The annual International First Year in Higher Education (FYHE) Conference in Brisbane, Australia (June 26-29, 2012) provided a unique opportunity to road test some key resources being developed for the sector around the safeguarding of student learning engagement. While the resources relate specifically to early intervention programs and initiatives, we were curious to gain some feedback on whether a social justice framework could be applicable to other student engagement programs (like orientation, peer mentoring or even the development of curriculum).
Several other of this project’s participating institutions were able to showcase their own emerging and mature early intervention activities: Rhonda Leece and her team from the University of New England (UNE) had their audience well and truly engrossed with their overview of the Early Alert program. When you consider that 80 per cent of UNE students study by distance, student engagement and the creation of community is by no means an easy task. The Programs’ use of social media, various institutional corporate data and online self-reporting opportunities allows for a holistic portrait of the student experience. Glenda Jackson and Mitch Read from Edith Cowan University (ECU) detailed the development of the ‘Connect for Success Program’ to a large and responsive number of conference delegates while Carole Quinn, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), discussed the critical success factors that have made the Student Success Program an integral retention initiative within the institution.
There is no doubt that early monitoring and intervention activities are on the increase within the higher education sector. Forums like the FYHE Conference not only allow for the dissemination of these types of initiatives (sharing practice) but assist in increasing the dialogue about the requirement for frameworks and guidelines based on notions of equity and social justice. Tracy Creagh