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Community, Engagement and Connectedness: Reflections on Pathway Programs at a Regional Australian University

Abstract

The progressive democratisation of Australian higher education has numerous causes including the increase in the number of universities and therefore university places across the later 20th and into the 21st century, as well as initiatives by governments of different ideological hues to increase the total percentage of the population with a university degree. This latter impulse, in particular, has increased significantly the number of students entering university via pathway programs, meaning programs which provide the opportunity to undertake study to inculcate university-standard skills and enable matriculation into university for people who are otherwise ineligible. The students in pathway programs are sometimes disengaged from learning, coming from so-called non-traditional pathways that may signify a disconnect between them and their institutions of learning. This practice report, therefore, examines efforts to address “connectedness” in pathway programs at a regional university in Australia. The pathway programs at UniSQ College are underpinned by an inclusive and holistic teaching philosophy that supports students’ access to higher education. Through the lenses of social, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and collaborative engagement, practitioners examined and reflected on ways in which this philosophy was embedded in the day-to-day work of UniSQ College through deliberate efforts to promote and maintain connectedness. By reflecting on and articulating these connections, we have provided a base for developing a future evaluative framework that will critically examine the extent to which our practices, through student engagement, foster connectedness.

Published: 2022-11-29
Pages:11 to 19
Section:Practice Reports
How to Cite
Spence, J., Davis, C., Green, J. H., Green, O., Harmes, M., & Sherwood, C. (2022). Community, Engagement and Connectedness: Reflections on Pathway Programs at a Regional Australian University. Student Success, 13(3), 11-19. https://doi.org/10.5204/ssj.2441

Author Biographies

University of Southern Queensland
Australia Australia

Dr Jenny Spence is a physicist within UniSQ College, which runs enabling programs to widen participation into higher education including STEM programs. She is passionate about student success, no matter their background.

University of Southern Queensland
Australia Australia

Charmaine Davis is an experienced practitioner in widening participation, and has worked in pathway programs for many years, including coordinating preparatory programs and HEPPP projects. Her research is focused on Enabling education, and through her role as an executive member of the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia, she has engaged in cross-institutional collaborative projects that take a sector wide approach to research.

University of Southern Queensland; University of the Free State
Australia Australia

Associate Professor Jonathan Green PhD SFHEA is Deputy Director (Pathways) at UniSQ College, University of Southern Queensland. He is responsible for the strategic leadership of the university’s pathway programs and for ensuring teaching quality for student engagement and success. Jonathan is committed to helping students, often from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, to find pathways into higher education and to prepare for the learning and literacy demands of academic study. He is passionate about designing learning environments and encounters that are engaging, interactive and authentic, and his research interests focus on learning and teaching in higher education. He is an advocate for widening participation in higher education.

University of Southern Queensland
Australia Australia

Orié Green provides academic advice and support to students in pathway programs at the University of Southern Queensland. She has extensive experience and research interest in intercultural language learning and teaching

University of Southern Queensland
Australia Australia

Professor Marcus Harmes is Associate Director Research in the University of Southern Queensland College and teaches into the enabling programs. He has published extensively in the fields of educational history.

University of Southern Queensland
Australia Australia

Celeste Sherwood is an educator and researcher in higher education. She has an extensive background in learning support and enabling education. Her research interests include academic literacies, widening participation, and enabling education. She is currently lecturing in a tertiary preparation program and completing a PhD investigating issues of access through the lens of assignment writing. 

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795