Biomedicine Freaky Friday Student Support Initiatives: engaging students socially and academically

Taylor, Donnalee (2016) Biomedicine Freaky Friday Student Support Initiatives: engaging students socially and academically. James Cook University.

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A three year student support initiative to improved student wellbeing while bolstering their overall sense of hope and abilities to build resilience. In 2013, an evaluation of the student responses to the James Cook University Experience Survey, made evident that students withdraw was higher than the national average particularly first in family, financial difficulties and family responsibilities. JCU biomedical science students like all first year students, struggle with the first year transition and 33% of them were also challenged with 'second-choice-syndrome' (Taylor, 2016).

Early in 2014 to 2016, a student support initiative was established to disseminate curricular and extra-curricular just-in-time information to first and second year biomedical science students to build their resilience. The program consisted of monthly 50 minute pop-up lunch events called Biomed-Freaky-Friday (BFF) and biweekly MicroBytes e-newsletters that were themed to correspond with its timing in the semester and season. The BFF booklets had tips and suggestions on coping, life and study skills and motivational quotes to encourage a growth-oriented mindset for positive appraisal of their situation.

In early 2016, the contents of the BFF booklets were redeveloped into iAspire Student Support articles to support students to and through university and were posted in JCU ResearchOnline for a much broader student audience. To date, each iAspire article has received between 68-261 hits and 27-129 downloads in various countries worldwide. These articles have been a success in spite of no official advertising or promotion. It is becoming increasingly crucial to recognize the importance of providing personal and social support in addition to curricular and extra-curricular support so students can thrive. Successful transitions are based on positive perception of self, healthy coping skills, social support and access to resources for personal growth and resilience.

Research Statement

Research Background The transition to university from either secondary school or the workforce can be a challenging one, with one quarter of first year students considering withdrawing in their first year. This project evaluated the impact of two extracurricular support initiatives (email newsletters and themed luncheons) to deliver just-in-time information and support on student engagement and success.
Research Contribution This project was successful in providing first year students with healthy connection to other people "caring coaches" on and off campus. It also provides an opportunity to be heard and recognized while providing moral support and encouraging a sense of hope. Students and academics rated the initiatives highly with positive support themes of networking, collegiality, belonging and engagement. The just-in-time information would have contributed to the students' satisfaction with the support initiative and no doubt contributed to the support environment for them to thrive and to flourish. Please refer to Taylor (2016) for just-in-time information and guide for delivery.
Research Significance Improving student well-being (learning, mental, and health welfare) and creating a sense of belonging for the student cohort through the delivery of these initiatives (MicroBytes e-newsletters and the BFF events) created a more holistic student support system and a sense of hope for the Biomedical students at JCU. Whether students are in their chosen degree or in a state of transition, it is crucial that we support them through their transition so they can make informed decision about their life, well-being, and academic careers. Extending this support into the second year is crucial to avoid the often unseen and unique challenges referred to as "sophomore slump".
Item ID: 46035
Item Type: Other
Media of Output: Digital recording
Keywords: first year experience; regional; support; transition; resilience; just-in-time information; hope theory
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Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2016 03:42
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 40%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development @ 30%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 100%
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