August 15, 2015 at 4:02 pm #1008
Throughout the interview Belinda expressed feelings of stress and anxiety in relation to her experience of returning to university. For Belinda the stress began even before the semester had started, as she had difficulties in enrolling in courses, and continued when she commenced studying as she felt unequipped to deal with academic research and writing.
“… the unknown of what was expected in an academic environment was the scariest thing”
While Belinda sought help within the university on a number of occasions, none of the programs or services she accessed took account of her unique circumstances. This made her experience of returning to study particularly stressful and meant that she was more likely to seek assistance from within her family than the university.
I feel that a greater effort needs to be made to reach out to mature-age students right from the word go. The university needs to take steps to address the anxiety of this group of students about returning to study and provide them with a physical support network. To help with this I have planned a Mature Age Student Morning Tea at the Library to directly address the pain points experienced by Belinda.
The morning tea will run for approximately an hour and be held during O-Week. It will be run by the Library Advisors, as they are the library’s ‘front-line’ staff. The event will also be attended by the university’s liaison librarians and an academic skills advisor. Being introduced to people within the library will ensure that these students have contacts who they can call upon throughout their studies and is designed to make them feel more comfortable within the university. Also, through meeting other students, they will be able to create a peer-support network.
Running order of the Morning Tea (food served upon arrival):
10am Introductions (introduce your neighbour to the group game)
10:10am Video: “You belong here” (highlights the unique skills that mature age students bring to the university; includes interviews with alumni)
10:15am What to expect from university (presentation from Library Advisor)
10:30am Balancing study and family: tips on time management (presentation from Academic Skills Advisors)
10:40am Academic resources treasure hunt (activity directed by Library Advisor; participants must use the library catalogue, databases and subject guides to find certain resources)
11am Where to go for support (presentation from Library Advisor)
11am Meet your liaison librarian (break into groups by discipline; informal chat with liaison librarians and peers)
12pm Optional library tour
Attendees will also be given a “University Survival Kit”. This collection of resources will include:
- Glossary of academic terms (handout)
- How to decipher your first assignment question (handout)
- Approaches to researching and planning your assignments (handout)
- Academic writing and referencing guide
- Semester 1 and 2 wall planner
- List of contacts (handout; includes university services and librarians)
- Schedule of library workshops (handout)
- Map of university campus
- Novelty pen
This is just one service designed to make mature age students feel more comfortable and supported in returning to university and only provides an introduction to the skills mentioned as pain points by Belinda. Ongoing programs need to be run throughout the semester to ensure that this group of users are receiving adequate support.
- This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Katherine Lee.
August 16, 2015 at 9:36 am #1016
Nice work, Katherine! Reading what you wrote made me realise I did not understand the assigned task. I thought we had to go it alone from outside the university!
I really like the idea of welcome programs customised to different demographics of students. I think students would be more likely to attend events if they know the experience is customised to their needs. It also develops a relationship between the student and the library right from the start.
In the case of the library described by Belinda, I think there would be a lot of aspects of the library that need to change in order for the program you have described to have a flow-on effect. For example, ensuring that all staff are educated about and on board with assisting mature aged students effectively. It would be disappointing to attend a helpful information session only to be let down when seeking assistance on a future visit.
Thanks Katherine. 🙂
August 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm #1033
Great idea and agree that it needs to be carried on as a program for mature aged students. As one myself, I do find that information given once tends not to stick and I need to either practice with e.g. technology regularly or have little refresher courses every now and then.
August 17, 2015 at 7:56 pm #1101
I really like this idea Katherine. I agree with Leena that it would need to be supported by the day to day library experience but even so an orientation such as this would be a very good step, I think. There is a LOT there though, I imagine it would need quite a bit of ongoing funding given the amount of materials.
August 23, 2015 at 6:55 pm #1297
Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Great idea Katherine, I’d love to come!!
September 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #1859
This really is a good idea, especially for mature age students who like face to face engagement.
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