Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Association for Research in Education


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Centre for Higher Education Learning and Teaching Research




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Sharp, S. , O'Rourke, J. A., Lane, J. M., & Hays, A. (2014). Cohesion, coherence and connectedness: The 3C model for enabling-course design to support student transition to university. Proceedings of International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education. (pp. 14-28). Brisbane, Australia. Australian Association for Research in Education Available here


Recent Australian government policy has focused on attracting students from under-represented and diverse groups to tertiary education with university enabling courses one pathway for these students. The trend towards broader participation has altered traditional perceptions of a typical university student and raised delivery challenges. The ability to engage these students as learners and improve their academic outcomes and confidence towards successful course completion, is increasingly important to universities because of attrition costs to governments, students and higher education institutions, and is increasingly reflected in academic literature. While strategic student support options have been examined in detail, less focus has been applied to the enabling programs themselves; with little published about what actually happens at the course implementation level, to encourage conditions that support student progression. This paper reports on the re-development of an enabling course at an Australian university committed to breaking down barriers that restrict entry to education. Cohesion, coherence and connectedness emerged as central principles guiding leadership style, course design and development, staff-student communication and collaborative teaching and learning approaches. Student voices describe the lived experience of course development and delivery influenced by these principles. University retention and progression statistics and student unit teaching evaluation data were used to evaluate the impact on student satisfaction and transition. The outcome of the research highlights that building a collaborative course culture based on a 3C model of cohesion, coherence and connectedness when, used interdependently, improves students’ confidence, skills and knowledge to successfully transition to undergraduate tertiary study.

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