Dr Lynette Faragher
USQ Salon - A different view of First Year student capabilities. How to discover their strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge in classroom pedagogy.
Dr Lynette Faragher was born in South Africa and worked in African education for most of her working life there undertaking leadership positions in organisations and institutions. A period of travel and teaching overseas in L2 situations followed this.
She came to USQ in 2009 where she co-ordinated the Learning Centre at the Springfield Campus. She completed her PhD in 2018 and graduated. The PhD study focusses on the identification of skills and abilities that first year students bring with them when they start their learning journeys; especially Higher Order Thinking Skills and Academic Discourse skills. The construct of the virtual uni bag is central to this thinking. Using Transition Pedagogy in new ways, calling it ‘pedagogy for transition’ and applying constructivist pedagogy, she seeks to promote the possibility of changes in the design and implementation of the curriculum and courses for first years that will enhance their engagement and chances of success.
Many First Year students find their immediate experiences of university overwhelming on a number of fronts and sometimes, after getting a disappointing result from their early assignments tend to drop out. Many have come to university from other careers and they have managed their lives successfully but have not had to do what the academy requires of them. Nevertheless, they bring with them a range of skills and knowledge from their previous lives.
My research explored the skills and abilities they brought and found that in my sample, they had a range of Higher Order Thinking Skills as well as some Academic Discourse skills that could be engaged and developed, potentially enabling them to engage better with the demands of the academy. Simply expressed, my argument is that if the curriculum and syllabuses took their existing skills into account and affirmed them, while developing the weak areas, more students would be more successful, and the existing attrition rate would diminish.
In this presentation I hope to challenge what might be some of the preconceptions about what first years can and cannot do, but even more, hope to encourage university teachers to reflect on their own experiences of working with first years and think of fresh ways in which, in their pedagogy, they can build on the students’ strengths and redress their weaknesses. University administrations are all doing a great deal to assist students to transition into the academy, but the students’ primary experience is in the study realm, be it in a classroom, lecture theatre or online and that is where the changes must happen.
Toowoomba Studio Y103 and Zoom
Contact USQSalon@usq.edu.au with any queries.