Exploring first-year students' resources from the perspectives of student support structures : a world café study
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First-year students are confronted with various demands during their transition from secondary to tertiary education. Other factors also contribute to students’ stress, especially if they do not know how to deal with it. Often too much stress leads to students dropping-out of university prematurely, affecting both the individual and university negatively. However, if both support structures and students themselves are able to identify what resources first-year students need or when they need additional support, they could manage it better. The focus of the present study was to explore the perceptions that student support structures within a Higher Education Institution have of first-year students’ existing resources and those necessary to deal with their demands. A qualitative research approach was followed. Data was collected by means of the World café method where participants (N = 36) were the Dean of Students, the Student Representative Council, the Centre for Student Guidance and Development, House Committee members and hostel parents. The data was transcribed verbatim and coded by an objective coder with the use of a co-coder. The findings of this study identified three major themes, including 1) resources that are available to students; 2) resources that students need; and 3) limitations regarding existing resources and suggestions of how resources can be better utilised. For each theme, there were different sub-themes. With regards to the first theme, the resources available to students were discussed in terms of academic resources, physical resources, emotional resources, financial resources, social resources and spiritual resources. With regards to the second theme, three main sub-themes were identified as resources that students need, including academic resources, physical resources and emotional resources. Finally, limitations regarding existing resources and suggestions of how resources can be better utilised were also identified in the third theme. Limitations included ignorance of resources, lack of interaction or communication between support services, overloading students with information in the induction and orientation programme, poor marketing of resources, fragmentation in resources, accessibility of resources, and intra-personal restrictions. Suggestions included an online information platform, central information desk, and marketing of services
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