Orientation as an ongoing learning experience: Student focused and holistic

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Transforming Knowledge into Wisdom Holistic Approaches to Teaching and Learning Vol. 27

July, 2004, 359 pages
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0 90 8557 58 2

The ‘Arts Network’ program in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney helps to build an encouraging and supportive learning environment, and sense of identity and belonging, for all students in the Faculty, especially for commencing first year students. Among other activities, Arts Network runs a Transition and Mentoring Program. This program invites senior student volunteers to help welcome first year undergraduate students to the Faculty at enrolment time, to participate in organising a Transition Workshop for initial orientation and networking, and to provide ongoing support and encouragement through a peer-mentoring program. This paper focuses on the ‘orientation’ aspect of the Arts Network Transition and Mentoring Program. It describes a model that views orientation not as a ‘one-off’ information session, but as an ongoing learning experience. This model thus adopts a ‘student learning perspective’ as its theoretical basis. This student-focused perspective is holistic, in that it takes as its starting point the often complex and inter-related needs and experiences of the student. This perspective is contrasted with the context-focused starting point of orientation programs used in the Faculty until recent years: the organization of the institution. The paper gives examples of some of the activities in the Arts Network orientation program, and discusses why these are considered student focused and holistic.

Keywords: Student-focused; transition; orientation.

Orientation as an ongoing learning experience: Student focused and holistic

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Jarkey, N.