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Independent learning Essay

STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 115 The Foundation Programme, I think, taught me how to work and be a person who is more reliant on myself. So if I don’t do the work and I don’t get the grades, I know it is on me. Varsity is where you have to be more responsible for all your actions. You have to be aware of whatever you are doing. You just can’t be negli- gent. (Chipo ? MSAFP) At university, you are just given assignments at the beginning of [the] semester and then you have to make sure that you do them well in time. There is no one to manage you and push you to do those assignments.

In high school the teachers al-ways ask you about the assignments: “Did you do it? Why didn’t you do the as- signment well, and on time? ” But here if you don’t do the assignment on time, they subtract marks and then you fail. (Lebogang ? MSAFP) Like them, Tony and Jaco also emphasised that a student must take responsibil- ity for their studies. For Tony, rather than parents, “you decide” and for Jaco, “everything is just up to you”. I think it is all about you taking responsibility for your own work. You ? nd in high school, if you’re with your parents, your parents are there to put pressure on you. You ? nd your parents saying, “No more TV. Go and study now.

” But now, it’s you yourself. You decide your study times. You decide whether you’re going to do an assignment or not. You balance your social life and your school life. You balance it yourself. It’s not your parents who do that for you now. (Tony ? MSAFP) Basically time management is left to you for everything. You don’t have people telling you that this has to be done. Everything is just up to you. For me, it wasn’t a challenge because I had come from a working background. (Jaco ? MSAFP) Similarly, former DoTS students highlighted that taking responsibility to learn is essential for persisting with university study.

Pip and Copernicus also empha- sised the importance of keeping up to date without the guidance of teachers and parents. For Pip, taking responsibility was “quite hard”, while for Copernicus, taking responsibility was “one of the biggest things”. I suppose just learning for ourselves and taking that much responsibility for our own learning, that was quite hard. (Pip ? DoTS) Compared to high school, everything’s your responsibility now. You have to make sure you do it. I think that was de? nitely one of the biggest things for me. If I was going to struggle with anything, it was being responsible. (Copernicus ?DoTS)

Alicia, Kirsty, Tara and Max considered taking responsibility for their studies to be part of becoming independent. For Alicia, “you’ve got to keep on top of it” and for Kirsty “it’s all independent” and “there’s no one chasing you”. It’s very independent here. You’ve got to keep on top of it. There’s no one to tell you, “This is where you’ve got to be at. ” (Alicia ? DoTS) It’s all up to you I suppose. It’s all independent. If you don’t do the readings, there’s no one chasing you to say you’ve got to do them. If you don’t have an as- signment in, there are not many excuses you can use to get an extension.

(Kirsty ? DoTS) CH A P TE R 6 INDEPENDENT LEARNING 116 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 116 Like them, Tara and Max emphasised the importance of taking responsibility for their studies. For Tara, “it’s up to you”. For Max, university study involves “less guidance basically” and you “do it on your own”. Obviously it’s up to you to get the assignment in on time. To write it, you’re not really going to have a lot of help from other people like teachers. It was hard to be responsible for yourself, not having the teachers constantly having tabs on you and things like that, and not guiding you through.

That took me a little while but I got used to it eventually. (Tara ? DoTS) First year wasn’t dissimilar to high school. It was with less guidance basically. So there was just the requirement for you to be more independent, to go out and do it on your own. (Max ? DoTS) For school leavers who were used to being reminded by teachers to complete their work, an adjustment to independent learning at university was a stark con- trast, but they emphasised the centrality of independent learning in university study. Rachel, Meg and Caitlyn each re? ected on the dif? culty of working inde- pendently.

For Rachel, studying without a teacher supervising her was the hard- est. While for Meg, adjusting to not having anyone to remind her was the most dif? cult thing, Caitlyn observed “nobody is going to chase you”. Having to work by myself at home I’d say was the hardest, because the teachers weren’t sitting there saying, “Right, you’ve got 45 minutes to get this piece of work done. Go and do it. ” (Rachel ? DoTS) The most dif? cult thing was probably not so much the fact that you are on your own, but the fact that people won’t remind you. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got that assignment done. That’s all on you.

I think the responsibility was pretty heavy because you’re so used to everybody else taking care of you. Now you’re a grown-up, you’re here and you’ve got to do it yourself. (Meg ? DoTS) Here you have to be independent. Nobody is going to chase you if you don’t hand in the assignment. Not that lecturers don’t care, but you’re just another name on the list. Their job is to teach and your job is to learn and if you’re not keeping up your end, I guess it’s just too bad. (Caitlyn ? DoTS) Besides taking responsibility for their own learning, former pathways students also struggled with self-motivation, self-discipline, and self-direction.

