Ensuring student success through the pandemic

Students smiling on computers

Delivering a high quality learning experience is a team effort. Our student support services play a vital role in ensuring student success and enhancing the teaching and learning offered by our dedicated teachers.

The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted just how important these services are. We spoke to Ewan Wallace, Manager Student Engagement and Success about how the services he manages – Succeed@AdelaideWriting Centre, Maths Learning Centre, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), and Studiosity – have adapted to the challenges of remote delivery. 

Ewan has been surprised that despite the challenges, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, ‘It is amazing to look back at where we were just a few months ago. The rapid adaptation to enable remote delivery of the Student Engagement and Success services has been a remarkable achievement,’ he said. 

As Ewan explains, the pandemic emergency has provided him with some key learnings that will be valuable for planning student support services for the future: ‘One thing I have learned is that our students are resilient’.  

Succeed@Adelaide is the University’s outbound call service to students, staffed predominantly by other students. Succeed@Adelaide Ambassadors call students to check in and refer to relevant support services. Since the beginning of Semester the service has made over 7000 successful calls to students.  Not surprisingly students have been talking about the transition to remote learning. 

This year over 40% of commencing students have been concerned about motivation while studying from home. In a ‘normal’ year around 5% of students report concerns about motivation.  While that is concerning, Ewan has seen that in fact the students have been extremely resilient, with the majority of students feeling confident that they will successfully complete their studies, and in many cases, eager for the additional challenges they face.  

'The honesty and openness of our students through the Succeed @ Adelaide discussions has been one of the silver linings in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and represents the deeper connection that the University has been making with our students.’ Ewan Wallace

Ewan has also seen that during challenging times students want support more than ever. While the initial participation rates for most of the student success services dropped off in the first couple of weeks after the University transitioned to remote instruction, by mid-semester break attendance was back to normal, and in some cases higher than 2019 levels – all occurring via remote delivery.  

Students interacting with the services have risen especially in disciplines that have typically had low engagement. Attendance is up and appointments are consistently booked out. New innovative ways to deliver the services remotely, including a new Maths Learning Centre MyUni course and online booking systems for support appointments have been very popular with students. For the PASS program remote delivery has enabled expansion of services as they are no longer constrained by space considerations. 

The high attendance and participation rates in these services has also been met with positive feedback from students about how they operate remotely. While many students still report that they prefer to access services on campus others are really taking to the online mode of delivery. Ewan and his teams have been discussing about how the services should be delivered as the University transitions back to on campus delivery of educational programs. 

‘It is certain that the positive feedback from students will play a part in determining whether we will continue to offer online support in some capacity. At this point, student feedback suggests we will need to continue to deliver support in this way.’ said Ewan  

For more information see the Student Engagement and Success website.

Tagged in student services, succeed at adelaide, writing centre, maths learning centre, pass, student support