Meet the Professor
Before doing the program the majority showed little interest in university, afterwards the majority showed interest
Meet the Professor was developed by Australian Catholic University (ACU) for Grade 5 and 6 students. These students are invited to participate in a tour of their local ACU campus, where they can meet staff and students and participate in activities related to university life. They have the opportunity to meet a professor; we ask a senior academic to be part of the day. The professor interacts with the students, talking to them about university and what it entails, its benefits and how you can access university. The students meet with ACU students who lead them in numeracy and literacy exercises, exercise science activities, health school activities, observing paramedicine activities and others.
The major objective is for students to experience being on a university campus, participate in educative and interactive activities and speak to students and staff at the university who can inspire then to think about education as an exciting and engaging pursuit. This achieves our goals of demystifying higher education for target groups, enabling students to reflect on the importance of education and sowing the seed of university as a positive and achievable option for their future.
This activity is fully funded by HEPPP Component B competitive and base funding. In addition, our partner schools, teachers and parents provide in-kind support.
The Equity Pathways team have developed evaluation tools for the program. For primary grades we ask teachers and parents who have attended to fill out an evaluation questionnaire. Students are not directly questioned, more reliance is placed on adult response to the activity. However, we do ask for some student response, represented below. Of the 1,128 participating primary students in 2013 up to August, findings were:
Students were asked to either draw or write a response to “MY BIG DREAM IS…”. Responses include:
“Become an independent woman that finishes all her goals who becomes remembered and gets good grades and goes to Brigidine and tries everything and becomes students council president. Never gives up (has a great education and a great legacy).”
“To be a lawyer or a photographer. If not just work in a shop.”
Being a sportsperson accounted for at least 20 per cent of student responses and being a singer or actor, 10 per cent. Other responses fell into an even range of career categories including teacher, vet, doctor, nurse, policeman, chef, lawyer, engineer, architect, author, artist, pharmacist, pilot, astronaut and zookeeper.
ACU is committed to yearly reviews of Meet the Professor, involving both internal and external partners. The outcomes of these reviews will determine further program development. Both ACU and its partners will be responsible for fostering the program’s development and continuation.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.