Publication Details

Harden-Thew, K. & Dean, B. Amelia. (2015). Focusing on six first year firsts: A professional development framework supporting teachers of first year subjects. Students Transitions Achievement Retention & Success: STARS Conference (pp. 1-10). Australia:


The first year of university is a critical period for student engagement. Crucial to smooth transition is how teaching staff support new students in their first year experience (FYE). However, across higher education institutions, staff receive varying levels of professional development, and often, little explanation of how to translate theory into practice. In 2014, at Wollongong University, a new professional development framework was developed to assist teaching staff across the university to translate transition principles into effective curriculum practices. The framework identifies six moments in any first year curriculum where students experience their first contact with different academic elements and highlights how staff can better engage students in these moments. This framework can be applied by teaching staff across the higher education context from tutor to lecturer and whole of course co-ordinator. Run as a pilot FYE module in 2014, in 2015 the framework continues to be used for curriculum renewal across the university.