1. SYSTEMIC APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE AND LEARNING SUPPORT
Systemic, or „indirect‟, support involves collaborative projects with mainstream staff including:
work on TLS grants and projects; peer mentoring; learning commons development; online support through the SLS website, email and WebCT; materials development; support for particular initiatives such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL); development of offshore support; and so on.
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2. Direct Language and Learning Support 1.1 TLS Grants and Projects
3. Online Study Resources 1.2 Peer Mentoring
4. Research and "Other" 1.3 The Learning Commons
1.4 Curriculum-Integrated Instruction
1.5 Innovation (offshore)
1.1 TLS Grants and Projects
The projects outlined below included staff from all three of the CSLS units who worked with Faculty staff to achieve the outcomes noted.
These projects support Task 2 of Strategy 1.3 in the Learning and Teaching Support Functional Plan and Strategy 1.9. Six projects were funded with Faculties and Schools.
1. The projects: Communicating in a PBL Environment: Supporting the teaching team in the School of Electrical Engineering, and Addressing the language needs of science students
using a Multiliteracies approach, have developed strategies for increasing staff awareness of and confidence with discipline-specific language and learning approaches. Final evaluations have yet to be completed but a request has already been made for a continuation of, and possible extension of, the PBL project.
2.The project: Modelling for international and offshore students of exam preparation techniques in an undergraduate Bachelor of Business core subject, has developed resources
for teaching staff and students both on and offshore. This project will continue beyond its
funded period and is the basis of an application for a Vice Chancellor‟s (VC) award. Another
project has developed Support Materials for written language skills for Horn of Africa students in the Gateway to Nursing course. This is an excellent example of supporting our culturally diverse student body.
These projects support Task 4 of Strategy 1.2 and Strategy 1.4 – Develop a managed
transition program to reduce attrition and extend mentoring programs in HE and articulated
courses - in the Learning and Teaching Support Functional Plan.
Six projects were funded under the banner of the „Pilot Transition Projects‟, two in each Faculty. These projects were designed to increase student engagement and ensure successful transition of students into university. The outcomes are to be evaluated by indicators such as retention rates and feedback on student surveys. The projects were facilitated by the Transition Coordinator and progress reviewed by the Academic Transition Reference Committee. Final reports and evaluations are yet to be completed by the project stteams. However, specific examples of outcomes to date, as reflected by 1 Semester 2006
results include the following: nd; a drop in failure rate in a 2 year Nursing subject following the introduction of a
Bridging Program which addresses discipline specific language and study skills
needs of TAFE articulating students.
; an increase in pass rate due to targeted mathematics and language support (face to stface and online) of 1 year students in the Electrical Engineering „problem based
learning‟ subject. st; an increase in the number of Higher Distinctions in a core 1 year Education subject
following the introduction of study partners and the inclusion of practicing teachers in
the classroom. st; a better retention rate and positive feedback in a 1 year Psychology subject
following an extended orientation program for students and introduction of reflective
practice in the curriculum.
The Academic Transition Reference Committee has continued to advise the Pro-Vice
Chancellor of Teaching and Learning (PVC T&L) on developing and implementing strategies
to assist the University in meeting its objectives in relation to student transition/adjustment to University, as well as to act as a reference group for T&L projects. Work of this committee continued in 2006 with the focus on the transition of new and articulating students to the HE sector. This was in line with the VU Learning & Teaching Support Functional Plan and justified by generally higher attrition rates amongst new and TAFE (now VE) articulating students.
The committee is facilitated by an Academic Transition Coordinator, chaired by a senior
academic, and consists of at least one academic staff member from each Faculty in the HE Sector as well as representatives from each Faculty in VE sectors, VU College, Student
Services, PEC, Library, Victoria University International (VUI) and Equity & Social Justice.
ELI Transition Study
The project involved a longitudinal study following a cohort of students from their ELI University Preparation course (UP2) into their first semester of higher education study at
onshore VU. This led to the development of a tutorial skills program that was embedded into UP2 and piloted in intake 4 2006. Feedback shows that the majority of students found it very useful and gained a better understanding of the experience of ex-ELI students studying in
their first semester of the degree program. The program was evaluated through 1) feedback
during the program 2) Survey Monkey at the end of the program 3) Survey Monkey feedback at 5 weeks into students‟ main course.
