Characteristics and motivations of non-traditional Teacher Education students

Year: 2015

Author: Macqueen, Suzanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The quest for a suitably educated citizenry for a global economy has led many governments to seek increases in Higher Education participation. Recent widening participation policies in Australia have focused on increasing proportions of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds though other groups are also under-represented. The students targeted by widening participation initiatives are often first in their family (FiF) to enter University, face different challenges from traditional students, and are more likely to enrol in some programs and institutions than others. While universities have been provided funding to support the progress of these students, no specific measures of support have been mandated. Indeed, little research has studied the needs of non-traditional students in the current Australian context. This paper presents findings from a longitudinal study examining the experiences of non-traditional students enrolled, initially, in a primary teaching program at a regional university with a comparatively high percentage of non-traditional students (including low SES, FiF, mature age, from regional areas and entering via alternate pathways). Quantitative results from a survey of 481 students in a first year education course are presented here. These provide an initial picture of the demographics, backgrounds, motivations and concerns of a cohort including a substantial percentage of non-traditional students. These factors have implications for universities seeking to facilitate success for non-traditional students, especially those in teacher education.