Student dinners: Engaging and retaining online social work students

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The Charles Sturt University (CSU) Social Work student body is predominantly enrolled online which can be isolating for students, poses challenges to academics for student engagement and is a student retention challenge for the School. This chapter reports on the evaluation of a strategy referred to as ‘student dinners’ and explores the potential of this initiative to address these challenges.

The student dinners are offered in association with field education liaison visits and they supplement the face-to-face contact online students experience through residential schools and liaison contacts. The student dinners are sometimes lunches or drinks and snacks, at other times an evening meal.
The evaluation of the student dinners initiative began some years after their inception. De-identified emailed responses from students addressed the open queries in relation to what was useful, and not useful about the dinners and invited suggestions from students about this initiative. The evaluation draws on themes from the student feedback and from literature about online education. The students reported benefits including: the opportunity to meet staff and other students, improved motivation to continue their studies, reduced isolation, a contribution to their developing social work identity and a contribution to developing a community of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial work
Subtitle of host publicationInnovations and insights
EditorsManohar Pawar, Wendy Bowles, Bell Karen
Place of PublicationNorth Melbourne, Vic
PublisherAustralian Scholarly Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781925801286
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2018


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