Transition in Context: identifying and responding to the needs of different enabling populations

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

29 Downloads (Pure)


Widening the participation of traditionally underrepresented and marginalised students through enabling education has been a key part of Australia’s higher education equity agenda since the 1970s (Bradley et al., 2008). Pre-degree enabling programs aim to support students’ acquisition of academic literacies and prepare them for university study. However, these programs typically suffer from high attrition rates compared with undergraduate programs (Baker et al., 2022), due to the unique challenges faced by non-traditional students including developing a student identity, cultural transition, and anxiety from previous educational experiences (Stokes, 2021). Transformational and critical pedagogical approaches value students’ incoming skills, knowledges, and capital, and allow for a growth-mindset approach that sees students to develop a sense of belonging and capability within the university. These approaches are therefore vital for enabling educators when aiming to address the challenges of widening participation and increasing student retention through entry pathways.

This presentation examines the perceived demographic, motivational, and behavioural differences between cohorts within four unique enabling programs at Flinders University. Though each of these programs share vast curriculum similarities, they each target different demographics of ‘non-traditional’ students. This paper argues, therefore, that in order to better empower students transitioning to Australian universities, educators must value and respond to their diverse incoming skills, knowledge, and capabilities. To do this, we must understand who our students are, what capitals they bring into the classroom, and what unique challenges they face as non-traditional students. In doing so, we can better adjust our pedagogical approaches to meet the differing needs of each cohort and better facilitate their success in Higher Education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023
Event16th Biennial Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference 2023: Meeting students at the centre: re-thinking our AALL practice - Hosted online, Australia
Duration: 22 Nov 202324 Nov 2023
Conference number: 16th


Conference16th Biennial Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleAALL 2023
CityHosted online
OtherThe 16th Biennial Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference is a collaborative effort among South Australia’s three universities and hosted online by Flinders University.
The AALL represents and supports academic language and learning educators in Australia.
AALL is a professional association committed to representing and supporting tertiary academic language and learning educators in Australia, and others with an active interest in the field. AALL aims to provide members with opportunities to extend their professional networks and to enhance their practice through discussion, professional development, presentations, publications and research.
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Session 6A, 24th November 2023.


  • Enabling program
  • Higher education
  • Academic literacy
  • Non-traditional university students


Dive into the research topics of 'Transition in Context: identifying and responding to the needs of different enabling populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this