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Report from break-out groups.
There were three break-out groups each of which were asked to consider three issues:
1. Ways of identifying students at risk - before it is too late. Is this possible?
2. Providing an on-campus learning experience in spite of competing commitments like casual work; family matters etc - how do we achieve this and cope with the competition?
3. What strategies can we use to "rescue" students?
The discussion is summarised below.
Importance of setting the scene with new students
- Agree on responsibility for learning is shared between students and staff but is ultimately the students’ responsibility; set contracts for learning
- Develop a safe student-centred learning environment; this may require appropriate resourcing
- Be overt about the need for good English skills
Importance of specific discipline preparation
- Does a lack of this put students at risk?
- How do we respond?
- What about the advanced students? Need to cater for them as well.
* increasing percentage with no specific preparation from HSC/ school level
* should groups be streamed by prior background?
* what should be the starting point for a unit/course?
* poor previous experiences may disadvantage students
* “re-education” may be needed anyway if the school material is not suited to the university culture
* motivation of students may be more important than prior knowledge
* are external students more motivated?
* advanced students may be bored
Importance of teaching staff
- How approachable are they?
- Will “at risk” students approach staff?
- Students with disabilities may be a special “at risk” category
* students listen to students more than teachers (gap between students is small; intellectual gap between student and teacher is often huge and almost impassable)
Importance of the ability of students to use both the English language and the scientific English of the discipline
- International students pose a special category – often problems with written/spoken English
- Local students with English as a second language often struggle
- Local students with poor English skills
Importance of tutorials as a teaching strategy
- How important are they?
- structure of tutorial may influence the outcome
- participation levels may be of concern
Importance of students knowing their own risk category
- How to get them to assess their own abilities
- Need to avoid the negativity of “at risk” image; otherwise becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
* part-time work and academic workload issues
* Persuading all students to accept it is important to find out how they are going early enough (overcoming the male attitude that there is no problem)
When do you intervene?
- Mid semester?
- Random targeting during semester
- Use of self-assessment feedback; peer assessment
How reliable are any of these indicators?
- After semester 1 exams (ie after failure of first course)
How do you persuade students to come and see you? The general view is that it is very difficult to get students to take up an invitation to discuss their poor performance. The failure has already given a negative message to the student and often they are not very interested in talking about it.
Possible solutions – investigate the use of:
- Peer mentoring – use senior year undergraduates or postgraduates
- Peer assisted study support (PASS) useful in providing small group experience with non-threatening response with respect to feedback
- Use smaller groups in large classes to help with the social and identity/interactions
- Better orientation at beginning of the year; invited or compulsory sessions
- Offer personal skills management programs to help increase students confidence
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Last Update: Monday, 30-Apr-2012 16:53:52 EST