Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

The Start of the Conversation: Students Assembling Academic and Professional Concepts from a CFYU (#196)

Diane Phillips 1 , Tanya Lawlis 2 , Disa Smee 2 , Benjamin Authers 3 , Susan Priest 3 , Julie Cooke 2 , Barbara Walsh 4 , Sandy Daley 2
  1. University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia
  2. Faculty of Health , University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia
  3. Faculty of Business Government & Law , University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia
  4. Faculty of Arts and Design , University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

In 2014, the University of Canberra introduced an undergraduate Common First Year Unit (CFYU) to be adopted as a transition unit for all courses in the university. The CFYU aims to support students in planning and preparing for their academic years and professional life, by providing them with a framework to successfully navigate their way through university study.  The CFYU aids students to understand the requirements of their chosen profession. In semester 2, 2014, twenty five disciplines implemented one or all three of modules of the CFYU.

Each student enrolled in the unit was required to complete a series of formative tasks: an E-portfolio and relevant professional documents; to undertake a personal needs analysis and write a five year transition plan. Using these formative experiences, students were also asked to critically reflect on changes to knowledge and perspectives of their university studies and chosen profession. The main themes of this critical reflection were: the identification of knowledge, skills and attributes required to be successful in their chosen profession; learning about themselves and their chosen profession and in what ways the CFYU reinforced commitment to their chosen career.

The purpose of this conference presentation is to provide an initial analysis that demonstrates the breadth and width within these student’s reflections. Importantly, this analysis reflects stronger associations made with subsidiary elements of academic and professional success and that the concepts that emerged transcended requirements of the task set. In their reflections, students created networks of concepts that assembled and organised the sum of their knowledge, skills and attributes in order to make better academic choices for their future success. In our paper we will discuss how, through these networks of ideas, students successfully demonstrated their ability to critically think and problem solve holistically outside of academic spaces; revealing a capacity to ongoing professional development and a commitment to life-long learning. 

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

The main theme of this paper is ‘educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals’. It covers this sub theme by explicitly analyzing how students see themselves as a developing professional from year one of their university courses. The research also informs how academics can apply student’s reflections in order to plan curriculum which further assists in students own ‘navigation of uncertainty and complexity’ in both academic and professional contexts. The third sub theme this paper touches on is ‘assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities’. This paper is the first of a working paper series attached to a longitudinal study for common first year transition units.