Staff accessibility and online engagement with first-year students: An autoethnographic reflection
International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design
Centre for Learning and Teaching
Studying online is becoming an increasingly attractive option to prospective students worldwide, yet external completion rates tend to be considerably lower than those enrolled on campus. Through an autoethnographic critical reflection process of teaching 27 first-year online students at a regional Australian university, this article considers methods for increasing accessibility and student engagement as well as managing personal challenges supporting online students from non-traditional backgrounds. Among seven key implications for practice, this article argues the need for genuine and open-ended interaction with online students at the early stages of a semester. It also recommends that teaching staff consciously recognize the limitations of providing academic support to non-traditional students. Based on these practices, this article confirms the benefits of critical reflection in higher education settings and the broader impact it can have on pedagogic approaches to tertiary teaching and learning.