UniServe Science News Volume 16 July 2000


UniServe Science Discussion Forum: The First Year Experience

Kaye Placing
Educational Technologist, UniServe Science

The First Year Discussion Forum was a new venture for UniServe Science. It was held on April 27, 2000, the day prior to the Annual Workshop, to allow interstate and overseas participants to attend both events. The 48 delegates represented 18 Australian, one New Zealand and three Thai universities and were mainly academics from science departments and faculties together with staff from student support networks.

The programme commenced with eight 'cameo' presentations. These provided outlines of programmes that are being implemented at various Australian universities, either as university-wide initiatives, or at a college or faculty level. Summaries of these presentations are available at

The group identified a number of areas of concern. These included the need to:

  • link student welfare to learning;
  • recognise the importance of first year teaching;
  • recognise the increasing heterogeneity of students and identify the variables;
  • plan any transition activities as extended programmes, not just a 'one-off' event;
  • train staff in transition issues;
  • establish outreach activities and bridging courses; and
  • support institutions' student services.
  • The group recognised that the problems experienced by first year students in the schools and faculties of science (and engineering) are different from those experienced in other faculties. It is proposed that a similar meeting will be held next year in association with the annual workshop.

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    UniServe Science News Volume 16 July 2000

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