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Designing an education for life after university: Why is it so difficult? CHEC, South Africa March 2011 A/PROF SIMON BARRIE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY.

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Presentation on theme: "Designing an education for life after university: Why is it so difficult? CHEC, South Africa March 2011 A/PROF SIMON BARRIE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY."— Presentation transcript:

1 Designing an education for life after university: Why is it so difficult? CHEC, South Africa March 2011 A/PROF SIMON BARRIE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

2 Life after university…. what does it hold for our graduates? ›Citizenship – an educated member of South African (and a global) society ›Employment - contribute through, and derive satisfaction from, their work (and work connects to other parts of their life) ›The only certainty is uncertainty….but certainly more learning ›So what do our students need to learn…. (and how shall we teach them) ……..if they are to develop the attributes they will need as graduates? 2

3 GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES They are descriptions of the core abilities and values a university community agrees all its graduates should develop as a result of successfully completing their university studies (adapted from Bowden et al 2000). Graduate attributes are an orientating statement of education outcomes used to inform curriculum design and engagement with teaching and learning experiences at a university (Barrie 2009). We keep coming up with new statements of outcomes….. (discipline standards, program learning outcomes, qualification frameworks etc etc) that don't make much difference……why? 3

4 GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES (OUTCOME BASED) CURRICULUM RENEWAL Three questions: 1.Why hasn’t the rhetoric of graduate attributes been consistently reflected in our students’ experiences of higher education? 2.How might the design of university curricula, teaching and learning better deliver on graduate attributes? 3.What changes might be needed to our academic work if we are to achieve these outcomes through curriculum renewal? 4

5 5 1: Graduate Attributes are actually several different sorts of types of ‘fortunes’ Statements describing these graduate attributes, and universities’ efforts to foster the development of these attributes, need to accommodate these differences 1.Precursor 2.Complementary 3.Translation 4.Enabling

6 What graduate attributes aren’t….. ›Not lists of outcomes to be ‘ticked off’ ›They are not another extra set of outcomes to be taught as something additional to the real business of learning at university ›They are not a set of outcomes to be measured through extra assessment tasks – disconnected to the assessment of university learning ›Though some players in higher education sector might actually prefer them to be just these things

7 Why is it important to distinguish these levels of outcomes in policy and curriculum development? 1.Some sorts of GA are inputs not outputs and if we look for ‘value-add’ from university in that sort, staff and students will be disappointed 2.Some sorts of GA can be explicitly taught and assessed at university but one type probably can’t 3.One type of GA is different in every discipline – the others might be more generic – but that still doesn’t mean they are the same 4.One sort you develop with stand alone skills courses taught by skills experts and there is no real change to the rest of the curriculum 5.One sort would be developed if all university teachers adopted ‘good teaching practices’ in their courses 6.Some types are not very appealing to the academic community 7.Some types are very appealing to bureaucrats and administrators – and some scare them 7

8 8 2: Moving from statements to learning

9 A curriculum for graduate attributes 1. Different sorts of outcomes ›Foundation: (precursor & complementary) Generic skills – ‘off-the shelf’, non- specialised skills for university learning and work ›Taught as stand-alone skills modules, workshops – better if integrated as explicit focus on graduate attributes in core formative learning experiences in key transition subjects ›Transition (in and out) strategies that focus on academic literacies (in) and employment literacies (out) ›Translation: Explicit ways of doing and thinking, using and applying discipline knowledge… they are the discipline ›Learnt in students' usual courses – if these are 'well' taught – authentic relvant learning, current conceptions of knowledge, engaging pedagogies. ›Construct curriculum (ie provide learning experinces) which will encourage students to develop these attributes ›Enabling: Implicit dispositions attitudes & values, they grow from, but transcend the discipline ›Learnt through the way students particpate in the broader learning experince beyond their courses. ›Create intellectually relvant learning communities that engage our students as long term participants with the intention of developing these attributes 9

10 A curriculum for graduate attributes 2. How are these learnt? ›Foundation: (precursor & complementary) Generic skills – ‘off-the shelf’, non- specialised skills for university learning and work ›Taught as stand-alone skills modules, workshops. (Better if integrated as explicit focus on graduate attributes in core formative learning experiences in key transition subjects) ›Transition (in and out) strategies that focus on academic literacies (in) and employment literacies (out) ›Translation: Explicit ways of doing and thinking, using and applying discipline knowledge… they are the discipline ›Learnt in students' usual courses – if these are 'well' taught. (Authentic relvant learning, current conceptions of knowledge, engaging pedagogies). ›Construct curriculum (ie provide learning experinces) which will encourage students to develop these attributes ›Enabling: Implicit dispositions attitudes & values, they grow from, but transcend the discipline ›Learnt through the way students particpate in the broader learning experince beyond their courses. (Interaction with staff beyond classroom, Modeling by academics, Community / work / research engagement. 10

11 A curriculum for graduate attributes 3. Curriculum Strategy ›Foundation: (precursor & complementary) Generic skills – ‘off-the shelf’, non- specialised skills for university learning and work ›Transition (in and out) strategies that focus on academic literacies (in) and employment literacies (out) ›Translation: Explicit ways of doing and thinking, using and applying discipline knowledge… they are the discipline ›Construct coursework around signature learning experiences which will encourage students to develop these attributes ›Enabling: Implicit dispositions attitudes & values, they grow from, but transcend the discipline ›Create integrative learning experiences and intellectually relvant learning communities that engage our students as long term participants, with the intention of developing these attributes 11

12 Enabling graduate attributes Integrative learning experiences ›Better integrative learning experiences build better student engagement ›Integrative learning – “Fostering students' abilities to intentionally integrate learning - over time, across courses, and between academic, personal, and community life” (Huber & Hutchings) ›High Impact learning activities: First-Year Seminars; Study Groups; Common Intellectual Experiences; Learning Communities; Research; Experiencing Diversity; Service & Community-Based Learning; Internships; Capstone Courses and Projects (adapted from Kuh) 12

13 3: University Systems 13

14 Institutional work on graduate attributes ›had not moved beyond policy ›had become compliance ›had become employability skills ›had become ‘good teaching’ ›had become ‘curriculum development’ ›was becoming ‘culture development’ ›Culture, curriculum (especially assessment) development ….needs to recognise the multilayered nature of these outcomes …. and it needs staff engagement….how do we achieve that engagement? 14 Outcomes Process

15 Changing academic work to deliver on the rhetoric 1.Clear statement of multilayered outcomes (vision) 2.Make time and make it manageable (practical) 3.Make it intellectually rewarding, fun, and build on what is done (intrinsic) 4.Recognise and reward productive engagement (extrinsic) 5.Participatory, engaged leaders (leadership) Tomorrow: A process for developing the vision that engages relevant players A strategy for moving from outcomes to learning – pedagogical renewal A strategic approach to quality enhancement and assurance 15

16 16 Conclusion ›If students are to develop ways of being in the world that are the hallmark of a graduate, they need learning experiences that shape the way they will engage with their university experience. ›This is mostly about changing how we think about learning in the disciplines and about creating engaging (for staff & students) academic communities.

17 Thank you!


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