Strong support programmes at Curtin Malaysia enrich the student learning experience

By Professor Beena Giridharan

Curtin University, being in the elite top 200 universities in the world, continues to maintain its position though innovative programmes that produce quality graduate scholars. At Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), Curtin’s largest global campus located in Malaysia, particular pride is taken in the strong support programmes extended to students who may experience challenges in their studies while transitioning from high school to university.

Two unique programmes which have helped guide students to continue along their planned study plans are the Peer to Peer (P2P) collaborative study group programme and the Academic Support Modules programme.

The Peer to Peer (P2P) programme is a Curtin Malaysia initiative that offers academic support to students experiencing difficulties trying to keep abreast of course information, lectures and assignment deadlines. Students who experience such difficulties are most often enrolled in traditionally rigorous course units.

Once students who are experiencing difficulties are identified, they are offered the option of attending additional sessions, where learning content is reviewed with the support of an experienced peer. The additional sessions and review classes are led by student facilitators.

The programme ensures that all P2P participants including facilitators have a successful social and academic experience at Curtin Malaysia. Facilitators are chosen from Curtin Malaysia’s top students, who volunteer to lead these support classes. These volunteers are trained by highly experienced teacher-trainers each new semester to employ the appropriate pedagogical methodology used to facilitate these lesson-review sessions. The facilitators also work under the tutelage and support of experienced lecturers from Curtin Malaysia’s Office of Learning and Teaching.

Learning Support Modules offered through the Office of Learning and Teaching to students across Curtin Malaysia’s faculties and courses form yet another integral support system offered at the university. They comprise a raft of Academic Skill Development Modules that focus on advancing student graduate capabilities.

Each of these two-hour modules expand on the intricacies of various important academic skills that are vital to a successful academic experience and future work-related endeavors.  They are delivered by a highly experienced professional, and cover a range of academic skills’ topics such as presentation skills critical reading (thinking); academic writing; paraphrasing, summarising skills, how to avoid plagiarism; proof-reading and editing for excellence; referencing and citing; note taking; cohesion coherence; accent awareness/modification, to name a few. These courses are made available to all Curtin Malaysia students, from foundation students, to postgraduate and higher degree by research students, every semester.

Curtin Malaysia is very proud to offer these and other important support programmes to its students to help enrich and enhance their chances of success. As part of the learning enhancement and development systems, Curtin Malaysia’s Office of Learning and Teaching works closely with the faculties and departments on campus to integrate its support into their curricula, through offering personalised and student-centred learning support. Learning support is available via in-person and online models of delivery. Such strong support helps to make the student learning experience more enriched, meaningful and fulfilling.

Professor Beena Giridharan is the Dean of Learning and Teaching at Curtin Malaysia. Her research and academic interests include vocabulary acquisition in ESL, educational administration and leadership, higher education practices, transnational education (TNE) and ethno-linguistic studies in indigenous communities. As a member of an Office of Learning and Teaching, Australia (OLT) funded project entitled ‘Learning without Borders’, Professor Giridharan has investigated leadership roles in Trans-National Education (TNE) and internationalisation of the curriculum. She is also a Fellow of the Curtin Academy, a prestigious active, honorary network of exceptional leaders committed to, and passionate about, the collaboration and dissemination of teaching excellence at Curtin University, as well as a fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) since 2006.  

In 2006, Professor Giridharan won the Carrick Australian Award for University Teaching, and the 2006 Curtin University, Australia Excellence in Teaching and Innovation Award, and was a visiting professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA between 2007- 2008. In addition, she is an associate editor for the IAFOR Journal of Education, USA; Journal of Language and Literature; and a reviewer for a number of international journals in higher education. She is often invited as keynote speaker and plenary speaker at a number of higher education conferences regionally and internationally. In 2020, she was appointed Country Director for Malaysia by the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL), United States.