Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Developing a Three-Way Collaborative Model to Promote First Year Student Engagement and Skill Support

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Developing a Three-Way Collaborative Model to Promote First Year Student Engagement and Skill Support

Article excerpt

Introduction

Recent discourse about the First Year Experience (FYE) advocate that in order to engage students, course delivery needs to be reconceptualised in terms of a holistic approach involving both academics and support staff (Kift & Nelson, 2005; Kift, 2009). Skill development in the use of information literacy and academic skills is seen as an important factor which impacts on the persistence of first year students (Lawrence, 2005; Tinto & Pusser, 2006; Gibson, 2007). In response to the observation that these skills are often provided in an unrelated way, the Librarian and Academic Skills Advisor joined forces to provide a better mode of support for Business faculty students. By promoting a collaborative relationship with faculty, a three-way model was visualised.

The development of this model evolved from collaboratively instructing research and academic skills in four first year Business subjects at USC in 2009. The benefits of embedding skills and developing working partnerships between skills support and faculty academic has been documented (Tinto & Pusser, 2006; Cochrane, 2006; Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996). However, the shared territory between teaching academic and research skills has received limited attention. Results from a small number of Australian and New Zealand Universities have suggested that embedding collaborative instruction can lead to higher pass marks and greater retention (Hammill, 2007; Bordonaro, 2008; Huerta & McMillan, 2004). Literature also explores the common ground between Skills Advisors and Librarians and presents arguments for merging the provision of support (Mahffy, 2008; Elmborg, 2003; Peacock, 2008; Sheridan, 1995). To date, however, there are limited studies that explore the value and practice of teaching these skills in an integrated manner.

A Move towards Collaboration

There are different approaches to the role of support skills and collaboration with academic faculty. These partnerships often involve tensions and can change in nature and role due to external and internal factors (Hicks, 2005). Jones, Bonanno, and Scouller (2001) argue that reflection on role and the partnerships created through collaboration between the Faculty Teacher or academic, the student and the skills teacher, that is the Skills Advisor or Librarian, is integral to the understanding of best practice. It was reflection on the provision of service and the role played by the Librarian and Skills Advisor at USC which led to the visualising of an improved model of involvement with the academic faculty.

The manner of collaboration between teachers of skills (Skills Advisors or Librarians) and faculty academics has been explored. A useful taxonomy, which has been documented, uses three levels to describe the cooperation that Skills Advisors and Librarians experience with Faculty teachers or academics (Dudley-Evans, 2001). The first level is cooperation, where the Skills Advisor seeks information from the faculty about the course content and assessment tasks. The second level is collaboration, where the Skills Advisor and Faculty Teacher or academic work together to devise support classes which run concurrently with the course. The third level is team teaching, where the Skills Advisor and Faculty Teacher or academic co-teach in the same space. These different collaborative approaches may be viewed as sitting on a relationship continuum. Historically at USC, the provision of support by the Librarian and Skills Advisor had been mostly at the co-operation and collaboration level, where skill support would be offered in add-on adjunct classes that often only the more enthusiastic students would choose to attend. The value of providing skill instruction as an intervention, as opposed to providing it as an add-on or a generic all-purpose study skill, is supported by recent literature, as it can be immediately applied to the specific course (Tinto & Pusser, 2006). …

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