We are a Learning Advisor and Associate Professor of Psychology at James Cook University, Australia, and we strongly support widening participation in higher education and providing access to high quality education for students from diverse backgrounds. Widening participation challenges universities to provide the best possible learning experience and support for these diverse learners. The challenge of engaging students in the academic support needed to succeed in their degree has inspired this research. The aim of this study was to learn more about students’ perceptions of the academic support available at James Cook University and their reasons for either accessing or not accessing academic support.
We chose a qualitative approach rather than quantitative fixed-format questions to gain detailed insight into students’ experiences with academic support services, a relatively unknown field. The findings of this research are very informative and can be translated into practical implications. Staff providing academic support at James Cook University can use these to improve academic support and increase its accessibility for our diverse student cohorts. We hope that readers of this article will gain a better understanding and awareness of the importance of students’ experiences with academic support. With careful consideration, readers can apply the findings of this research to their context and make academic support more engaging and appropriate for students. This study showed that there continues to be great opportunities for further research in the area of academic help seeking, particularly considering different contexts. Furthermore, the best possible support for diverse learners to succeed at university needs to be evidence-based.
Read the full article in TLI here.