Almost Empowered: Is Widening Participation Enough? Second-year Vocational Educational and Training Students' Academic Experiences of University

By Pamela Delly.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 12, 2014 $US5.00

This is a work in progress investigating the educational coping strategies of students transferring from Vocational Education and Training (VET) into university. It focuses on students granted credit for VET studies enrolling directly into second year. In Australia, government policies widening participation in post-secondary education have seen students articulating from VET into university. Little is known about their academic experiences at university. While pathways have created opportunities for these students, universities are not fully cognizant of their learning needs and level of academic preparedness. This may be problematic for second year enrollees, because their first year university experience occurs in second year. As such, they cannot access first year supports, they miss introductory subjects yet teachers assume they have the requisite second year academic skills. The study uses mixed methods with a quantitative first stage questionnaire, which will inform the qualitative data collection to obtain students’ perceptions about the academic strategies they use. The findings revealed 33% of respondents reported they could not write essays or reports. Furthermore, 68% indicated they needed academic support yet 67% of this group did not access the university Academic Language and Learning Unit. The implications are significant as understanding the academic experiences of these students enables universities to better support diverse cohorts beyond simply providing access to a place at university.

Keywords: Widening Participation, Access, Transition, Academic Skills

International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.73-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 12, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 0 bytesB)).

Pamela Delly

Associate Lecturer A/ Language and Academic Skills Adviser, Curriculum Teaching and Learning Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Pamela Delly has been an educator for over thirty years in various educational settings. Her experience in the secondary, Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education sectors has informed her teaching practice and research interests. Throughout her teaching career her goal has been to support all students to maximize their learning opportunities regardless of their academic strengths. She has worked as an Academic Language and Learning Lecturer at La Trobe University since 2006, for five years in the School of Management and from 2011 with the Faculties of Health Sciences and Education. She has developed innovative teaching programs to meet the needs of both international and domestic at-risk students, and has written and published papers in this area. Pam is currently doing her PhD.