Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Cascading potential: Supporting high achieving students to negotiate the complex world of professional environments (#172)

Jennifer Clark 1 , Julie Godwin 1 , Vicki Knox 1
  1. University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

High achieving students are characterized by intellectual ability, self-directed motivation, creativity, conscientious application to learning, and a desire for new experiences. They want to engage actively in directions of their own choosing and can become frustrated at perceived limitations. They are what we anecdotally call our ‘good students’. The Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar Program at the University of New England (UNE) recognizes that high achieving students, not necessarily immediate school-leavers, need opportunities to tap their ‘cascading potential’. In reality, this means that high achieving students at UNE can engage with their discipline areas of choice at a professional level from the beginning of their studies. The Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar Program identifies students with high GPA at the completion of their first trimester of study. The program recognizes and rewards their achievement with a suite of activities including the competitive application for awards that specifically allow students to undertake cognitive apprenticeship, in both national and international settings. Students must identify an academic extension activity, project or networking opportunity through a professional application process and similarly, report back on its completion. This program, with its award structure, is able to send capable undergraduate students into the professional arena. This is quite different from a study abroad exercise. The focus is on engagement with the professional discipline community. The working world is complex and difficult but high achieving students thrive in the deep end. If we want to educate graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals, then it behoves us to ensure that our high achieving students are supported and encouraged to begin this process at the earliest opportunity.

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