Author – Dr Stuart Levy, Monash University, Australia

Stuart is the coordinator of Monash University’s Diploma of Foundation Studies which provides a pathway into Monash degrees for applicants who have not met the university’s conventional entry requirements. Students utilising the pathway are primarily the first in family to attend university, are drawn from low socio-economic backgrounds and come from regions of Victoria which exhibit significant patterns of educational disadvantage. Since 2001 he has been the principle staff member responsible for the design and delivery of two non-disciplinary specific core units which seek to provide students with the skills and attitudes considered necessary for effective engagement and academic success.

Stuart has co-authored articles in international academic journals, co-authored a number of international conference papers, and successfully obtained a number of small research grants related to examining issues surrounding tertiary student transition and engagement. He is currently engaged in research examining the effectiveness of alternative entry programs that seek to broaden educational access and participation. A longitudinal evaluation of the quantitative and qualitative performance and experiences of students seeks to identify effective teaching and learning strategies that may be incorporated into mainstream degree programs.

Further information is available from the Monash University School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences.

First Year Curriculum Perspective

The Diversity commentary (pdf 1.73MB) examines first year curriculum design from the perspective of the initiatives articulated in the case studies intended to accommodate student diversity. The commentary observes that ‘student diversity’ is no longer a localised phenomenon and instead constitutes the mainstream institutional experience: the ‘typical’ student, if they ever existed, has become less easily identifiable amid the ranks of commencing students. The author suggests that desirable core curriculum components under this head might include:

  • Practices that encourage engagement
  • Scaffolded learning
  • Explicit instruction in necessary educational skills
  • The provision of ‘insider knowledge’ on how to successfully navigate higher education
  • Pastoral care
  • A strong sense of community
  • A clear sense of manageable challenge and appropriate rewards
  • Formative and supportive assessment practices
  • An induction into the culture, and disciplinary subcultures, of the academy
  • Staff who are engaged and engaging teachers
  • An emphasis, for on-campus enrolments, on face-to-face teaching and learning.