Sammy, Marie and Tony all learned to direct themselves to study. For Sammy, “you have to learn to do things”. For Marie, “you don’t have anyone on your back telling you”. For Tony, not completing work is the student’s “loss”. Independence matters most. I would also say self-motivation. It taught me to study for myself because of the deadlines and the lecturers were pushing. You have to learn to do things for yourself because no one is going to do them for you. (Sammy ? MSAFP) I think a lot of people struggle with self-discipline, especially if you don’t have anyone on your back telling you, “Look, it’s 8 o’clock.

You have to go to class. ” (Marie ? MSAFP) If you don’t do it, it is your loss. (Tony ? MSAFP) INDEPENDENT LEARNING 117 6 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 117 In contrast, Jaco arrived as a very self-directed student who had no trouble keep- ing up to date. For Jaco, “if you start something, you ? nish it”. I’m one person to really work to my timetable. I don’t like to be late for anything. If anything needs to be done, it needs to be done the proper way. That’s some- thing I’ve grown up with from my parents. If you start something, you ? nish it, period, within the time frame. (Jaco ? MSAFP).

Choosing to be a university student and making a conscious decision to learn are important for becoming a self-directed learner. Caitlyn, Denise and Sorcha pointed out that each student must make the choice to study for themselves. For Caitlyn, a student ? not the person’s mother ? must “make the decision to do it”. For Denise, a student must “want to do it”. For Sorcha, a student must become self-regulated and must “be interested in studying”. Being independent, having to do things for yourself, is hard. The work is chal- lenging, but I expected that. It’s not like when you’re in Year 12 and your mum wants you to ?

nish and your school wants you to ? nish. My mum probably could- n’t have told you what I was doing at uni. There is no one to sort of push you along. You have to make the decision to do it yourself. (Caitlyn ? DoTS) Studying at school you’ve got no choice. You’ve got people on your back remind- ing you of what you have to do, when it has to be done, and how to do it, whereas at university you have to be motivated and want to do it. You have to be self-directed. (Denise ? DoTS) You have to be interested in studying, otherwise no amount of motivation or teacher-input can help. You’ve got to be a self-regulated learner.

You can’t lean on your friends to take you through an exam. (Sorcha ? DoTS) Deciding to learn is not always an easy process for new students. Having com- menced the DoTS pathway three years after ? nishing high school, Nursing stu- dent Vaughan struggled to become a self-directed learner. A dif? cult thing was probably the self-directedness of uni. I’ve never been self-di- rected. I still struggle with it a little bit [in my third year]. (Vaughan ? DoTS) While Vaughan struggled with self-directedness throughout his degree, during the DoTS pathway, he sought professional advice to ? nd that he had to “get on with it” himself.

I’d gone and seen the counsellors and they alerted me to the reality that no one is going to do it except me, so there are no quick ? xes there. We had a bit of a chat about things and you realise you have to get on with it. (Vaughan ? DoTS) Becoming a self-regulating learner involves taking individual responsibility for learning, for keeping up to date, and for becoming independent. These require- ments for university study appear to be well recognised by former pathways stu- dents even though many struggled, as do most new university students, with the initial transition. CH A P TE R 6 INDEPENDENT LEARNING 118.

STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 118 PUTTING IN EFFORT Putting in effort to learn, to understand the materials and to complete the re- quired work are among the most demanding aspects of university study. In South Africa, Accounting lecturers at Stellenbosch University assumed high stu- dent failure rates were due to poor preparation on the part of the students. Their Accounting students agreed, with one third suggesting that their classmates did not put in suf? cient effort and half believing they themselves did not study hard enough.

