Discourse about engaging first-year students and improving the first-year experience, advocates collaboration in terms of adopting a holistic approach to course delivery and learning support. This paper presents a collaborative support model to support first-year student engagement and skill development (Einfalt & Turley 2009a, 2009b, 2013). In 2012, this model gained an Office for Learning and Teaching citation for: “a collaborative assessment support model that promotes student growth in skill and independence”. In particular, this paper will discuss the drop-in consultative initiative that has emerged from this model. In an informal, shared drop-in space, students are invited to gain feedback and support from a range of staff, including academic language and learning advisors, to generate ideas, see samples, ask questions and compare work with other peers working on the assessment papers. A crossinstitutional perspective of how the drop-in support concept operates at Queensland University of Technology will also be provided. Focus groups, online surveys and interviews with faculty coordinators have been conducted to evaluate the impact of this evolving initiative over time. Findings suggest that the collaborative support session has had a positive impact on the first-year student experience: raising awareness about academic skills and the processes for researching and writing; promoting peer learning opportunities; building confidence, a sense of connection and providing support that meets a diverse range of students. However, feedback and observations raise important questions about the limitations and tensions emerging from such an initiative. How this collaborative model can be improved and successfully adapted into other institutional contexts will be discusses as part of this presentation.
12th Biennial Conference of the Association for Academic Language and Learning, Wollongong, Australia 25-27 November 2015