1 Connected Curriculum: Research-based education, programme design and student transition.Dr Dilly Fung Director, UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching@UCLConnectedC@DevonDilly
2 1. Higher education: values and purposes Overview1. Higher education: values and purposes2. Programme Leaders’ Stories3. The Connected Curriculum framework4. Over to you
3 1. Higher Education: values and purposes What is higher education for? - Research - Education - Professional practice Separate endeavours – in competition? Or necessarily interdependent? Re-visiting education’s relationship with research, practice, and leadership can help the sector create parity of esteem and enrich all areas.
4 The ‘ecological’ university 1. Higher Education: values and purposesThe ‘ecological’ universityRecognising the true interconnectedness of our activities can help us to build a new ‘feasible utopia’ (Barnett, 2011)
5 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Research questionsHow do university programme leaders conceive of the aims and ethos of the programmes for which they are responsible?How are the programmes designed (for example, in terms of modularity, optionality and assessment strategies), and what do the leaders perceive to be the benefits and challenges of those design structures?What do program leaders perceive to be the purposes, opportunities and challenges of the programme leader role itself?How do programme leaders working within different national settings and in diverse subject disciplines conceptualize ‘good’ higher education curriculum?
6 Theoretical framing (1) 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyTheoretical framing (1)Education defined as Bildung, from the field of philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer, 2004):‘self-formation’ through dialoguethe widening of horizonsThe human mind needs to remain ‘unsatisfied with what it imagines it knows’ (Fairfield 2010, 3).
7 Theoretical framing (2) 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyTheoretical framing (2)In William Pinar’s ‘curriculum’, teachers are ‘confirmed not as facilitators of learning but as individuated communicants in a complicated conversation that is informed by academic knowledge, subjectivity and the historical moment.’ (Pinar, 2012, 25-26)‘Expressing one’s subjectivity through academic knowledge is how one links the lived curriculum to the planned one, how one demonstrates to students that scholarship can speak to them, how in fact scholarship can enable them to speak.’ (Pinar, 2012, 22)
8 2. Programme Leaders’ Study 22Programme Leaders interviewedIn Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, China, France, New Zealand, Nigeria, Qatar, Republic of Ireland,UK (England & NI), United StatesWide range of subjects: traditionally academic; professional; interdisciplinary.
9 Key findings are that curriculum is valued for being 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyKey findings are that curriculum is valued for beingResearch connectedStudents develop through gathering and interrogating evidence and through engaging with research and researchers.Conceptually connectedStudents build explicit conceptual connections, making critical and creative connections between apparently disparate elements of learning.Personallyand socially connected Students build relationships with faculty and one another to develop their personal identity and voice, and develop their public identity through connecting with the workplace/wider community.
10 Research-connected 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Leaders want students who ‘ask probing intelligent questions, play the devil’s advocate, hold people to account’ (George, Interdisciplinary, UK), and who can engage with ‘questions of evidence’ (Alastair, Interdisciplinary, UK).Dislike expressed for curriculum where there is ‘an over-emphasis on the transmission of knowledge, and there is little emphasis on developing students’ abilities of identifying researchable questions’ (Hung, Sciences, China).
11 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Research-connectedIs ‘case-based’ and relevant to real-world complexity(Susan, Sciences, Australia).Does not make students wait until their final year to engage with research: ‘We’re probably weaker because they haven’t had that grounding over the first three years and we’re trying to cram it all in one year’.(Simon, Humanities, NZ)
12 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Research and enquiryChinua (Sciences, Nigeria) speaks of how he has ‘a passion for research’, and has ‘always built in curriculum that will include research methodology, even at the undergraduate level’. Maya (Arts, Bangladesh): students apply to participate in funded research projects and do ‘senior research projects’ in final year, presenting at research conferences. Students can co-publish with faculty.
13 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Questions arisingWhat is ‘research’? The term is a complex signifier, constructed differently in different subject fields and even sometimes within the same field. It involves different objectives, methodologies and practices, and different kinds of outputs. What (or who) is research for? For whose benefit, in an unequal society? What might we mean by ‘research integrity’?
14 Conceptually connected 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyConceptually connectedProgram Leaders want student to make conceptual connections between apparently disparate elements of the curriculum. Modular system is criticised:‘Too many students view it as, you take something, you learn it, you memorize it, you pass the exam and then it’s discarded. So from a pedagogical perspective, I don’t think it’s as optimal as it could be.’(Leonardo, Sciences, NI)
15 Conceptually connected 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyConceptually connectedSimon (Humanities, NZ) refers to his own curriculum as ’very much a smorgasbord in the first three years – you can pick and choose’.He calls this a ‘pick and mix’ approach, which he regrets: ‘When I get them in their final year I can’t guarantee that any of them have done theory, or any of them have done practical applications’, and wants ‘much more scaffolding’.
16 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Building connectionsMaria (Sciences, Northern Ireland) talks of a focus on‘reinforcement of themes; we move from simple to complex. There’s integration across modules, and we hope that there’s a logical sequence. And we hope that it moves on to higher learning objectives … and the assessment very much mirrors this.’
17 Conceptually connected 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyConceptually connectedAlastair (Interdisciplinary, UK) describes a ‘strand of activity’ that runs from the beginning to the end of his program, and connects into all other elements, which may otherwise appear disparate. His aim is ‘to constantly reinforce core values and concepts’.
18 But not just a single disciplinary connection? 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyBut not just a single disciplinary connection?Alastair (Interdisciplinary, UK) requires students to take ‘a rigorous, interdisciplinary approach’, having gone on ‘an intellectual raiding party for the best bits of different disciplines’, and thereby to develop ‘a coherent body of knowledge’.
