Careers Through Reading and HOPE
HOPE was written to connect with the nature and intent of the Careers Through Reading program and inclusive of the broader objectives of the AIM High program.
The AIM High program at the University of Newcastle builds on a successful institutional history of supporting students from a range of backgrounds to achieve a university education. One of the outreach projects of AIM High is ‘Careers Through Reading’; a multi-visit connection with schools involving students in Year 2 and Year 5. Students are introduced to career and study options by university students reading-age appropriate books related to their chosen study/career.
The project began in 2010 at one school and is now being delivered to fifteen schools across the Hunter, Central Coast and Lower Mid North Coast.
An important component of the program has become the ‘graduation gift’ of a children’s book to each participant on the final day of each program. After an extensive search for the ‘perfect’ book, the team collaborated with a diverse group of stakeholders to self-publish a suitable creative resource.
‘HOPE’ was written to connect with the nature and intent of the Careers Through Reading program, and inclusive of the broader objectives of the AIM High program. The book borrows from the field of positive psychology to explore how individuals aspire by identifying and then navigating pathways, often through difficult circumstances, towards goals that have meaning and provide purpose.
The project is enhanced by a soundtrack written by a University of Newcastle student, a unit of work written by two School of Education academics, and by a narrated read-along ‘sound scape’ – available on the HOPE website.
Careers Through Reading intervenes early in student life with the following objectives:
- increase knowledge of career options that require higher education
- increase confidence and belief in educational success, and
- explore the significance of literacy as a foundation for careers.
Careers Through Reading and the HOPE resource were funded through the HEPPP. This is an example of the Partnerships component of HEPPP supporting universities as they collaborate with partner organisations to develop coordinated initiatives that target communities where articulation to universities has historically been low.
Our ongoing evaluation has demonstrated that the successful growth of Careers Through Reading is a result of the program being people-rich, sustained over multiple weeks, and aimed at building literacy while developing a deep understanding of a specific area of socially constructed knowledge. Growth in student and family member participation has been encouraging, with 900 students and 15 schools involved in 2013.
- 2010: 45 students in one school
- 2011: 135 students in 3 schools
- 2012: 250 students in 4 schools, and
- 2013: 900 students and more than 200 family members in 15 schools.
The AIM High team are working with University of Newcastle academics to evaluate and enhance the impact of our outreach programs in disadvantaged communities across the Central Coast, Hunter and Lower Mid North Coast regions. A commitment to equity as part of the University of Newcastle’s strategic plan, NeW Directions, ensures ongoing opportunities to engage in research and practice relating to the access, retention and success of students from diverse backgrounds in higher education.