Heather Bigelow, Mary Kerstjens
Abstract: At the ISANA Victorian Branch State Conference in October, 2005, Heather and Mary, together with our esteemed colleague, Lila Kemlo, presented our ‘students at risk’ project, designed to identify and provide an holistic, integrated program to enable Business Portfolio students to gain essential skills for academic and social success. A major feature of this program was the collaboration between members of academic staff of the Business Portfolio, the Learning Skills Unit, the Business Library, Student Services Group and the Student Union. United by a common goal – the empowerment of students – investigation of skills needed to succeed in assessment tasks in a number of business courses (subjects) was undertaken through co-operation between lecturers and learning skills advisors. Members of the project team also undertook to examine reasons students with whom they worked on an individual basis gave for finding themselves ‘at risk’ of academic failure and possible exclusion from their program of study. The object was to determine skills which, if they could be taught, might assist students to improve their rate of success in the future. What started out as a ‘remedial’ exercise, during the course of the first semester of the project, changed focus to that of a ‘preventive’ measure for current and future students. Dissemination of the current findings and changes to timing and methods of delivery of essential skills throughout this project form the basis of this presentation.
Key Words: Empowerment of students, Learning Skills, Social Skills, Students ‘at risk’ project
Fiona Henderson, Alan McWilliams
Abstract: Student academic literacy and learning support at Victoria University is an integral part of the educational experience offered to students by Student Learning Unit (SLU) lecturers. Good practice in student language and learning support includes a shift from prevailing ‘remedial’ approaches that imply service provision from outside the curriculum towards systemic approaches involving embedding support material in curriculum through collaboration with mainstream staff (Skillen et al., 1998).
The compulsory first-year undergraduate management subject Management and Organisation Behaviour (MOB) is taught across three campuses in Melbourne, and at partner institutions in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Seventeen staff, including 10 sessional staff, are involved in the delivery of the subject. Students in MOB come from a diverse range of degree specialisations including Applied Economics, Accounting, Tourism and Hospitality and Management.
The team, which consists of the SLU lecturer and the subject lecturers, has developed a model to foster academic skills and deep learning (Biggs, 2003, Biggs and Telfer, 1987) within the very diverse student cohort enrolled in MOB. This partnership is innovative in that it involves the skills of both discipline and SLU staff onshore, and of offshore discipline staff in a way rarely seen in Australian tertiary institutions. The offshore lecturers are guiding the team to understand issues unique to their environments, and, with the team, building a response to offshore students’ needs which is culturally appropriate. The inclusion of offshore partner staff in such teams acknowledges the expertise of staff from partner institutions and was one of the key recommendations in Victoria University’s Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) project report entitled Improving Language and Learning Support for Offshore Students (Dixon, 2005).
Assessment, central in forming students’ perceptions of learning, has been restructured and redesigned to include learning materials using Biggs’ concept of constructive alignment; two of Victoria University’s Core Graduate Attributes (CGAs – written and oral communication and group work); the unpacking and scaffolding of assessment tasks and the provision of flexibly accessible multimedia learning materials including linguistic models. There are practical, operational and cultural differences between the different locations which have led to the current developments.
Key Words: Offshore, assessment, constructive alignment, transnational education, equivalence
Patricia McLean, Laurie Ransom
Abstract: Ideally, the student experience of internationalisation in higher education is to become part of an intellectual environment which values diversity, fosters mutual understanding and respect and is responsive to diverse needs. From the perspective of higher education institutions across the world, international success depends on an institution’s ability to develop globally competent citizens who are comfortable with diversity both at home and abroad (Gilbert, 1995). This chapter focuses on student experiences of learning in another culture and its implications for academic skills development.
Key words: cultural diversity, student experiences, globalisation, student learning, academic skills development
Abstract: A longitudinal study was undertaken to investigate whether CHC students’ approaches to learning were retained or modified in a Western social, cultural, and educational environment. A bilingual version (Chinese and English) of the Study Process Questionnaire (Biggs, 1987) (SPQ) was used to measure sojourner students’ approaches to learning on five occasions over two years in Australia. A two-level analysis was undertaken at the intra and inter student levels to see if there was change in the students’ approaches to learning. A negative occasion slope for Surface Motivation suggested that superficial learning decreased while the positive occasion slopes associated with the Deep and Achieving approaches to learning indicated that approaches to learning that were problem-based and directed toward achievement increased over time. These results showed that five of six approaches to learning changed during the period, but not for all groups of students. While there was no significant change for the Surface Strategy approach over time, there were effects associated with this approach and the characteristics of particular groups of students.
Key words: Approaches to learning, Study Process Questionnaire, intra and inter student levels, two-level analysis, occasion slope, direct effects and interaction effects.
Anne Ellerup Nielsen, Peter Kastberg, Ph.d.
Abstract: Recent years have seen a gradual burring of boundaries between core academic disciplines such as linguistics, economics, politics, sociology, etc. There are many factors which have contributed to this change, for example our global economy where networking, transparency, learning, and knowledge management seem to be the key to capital, consumers, the press, etc. Such developments point towards increasingly interdisciplinary knowledge. Some universities have reacted to this demand for interdisciplinarity and the result has been an increase in new cross-disciplinary subjects where for instance students of international business, accounting, negotiation, etc. are introduced to subjects which, 10 or 15 years ago, would have been restricted to the “soft” subjects in the humanities.
Keywords: Cross-disciplinarity, international education, study programmes, curriculum development, study abroad/exchange