These students also suggested that attending class and putting in effort were among the most important factors for persisting with university study (Steenkamp, Baard & Frick, 2009: 151? 152). Former MSAFP and DoTS pathways students attested to the importance of putting in effort. Pip, Lisa, Vaughan, Sorcha and Reap explained putting in effort in terms of understanding course materials. For Pip, it was important to “make an effort to understand”. For Lisa, it was important to “get the answers” and “know your stuff”. For Vaughan, it was important for a student to learn the course materials and “know” they “did it” by themselves. I always make an effort to understand. I de?

nitely don’t do the amount of work outside my contact hours that I should, but I make an effort to understand it. When I do have contact hours, I’ll make an effort to understand it and, if I don’t, then I go out and read up on it. I think it makes a difference if you want to be here and you actually want to understand the work. I think that’s what makes a good uni student. (Pip ? DoTS) I know that I’ve got to get things done. If I don’t get them done, then I’m not going to get the answers. We have quizzes each week and you can’t answer the quizzes if you haven’t studied and you don’t know your stuff. (Lisa ?DoTS)

I read my chapter and I don’t collaborate with other people. I just tend to do it by myself because I want to know that I did it by myself, not because someone else has written down all the answers for me. (Vaughan ? DoTS) Like them, Sorcha and Reap emphasised the importance of making an effort to learn. For Sorcha, “you can become smart” with hard work and effort. For Reap, “you can’t fake it”. You can be smart and not do the work and not be successful and not achieve your goals, whereas if you have the time, the passion and all that, you can become smart. (Sorcha ? DoTS) You can’t breeze through uni.

You’ve got to be able to do the work. You can’t fake it. (Reap ? DoTS) A willingness to put in effort to learn involves having the right attitude toward study which includes commitment and dedication. Barbara and Kendall believed that without the right attitude it is dif? cult for new students to adapt to univer- sity and experience academic success. For Barbara, university “has to be your number-one priority” and for Kendall, a student should “work so hard for it”. I think you have to be committed. You have to be committed to go to uni.

Just be- cause you’ve got the brain, you got the marks, you got accepted, you might as INDEPENDENT LEARNING 119 6 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 119 well go and do it ? it’s not really the right attitude, because you’re a nuisance, mostly to the tutors and lecturers. You have to be committed. You have to be there because you want to be there. I think it has to be your number-one priority to a certain extent. Get your assignments done. Get your uni work done. Then play. (Barbara ? DoTS) I just think you have to be dedicated. You have to know what you want. You have to work for it.

It’s not just going to fall in your lap. Once you get it, it’s the best. Like I’m not even ?nished my course yet, but I’ve just got a job as a Division Two nurse and I’m wrapped. You work so hard for it and when you get there, it’s the best. (Kendall ? DoTS) A willingness to put in effort coupled with an attitude of dedication and com- mitment are attributes of an independent learner. Becoming an independent learner involves a new approach to study. Former pathways students contrasted their expectations of university learning with their experiences of becoming independent learners. Anna and Simon re? ected on different ideas about students and study. For Anna, a student should be “smart”, “independent” and have a “love of learning”.

For Simon, study at university in- volves thinking, discussing, “collaborating your thoughts and learning new things” as well as reading, reasoning and writing. [st3:When I was in Year 12 I would say that you have to be smart to come here. But doing DoTS teaches you what you need to be. You have to have a love of learning. You have to be an independent learner. (Anna ? DoTS) I remember in high school that I didn’t know what studying was. Now, for me, studying means doing what I need to do. I think of doing the work that re- quires me to think and learn something outside a lecture.

Thinking is part of studying and so is discussing. It’s a process. You’re collaborating your thoughts and learning new things. An assignment is a good example. Because you have to read extra material, you have to have an understanding, you have to do your rea- soning and you have to put your ideas down. (Simon ? DoTS) Like Simon, Tony recognised the differences of degree study.

For Tony, study at university involves “work on your own” and “research on your own”. In MSAFP I was used to having, let’s say, three tutorials in a week and in those tu- torials I could work through that assignment with my lecturers and ?nd out what I have to do. But you ? nd in undergrad you only have one tutorial in a week and you have to do your work on your own, research on your own and everything. (Tony ? MSAFP) Becoming an independent learner involves students also recognising when they need help. Asking for help is an issue that new university students, and particu- larly pathways students, ? nd challenging. For example, in the UK, low SES stu- dents studying at Shef? eld Hallam University tended not to ask for help but rather accepted their dif? culties with university study as though they were a nor- mal part of life.

In in-depth interviews, both mature-aged students and school leavers reported they rarely approached tutors and instead preferred to draw on informal supports and peer networks. One student reported being afraid the CH A P TE R 6 INDEPENDENT LEARNING 120 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 120 tutor would think she was a “slacker”, while others drew on a “strong sense of self-reliance” coupled with an “immense determination to succeed” (Clegg, Bradley & Smith, 2006: 107? 108, 111). Similarly, in a survey of 101 direct entry Business students in Scotland, the majority did not disclose personal issues that might affect their study (Barron & D’Annunzio-Green, 2009: 20).

