The Feature for this issue—Reflections on Student Persistence—has been prepared by Professor Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, United States of America (USA) and a long-time friend and supporter of STARS. Vincent explores the case for motivation to be considered as a significant aspect of the tertiary student psyche by drawing on theoretical frameworks, research and practical experiences related to the issue. He synthesises this extensive, detailed, rich but often somewhat impenetrable data into a trilogy of clear and credible key dimensions of the motivation construct—student self-efficacy, sense of belonging and perceived value of the curriculum. This interpretation of the literature is a personal but informed reflection and is a timely piece which highlights the breadth and profundity of the presentations at this year’s conference in Adelaide, Australia where students in all their diversity are central to our focus on enhancing the student experience.
In this opening article, Vincent refers directly to the STARS papers selected for this Conference issue of the Journal which also address the importance of student persistence, self-efficacy and building the sense of belonging within their own institutional communities (Fernandes, Ford, Rayner & Pretorius; Kahu, Nelson, & Picton; McFarlane, Spes-Skrbis &Taib; Naylor; Smallhorn). Echoing his position on social justice and his advocacy for underserved students, Vincent reminds us that educational equity gaps still exist, and he encourages us to see the issue of persistence through the eyes of the students to support their perseverance and completion and thereby help reduce educational disadvantage.