First Nations toolkit set to enhance student experience

25 May 2021

CQUniversity's Sara Smalley has led a small team of Academic Learning Advisers (ALAs) to develop a First Nations toolkit that will provide tailored approaches and strategies for Indigenous students.

A number of other toolkits were also created' uniquely designed not just for First Nations students but for International' low socio-economic' mature age and neurodiverse students.

These cohorts were divided between ALAs Ruth O'Neill' Chris Maurer-Smolder' Glenys Rathjen and Sara.

Their goal was to create a stronger alignment between the six guiding principles of the Academic Learning Centre's services and students: preparedness' promise' profile' processes' progress and participation.

Sara said students who are assigned to the ALAs come to the partnership sometimes feeling low with limited inner strength to keep going.

"This sense of defeat is something I have felt before and it is hard to escape that feeling'"

Sara said.

Drawing from insight on empowerment from defeat' Sara developed the First Nations toolkit to support our Indigenous students.

"I wanted to embark on a project in which my expertise in psychology and academia could collaborate and produce more student success stories and in doing so' CHANGE LIVES!

"'At risk' cohorts and learning barriers are topics that make my heart flutter and allow my empathetic nature to shine'"

she said.

Sara is passionate about the teacher/student connection and considers this to be the undercurrent that will sway students towards their goals and aspirations' instead of away.

"As ALAs' we know that student participation is the priority in referral partnerships; however' achieving this connection can sometimes be quite challenging'"

she explained.

"The power of growth mindsets' positive study behaviours and strong foundations of academic resilience is going to ensure the referral student can keep moving forward when the tides are pulling them back."

The toolkits are currently undergoing peer reviews' with a planned rollout to take place later this year.