Then And Now- Foundation Studies and Dr Ian Teo

By Dr Ian Teo

The year 2004 was by almost all accounts a simpler time. Facebook had just been founded, Google released Gmail in April, and Mean Girls dominated the box office as well as inspired a whole generation of teenagers. Hipsters the world over were yet to discover their common woodcutter heritage, (the short lived) Pokemon Go! was more than a decade away, and saying "tutting" or "dabbing" to someone might lead them to think you were a painter.

2004 was also the year that I began at Trinity College Foundation Studies. Working with Maureen Vincent in Psychology, I mostly tutored students in the February and August Main intakes and, occasionally, the July Fast Track students. Over the years that followed, I taught across the majority of student intakes before becoming the primary Psychology lecturer/tutor for August Main students. I developed a passion for providing pastoral support and quality study experiences for students at Trinity College’s Foundations Studies School.

Since 2009, I have been involved in research relating to international students studying within this Foundation Studies program. In 2016, I began my role as a Research Coordinator and was tasked to engage in studies relating to this preparatory program and provide support for staff who were participating in similar activities. During this time, I also established partnerships with colleagues at Melbourne University (within the Faculties of Education, Engineering, and Medicine) who maintained a similar desire to better the quality of education and study experiences had by international students. 

The studies that I have partaken in have involved surveying and interviewing past and present students on their experiences within Trinity College Foundation Studies and afterwards at university. Topics have included investigating students': 

    * Overall study experiences in Australia 
    * Expectations and experiences with the Foundation Studies curriculum and eLearning 
    * University study experiences 
    * Social and interpersonal relationships with local and international students 
    * Psychological well-being and resilience 
    * Alumni relationships and networks 

More personally, it has been within this capacity as an applied researcher that I have increasingly become excited as these surveys seeks to improve the quality of higher education preparation for students within this Foundation Studies program. It also seeks to provide a 'voice' for the unique stories and life lessons experienced by past and present students, many of which have been nothing short of inspirational. 

Recently, I have been fortunate to participate in other student-related activities outside of teaching. These have included organising a fundraiser with Psychology students to donate clothes and profits earned from a bake-off, a pie-throwing contest, second-hand clothes sales, and a music concert, to Oxfam Australia and the Salvation Army; developing high intensity interval training classes for students with Philip Threlfall; and collaborating with Foundation Studies staff to engage in international education research.

While there have been many highlights while working within the Foundation Studies program (clichéd I know), I think the best experiences have always been those that occurred once students had moved from this institution. Whether it was a catch-up coffee or a serendipitous 'bumping into' overseas, it has always been good to chat with students (even briefly) about life after 'Trinity'. Finally, in addition to long walks by the beach, candlelit dinners, reading subtitled French poetry, and engaging in meaningful conversations throughout the night, my wife and I joyfully welcomed our second child Benjamin (brother to Olivia) into the world, born on the 11 January 2017. 2004 was indeed a simpler time.

18 Jan 2017
Category: Foundation Studies