Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Topics for the first meeting with students in your cohorts

The cohort lead role is about induction, transition and community building. Here are a few ideas for topics and activities to help get this started with your groups of students.

It’s important to pick activities that all students can engage with, so try to avoid things that are specific to particular cultures or groups.

  1. Tell the students about a time you struggled to learn something and how you got past that. Maybe you asked for help? Maybe you persevered? Maybe you tried a different approach? Remind the students that learning in higher education is meant to be challenging and everyone will struggle sometimes. Then get the students working in small groups with poster paper or an online equivalent like padlet. Ask them to make a poster about what they’ve learned from times when they’ve struggled to learn something. It doesn’t need to be academic learning, maybe the struggled when learning a musical instrument or new hobby.  
  2. Find a few news articles about leaders in your subject area. Try to find a mix of different people to avoid putting off students who don’t see themselves represented in your examples. Give each student time to read one of the articles. Then have the students talk in small groups about what inspired or surprised them about the different articles they have read.  
  3. Give your students 10 minutes to look around the University of Edinburgh Study Hub blog. Then ask them to chat in small groups and come up with a list of their top 3 good pieces of advice from the blog.