Students on the Threshold: Commencing Student Perspectives and Enabling Pedagogy

  • Jennifer StokesEmail author


Australian Higher Education policy emphasises the role of widening participation to prepare the educated populace required in a knowledge economy (Bradley et al. 2008). As universities strive to engage students from diverse backgrounds, enabling programs have been developed in order to provide a supported transition for traditionally under-represented cohorts. Students from equity groups are attracted to these pathways; however, enabling program retention, completion and success rates are lower than the undergraduate average rates (Hodges et al. 2013; Klinger & Murray 2011, p. 143). To understand student needs better, over 200 commencing students were surveyed during 2015 orientation for a pathway program at an Australian university. Survey responses capture students’ university preparation, expectations, motivations and challenges prior to commencing enabling classes and offer insight into the educational needs of this cohort. This case study employs critical pedagogy and a constructivist approach to analyse survey responses and generate recommendations for pedagogy. Analysis of survey data indicates the needs of diverse students and ways in which these students can be supported through praxis. Pathway programs can actively transform university culture through valuing diverse knowledges, and support a better educated populace, enabling individuals who are committed and capable to access the opportunities university education provides.


Enabling pedagogy Australia Enabling program Critical pedagogy 



This research was supported through an Australian Government Research training Program Scholarship. The author wishes to thank Dr. Cally Guerin, Dr. Chad Habel and Dr. Andrew Harvey for their feedback and encouragement regarding this research.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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