Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 6, No. 1 (2009)

Developing academic persistence in first year tertiary students: A case study

Helen Eva Huntly, cquniversity academic
Jennifer Donovan

Abstract

Teachers and researchers of undergraduate university students agree that the first year experience can have a major impact on later study participation and academic performance. Specifically, the transition to university study from school or other contexts requires that first year students demonstrate the characteristics of self-directed learners, as they enter an environment with minimal constraints and an expectation of self-motivation and individual effort. Art Costa (1991) has identified several such characteristics that he terms habits of mind, suggesting that demonstration of these habits will enhance the academic success of learners. The aim of this research project was to identify teaching and learning strategies that have the potential to assist first year university students to persist at a task. Persistence is one of Costa’s habits, and also one of the Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, recently adopted by Central Queensland University in the pursuit of enhanced teaching and learning outcomes for staff and students alike. This paper will outline the process undertaken to gather data from one of the participating tutors of first year undergraduate teacher education students enrolled in a regional campus in Queensland. The data presented here was gathered through a participant journal and an individual interview at the end of the term. Analysis of the data revealed that student persistence can be developed and enhanced through the use of teaching and learning strategies with a focus on explicit teacher talk, reflection on learning, shared experiences and positive feedback.

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