Publication Details

O'Shea, S. & Vincent, M. (2011). Uni-Start: a peer-led orientation activity designed for the early and timely engagement of commencing university students. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 59 (3), 152-160.


Universities have both social and cultural contexts, and new students need to participate effectively in both in order to succeed in this environment. With ever increasing numbers of students and the diversity of the contemporary university population, institutions have to consider innovative ways to effectively engage individuals. In terms of supporting students, there is a need to be more proactive, initiating structures of support that reach out to students rather than an often implicit expectation that the learners themselves will take the initiative and seek out support individually. This article reflects on one approach to supporting diverse student populations that was offered in an Australian university. The approach is based on a “community of practice” model in which newcomers are offered a “safe” place to practice new skills and articulate new roles with little risk, providing access to more experienced members of the community and also to authentic settings. The article highlights the format of the program and the theoretical basis, and it also summarizes the successive evaluations.

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