There is a misconception that work associated with engaging and supporting vulnerable students, particularly in their first year at university may have already been attended to. Although a body of work associated with the first year experience (FYE) has been initiated, much of it has focused on curriculum design or specific FYE initiatives within disciplines. The direction of this work is significantly different in that it seeks to lead the development and implementation of institutional good practice for monitoring students’ engagement in learning.
It is critical for students’ learning outcomes, the government’s widening participation agenda and the reputation of the sector that various approaches to monitoring student learning engagement (MSLE) are guided by an agreed set of guiding principles, consistent with the notions of equity and social justice, to ensure that the ultimate benefit of monitoring is positive for students. Leading the development of these guiding principles and thus building capacity in Higher Education institutions (HEI) to take up the principles through the good practice guide and accompanying exemplars and resources is the focus of this project.
The commitment of institutions to students is a critical factor in retention—universities need to initiate, support and promote student personal, social and academic engagement, particularly for those students who face the greatest challenges in transition. Many Australasian universities are cognisant of the importance of thisand a relative few have adopted and implemented comprehensive strategies for MSLE – for example, QUT (Student Success Program), Auckland University of Technology ( First Year Experience Programme) and the University of New England (Early Alert Program).