First Year Curriculum Principles

Intentional first year curriculum design should mediate a relevant, involving and social transition to tertiary academic study that is not overwhelming to the new learner in the discipline. It is acknowledged that ‘first year students’, as multiple cohorts, are extremely diverse. The diverse nature of student progression also means that non-first year students may enroll in first year subjects of study. This articulation of a ‘transition pedagogy’ – a guiding philosophy for intentional first year curriculum design and support that carefully scaffolds and mediates the first year learning experience for contemporary heterogeneous cohorts – is concerned with undergraduate first year curriculum and co-curriculum design, rather than with the experience of commencing students. It also acknowledges that good first year curriculum design must be concomitant with good first year teaching and proactive, just-in-time, support and service provision.

The first year of university study is arguably the most crucial time for engaging students in their learning community and equipping them with the requisite skills, not only to persist, but to be successful and independent in their new learning throughout their undergraduate years and for a lifetime of professional practice in which they will be continually required to learn and to engage with new ideas that go beyond the content of their university program. All members of the University, students and both professional and academic staff, have a responsibility in this regard to ensure that the first year curriculum is engaging, supportive, intentional, relevant and social.

Certain curriculum design principles stand out as supportive of first year learning engagement, success and retention. Broad Organising Principles for First Year Curriculum Good first year curriculum design should abide by the six interconnected organising principles identified in the Fellowship research, to facilitate all students fully achieving desired learning outcomes:

The statement of the six first year curriculum principles (pdf 825KB) has been a major Fellowship outcome.

For further explanations of these principles please click on the principle links above.