Learning Diversity and the Multifaceted Roles of Tertiary Learning Advisors
This paper will report on findings of a survey that examines how learning advisors in New Zealand tertiary institutions view their roles in terms of contributing to the management and celebration of learning diversity. Over the past decade, various developments have created a markedly more diverse mix in the student populations of tertiary institutions in New Zealand. Changes in the government's immigration policies and a more concerted move toward internationalization by many of the institutions have produced considerable diversity in ethnic and cultural mix amongst students. Changes to the extent to which the government funds tertiary institutions have also resulted in these institutions being more strategic and proactive in the recruitment of students. This in turn has resulted in greater diversity in the learning backgrounds, capabilities, prior experiences, and motivations of students entering these institutions. Learning advisors now play a multitude of roles that range from being "remedial" to providing "student professional development" in nature. Finding out the learning advisors' views about their roles in managing and celebrating the diversity that has quickly become a reality in their institutions could potentially help tertiary institution staff in other countries who face or are likely to face similar changes and challenges. An examination of their views could also provide insights into what really is helpful to the enhancement of student experiences and academic performance at the tertiary level, and what the future might hold in the area of learning instruction and support for tertiary students.
Keywords: Learning Advisors, Learning Diversity, Learning Instruction and Support, New Zealand, Tertiary Students
Dr Emmanuel Manalo
Director, The Student Learning Centre, The University of Auckland