In pursuit of a healthy academic status and student experience: An approach to supporting academically fragile students in higher education
Student engagement in higher education institutions is a critical constituent that underpins organisational retention and the student experience. This study investigates the effectiveness of a four-step initiative designed to support academically fragile teacher education students at a regional Australian university. The initiative was framed upon behaviour change and goal setting frameworks designed to facilitate academic re-engagement at an individual level, guided by academic teacher education staff. Descriptions of four teacher education students and their re-engagement experiences during exposure to the initiative for a semester period are provided. Findings indicate that the elements of a structured and personalised approach, mutual agreement between academic staff and students towards study commitment, and regular communication with the students were fundamental in maintaining engagement. Three of the four students highlighted in this study completed the semester and experienced academic success that they had not achieved previously, suggesting that the initiative may hold value as an approach towards students academically vulnerable. The researchers discuss the multidimensionality of challenges associated with student engagement, identify possible implications of these, and make recommendations for strategies to address such challenges.
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