Failure as Opportunity-reflection and Retention: Approaches to Supporting First Year University Students Experiencing Early Assessment Failure

By Lisa Chandler and Anna Potter.

Published by The Learner Collection

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

For many first year students, adopting the independent learning behaviours necessary for success in tertiary education can be a challenging experience. An unclear understanding of self-regulated learning, and of the time and commitment required for assessment tasks can result in students encountering early assessment failure. This can affect student confidence, motivation, and ongoing academic performance. This paper examines an early intervention strategy, which provides a framework for assisting at-risk students in reflecting on, and taking responsibility for, their learning practices. The efficacy of this strategy in multiple disciplines is demonstrated by comparing the results of the intervention in a first year interdisciplinary communication course with those from a visual design subject, each with quite different curricula and initial assessment tasks. While the original project focused on first year students’ approaches to tertiary study, this paper also considers the contribution of tutors in motivating diverse cohorts of first year students to engage in this valuable, self-reflective process.

Keywords: Learning Intervention Strategy, Student Retention, Assessment Strategy, Student Motivation, First Year University Experience, Reflective Practice

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp.73-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 827.646KB).

Dr. Lisa Chandler

Senior Lecturer, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Lisa Chandler is a senior lecturer in art and design at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and teaches courses in art, design, visual communication, and visual literacy. She was also foundation director of the University Gallery and has curated numerous exhibitions and written catalogue essays. Lisa has worked as an educator, gallery director, curator, graphic designer, and journalist. Her research interests include art and design, curatorship, visual literacy, and visual technologies in education and her work has been published widely in journals. In 2009, Lisa was awarded the Sunshine Coast Regional Council Australia Day Creative Award for services to regional creative industries. In 2010, she was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council citation for outstanding contributions to student learning.

Anna Potter

Lecturer in Communication, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia

Anna Potter spent ten years working in the commercial television industry in London for Rupert Murdoch’s PAY TV operation BSkyB, where she specialised in programme production and classification. Anna moved to Australia and joined the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2001. She completed her MA in 2004, conducting research into the effects of Australia’s media policy on the international distribution of Australian children’s programming. Her current research projects investigate the influence of new media technologies on the production economy and regulation of children’s television. In 2009, Anna was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Her citation was for excellence in “curriculum design, assessment practice, and academic leadership that supports and motivates students to learn in a large, first-year foundation course”.


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