NPP Projects

Compass Connected

Lead University: University of Sydney

Lead Researcher: Mary Teague

Research Team: Mary Teague, Victoria Loy

Year Funded: 2014

Funding Received: $345,220

DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.6983987.v1



This project aimed to decrease the number of low SES students who, despite having indicated an intention to go on to further study at the end of Year 12, do not realise that objective. To further academic and personal skills, and increase awareness of university application processes and pathways, outreach projects were developed and extended incorporating in-school workshops and campus visits.

Project Outline

  • The goal was to foster a new way of working to prepare students for a significant transition point, increasing resilience and knowledge to effectively participate in further study, in order to increase the number of students who realise their ambition of applying to, and enrolling in, tertiary study.
  • Two programs were developed:
    • Preparation for Senior Study
    • Thinking Ahead and Promote Yourself
  • New content was developed and existing modules were repurposed to engage student volunteers to deliver the programs.
  • In a pilot, 15 schools participated in Preparation for Senior Study and 43 schools participated in Thinking Ahead and Promote Yourself.
  • The Preparation for Senior Study program supported students to develop transferable learning strategies (note taking, essay writing, and information literacy) and tertiary awareness via connection with undergraduate students who role-modelled HSC success and university attainment.
    • Students attended a one-day campus visit and a mathematics, English and general study skills workshop, followed by an in-school session expanding and applying these skills.
    • Between May and October 2015, 570 students from 12 schools participated in the program.
  • The Thinking Ahead and Promote Yourself project aimed to provide an understanding of the scholarship application process and support application writing skills.
    • Students learned to:
      • identify their leadership and teamwork skills
      • write persuasive responses to questions and personal statements
      • understand application processes and due dates.
  • Between May and October 2015, a total of 62 schools participated in the Thinking Ahead and Promote Yourself Approximately 20 students per school participated in the workshops.

Key Findings

  • Student responses following participation in the Preparation for Senior Study project:
    • 93 per cent believed that it had explained how higher education could help them to achieve their goals.
    • 91 per cent believed it had motivated them to pursue higher education at university.
    • 96 per cent agreed that they knew different techniques to use in reading, writing and research.
    • 93 per cent believed that talking to university students helped them think about their future path.
    • 90 per cent believed that they had a better understanding of linking school subjects and future careers.
  • Responses following participation in the Thinking Ahead workshops:
    • 94 per cent of students believed they had a better understanding of the leadership skills that scholarship panels are looking for.
    • 91 per cent of students believed the workshops helped them identify and articulate important skills and qualities in themselves.
    • 100 per cent of teachers believed the workshops provided students with new content that helped them understand the scholarships available.
  • Student responses following participation in the Promote Yourself workshops:
    • 91 per cent believed they had better knowledge of what scholarships were available to them.
    • 93 per cent believed that the elements learnt in the workshops motivated them to apply for a scholarship.
  • The programs generated interest by other schools and universities, and additional programs were developed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds (including a resource for careers advisors and an online MOOC component with Charles Sturt University).
  • Since 2014, the two programs developed under the Compass Connected project have continued to grow. In 2016, Compass became Widening Participation and Outreach (WPO).
    • The English skills component of the Preparation for Senior Study program is now embedded as service learning within the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. Schools participate annually in the two-part on-campus and in-school program in metropolitan Sydney and regional New South Wales (NSW).
    • In 2015-17, 37 schools, 1,434 students, and 71 teachers in metropolitan Sydney; and 14 schools, 665 students, and 31 teachers in regional NSW participated in the program. One component (the General Study Skills workshop) is offered to a further 90 students at the University of Sydney’s annual Open Day.
    • In 2016-17, 26 schools and 143 students participated.
  • Thinking Ahead and Promote Yourself workshops are offered as part of WPO’s in-school program and through the University’s Open Day annually, and are integrated into WPO’s student leader program.
  • In 2015-17, 53 schools, 1,245 students, and 53 teachers in metropolitan Sydney; and 13 schools, 584 students, and 23 teachers in regional NSW participated in the Thinking Ahead program.
  • In 2015-17, 61 schools, 1,130 students, and 61 teachers in metropolitan Sydney; and 12 schools, 295 students, and 26 teachers in regional NSW participated in the Promote Yourself program.

Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.


Posted 8 June 2018