This project focused on students understandings of plagiarism and introduces students to the plagiarism software “Turnitin”. Students were provided with feedback to help them reduce plagiarism.
Horn of Africa Learning Support Project
In partnership with the School of Business and Service Industries this project aims to provide learning support for the Horn of Africa Law course. The course aims to nurture young leaders within the local Horn of African communities by providing them with both a working knowledge
of the Australian legal system and the skills to address community issues and represent the interests of their people. The course itself is a customized program that draws upon units from within the Legal Practices and Community Services Learning Packages. Subject teachers
have identified as an area of significant concern the „weakness‟ in many students learning skills. SLS would offer direct learning support to students as well as assisting teachers to identify appropriate strategies and resources.
Racing Victoria Project
Additional funds were received from DEST to arrange trialling of resource by various RTOs who train in the racing industry. Feedback was sought and changes to resource have been made. Members of the project team attended Racing Victoria network meetings to present the
resource and receive feedback. A final report was written and the accounts audited.
VCE Relationship Agreement Project
In partnership with the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Foundation Program, VCE
ESL and VCE Year II this project sought to develop innovative approaches to teaching formal written assignments and the selection and adaptation of subject material.
Career Change Project
The Career Change program is currently delivered through a partnership between the School
of Education (HE) and the Education Professional Development Unit (EPDU) within the Staff College. This project is an innovative partnership between the Higher Education sector, the TAFE sector (EPDU delivering VET qualifications) and CSLS.
The project is developing a web site for the specialist Bachelor of Education (incorporating the Cert IV TAA and Grad Cert in VET) housing details of the course, staff contact details, delivery schedules, assessment guidelines, resources etc.
t till also provide delivery of academic writing skills through the provision of resource material, face-to-face workshops and on-line support to the student cohort in the Career Change
program. It is proposed that this will develop their literacy capacity thereby enabling them to
better manage the work requirements of an academic program, whilst participating in their “new” profession of teaching.
Engineering Maths Preparation for Higher Ed
This project researched what additional mathematical skills TAFE Engineering students
needed to succeed at Higher Ed. A bridging program was developed and piloted at the Sunshine Campus.
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1.2 Peer Mentoring
Rather than focus on one particular model of peer mentoring, focus has been on working flexibly with individuals and groups of staff to develop peer mentoring models which are relevant for their particular curriculum, school or faculty goals. This flexibility has led to the development of three general models of peer mentoring at VU which are then adapted to suit
Peer Mentoring Model 1: In Model 1 the focus is on the students‟ academic needs. Unit of study-based programs provide revision sessions in specific subjects in a group-based, peer-led, semi-formal setting. Each group is led by two trained student mentors who have been successful in that subject
Peer Mentoring Model 2: In Model 2 the focus is on students‟ adjustment and their need to affiliate and identify with a specific learning environment. Orientation/transition programs cover broad psychosocial and learning outcomes in a group-based, peer-led, semi-formal setting. Each group is led by one or two trained student mentors who have experienced the same transition.
Peer Mentoring Model 3: In Model 3 the focus is on students‟ learning needs as they arise within a library setting. Mentors (Student Rovers) will be available to students within the Learning Commons to gain advice and support about IT, library and learning support issues.
The growth in peer mentoring programs between 2002-2006 is demonstrated below:
1999 - 20022003 - 2004
BridgeAccount - Student ing DMCareer Circles in BridgeArts
Chinese Career MentoringBridge
Career Student Account - BridgeStudent Circles in ing ISAmbass- Arts
Student Account - Grad Dip Circles in ing DMEd & Cert ArtsAccount - 3
Account - Account - Student ing ISing Circles - Articulat - Sports ors Admin
The broad impact of these programs is significant. Each contact between a mentor and a mentee not only effectively provides a mentee with information and support, it also allows staff to concentrate on more complex student questions. It could be argued that each Model 1 mentoring session with 15 students in attendance ensures that 15 meetings with a lecturer, or
tutor, or an administration officer are not needed. Thus per 10-week program for each Model
1 program a minimum of 150 staff contacts do not arise. Example of evaluations of peer mentoring:
Accounting for Decision Making:
Students endorsement for three statements
1008380Helped my knowledge in this797180subject
Helped my confidence in this60subject
40Increased my friendshipPercentagenetworks20
Intending articulators response to three questions (N= 17)
Did you find it worthwhile to12meet the degree students10today?910
786You participated in some6444activities. Did you find them334useful in helping you to learn1more about moving to a degreeNo. of students200000000course?0Are you looking forward to123456meeting the mentors againwhen you start your degreeNot at all Somewhat Totallycourse?
