Teaching Matters

Keynote presentation

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Teaching Matters | Presentation Details |


Keynote presentation: Teachers making a difference to regional university students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds


Prof Marcia Devlin, RMIT University


Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre




The headline attrition rates for regional students and for students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds appear to be higher than that for those from higher SES backgrounds and metropolitan areas, although the ways in which attrition is currently measured may be flawed. That said, there is currently a gap in the evidence base around how to improve low SES regional university student retention and success. This keynote address reports on recent research deliberately focused on adding to the evidence base of ‘what works’ for these students.

A thorough review of relevant research and literature was undertaken alongside interviews with 69 students at regional universities from low SES backgrounds who were approaching completion of their studies and with 26 staff who are expert in how these students succeed. This keynote address outlines the findings of this study. These findings include five areas identified as in need of policy reform and eight high-level factors that assist students to succeed, including four factors specifically related to university teachers and teaching. These four factors include: understanding and responding to the particular circumstances and needs of students; facilitating students being and feeling connected to university; ensuring student preparedness for the realities of university study; and an inclusive, engaged approach to learning and teaching. A summary ‘teachers’ dozen’ of ways in which teachers can make a difference are presented.

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