Academic

Prevention is better than Cure: Timely provision of strategies for success to RMIT Businss..students

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

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Managing Academic Support for International Students: the appropriateness of a Learning Support U't

Dr Mona Chung, Martin Kelliher, Dr Wendy Smith

Abstract: The higher education environment in Australia has undergone a radical change since the
1980s with the phenomenal increase in the intake of international students, particularly from what are referred to as Confucian Heritage Cultures (CHC): China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Students from these countries view the Australian higher education system very favourably. The present increase in the proportion of full-fee paying students at Australian universities is also a result of decreasing government funding to the Australian higher education sector, which has now risen to be one of the most important elements of the Australian economy.
These push-pull factors have drawn more Australian tertiary institution providers into the market place, as they seek more international student enrolments for their domestic campuses and also establish campuses overseas. Potential higher education students are becoming more discerning in their choices and are choosing learning environments that offers them both relevant and stimulating educational experiences and good qualifications, along with a range of both IT and academic support services that cater to their individual learning needs. Increasing competition, both within Australia and internationally, calls for a focus on student satisfaction in order to sustain the existence of the providers.
This paper addresses the issue of what international students seek in terms of academic support and demonstrates that present levels of cost efficient services by Australian higher education providers, generally characterized by IT and language support services, are inadequate and do not meet the specific needs of the students.

Keywords; Educational support; International students; Higher Education

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This is how we do it!

Prof Ross Lehman

Introduction: The paper explains the inception and continuing development of an Academic Professional Development Seminar series for the teaching staff at what appears to be the institution, in Australia with the largest number of international students. There is an explanation about the business venture followed by information about the initiation and on-going provision of the program. A brief report is included which indicates a summary of the participants’ recommendations, about teaching and learning, from the 2006 Seminars, to date. Further, a list of suggested topics for future seminars, is provided.

Key words: professional development, teaching and learning, academic staff

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South Asian Students’ Adaptation Experiences in an Australian PG coursework experience

Waliul Islam, Helen Borland

Abstract: A look at the recent statistics will show that large numbers of students from South Asia
are now undertaking postgraduate studies in Australian universities. This paper, drawn from data collected for a broader study about South Asian postgraduate coursework students’ initial understandings, expectations of Australian postgraduate studies and their gradual adaptation experiences, will limit itself to analyzing a few themes that emerge in their initial expectations and experiences.

More specifically the paper aims at providing an overview of the students’ diverse experiences as
international students in Australia, exploring some of their initial expectations as postgraduate students, exploring some of their initial academic experiences of lectures, class participation.

Key words: South Asian students, international students, academic expectations, adjustment experiences, Postgraduate coursework students, class participation, cultural difference.

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Empowerment through learning in a Virtual Environment

David Craven

Abstract: The traditional view of the learning style of the Asian student learner as being suited to rote learning, concrete thinking and teacher dependence can restrict the innovative learning experiences that are provided to the Asian learner. For subjects such as business where there is no one right way but rather a variety of approaches that are often contextually determined, the traditional learning style can be ineffective in fostering knowledge. This paper challenges the validity of the notion that Asian students are unsuited to a flexible, innovative, creative and open systems learning environment. After three years of providing Asian students with a virtual business environment, the evidence suggests that after initial adjustments, the Asian learner benefits exponentially from a more fluid learning environment. International students evidence higher levels of creativity, conceptualisation and understanding than students taught in a teacher-directed environment. Their level of communication and confidence is enhanced. Instead of simply learning something superficially, students know through experience.

Key Words: Virtual learning environments, cultural styles of learning, experiential learning, business training.

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