“The university didn’t actually tell us this is what you have to do”: Social inclusion through embedding of academic skills in first year professional courses
Written by Sophie Goldingay, Danielle Hitch, Juliana Ryan, Dennis Farrugia, Norah Hosken, Greer Lamaro, Claire Nihill and Susie Macfarlane Deakin University
The widening participation agenda means that students will be entering degree courses with increasingly diverse needs, particularly with respect to the academic skills necessary for successful tertiary study in Australia. This paper presents findings from a mixed methods project investigating first year social work students’ perceived role in academic skills and their development. Students expressed the perception that academic skill requirements and how they would be assessed should be made explicit, and identified a stigma associated with accessing study support services. The paper concludes that an intentional design strategy, such as embedding academic skills into the curriculum, helps bridge the different expectations between academics and students in the teaching and learning of academic skills, and hence constitutes a socially inclusive strategy to teaching professional courses such as social work, within higher education. Recommendations to enhance the success and sustainability of such an initiative in the current higher education environment are offered.