19 Possible ‘programme design’ solutions? 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyPossible ‘programme design’ solutions?A chronological sequence of compulsory modules, or a single vertical module, through which the learning narrative can be anchored. Here students can explicitly interrogate their own approaches and skills as researchers and learners.‘Wisdom of the phases’: setting up cross-cohort mentoring
20 Personally and socially connected 2. Programme Leaders’ StudyPersonally and socially connectedProgramme Leaders value:peer assisted learning and peer mentoring schemespeer study groupsextra-curricular journal clubsresearch conferences (even for undergraduates)collaborative assessments
21 2. Programme Leaders’ Study Learning togetherCollaborative activities are seen as a means of ‘structuring students’ thinking about what multiple perspectives mean, and how they can be valuable’(Diane, Humanities, UK)
22 Questions arisingWhat power relations are at work in our curriculum design and delivery? And do we challenges students to consider this? Alison (Sciences, France) speaks of a kind of a holdover from the era of the all-powerful professor who decides who’s going to do what and everyone says, ‘Yes sir, that’s what we’ll do’.
23 Key findings, then, are that curriculum needs to be: 2. Programme Leaders’ Study: reviewKey findings, then, are that curriculum needs to be:Research connectedConceptually connectedPersonallyand socially connected
24 2. Programme Leaders’ Study: conclusions ‘Good’ curriculum enables all students to develop, through research and critical enquiry, deep conceptual connections.Through these activities they develop not only new understandings and skills, but also dispositions for openness to critique and wider horizons. This in turn can develop confidence and ‘voice’.These attributes are needed for a complex, digitally mediated, divided, rapidly changing world.
25 UCL’s Connected Curriculum initiative 3. The Connected Curriculum frameworkUCL’s Connected Curriculum initiative‘At University College London, our top strategic priority for the next 20 years is to close the divide between teaching and research.We want to integrate research into every stage of an undergraduate degree, moving from research-led to research-based teaching.’UCL President and Provost, Professor Michael Arthur
26 The Connected Curriculum Framework The Connected Curriculum Framework(Fung, 2015)CENTRE - Every year of study, every programmeInspire program teams to enhance connections across years of study, between staff and students, and between disciplinesThink about nature of ‘research’ in and beyond one’s own disciplineFramework for good curriculum design: Diversity & Department-specific01 - Students make connections & conversations‘Meet your researcher’Revisiting personal tutor’s role02 -Sequence of research learningEngaging in research process and thinking at every stage‘capstone’ research opportunity‘Vertical’ modules03 - Clear opportunities to connect subject learning with other disciplinesLinking out to the wider world, global citizenship04 - Opportunities to connect with wider learning and skillsTeamwork, project mgmt, creativity, leadershipAbility to articulate relevance of learning and skills to future career05 - Assessment as research ‘output’Articles, blogs, exhibitions, presentations, videosImpact beyond universityRelevance to career06 - Sense of belonging, being part of a communityConnecting with each otherGroup projectsPeer mentoring@UCLConnectedC
27 Student transitions (1) Roll out of a research-based induction activity: ‘Meet Your Researcher’
28 Student transitions (2) – in development, including: Cross-phase activities resulting from ‘assessments as research outputs’ approach, for example 3rd years inspiring 2nd years with research presentations, and Masters students engaging with PhD research conferences‘Year abroad’ students presenting to students preparing to study overseasPeer mentoring – across phasesBringing in alumni to inform and inspire
29 The Connected Curriculum Framework The Connected Curriculum Framework(Fung, 2015)CENTRE - Every year of study, every programmeInspire program teams to enhance connections across years of study, between staff and students, and between disciplinesThink about nature of ‘research’ in and beyond one’s own disciplineFramework for good curriculum design: Diversity & Department-specific01 - Students make connections & conversations‘Meet your researcher’Revisiting personal tutor’s role02 -Sequence of research learningEngaging in research process and thinking at every stage‘capstone’ research opportunity‘Vertical’ modules03 - Clear opportunities to connect subject learning with other disciplinesLinking out to the wider world, global citizenship04 - Opportunities to connect with wider learning and skillsTeamwork, project mgmt, creativity, leadershipAbility to articulate relevance of learning and skills to future career05 - Assessment as research ‘output’Articles, blogs, exhibitions, presentations, videosImpact beyond universityRelevance to career06 - Sense of belonging, being part of a communityConnecting with each otherGroup projectsPeer mentoring@UCLConnectedC
30 For each dimension (1-6) of the CC Framework, discuss: Group discussionsFor each dimension (1-6) of the CC Framework, discuss:Examples of good practice in this area you know of already, and/or creative possibilities for the future, which would suit your subject disciplineIts relation to student transition (into the programme; across years/phases; and from the programme into further study or employment).
31 ‘Rare are those who dare even to dream utopian dreams about possible alternatives.’ (Zizek, 2009)Stay in touch:@UCLConnectedC
32 ReferencesBarnett, R. (2011) Being a University Routledge, Oxford and New YorkFairfield, P. ed. (2011). Education, Dialogue and Hermeneutics. London: Continuum.Fung, D (2014) Connected Curriculum: Accessed 01 Feb 2015Gadamer, H.-G. (2004). Truth and Method (Second, Revised ed.). (J. W. Marshall, Trans.) London and New York: Continuum.Pinar, W. F. (2012). What is Curriculum Theory? (Second ed.). New York, US: Routledge.Zizek, S (2009) First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (p.77), cited in Barnett’s Being a University (2011, p.16)