Supporting new students from vocational education and training: Finding a reusable solution to address recurring learning difficulties in e-learning

Dai Fei Yang, Janice Catterall, Janelle Davis


This paper reports on a project that investigated the first year, online experiences of vocational education and training (VET) pathway students studying at university. It was found that, although some students embraced online learning, more than twenty percent of new VET students suffered from high levels of anxiety and frustration when learning online and more than 40% of students also reported difficulties in balancing work and study. In order to address these problems, this paper presents a reusable solution by introducing these new students to an education technology preparation (ETP) program. Student feedback on the ETP program shows a significant improvement in confidence and attitudes towards learning online. We suggest that online learning offers greater flexibility to time-poor students but only if they are confident and competent users of the online systems. We argue that it is dangerous to assume that all new students have the necessary online skills to study effectively in their first year at university. This leads to two implications. Firstly, in practice, it is crucial to provide new students from the VET sector with a well-designed online learning support program. Secondly, in institutional policy, it is imperative to ensure that such support is adequately resourced.


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