The BA First-Year Community

Faculty of Arts, University of Queensland Library, Student Services Directorate

Project Team: Professor Fred D’Agostino, Ms Inge Matt, Mr Michael Whiteway, Ms Janey Saunders, Mr Justin Nicholls

Click here to view video Video of The BA First-Year Community [4.1MB MP4]

The BA First Year Community project utilises a blended learning approach to encourage successful transition to first year and to assist the formation of a learning community amongst the large and diverse Bachelor of Arts first-year cohort. A suite of online sites aims to complement face-to-face community building and provides accessible support, guidance and encouragement of self-directed enquiry and participation to suit a range of learning styles.

The project is an exemplary initiative that demonstrates an innovative, evidence-based approach to supporting the needs of first-year students and increasing their sense of belonging to a learning community. The information and support made available are outstanding in their quality and innovative delivery. The sites provide high quality, discipline-focused and interactive platforms through which students can engage in University life.
 
This integrated and highly sophisticated program offers students a multi-modal learning experience with three interrelated components framed around key areas of need for first-year students. The Blackboard community site addresses academic and social transition issues for all commencing BA students; an associated Facebook group incorporates online peer-mentoring and an additional opportunity to build social links; and a Scenario-Based Learning interactive site (SBLi) enables students to assess themselves, find assistance for key transition issues and generate a personalised learning plan.
 
The use of a cyclical action research model for implementation, review and improvement demonstrates the team’s commitment to continuous improvement through critical reflection. The evaluation data demonstrate that the program has worked to equip first-year students with key skills that enable them to integrate and succeed both academically and socially. User statistics reveal robust use of the BA First Year Community site by commencing students, especially during the initial crucial weeks of semester, when it has been found to average at least 10,000 hits per week.
 
The BA First Year Community represents a significant contribution to first-year quality enhancement practices. It provides a successful example of a program designed to embed first-year engagement strategies in disciplinary contexts.  Its success has been recognised both nationally and internationally.

 

Click here to view video Video of The BA First-Year Community [4.1MB MP4]

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