An Intervention Program for Advancing the Academic Performance of International Pathway “STAR”

An Intervention Program for Advancing the Academic Performance of International Pathway “STAR”

Donna Marie Velliaris (Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5369-4.ch006

Abstract

As part of an intervention and support strategy, this chapter discusses the evidence-based merits of a tertiary skills development (TSD) course delivered at the Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) to “students at risk” (STAR). The effectiveness of the TSD course was measured via quantitative means by comparing students' academic performance before, during, and after TSD intervention. It was found that student performance analysed over three consecutive trimesters underwent a significant improvement when the support strategy was provided, followed by a small downturn in performance when the support was removed and students were again relying solely on their independent study skills and self-directed learning.
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Background

The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology

The Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) is one of a growing number of private providers partnering with universities to establish pre-university pathway programs. EIBT offers student pathways to The University of Adelaide (UoA) and the University of South Australia (UniSA), with three Diplomas in Business, Information Technology and Engineering. Student recruitment is predominantly directed towards full fee-paying international students who: have completed Year 11 high school in Australia and would prefer to continue their studies in an alternative context; have completed Year 12 high school in Australia, but did not obtain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR score) satisfactory for direct entry into university; have graduated from high school abroad, but whose English language proficiency did not meet the minimum requirement for direct entry into university; have graduated from high school abroad, but whose previous academic results did not meet the minimum requirement for direct entry into university; or are above 20 years of age with relevant employment history (Velliaris, Willis, & Breen, 2015a, 2015b; Velliaris, Willis, & Pierce, 2015).

The student population is approximately 98% international with the remaining 2% being local, but former international students who have obtained Australian Permanent Residency (PR). Students are enrolled on temporary Australian student visas and are almost exclusively from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB). Diplomas offer students an intensive period of academic preparation for entrance into mainstream Australian HE. The teaching calendar consists of three 12-week trimesters and students are offered either a two or three trimester package depending on the admission date of their university program. A diploma comprises eight courses in total that may be taken in the form of 4 courses + 4 courses (4+4 = 8 progression) or 3 courses + 3 courses + 2 courses (3+3+2 = 8 or equivalent variations of i.e., 3+2+3 = 8 or 2+3+3 = 8).

Pathways are referred to as ‘second chance’ institutions for students who have not meet direct university entrance requirements, the partner HEI moderates diploma delivery and grants advanced standing for 1st-Year courses if students achieve an overall minimum entry-level Grade Point Average (GPA) upon graduation (Bode, 2013; Fiocco, 2006; Velliaris & Willis, 2014; Velliaris, Willis, et al., 2015a, 2015b; Velliaris, Willis, & Pierce, 2015). Pathway academic staff, however, have the challenge of acculturating students who are lower-level in terms of their English language proficiency and/or academic performance, and are to prepare them for 2nd-Year degree-level studies.

To identify and refine key indicators for measuring the extent to which EIBT is realising its ‘educational objectives’ in relation to student outcomes, the Institute is committed to: (1) developing a deep(er) understanding of student learning at an individual-level to support the personalisation of their educative experiences; (2) embedding emergent feedback on student learning into practices through enabling adaptations to teaching and learning in a timely manner; and (3) identifying STAR of poor learning experiences/outcomes, in real-time and with insight to allow for meaningful intervention.

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