In our discussion we will canvass views of how to best recruit and retain students at USC, and in particular Gympie campus, by envisioning ways of truly supporting students in all phases of the university experience. Our focus for the discussion will be on the first year experience but welcome insights from other phases. We want you to tell us how you administer and teach, facilitate learning and provide support, so that your students gain the confidence needed to develop their capacity for learning and reach their true potential. Considerable research has been undertaken on the First Year in Higher Education Experience (FYHE) over the past 40 years with a currently recognized emphasis on the “importance and centrality” of the transition experience to undergraduate student success in tertiary studies (Nelson, Smith & Clarke, 2012, p. 185). How this transition experience has been thought about and realized has evolved from first generation co-curricular approaches to second generation curricular approaches and finally to a third generation approach where transition strategies and support measures are deemed the responsibility of the whole-of-institution (Kift, Nelson, & Clarke, 2010). In our latest publication, we proposed a fourth generation approach to the FYHE where university-community partnerships, specifically, those involving the wider social/civic community, have an integral part in the student’s transition (PennEdwards & Donnison, 2014). This fourth generation approach is characterized and driven by a social and civic “Community of Practice” (CoP) (Wenger, 1998) that acknowledges, amongst other premises, that the first year undergraduate’s transition is enhanced when the student is validated through an “enabling, confirming and supportive process initiated by in- and out-of-class agents that fosteracademic and interpersonal development” (Rendόn, 1994, p. 44). Central to our fourth generation approach is a Community of Practice. A CoP consists of a group of people who engage in collective learning to develop a repertoire of practices about things that matter to them (Wenger, 1998). It is characterised by three concepts: a domain of shared interest with community members having a commitment to the joint enterprise; a community where members develop relationships through engagement in shared activities, discussions, and information; and a practice where those involved in the community “develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice” (Wenger, 2011, p. 2).While there are no particular established projects that replicate this proposed project there are previous projects that inform it. For example, the Teaching and Support of Students from Low SES Backgrounds project (Devlin, Kift, Nelson, Smith & Mckay,2012) focused on providing teaching and support strategies for students from low SES backgrounds (similar to the student body at Gympie campus). They advise that institutions should actively foster opportunities for students’ families and communities to engage with the institution. The project that forms the basis of this discussion forum for Teaching and Learning week, 2015, is lead by Dr Sharn Donnison. Member of the team include, Michael Christie, Ruth Greenway, Graham Young, Sorrel Penn Edwards and Rosemary Horn.
2015 Learning & Teaching Week: Teaching Visions: Seeing Teaching in New Ways, Sunshine Coast, Australia 14-18 September 2015
2015 Learning & Teaching Week Program Book / pp.8-9