Evidence identifies that many students commence university with academic skill deficits. With a focus on educator expectations, this research investigated perceptions about the academic skills commonly required for a multidisciplinary cohort of first year health science students, where typically students have diverse prior learning. Via an online survey, participants completed questions focusing on specific academic skills, where they rated their perception of the importance of the skill and student competency. The questions included open and closed responses. Additionally, participants recorded academic skill development strategies that were currently embedded and their perceived helpfulness. Thirty-three first year educators responded. Academic integrity skills, finding information, writing skills, and reading and understanding skills were generally rated as important; however, student ability was frequently considered to be poor. Findings for numeracy were inconsistent. In contrast, digital literacy was rated adequate or above. In terms of embedding academic skills, 59% reported implementing these, with 95% identifying that they were helpful. Overall, findings showed that a broad range of academic skills are deemed important in first year health sciences, yet the overall educator perception of student skill competency is mostly poor. There was evidence of strategies to embed academic skills, for example, writing and numeracy; however, some of the educators did not adopt such approaches. The extent of educator expectation was clearly evident in this group of first year health science educators. There is a need for this to be balanced with a considered approach to student academic skill development.
Munn, J, Coutts, R, Knopke, J, Grant, A & Bartlett, E 2016, 'The academic skill needs and competency of first year health science students: views of educators', Journal of Academic Language & Learning, vol. 10, no. 2.