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Theme: Student Populations and Diversity

Changes for Australian tertiary students: a broad description and case study of learning approaches and student satisfaction in science.

Frances Quinn, Teaching and Learning Centre
Julie Godwin, The Faculty of The Sciences
University of New England

This paper describes some broad changes in tertiary education in Australia since 1978, and a case study of changes in a Bachelor of Rural Science degree at a regional Australian university. Studies at UNE in 1978 and 1981 showed significant financial difficulties for first year students, and that BRurSc students, compared with BSc students, demonstrated less satisfaction, higher attrition, and more use of surface learning approaches. Information from UNE in 2001 suggests that financial issues are still of major concern, and BRurSc students, when compared to BSc students, demonstrate more satisfaction, lower attrition and no significant difference in learning approach. These relative changes in BRurSc experience have correlated with curriculum changes since 1978, involving reduced work pressures, increased independence, increased relevance, and reduced content. These parallel changes are in accord with current theory of the relationships between the tertiary context, and students learning experiences and learning approaches.

Full Paper in MS Word

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