The Student Experiences Study: Understanding the factors that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' academic success

Year: 1997

Author: Page, Susan, DiGregorio, Kristie Daniel, Farrington, Sally

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

These are indeed "new times" for Indigenous students in higher education: their numbers have doubled in recent years. But because the gap between their attainment and the attainment of other Australians has remained consistent, it is essential to elucidate the factors that promote their academic success, not in order to justify the exclusion of Indigenous students from tertiary education, but to refine and develop culturally relevant strategies for promoting student learning.

For the past year, Yooroang Garang: The Centre for Indigenous Health Studies at the University of Sydney has been involved in a study of diploma students' academic success. The setting of the study is unique not only because it is a program designed by, for, and about Indigenous Australians but also because it is offered in block mode where the academic year consists of four, intensive two-week blocks of instruction.

Initial data from the study has suggested potential factors predictive of students' academic success, for example, whether they had previous health-related experience, their age, and their gender. The aims of the study include 1) qualitatively assessing students' understandings of the factors that enhance or impede their success at university and comparing these factors to the hypothesized predictors of success and 2) testing the effectiveness of study groups being piloted in 1997 to enhance student success.