Home' Link : Learn Issue 2 Contents Things have changed for the better on campus.
Gone completely is the old-fashioned, shoulder-
shrug acceptance of a certain number of students
failing their first year. Instead, you'll see a supportive web
of initiatives to prevent that happening.
The First Year Experience (FYE) is now everybody's
business, transcending any silos that inhabit other corners
of the campus.
FYE coordinator Dr Gemma Mann and her team are
enmeshed in many of these initiatives, and they are
keeping tabs on related activities led by academics and, in
some cases, students themselves. Gemma explains that the
journey towards a successful FYE can start as early as upper
primary school, with federally funded programs to raise
aspirations and broaden participation also endorsing
realistic expectations and ensuring students (especially
those from low socio-economic backgrounds) are fully
prepared for a tertiary experience.
Even as students accept their degree at CQUniversity,
Gemma says there's the opportunity for a quick
'temperature check' of their readiness in the form of an
email questionnaire. If necessary, applicants can boost
their confidence before arriving by undertaking some
preparatory academic modules online.
"At this early stage we can identify students on our
radar who may be in the workforce but planning to take
on too many subjects. Once students are on campus we
have Orientation Week, including online O-Week for
distance students and sessions for parents and partners.
Our advanced student mentors have a crucial role providing
"Orientation gives students the chance to meet key
academics, program advisors and support staff and to find
out what is important. We don't expect them to be able
to do everything in the first week ... just to know what's
important for them to find out."
O-Week includes social activities, entertainment,
tours, program briefings and sessions on academic
writing. There's also a network of staff employed on
projects supporting students throughout the rest of their
Gemma and her team are encouraging students
to nurture their peers too. For example, nursing
student Patricia Fox has implemented a PULSE
program, ensuring regular gatherings and networking
opportunities throughout the academic year, extending the
sense of community beyond O-Week.
We've all seen the first-year university experience
portrayed in American movies, with keg parties, frat
houses, sporting jocks and cheerleaders mingling in
dorms on one big campus. However, CQUniversity
has an increasingly diverse and multicultural student
cohort spread across geographically dispersed locations.
Students are often juggling study with family and work
responsibilities and are less likely to have a total focus on
In recognition of this trend, a new Community of
Practice (CoP) has emerged at CQUniversity to promote the
best blend of first-year experiences and to ensure pockets of
excellence are not kept in the shadows.
PEER NETWORKS A PLUS
Aishling McLeod arrived on campus too late to
take part in her Orientation Week activities, but
otherwise her first-year experience has been a
The Electrical Engineering student has
praised the use of team projects as a boon for
networking with peers, while small classes have
meant lecturers have been approachable.
She's had the chance to liaise with a distance
education student on a shared assignment
and also with another student who is already
working in a relevant industry.
The proof is in the pudding. Aishling's academic
progress has earned her $1000 as part of an
Engineering Students for the Future networking
program in Brisbane.
She's also among three CQUniversity students
who have earned an Australian Power
Institute (API) bursary for 2012. Each bursary
provides $8000 over the next four years, plus
paid employment with API member companies
over summer vacations.
Photo: Marc Barnbaum
13 | Learn
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