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Theme: Student Populations and Diversity

With a Little Help From My Friends:
Social Interactions on Campus and their Role in the First Year Experience

Kerri-Lee Krause (PhD) and Susan Duchesne (PhD)
School of Education
Macquarie University
Sydney, Australia

This paper reports on an ongoing study of the first year experience among students enrolled in Educational Studies at Macquarie University. The larger study involved a sample of 420 students and the present paper reports on focus group interviews and email responses from 46 of those students. Investigations focus on students' views of the role of social interactions (limited to the university campus context) and the socialisation processes inherent in the first year university experience. Respondents represent a range of age groups and background experiences yet all share a common belief in the importance of considering the social aspect of university experience - though to differing degrees and for a variety of reasons. Findings point to first year students' acknowledgement of the importance of tutorials and small-group discussions as a significant socialising vehicle, particularly in their early university experience. Many students identified their frustrations regarding the use of web-based material without sufficient "human" support and discussion - as they experience at school. Implications of these and related findings will be discussed as they pertain to teachers, learners and decision-makers in universities of the new millennium.

Full Paper in MS Word

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