Although students may be reluctant to consult tutors in person, they are also reluctant to seek help online. In Australia, at a new suburban campus of the Uni- versity of Queensland, students knuckled down to study independently and without assistance. More than 80% of the students rarely, if ever, asked for help, support, or assistance online (Ballantyne, Madden, & Todd, 2009: 306). New stu- dents may not feel comfortable to ask for help when they deal with new lectur- ers and tutors each semester. Both mature-aged students and school leavers at the University of Wollongong felt that interaction with their lecturers, whether online or face to face, was important in feeling comfortable enough to ask for help (Lefoe, Gunn & Hedberg, 2002: 44).

Other students, studying Psychology at Macquarie University, found they only received help from a tutor when they asked directly for assistance (Plum, 1999: 244? 245). While former DoTS students described independence at university as being “up to you”, they also pointed out that assistance is available when requested. Paige, Therese and Helen each stressed the importance of seeking assistance and asking for help.

For Paige, it is important not to be scared to seek advice. For Therese, it is important to “ask them”. For Helen, it is important to “take the initiative” and “go and ask for help”. I think you have to make sure that you’re not scared about going to ask for help, because people are there to help you. (Paige ? DoTS) My brother did say to me once that the lecturers are there to help you. If you have a question, you must ask them. (Therese ? DoTS) I think you have to be more independent. You have to be willing to put in the work and you have to be willing to ask for help. Those who aren’t willing to ask for help, they fall by the wayside.

When you know you might be drowning, you’ve just got to get up and take the initiative. Like in a workplace, no one will come and ask you. You’ve got to go and ask for help yourself. (Helen ? DoTS) Furthermore, Helen outlined the strategies she used in asking for help when, as a pathway student, she was “afraid” or just “con? dent enough” to seek advice. I would just go and ask whoever I needed to ask. I’d knock on people’s door ? lecturers, tutors, anyone. If I was a bit afraid of asking, I’d actually ring and ask at the front of? ce, “Who do I speak to? ” and they’d put you through.

I was con? dent enough to do that, I think, from working in my gap year. If I hadn’t worked that year, I think I probably wouldn’t have been. (Helen ? DoTS) Putting in effort helps a student adjust to the new style of independent learning at university. Independent learning requires a student to become metacognitive about their learning and study habits, so they are aware of when to seek advice. Taking the initiative to ask for help is an attribute of a student who is taking con- trol of their learning and becoming independent. INDEPENDENT LEARNING 121 6 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 121 THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.

Students cannot become independent learners unless they have the right attitude to study and a willingness to learn. Melinda, Lisa and Vaughan recognised the importance of a willingness to learn in university study and each drew on their vocational motivation to persist with university study. For Melinda, wanting to learn is “probably number one”. For Lisa, it is important to “want to learn”. For Vaughan, it is important to have a “desire to learn” to absorb information. Wanting to be a student and wanting to learn are probably number one. Wanting to actually do it, because you’ll never do it if you don’t want to.

You have to want to learn. If you just want to be a nurse, you can be a nurse with just a pass. But to be a good nurse, you have to want to be a student. You have the chance to learn, so you can get High Distinctions, so that you can be a great nurse, not just a nurse. (Melinda ? DoTS) I want to learn. I never used to want to learn, but I do now. I actually want to learn about all the different things and how everything works in Nursing. (Lisa ? DoTS) I think it’s about willingness to learn too. There’s a mountain of information out there. If you’ve got no desire to learn, you’re not going to take any of it in, so you’ve got to want to be there. (Vaughan ? DoTS)

The right attitude helps a student actually complete the work. A student’s atti- tude to learning is important in accepting the responsibility of a university work- load. Whether a student’s most recent learning experiences were at a secondary school, a vocational college, or in the workplace, becoming an independent learner in a university environment necessitates a different attitude (Booth, 1997). Age may also in? uence a student’s attitude. In Australia, mature-aged students have been found to be more committed to study than school leavers.

Compared to school leavers in outer western Brisbane, twice as many studying parents (over the age of 25) never skipped classes and regularly used support services. Moreover, students more than one year out of school were more con? dent and decisive than school leavers and were seven times more likely to complete the weekly readings (22% versus 3%) (Ballantyne, Madden & Todd, 2009: 307? 308). While it may be the case that mature-age students have the right attitude to study, many school leavers in the MSAFP and DoTS pathway also demonstrate the right attitude.

