Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 3 (2010)

People, pedagogy and the power of connection

Alice M Brown, University of Southern Queensland
Shirley E Reushle, Univeristy of Southern Queensland


The profile and fabric of adult learners in higher education is changing and becoming more diverse. Supporting these students in their learning journey needs to go beyond the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities requiring a paradigm shift in pedagogical approach. In this paper, two tertiary educators from a regional Australian university share how they not only support adult learners enrolled both locally and globally but also help them to connect effectively with course content and with each other. One author, working primarily in undergraduate education courses has proposed a “Winning Formula” approach to her pedagogy with an emphasis on student engagement, contextualised learning and an extensive choice of learning resources. The second author who works online with postgraduate learners shares outcomes of her research in online design with a focus on the principle of the “CHE factor” (qualities of Connectivity, Humanness and Empathy) which she has found is the central tenet of effective online learning and teaching. As a result of a categorical analysis of multiple data sources from their individual research activities, the two authors were able to identify a number of shared learning and teaching principles which they have found support learners in making connections between their learning and the real world environments in which they live and work. Principles, however, cannot exist in a vacuum and need to be considered according to the educational contexts within which they are applied. The authors critique these key principles and the application to their own teaching contexts and share some anecdotal comments from students. The paper concludes with an invitation to others to consider the application (and possible adaptation) of the principles to their own educational contexts.

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