Stepping through the orientation looking glass: A staged approach for postgraduate students

  • Helen Wozniak Charles Darwin University
  • Mary Jane Mahony The University of Sydney
  • Tim Lever The University of Sydney
  • Jenny Pizzica University of Technology, Sydney


Postgraduate coursework is now delivered to a largely mature age study population, in what may be an unfamiliar mix of online and distance learning to many students. This paper reports on a novel approach to student orientation in this new environment. Orientation is conceptualised as a process of transition between the domain of everyday life and the domain of academic study over a period of time commencing prior to enrolment and continuing into formal studies. A schema addressing three dimensions (interpersonal, technical and reflective) was constructed and operationalised as a staged orientation plan (GettingOnTrack). Students are able to move through the three stages participating in activities which align with their needs before, during and after enrolment. This builds on critical concerns reported in earlier literature, highlighting the need for an extended time line and authentic learning tasks in a risk free environment.


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