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Research translation at Churchie

Posted on 13 March 2020

APEX and ASM at Churchie

Churchie’s partnership with The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC) has focused on better understanding the nature and maturation of student learning behaviours, academic and study strategies and performance. One of the key outcomes of the work to date is the strategic introduction of the Academic and Pastoral Excellence (APEX) programme within the 2020 school timetable. The APEX programme acknowledges the importance of both pastoral and academic teams in helping students reach their potential, with synergies developing between these teams wherever possible.

The APEX programme aims to nurture student confidence and resilience, developing:
  • student self-efficacy, individual resourcefulness and independence
  • a meaningful culture of peer support amongst all senior students
  • support from inspirational staff from both the pastoral and academic programmes.
Together these elements are integral to a weekly routine that is dynamic, flexible and enriching. The APEX system integrates a Pastoral Learning (delivered by the housemasters) and Academic Skills and Mentoring (ASM, facilitated by an academic mentor) curriculum.

A Learner’s Toolkit

A Learner’s Toolkit, developed by Churchie in association with the UQ SLRC, seeks to aid in the development of resilient and life-long learners. The aim is to present students with a suite of effective and efficient strategies, informed by current thinking from cognitive psychology and sciences. Its implementation seeks to challenge the common, default strategies that students tend to rely upon. Often these default strategies have ‘worked’ for students at an earlier stage of their schooling. The result is the illusion of learning and a false-perception of their efficacy. However, as students progress through their education, these time-intensive and other ‘low-utility’ strategies see behaviours and emotions that narrow focus and learning to undermine performance.

The Toolkit (Figure 1) aims to present students with a suite of reliable, high-utility strategies to build their academic competence. The included strategies are:
  • Retrieval practice (Strategy #1 Retrieve It)
  • Spaced practice (Strategy #2 Space It)
  • Interleaving (Strategy #3 Jumble It)
  • Dual coding (Strategy #4 Visualise It)
  • Interrogative elaboration (Strategy # 5 Connect It).
The literature points to these high-utility strategies as the most efficient, effective and reliable strategies to aid learning. Importantly, through their application, students are more likely to engage in those learning behaviours that will build their self-efficacy. As their self-efficacy grows, students are more likely to put forth the effort and persistence, moderated by critical emotions, that will see them become more resilient learners. The aim is to build these behaviours and traits throughout their schooling to better place our learners to absorb, circumvent and work through the various challenges and situations.

Figure 1: Core cognitive strategies that underpin the Learner’s Toolkit