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1.3 The Learning Commons
As VU changes towards a culture of learning that is flexible, learning-oriented, learner-centred, collaborative, university-wide and community-building, CSLS, in line with the University‟s
strategic commitment, is contributing to the development of a VU Learning Commons (LC) and in particular the piloting of student Rovers (experienced students working with other students) in the LC in 2006-2007. A Commons area will encourage students to come together to discuss and debate, to explore ideas and share skill-sets. It will be a site which enhances collaborative learning and recognises different ways of dealing with learning tasks. In particular the employment of Rovers is pivotal to the development of a LC. In 2005- 2006 CSLS was given funding to pilot a Rovers program. CSLS has collaborated with library and IT to:
; Develop a position description for student rovers
; Recruit and select them
; Develop an intensive training program
; Develop evaluation tools
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1.4 Curriculum-Integrated Instruction
In 2006, SLU staff have been involved in curriculum development and delivery of discipline specific academic language and skills with the School of Law, the School of Management, the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing and the School of Accounting and Finance. The stemphasis has been on 1 year core subjects. This curriculum-integrated instruction reached over 2500 students of which approximately 15% were international students in Melbourne, 25% were international students at offshore partner locations and 55% were domestic students in Melbourne.
Subject Campus Primary focus (beyond academic
literacy and language)
Business Law Footscray Park Scaffolded introduction to contract law
and how to argue a legal position.
Corporate Law Liaoning
BHO1171 Specific sections of the marketing report
Intro to Marketing Werribee analysed for structure, content and
logic, delivered within timetabled lecture
BMO1102 Footscray Park 2 timetabled lectures at each location:
Management & 1. „Assessment related essay writing
Organisation Werribee strategies‟, and
Behaviour 2. „Exam preparation and the
Sunbury differences between short answer
questions and essay questions‟.
BAO1101 Beijing Development then demonstration and
Accounting explanation of budgeting example as
online resource. Access and use of
internet accounting sites e.g. „Trading
Room‟; delivered within timetabled
From written evaluations it can be stated that over 80% of the resources produced are either „useful‟, „very useful‟, „worthwhile‟, „very worthwhile‟; over 70% of the instruction is rated either
„useful‟, „very useful‟, „worthwhile‟, „very worthwhile‟
Degree to Which The Assessment Allows Students
to Demonstrate Their Learning
1Student Rating0 (1= strongly disagree; 20032004200520065= strongly agree
Overall Quality Ratings of the Subject
1Student Rating0 (1= very poor; 20032004200520065= very good
SES Level of Student Agreement on the Clarity of the
Learning Outcomes and Expected Standard of the
1Student Rating0(1= strongly 2003200420052006disagree;
5= strongly agreeYears
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1.5 Innovation Offshore
CSLS, in conjunction with staff from the Faculties and TLS, held the Enriching Partnerships:
Maximising Your Students’ Success conference in Beijing in 2006. This was a direct result of
the work undertaken by a CSLS team in 2005 for an Australian Vice Chancellor‟s Committee
(AVCC) grant and reflected the values of that study. The collaborative 3-day conference brought together partner institutes‟ academic staff teaching Diploma and Degree subjects in
most of VU‟s programs in China. This conference was the first of its kind held by an Australian institution and was noted as „an excellent project‟ and an example of good practice in transnational education by the Minister Counsellor (Education, Science and Training), Australia Education International. It was cited as a major achievement for TLS in the 2006 Quality improvement Review (QIR), and TLS was commended for „Its work in offshore
support services and the associated Beijing conference which has received significant external feedback, and success in competitive grants in this area‟.
In addition teaching partnerships have now been extended to involve the Kuala Lumpur and Beijing partner lecturers in the analysis of student needs offshore, and in the development and piloting of materials. This allows for the recognition of differences between cohorts and the development of contextualised approaches and materials. VU‟s draft International Students Learning Support Plan requires that „principles for student language and learning
support‟ are incorporated „into future agreements regarding offshore provision‟ and that „embedding of Language and Learning support into mainstream teaching through work with academic staff teaching offshore‟ is required. This is a major institutional initiative for 2006 and will continue to be developed into 2007.
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