Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 4, No. 2 (2007)

Recognising the expectations of mature age students, their value-adding, and enhancing of retention rates: A case study

Dale Trott, CQU

Abstract

Mature age students are a substantial subgroup within the larger student community. These students come with their own special needs and baggage. This baggage taking the form of family disruption, years since previous study, intransigence, ignorance, vested interests, etc. However, mature age students if encouraged and valued can not only add to their own learning but that of other students. They bring to the learning body a wealth of knowledge and experience born of the workplace, some skills surpassing even that of the educator. With appropriate coaching and handling the mature age student can be an asset to the furtherance of andragogical teachings as well as the potential reduction in attrition rates. This paper reflects upon a first year course taught from Central Queensland University towards an Occupational Health and Safety degree, using teaching and course evaluation findings, with the support of contemporary literature and student feedback. Also highlighted are the measures taken to embed the skills, knowledge and experience of mature age students in the course to assist all students meet their learning outcomes. The findings were that students found the bridging of communication gaps and encouraging of mature age students to take a leading role in the course a huge positive, leading to all students identifying strongly with the course learning outcomes. This was extrapolated to mean that students felt more connected with their program and saw real value in completion of the course.

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