Having a willingness to change may best indicate a student’s capacity to ad-just to independent learning as well as to enable academic engagement and epis- temological access. In the UK, a University of Nottingham survey of History stu- dents found two-thirds of students expected to change over the period of their degree, suggesting that adjustment to university is an ongoing process and not just a dif? cult phase at the beginning of the ? rst year. These History students, who preferred discussion and debate over any other method of learning, ex- pected to develop open-mindedness, interpersonal communication skills, and in- dependence (Booth, 1997: 209, 214; see also Brownlee, Walker, Lennox, Exley & CH A P TE R 6 INDEPENDENT LEARNING 122 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 122 Pearce, 2009).

Their positive attitudes to learning enabled them to persist with study. Similarly, former MSAFP and DoTS pathway students highlighted the in? u- ence of a student’s attitude in persisting with university study. Persistence de- pends on motivation and engagement as well as commitment and a sense of re- sponsibility to learn. Sammy, Elaine and Lindy af? rmed a willingness to learn underpins success in university study. You have to want to do something to achieve success in it. (Sammy ?MSAFP)

If you put your mind to it and tell yourself you can do it, you can be successful. That’s what I think. (Elaine ? MSAFP) I tell myself, “This is your future. The future is in your hands. ” Nobody can write my exam for me. Nobody can study for me. It’s my future. It’s my life and the way I live it is my choice. I make myself study by looking at everyone else studying. When they’re all studying, I get motivated to study. (Lindy ? MSAFP) Like them, Meg, Paige and Therese each clearly articulated a willingness to learn and recognised that university study is serious business. Meg and Paige high-lighted that the right attitude helps a student achieve success, while Therese stressed that skills development is made possible when a student has the right attitude.

When I came here, I was 19 and I was ready to start being a grown-up. What I do now is going to play out my future. Every step I take is towards where I want to be. (Meg ? DoTS) I think I’m a lot more focused now. I know what I have to do and what needs to be done, that I can’t slack off and that I have to meet deadlines. I know that be- cause I’ve chosen to do this, I have to put in the effort. (Paige ? DoTS) You should actually want to be here and to take it seriously.

You’re not here just to have fun. With skills, you can develop them over time. You can teach yourself how to study and what’s the best way to study, how to ? nd information that you need and that is relevant, then to be able to differentiate between what’s relevant and what’s not relevant. But that comes with time I think. (Therese ? DoTS) Other former pathways students expressed an awareness of their changing atti- tudes to study. Caitlyn recalled, with some humour, the dependent attitude she overcame during the ? rst semester of the DoTS pathway. I remember actually asking the lecturer if I could have my birthday off, and he said no!

(Caitlyn ? DoTS) Chloe and Lisa re? ected on their changing attitudes toward their social lives as they became more serious about study. Chloe gave up excessive partying on weekends, while Lisa changed her “party life into uni life” I went out every weekend and got drunk. I’ve given that up now, because a hang- over lasts quite a few days with me. It really knocks me down. (Chloe ? DoTS) I just needed to change my party life into uni life. I liked to hang out with my friends more and go out on the weekends. But that’s changed now. (Lisa ? DoTS) INDEPENDENT LEARNING 123 6 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 123.

Vicky, Lisa and Melinda reiterated that a student’s attitude is re? ected in their be- haviour and highlighted that choosing to attend classes re? ected a commitment to study and a sense of responsibility to learn. Turn up to- class. Don’t just say, “If I miss this lecture, it won’t matter,” because it will. The blackboard site doesn’t give you everything. (Vicky ? DoTS) I know there are compulsory classes, but you have a choice of what you want to learn and what you want to do. (Lisa ? DoTS) If you don’t want to go to lectures, don’t. If you don’t want to go to tutes, don’t. If you don’t want to do the readings, don’t.

It’s your education that suffers from it and it’s your grades. I don’t want to say there are not people there to help you, but they’re only there if you ask for help. (Melinda ? DoTS) Former students of both the MSAFP and DoTS pathways point out that success- ful students are self-disciplined. Sammy, Chitalu and Chloe re? ected on how self- discipline helped them not only to keep up to date, but also to enjoy studying. I have a personal laptop and when I ? nd myself playing [games], then I think that tomorrow I have a tutorial and if I have studied enough for that.

If I haven’t, I im-mediately switch off, so I start reading my lecture slides and trying to understand the questions that might be discussed in the tutorial. (Sammy ? MSAFP) It’s not really hard work when you are disciplined and you do what you’re sup- posed to do. But when you take it lightly and you just have fun, it really becomes hard work. (Chitalu ? MSAFP) I don’t really need to make myself do it because most essays I enjoy writing and enjoy learning. I guess I’m pretty disciplined. (Chloe ? DoTS) Yet, other former pathways students also pointed out the risks of procrastination and avoidance.

