Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Building a bridge between secondary and tertiary studies: Engaging students in self-regulated learning through formative feedback (#94)

Gwen Lawrie 1
  1. The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)


Students commencing their tertiary studies enter a world that is dramatically different to that of their senior high school experiences. In science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines they are typically enrolled as part of very large, diverse cohorts in terms of student preparation, academic abilities and career aspirations. The tertiary  learning environments and expectations of students to be self-regulated, independent learners makes this transition very complex.

As part of a two-year Office for Learning and Teaching project, academics who lead first-year chemistry programs across five Australian institutions, representing three states, have collaborated to develop a combination of diagnostic tools, formative feedback options and a range of strategies for delivering face-to-face and self-regulated online study modules. The aim of this project was to enhance the secondary tertiary transition by transforming instructional and assessment practices through the provision of formative feedback for these diverse first year STEM cohorts. Project findings will be highlighted through the presentation of the outcomes from the implementation in the context of one of these institutions.

The project evaluation encompassed the learning environment, learning process and learning outcomes. Quantitative data (including the motivated strategies for learning questionnaire and online learning analytics) were triangulated with the qualitative data (open response items and student interviews) to identify activities that motivated students to engage in self-regulated learning. Key findings include the shift between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation as students progressed through their first two semesters of study. A number of recommendations will be shared that have been developed in regard to the nature and timing of formative feedback and how this was linked to online learning modules.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

 The first year experience is recognised as an important context that requires transitional pedagogies and practices to maximise student engagement and retention. Formative feedback has been identified as critical in enabling first year students to calibrate how well they are going and to assist them in managing their time and their studies. A coherent pedagogical strategy is presented, developed collaboratively by a large team of first-year teaching academics, to support students as they navigate their new learning environment by enabling them to reflect on their learning and develop skills in independent learning.