It has been shown that the first-year of university study can be the most critical in a student’s academic life with consequential impact on future student learning, engagement, and success (McInnis, 2001; Pitkethly & Prosser, 2001). Some studies have directly linked adverse social, health and financial circumstances to increased student drop-out, negative experiences and failure during the first year of study (Armour, 1999, Devlin, 2002, Kreber, 2003). This paper describes a research project which was conducted in order to understand and improve first-year student experiences within the Bachelor of Medical Radiation, and the Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery courses (internal and external) at a leading Australian University. The research investigates first-year student needs and expectations of the university experience, particularly for employed students with family responsibilities. The project was undertaken in three phases: phase one involving early focus groups and semi-structured in-depth interviews to investigate the expectations of university life for these students; phase two involving a questionnaire to compare expectations with actual experiences; and, phase three involving further focus groups and in-depth interviews to explore the experiences of students’ university experience and issues impacting their study after one year. The paper outlines the project’s main findings, with a particular focus on a preliminary analysis of data from students within the external nursing program.
|Keywords:||First Year Experience, Student Expectations, Satisfaction Gap, Nursing|
Senior Lecturer, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
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