Schools-university Partnership Program Involving Year 10 Students is Changing Aspirations of First-generation Potential University Students in South Australia

By Joy Penman and Mary Oliver.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The University of South Australia’s First Generation Program aims to raise aspirations of secondary school students about university study. The program is a joint state-government, secondary school and university partnership, involving Year 10 students who are the first to begin the new South Australian Certificate of Education. The program was offered in the regional city of Whyalla in 2009 and 2010, with 57 and 40 students participating in the program, respectively.

The aims of the program were to raise the awareness of school students about the regional university and enhance their aspirations toward university studies, specifically targeting first-generation rural students. The initiative follows one of the findings of the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education, which expressed concern at the declining participation in higher education within regional Australia.

The Year 10 regional students from high schools were accompanied by their teachers while attending the on-campus program offered over six weeks. During these sessions students and teachers interacted with university staff while engaging in a structured program. University students worked as student mentors. The school students were required to actively participate and experience different areas of learning. The structured program began with an induction to the First Generation program by a facilitator. During the weeks that followed students learned about university studies and discipline programs by engaging in interactive tasks. Students completed a post-program questionnaire at the end of their final visit. The paper reports evaluation data on program content, student activities and feedback from post-program surveys.

Keywords: School-university Partnership, First Generation Program, Higher Education, Raising Aspirations

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp.487-498. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 814.817KB).

Dr. Joy Penman

Lecturer, Centre for Regional Engagement, Whyalla Campus, University of South Australia, Whyalla, South Australia, Australia

Joy Penman is a Lecturer at the University of South Australia, Centre for Regional Engagement. She teaches both science and nursing courses at the University of South Australia. She has over twenty years teaching experience locally and abroad and many years nursing experience in various health care facilities. Joy has been a consistent recipient of the university’s Supported Teacher Award for addressing the university teaching and learning priorities on improving student satisfaction, focusing on the development of graduate qualities, and developing teaching and learning resources and publications. She is well published in the area of teaching and learning. Joy has extensive experience in research and community service as well. She has received Supported Researcher and Community Service awards in recognition of her research endeavours and community engagements, respectively.

Assoc Prof. Mary Oliver

Centre for Regional Engagement, Whyalla Campus, University of South Australia, Whyalla, South Australia, Australia

Associate Professor Mary Oliver is Dean Teaching and Learning at the Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia. Under Mary’s leadership the First Generation program was introduced to regional high schools engaging teachers and students in the program. As an experienced teacher, Mary has worked in the higher education system for nearly 20 years. She has authored, designed and developed award winning education resources in multimedia to advance the skills of graduate nurses and health professionals. Mary has extended her research through a number of projects in the last six years, obtaining Federal Government funding for two of her projects which culminated in a state of the art learning environment which is used by heath professions in industry, health services, university and other education providers to up skill health professionals. Mary is supervising several PhD students in the areas of health and education.


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