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

Transitioning into university: ‘Interrupted’ first year students problem-solving their way into study

Robyn Henderson, USQ
Karen Noble, USQ
Linda De George-Walker, USQ


For many ‘new’ university students, especially those who might be called ‘mature age’, ‘interrupted’ or ‘second chance’ learners, the commencement of university study is often fraught with difficulties. Whilst family and paid employment commitments sometimes compete with study time, some students worry that they do not have the wherewithal for tertiary study or that they may not be successful in their new venture. This paper sets out to investigate some of the concerns experienced by a group of ‘interrupted’ learners who are enrolled in the first year of an education degree in a regional Australian university and to consider their views of a support program that they have accessed. In contrast to the traditional approach of offering academic support to students, this program emphasises social support and the development of a learning community as essential to academic success. In providing a time and a place for students to meet with a group of academics on a weekly basis, the program operates with no fixed academic agenda and positions students and academics as life-long learners. In this supportive environment, this approach works to develop enhanced problem-solving capacities as the students make their transition into university study.

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