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Pastoral Care and the Caring Teacher – Value Adding to Enabling Education


The concept of pastoral care to effectively meet the personal, social and academic needs of students is a complex yet under-researched matter in higher education. Similarly, under-researched and institutionally undervalued is the pivotal role that the caring teacher fulfils in imbuing pastoral care in enabling courses. Using an enabling course in a regional Australian university as the context, this article outlines the concept of pastoral care and then discusses the characteristics of the caring teacher, so fundamental to enabling education. The article draws on Motta and Bennett’s (2018) pedagogies of care, namely care as recognition, care as dialogic relationality, and care as affective and embodied praxis to analyse how the students perceived and valued care in the enabling course in which they participated. Findings indicate that supportive learning environments in which caring teachers nurture their students can promote very positive interactions, and ultimately, high student satisfaction and retention.

Published: 2020-03-03
Pages:12 to 21
How to Cite
Seary, K., & Willans, J. (2020). Pastoral Care and the Caring Teacher – Value Adding to Enabling Education. Student Success, 11(1), 12-21.

Author Biographies

Australia Australia

Karen Seary is the Associate Dean, School of Access Education at CQUniversity.  The School hosts CQUniversity’s two enabling courses, the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) and the Tertiary Entry Program (TEP). She has been involved with STEPS in various roles as lecturer, campus coordinator and Head of Course since 1994. Karen also has overall management responsibility for the academic learning services offered by the Academic Learning Centre (Higher Education) and the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Centre (VET). Karen’s research interests centre on adult education, in particular, the creation of opportunity for educationally disadvantaged students through enabling courses and the transition to tertiary education. Karen is currently the Chair of the National Association of Enabling Educators Australia (NAEEA). 

Australia Australia

Dr Julie Willans is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Access Education, Tertiary Education Division at CQUniversity Australia’s Rockhampton North campus. She teaches Essay Writing for University, Technical Writing for University and Preparation Skills for University in the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) course at CQUniversity. Over the past 17 years, her practice-based research has focused on the application of transformative learning theory in the context of adult learning environments in both enabling education and other non-educational settings. She is passionate about the use of the Hero’s Journey reflective framework as a pedagogical tool in her classroom, and she has disseminated related findings in a number of academic publications and at many national and international conferences. Her research also focuses on strategies to enhance student retention in enabling education, with relevant application to the undergraduate arena; and the construct of the ‘caring’ teacher.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795