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What do graduate attributes mean for the classroom? The case of academic literacy in 3 rd year Economics Beatrice Conradie, Moragh Paxton & Lara Skelly.

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Presentation on theme: "What do graduate attributes mean for the classroom? The case of academic literacy in 3 rd year Economics Beatrice Conradie, Moragh Paxton & Lara Skelly."— Presentation transcript:

1 What do graduate attributes mean for the classroom? The case of academic literacy in 3 rd year Economics Beatrice Conradie, Moragh Paxton & Lara Skelly Commerce Education Group, UCT 11 May 2010

2 Academic literacy vs. graduateness Graduate attributes Academic literacy (Butler, 2009) Writing difficulty Language correctness Academic argumentation Reading, comprehension, interpretation (Scott, 2009; UCT policy) Computer literacy Quantitative literacy (numeracy) Information literacy Critical thinking

3 The UCT policy statement Our mission is to educate students who will have a broad foundational knowledge that goes beyond the immediate requirements of their professional degree or major discipline; who will be equipped to compete in a globalised workplace; who will have a spirit of critical enquiry through research-led teaching; and who will have an understanding of the role they can play in addressing social justice issues. (Draft strategic goal statement, UCT 2009 in Scott, 2009 emphasis added)

4 How does one assess graduateness? Second, statements of graduate attributes are generally regarded as rhetorical and without substance unless the attributes are effectively assessed in appropriate ways. This has significant implications for curriculum design and teaching approaches. For example, attributes that arise from students studies across the curriculum need to be assessed by means of cross-curriculum capstone courses, research projects or similar activities. This is quite feasible in the programmatic curricula of professional degrees but poses challenges for the formative degrees in which there are many possible combinations of majors. Also, assessment of complex attributes often requires collaboration between academic staff across disciplines or with different expertises, e.g. disciplinary staff working with language or numeracy specialists (Scott, 2009, emphasis added)

5 Todays question While writing has to be taught in a context, academic literacy should be transferable between discourses and across genres (Devereux & Wilson, 2008; Stacey, 2009) Is there anything in what follows that you would recognise as general indicators of graduate levels of academic literacy?

6 The students: Do you plan to do honours in 2011? n=52

7 The marking guide Key deliverables Quality of the question Is the methodology appropriate for the question? Are the results solid? Does the paper have a logical & coherent structure? Are all the technical requirements met? Language correctness Academic argument, critical reading and comprehension

8 Case 1: Are national parks beneficial or just take up space? Introduction A closer look at the profitability of Kruger Examining tourism in Kruger How is Kruger National Park benefiting the economy Protecting endangered species Does Kruger help with the above mentioned problems? Growth trends in animals Other benefits of national parks Conclusion evidence

9 Case 1: Introduction The Kruger National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Africa and is a major tourist attraction. The national park is based in South Africa and that is why we used it in our paper. It has an area of km 2 contains 150 mammal species, 100 different types of trees, 1982 species of plants, 517 species of birds and 114 species of reptiles(Joubert, 2007). This large and diverse national park which is almost the size of Israel is a world of its own. Therefore, besides being the home to so many different kinds of creatures what other benefits does Kruger offer of which government authorities, as decision makers, recognize the need and importance of national parks and believe they are here to stay. If we can prove that KNP is a profit maximizing national park we can see that one of the most common economic principles, profit maximization, is maintained. From basic economic knowledge we know that profit maximizing firms or organizations benefit the entire economy. We also see that KNP creates many job opportunities is vital for keeping unemployment levels to a minimal. Looking at the bigger picture, this national park is the home to many endangered species. This is an indirect benefit to not only the society in South Africa but to the entire planet earth. Incoherent Register Unnuanced used of the theory All over the show, does not pose a single question

10 Case 1: References Tupy, M (2006). South African Land Woe. Available from: (Accessed 2 April). Harvey (2007).African Elephant. Available from: (Accessed 7th April). Media Club South Africa (2009). South Africas Geography. Available from: (Accessed 28th March) Joubert, Salomon (2007). The Kruger National Park (3 rd ed.) Statistics South Africa (2009). South African: Economy Over view. Available from: (Accessed 5th April).http://www.southafrica.info/business/economy/econoverview.htm Banks, S (2007). Global Warming Causing Extinction. Available from: ng_extinction.html ng_extinction.html Unable to recognise primary & secondary sources, never mind the appropriate literature

11 Case 1: Undigested numbers are an indication of a lack of quantitative literacy Source: South African National Parks- Kruger National Park Management Plan Doc.

