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In our family university was never spoken about before … and now, it’s “Oh what are you going to do? Are you going to leave school, are you going to go to uni?”

Teaching and Supporting FiF Undergraduate Learners

Focus on assumptions (both yours and the students’)

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  • Avoid making assumptions about how much students know...

    ... or have been told about university prior to enrolling

    Some Student Comments

      When you’re first in the family so you don't have those kind of conversations at home where you can just ask [questions about university] in the safety of your home. (Abbey, 22)

      …if I didn’t have my older friends, I would not have known what the hell to do. I would have been one of these people who just didn’t have a class to go to because I would have expected to rock up here and go to Business Central and get my timetable. So I wish someone had told me. I wish I didn’t have to ask for that information – not that I looked silly, but I wish I was told that prior to the day where I had to ask because I’d had all my orientation and stuff and I still wasn’t told….I thought it was going to be like what you see on the movies like frat parties every night and just like party central and then maybe go to class but I was really scared because a few people, like some of my old babysitters and a few people that I live around, they all said that, you know, “You think the HSC is hard; wait till you get to uni. You’d have to do that whole two years in 12 weeks”. Then I was also really frightened so I had that pre-empted shock already sitting in the back of my mind, going “Oh my God, this is going to be so hard” but then I was like “No, it should be like on the movies like American Pie”. Yes, that’s kind of what I did. (Nicole, 21)

  • Perhaps include a fun but informative activity...

    ...in the early stages of the semester to gauge students understanding of academic expectations

    Some Student Comments

      So, knowing how the university and lecturers and the tutes all expect you to be able to work and just knowledge of how it all works in terms of how they want you to… It would help you so much if you could understand that you don't need to memorise every little piece of information. They don't care about 11 pieces of information; they care about how much you actually understand properly. (Liam, 20)

      You know, I think back on it now, briefly and I think, maybe if my brother or my parents went to uni that would have some expectations that they could provide me about and let me know that this is going to happen, you know, “This is what’s going to be expected of you. Don't expect this and don't expect that” and whatnot. You know [like] you will get there on Monday and you will be in a room full of people – that’s called a “lecture”, that person is your lecturer. You will get a subject outline. In that subject outline will be this, this, this and this and this and this. Then you have a tutorial. A tutorial’s where you go and if you have any questions, you take your questions to your tutor, which is where they check your homework” – that type of a thing. (Sam,19)

  • Check that everyone is speaking the same language!

    Some Student Comments

      Cos many times I say, “Oh my gosh. What’s this word? I can’t even understand.” So my poor old Macquarie; the cover’s just absolutely falling off, whereas before, it was in pristine condition…(Molly, 62)

      It’s very much like moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language. (Marilyn, 31)

      [I was told to] submit something in Dropbox. I don't know a Dropbox. That was so funny. It was taking me two days to find what’s the Dropbox but I’m getting there because I managed to put my assignment online, finally. (Allana, 30)