Chipo, Tara and Lisa re?ected on wasting time and delaying, or avoiding, study commitments. For Chipo, postponing study is “time wasted”, while for Tara and for Lisa, it was easy to “put things off” or put “everything aside”. If you waste your time, time wasted is time that you can never get back. I had to learn these things as I went along because, you know, you postpone things. You say, “Oh no, I’ll do it later” and then next thing you discover you’ve got an assign- ment due tomorrow. (Chipo ? MSAFP) I tend to procrastinate a little bit and to put things off. (Tara ? DoTS) At the start, I was too busy stressing out and putting everything aside and not even thinking about it. In the second half of my ? rst year, I got the hang of what uni is all about and what you’ve got to do to get by. (Lisa ? DoTS)

Like them, Daniel, who returned to study from the workforce, tended to pro- crastinate. The solution was to have his life “timetabled”. I’m a terminal procrastinator. I always have been and stupidly enough I’ve been conditioned to actually continue to do so because I keep getting reasonable results in spite of procrastinating. I timetable a lot. I have my life timetabled so I start the semester saying, “Alright, I have this on this day and this on that day” and then.

CH A P TE R 6 INDEPENDENT LEARNING 124 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 124 around work I schedule one day where I focus on each subject. On that day, whether it is travelling on the train or at home in the afternoon, I do all of the reading and work on assignments and stuff like that. I allocate the time to do the work. (Daniel ? DoTS) One aspect of independent learning that former pathways students found easy was being “in control” of their own study. In contrast to high school where stu- dents felt pushed, particularly by teachers and through competition with their peers, at university students directed their own learning. Lindy found being in control “the easiest thing” about becoming an independent learner.

The easiest thing was being in control. I didn’t have a very hard time getting used to being in control. (Lindy ? MSAFP) Like Lindy, Grace, Andrew, Julia and Max appreciated the autonomy of univer- sity study. Arts students Grace and Andrew both preferred studying at university over studying at high school. Grace felt she was “making up for” bad habits at high school, while Andrew felt as if he were ? nally “doing something”. In high school I hated studying, so I ? nd it really strange.

I ? gure I’m making up for what I didn’t do in high school. (Grace ? DoTS) I did uni pretty well actually. I kind of preferred it to high school. Because, for one, I felt like I was doing something. With high school, it’s kind of like what you have to do. We were there because we had to be. At uni, it was where I wanted to be. (Andrew ? DoTS) Similarly, Julia and Max had no trouble taking control of their learning. Educa- tion student Julia viewed her learning as an opportunity, while Arts student Max found his own progress “inspiring”. I can’t believe people don’t hand work in because that’s just beyond me.

I just think why would you not even give yourself a chance? When I saw the mark for attendance, I thought I’m going to make sure I attend every class because that’s marks I can count on and I would never not hand anything in because every mark is another step closer. (Julia ? DoTS) It’s all on yourself. You’re responsible for failing. You’re responsible for doing your assignments. You’re responsible for passing. You’re responsible for your grades. There’s no one pushing you along. It’s inspiring to think that you’re con- trolling your own learning. (Max ? DoTS) Having the right attitude to study is important for success.

Regarding themselves as serious, responsible and goal-oriented students, some former pathways stu- dents were openly critical of their peers who did not share the same “right atti- tude” to study. Andrew and Rachel were both critical of students who aim for a minimum pass, regarding them to be “unmotivated”. I come across a lot of unmotivated students who are like, “I’m just here to get a pass and get my degree and get out. ” (Andrew ? DoTS) I actually ? nd a lot of people are only motivated to get that pass score. They are not that motivated to go the extra mile. (Rachel ? DoTS) INDEPENDENT LEARNING.

125 6 STUDENT VOICES BOOK_Layout 1 2011/10/07 11:57 AM Page 125 Like them, Jenna regarded some of the other students as having the wrong atti- tude for studying. Describing their attitudes as “very lazy” and “very blas ”, Jenna contrasted her own willingness to learn and to put in effort with their lack of motivation and poor attitudes. There are de? nitely some students who are very lazy in their attitude. They don’t go to classes. They don’t do the reading. They have a very blase attitude and I ? nd that very frustrating because I’m here to learn and I put in the time and effort. (Jenna ? DoTS).


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