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Strategies for Student Engagement: Reflections from the Coalface.

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1 Strategies for Student Engagement: Reflections from the Coalface

2 Bizzell, P. (1986) What happens when basic writers come to college, College Composition and Communications, Vol.37, No.3, pp.294-301. Brabazon, T. (ed.) (2002) Digital Hemlock: Internet Education and the Position of Teaching, UNSW Press, Sydney. Candy, P., Crebert, G. & O’Leary, J. (1994). Developing lifelong learners through undergraduate education. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service Hillman, K. (2005) The First Year Experience: The Transition from Secondary School to University and TAFE in Australia, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth Research Report No.40, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne. Krause, K., Hartley, R., James, R. and McInnis, C. (2005) The First Year Experience in Australian Universities: Findings from a Decade of National Studies, Higher Education Innovations Programme, Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra. Munns, G. and Martin, A. (2005) It’s all about MeE: A Motivation and Engagement Framework. Paper presented at AARE conference, 4-5 July, James Cook University, Cairns. Available online: Peel, M. (2000). ‘Nobody cares’: the challenge of isolation in school to university transition. Journal of Institutional Research, 9(1), pp. 22-34. Teese, R., Polesel, J. & Mason, K. (2004). The Destination of School Leavers in Victoria: Report of the 2003 On Track project. Centre for Post-compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning: University of Melbourne. Retrieved June 2005 from http// Tinto, V. (2000). Learning better together: The impact of learning communities on student success in higher education. Journal of Institutional Research, 9(1), pp. 48-53.

3 The Gippsland campus Situated about 150km to the East of the city of Melbourne, Victoria As a regional campus, a focus of program development has been to meet the needs of the local community - 75% of domestic undergraduate students at the campus are from the local area Very depressed economy in the late 1980s and early 90s. As a result, the 15-19 year old population in Gippsland is declining at a much more rapid rate than the rest of Australia. Education has historically not been a high priority in the region. Only 29% have completed Year 12 qualifications compared to 45% across Victoria. Among the work force, only 9% have Bachelor degrees compared with 16% Victoria wide Only 31% of the regions Year 12 completers expect to go to University compared to 40% across the State It is a lower socio-economic region with 34% of households earning less than $600 per week compared with 26% across State. The Campus has about 2,000 on campus students, 250 international students from 30 countries, and approximately 5000 off campus students.

4 Student Profiles Modest levels of Secondary School achievement Local to the regional campus Disengaged learners Pragmatic learners Disrupted learners Disillusioned or disheartened Uncertain about the direction of their education First in family at university Motivated but lacking the necessary skills & attitudes

5 Student Profile In daily life as well as mass education, they [students] are exposed variously to racism, sexism, homophobia, fascination with the rich and powerful, excessive consumerism, the generation gap, heroic militarism, self-reliant individualism, and a dependent relationship to authority. In this totality of socializing experiences, students are developed into passive learners, unmotivated citizens and underperforming workers urged to buy things they don't need. Ira Shore, Empowering Education, 1992. (Cited in Klein, M (2001) Solving Division Problems: The Construction of Implicit and Explicit Knowledge(s), in J. Allen (ed) Sociology of Education: Possibilities and Practice (2nd ed). Katoomba, NSW: Social Science Press, pp.129-148)

6 National average hrs/week 11-1516+ 22%27% Diploma of Foundation Studies average hrs/week 9-1617+ 62%24% Table 1: Full time students in Paid Employment (2004) Student Diversity

7 Table 2: Student days on Campus (2004) Days per week345 Student Days on Campus: National Average16%34%39% Student Days on Campus: Diploma20%46%30% Student Days with classes: Diploma35%46%15% Student Diversity


