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Teacher and student interactions in the first year of university

Published: 13 September 2019

Abstract: The first year of university is often considered challenging and difficult for students who are adjusting to different academic and social demands. In this context, teacher-student interactions can play a crucial role in fostering student motivation, engagement in learning, a sense of belonging to the university and academic persistence. Although the benefits of teacher-student interactions have been researched, to date few studies have examined in-depth the characteristics, role and value of these interactions from students’ perspectives in the Australian higher education context. Through semi-structured interviews, this study investigated the experiences of 21 undergraduate students who reflected on their interactions with teaching staff (lecturers and tutors) in the first year, particularly the type and frequency of interactions they had with teachers and the influences these interactions had on their learning and engagement in the subject as well as the broader university. Overall, students reported that the majority of interactions were positive and helpful in influencing their engagement in learning. However, the benefits of their interactions with teachers were not perceived to extend beyond the classroom to help them develop a sense of belonging to the university.
Keywords: Higher education / first year of university / faculty-student interactions / qualitative research

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