings. Phillips, D. and Brzozowska-Szczecina, E. (2019) ‘Love at first sight: consolidating first impressions’ In: Priestner, A. (ed.) User Experience in Libraries: Yearbook 2019. Cambridge: UX in Libraries, pp123-128. Priestner, A. and Marshall, D. (2016) Snapshot: A cultural probe study exploring the research and information behaviour of postdocs and PhD students at the University of Cambridge. Available at: project.pdf (Accessed: 10 February 2023).

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page