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Issue 10 - June 2012

Title Think piece: Reflection on 'the first year experience'
Author - Martina Crehan    [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - The invitation to contribute a short reflective piece on the policy and practice of the first year experience is a welcome, if challenging, task. The complex set of personal, social and academic factors involved in successful progression through the first year of tertiary education provide ample scope for commentary and debate. Thus, drawing upon my own research focus and interests, and my experience of working with first year students and those who teach them, this commentary is centred in the need for care in recognising and defining the “First Year Experience”. [read full article]

- Student Retention in Higher Education: a response to O'Dwyer, to Morris and to Connaughton
Authors- Mark Russell   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This article is a reflective commentary on the research findings of three authors and colleagues in relation to student retention matters in higher education: O'Dwyer, Morris and Connaughton. The key findings from their research are also published in this 2012 edition of Level3. My perspective on the three articles is coloured by a decade of working in the field of student retention in the same organisation as the three authors. A full reading of the three articles is required to contextualise my comments and to gauge the significance of the findings for current retention policies and practices. [read full article]

Title - Are the study habits of first year undergraduate students influenced by where they live while attending College?
Author - Robert Morris   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This article is based on an element of research for a Masters thesis into the factors which determine success or failure in a specific first year cohort.  One aim of the research was to establish if living away from the family home influences the study habits of first year undergraduate engineering students and impacts on their subsequent chances of success in both coursework and examinations. Data for the study were gathered largely from a survey of first year student cohorts. Interviews with four experienced lecturers and a review of the literature on the subject served to guide and inform the selection of the questions which were used in a student survey. The findings provide an insight into the factors which represent barriers to students developing autonomous study and learning skills. This article deals specifically with the factors associated to the students’ living arrangements and study habits.[read full article]

Title - A study of the learning styles of engineering students at Dublin Institute of Technology
Author -  Aidan O'Dwyer [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This article reports on research carried out over five academic years into the learning styles of engineering students on a number of Level 7, Level 8 bachelor programmes and Level 9 masters programmes in the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) using the index of learning styles survey developed by Felder and Soloman (1991). The article explores the results of the research placing them particularly in the national context. The most significant finding is that awareness of the strongly visual learning style of these cohorts of students is likely to be used to improve the learning environment in the future. [read full article]

Title - The First year experience: An exploratory case study from the National Bakery School
Authors- Denise Connaughton   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary -This article presents selected elements from the research findings of a Master’s thesis related to the experiences of first year students on a new degree programme. Data was generated for those elements through questionnaires and focus group discussions. The analytical framework was based on the model devised by Bourdieu (1977, 1986) and Field (2003) which attempts to identify the forms of capital at work in the lives of first year students and the dynamics among these forms of capital. The specific findings of the study were considered by colleagues to be of some discussion and dissemination value in relation to general discourses about retention of first year students generally. [read full article]

Book Review
- Adult education as theory, practice and research: the captive triangle
Author - Dr Susan O'Shaughnessy   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This is a reprint of a volume first published in 1989, its typeface redolent of work bashed out on a 1980s electric typewriter. So, what does it have to offer the readers of today?[read full article]

Book Review
- Hard labour?: academic work and the changing landscape of higher education
Author - Tom Duff   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - The book addresses issues in education policymaking with specific reference to university faculties of education in Australia and England. It has six chapters by three authors two of whom are based in Australia while the third is based in England; they are senior academics with significant publication records. Each has nominated themes through which they examine policy changes, tensions and uncertainties in the sector. [read full article]

Book Review
- Cultural Capital: the promises and pitfalls in educational research. ASHE Higher Education Report: Volume 36 Number 1
Author - Ms Catherine Moran  [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - Rachelle Winkle-Wagner's monograph is published as part of the ASHE Higher Education Report Series, which is designed to "help busy individuals" keep up to date with higher education research literature" (135). As its title indicates, Winkle-Wagner's publication critically examines cultural capital, an "often misunderstood" (xi) theoretical construct formulated by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu frequently used to "explain inequities in access to and success in U.S. higher education" (xi). The author, an assistant professor of Higher Education at the University of Nebraska, is well placed to produce a study of this kind. The structure of the book, in consisting of an executive summary and four densely argued chapters, follows the prescribed ASHE Higher Education Report format. . [read full article]

Book Review
- Advances in Social-Psychology and Music Education Research
Authors- Marian McRory   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary -The book, or Festschrift as the contributors refer to it, is a tribute to the life and work of Charles P Schmidt, former professor of the Indiana University (IU) Jacobs School of Music, whose main area of scholarly research is in the socio-psychology of music. Motivation in music learning, applied music teaching behaviours, personality, and cognitive style in music teaching and learning are among the subtopics of this broad area of research. There are three parts in the book: 1) social-psychological advances in music education 2) social environment for music education and 3) advancing effective research in music education. Twenty internationally renowned music education researchers, including Estelle Jorgensen, have contributed by creating a new work based on one of Schmidt's main research topics. This review focuses on parts one and three as they involved the broad range of articles on the social-psychology of music and its research, in contrast to part two which is concerned with specific social environments. [read full article]

Book Review
- Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development
Authors- Marian McRory   [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary -This is a very well edited book covering the key areas of research in adult learning. Its publication is valuable as it encompasses the theoretical perspectives, research methods on adult learning and development, the effects of aging on the brain, and public policy and social trends in today’s aging society. Adult learning and development is now recognised as a very rich area that deserves authentic research and this book offers a comprehensive resource for all serious researchers [read full article]

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