Embedding successful pedagogical practices: Assessment strategies for a large, diverse, first year student cohort


This paper argues that the transition to first year in a diverse, multi-campus, multimodal university provides significant difficulty and disorientation for school leavers and mature age and international students. Consequently, curriculum design for first year students requires an awareness of the need to provide commencing students with a framework for meeting the requirements of the academic environment. This paper illustrates how the successful practice of teaching first year students addresses the learning issues and needs of first year university students through the use of scaffolding and developmental assessment.

The case study is from a first year Faculty of Business core course at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. It provides a range of examples of successful pedagogical practices, including examples of scaffolding and developmental assessment embedded within the course materials to support and meet student needs. The strategies to embed these support mechanisms included spreading the assessment across the semester using two assignments and a final examination. In the second assignment of the course we utilise an incremental research and assignment process that includes an exercise to deconstruct the assignment question, a short annotated bibliography, the concept mapping of the assignment argument and the assessment of a supplied essay before the writing and submission of the student's final essay.

As a result of these curriculum changes, we argue that preliminary indications are an improvement in both student assignment performance and student retention.


Cassandra Star
School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Jacquelin McDonald
Learning and Teaching Support Unit, University of Southern Queensland, QLD


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multimodal university; mature age student; international students; curriculum design


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