12 Case 2: Undigested theory The type of model we chose to look at is one that is very simple. One that makes highly intuitive sense as it is very similar to the marginal cost- marginal abatement models we looked at during this course. It has been constructed by Dr Peter Kennedy 1 of Victoria University, British Columbia, Canada. The model presupposes that there be the state (or the UN on a global level) as regulator of emissions permits, this regulator would be able to analyse firm or country behaviour and through legislation, devise schemes for allotment and subsequent market for emissions permits. There are 2 periods considered: The first period in which the marginal damage is unknown, and the second future period where we have knowledge of what the marginal damage is. Marginal damage is a constant and denoted δ, the true value of δ is uncertain in period 1 and has expected value µ. At the beginning of period 2 it becomes known that either δ = δ H or δ= δ L < δ H, where the 'H' subscript denotes high damage and the 'L' subscript denotes low damage.

13 Case 3: Long quotes are undigested views A key approach of the governments economic development is to meet a minimum set of basic needs of the population and to reconstruct the social base of the country... A more equitable allocation of natural resources, such as land and water, is a necessary part of the economic development programme. In both the water and energy sectors major reform programmes are under way to deliver basic services to previously disadvantaged South Africans. These reform programmes include modifications to the laws and regulations governing property rights and access to these resources. (Goldblatt and Davies, 2002: 369) Not difficult to paraphrase There is a text in the reader that speaks about where these programmes succeed and fail

14 Case 4: Long quote offered as an introduction suggests an inability to situate a question In Western Cape plant species are harvested from the wild for commercial reasons and this harvesting is done according to international certification standards which are monitored by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (WCNCB) now known as CapeNature, these flowers are exported to Europe and some parts of the USA, in 1998 alone this wild flower industry was estimated to have an economic value-in-use worth R150 million, 80% of it as foreign exchange. Unfortunately this immense natural wealth is under extreme pressure resulting from climate change, human demands placed on the environment through economic development, agriculture and urbanisation. Invasive alien vegetation and the trade in wildlife also contribute to this problem. In addition, about tons of marine resources are harvested annually by south African fishermen, with an economic value-in-use of approximately R2.5 billion and the value-in-use of the entire fishing industry,incorporating commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing is estimated to be R4.5 billion annually (SA Country study 2005). With the increasing effects of pollution, illegal and unsustainable fishing practices marine ecosystems are equally under- pressure.climate change

15 Case 5: The suitability of the Air Quality Act in a South African Post- Apartheid context given its policy approach and supporting economic theory Introduction The Air Quality Act of 2004, in its adoption of the command and control policy approach as a means of addressing the issue of air quality externalities, has raised the question of whether the approach is suitable in the post-apartheid context given alternative approaches such as Pigouvian taxes and Coasion bargaining. By examining the economic theory behind the act, which rests on its definition of externalities, the paper will analyse how that informs the Acts policy approach which will be revealed by a comparative analysis of the various ways of dealing with externalities. A hypothetical application of the Act will seek to defend the feasibility of the command and control approach in light of issues owing to environmental racism such as income inequality, poverty, and land inequalities. Single quite critical question Clear ownership of methods

16 Course results

17 Our thoughts on graduate literacy Few students struggle with language correctness The nature of their writing difficulties 1.Not being able to synthesise (voice) 2.Lack of comprehension makes them quote extensively (interpretations / theory / results) 3.Not able to ask questions that can be answered 4.Not able to carry through a coherent argument / make a logical analysis 5.Cannot tell good sources from bad sources, primary from secondary, outdated from relevant, experts from non- experts

18 A wish list of graduate attributes from various quarters at UCT (Scott, 2009) broad foundational knowledge critical, analytical and inquiry-orientated habits of mind... an international outlook, in particular, knowledge of the African continent so that our graduates are able to bring a contemporary African focus to their future professional work; appropriate academic skills and capabilities in writing and other forms of communication, quantitative literacy, information literacy and other new literacies; an understanding of and capacity for responsible local and global citizenship; personal qualities such as intellectual autonomy and ethical and professional habits of mind; basic competence in other languages – especially in indigenous South African languages and major languages spoken in other parts of Africa – and appreciation of cultural diversity; employability and career literacy; experience in service learning and other forms of social responsibility

19 Discussion & questions Do you concur with our notions of graduate academic literacy? Are our standards of graduateness the same? Can we use the same definitions of academic literacy across disciplines?


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