Academic Culture

Learning at university is a unique experience and differs in significant respects from learning at school, TAFE or work. Three characteristics of universities contribute to the nature of the learning experience they offer:

  • Universities are not only places where students are taught; they are also research institutions responsible for questioning existing knowledge and producing new knowledge.  Unlike school and TAFE teachers, university academics are therefore, in most cases, not only teachers but also professional researchers. 
  • Academics as professional researchers, are engaged in a continual process of argument, contest and debate about the findings of their research. 
  • What counts as knowledge at university differs in significant ways from everyday knowledge.  Academics are interested in what is generally the case and for this reason they base what they write on research rather than personal experience or private opinion.

Novice students are new to this culture and will need assistance to develop an understanding of what is required in this culture.