The first year experience of occupational therapy students at an Australian regional university: promoting student retention and developing a regional and remote workforce

Boehm, Jackie, Cordier, Reinie, Thomas, Yvonne, Tanner, Bronwyn, and Salata, Karen (2017) The first year experience of occupational therapy students at an Australian regional university: promoting student retention and developing a regional and remote workforce. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 25. pp. 22-27.

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Abstract

Objective: Student retention at regional universities is important in addressing regional and remote workforce shortages. Students attending regional universities are more likely to work in regional areas. First year experience at university plays a key role in student retention. This study aimed to explore factors influencing the first year experience of occupational therapy students at a regional Australian university.

Design: Surveys were administered to 58 second year occupational therapy students in the first week of second year. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, inferential statistics (Pearson χ2; Spearman rho) and summarising descriptive responses.

Setting: An Australian regional university.

Participants: Second year undergraduate occupational therapy students.

Main outcome measures: Factors influencing students' decisions to study and continue studying occupational therapy; factors enhancing first year experience of university.

Results: Fifty-four students completed the survey (93.1%). A quarter (25.9%) of students considered leaving the course during the first year. The primary influence for continuing was the teaching and learning experience. Most valued supports were orientation week (36.7%) and the first year coordinator (36.7%).

Conclusion: The importance of the first year experience in retaining occupational therapy students is highlighted. Engagement with other students and staff and academic support are important factors in facilitating student retention. It is important to understand the unique factors influencing students' decisions, particularly those from regional and remote areas, to enter and continue in tertiary education to assist in implementing supports and strategies to improve student retention.

Item ID: 43078
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: first year experience, occupational therapy, regional and remote practice, regional university, student retention
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 04:19
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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