9 Student Outcomes Table 4: Average GPA in First Year Degree and DoFS Students 2000-2004 Year20002001200220032004 ENTERDegDADGDegDADGDegDADGDegDADGDegDADG Below 501.941.632.011.951.492.181.441.312.19-1.361.8-1.241.84 50 - 54.951.801.602.301.711. 55 - 59.951.881.251.941.911.782.031.31.532.341.881.522.11-1.822.15 60 - 64.951.391.32-1.332.072.111.371.682.141.431.822.22.231.982.35 65 - 69.951.573.002.691.752.00 1.421.652.571.611.852.382.252.12.24 70 - 74.951.91-- 2.00 1.79--2.032.76 1.882.753.01 75 - 79.951.69--2.11--1.91--2.070.25-2.28--

10 Student Outcomes


12 Early Engagement  Student selection process “I danced around the living room in my pyjamas”  Orientation Week activities Successful Engagement Strategies

13  Little ‘e’ and big ‘E’ engagement  Team teaching [The teaching team] know your name, they know your learning style as well, like if you’re confident or not. I like the feeling that people know each other. I think it’s back to the networking. You’ve got this network of people that know you. Successful Engagement Strategies Delivery Techniques

14  Being known & its benefits [T]he classes we had and the support network, it made me more comfortable to be at uni and it was a smooth transition from school. And you sort of get opened up to this new world of knowledge and this new way of thinking and writing… I think that’s what gave me the confidence to then … go onto the other areas I’m really interested in. Successful Engagement Strategies

15  Being available  Mutually supportive learning community [ T]hat whole community type network, we all bounced ideas off each other. I remember asking students in our first units let’s go and work on the essay together and like… in that first year it was just really easy to bounce ideas off each other and help each other out and work together… Delivery Techniques Successful Engagement Strategies

16 Delivery Techniques  Cooperative learning [I]t wasn’t just about learning, if that makes sense, it was about learning … other things. It wasn’t rote learning or book learning; it was just learning sort of life skills in a university context. So that’s probably one of the best things, and meeting new people … from so many different Faculties… I think just the experience of everybody and the[ir] perspective[s]… you get sociology people with their views and the nurses with their views, just sort of incorporating all the views into one. Successful Engagement Strategies

17  Passionate teaching Oh it definitely got heated. Someone stands their point and someone else stands their point and that’s good because you can share the knowledge, you’re just throwing ideas around the room and that could relate back if you need to write an essay about that topic. [I] like the idea of being comfortable with the people around you and being able to speak your mind. Delivery Techniques Successful Engagement Strategies

18 Delivery techniques  E teaching Successful Engagement Strategies

19 Program Scaffolding  Core Units  Full year program  Small size  Student rather than curriculum focused  Partnerships with student services providers  Social engagement  Program structure  Time tabling  Acknowledgement that university isn’t for everyone Successful Engagement Strategies

20 Content Initiative At Monash University’s Gippsland campus, the Arts Faculty offers a Diploma of Foundation Studies which enables rural and isolated students to access higher education. The program includes a subject called ‘Understanding University Learning’ which de- constructs some of the issues that typically mystify, including the construction and departmentalization of knowledge, the nature of university teachers and teaching, and so on. Rosemary Clerehan (2003)Transition to Tertiary Education in the Arts and Humanities: Some academic initiatives from Australia, Arts and Humanities, Higher Education, 2(1), pp.72-89. Successful Engagement Strategies

21 Content Initiative  DFS1611 Understanding University Learning  Transition issues  Study skills  The nature of universities  Critical thinking & Discourses  Independent learning  Graded tute attendance and preparation  Additional (unfunded) class time Successful Engagement Strategies

22 Unsuccessful Engagement Strategies  Size  Co-opted staff  Voluntary reading groups  Insensitive time tabling  Notion of a ‘one size fits all’ curriculum  Imposition of campus political imperatives

23 The politics of engagement Localised politics and policies of resource distribution Engagement is like beauty – we know it when we see it. Academic measures of engagement Strategies need to be localised and contextualised Academic workload split & ‘teaching smarter’ Our most valuable contribution remains time


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