Poster Presentation Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Supporting curriculum development across a university: Central strategies for decentralised professional learning (#341)

Julia Savage 1 , Vikki Pollard 1 , Warren Sellers 1
  1. Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Professional learning in higher education during a time of great change and diminishing budgets is a challenging undertaking. How teaching and learning professional development is delivered, who delivers it and how it is evaluated is always a contested space within universities but challenging times drive the need to develop a professional learning strategy that is flexible and effective. One size professional development does not fit all and it is this principle that guides the multi-modal strategy described in this poster. Our central Teaching and Learning Unit had developed a model of multiple modal delivery where academic staff, including those who support the work of academics’ teaching and learning within Faculty, can choose to access resources about teaching and learning online, attend cross-faculty discussion ‘pop-up’ groups and ‘hot topic’ workshops, or, they can collaborate with our central unit’s teaching and learning specialists to create contextualised resources for their Course, School or Faculty.
One challenge we face is the evaluation of the effectiveness of the ‘bespoke’ collaborations we undertake. While we can survey academic participants in discussion groups and workshops, and track online engagement of academics via analytics, evaluation of collaborations between academics in Faculty and central unit teaching and learning specialists is more complex. We can ask for ‘usefulness’ feedback from academics, but the impact of the contextualised resources on student learning is best gauged via the students’ experience of the curriculum. Another challenge we face is making visible to academics the range and flexibility of professional learning approaches we can offer when professional learning is (intentionally) not focused predominantly on traditional lines such as generic workshops.  Developing a curriculum team focus for our collaborative work will help broaden perceptions of what professional learning can look like.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Navigating uncertainty and complexity

This sub-theme characterises the world our students are entering as graduates. However, academics in higher education are faced with interpreting this uncertain world for students. How do we prepare graduate students to be resilient and creative in their chosen fields as well as maintain their continuous learning approach beyond formal learning? The deep learning skills we desire students to develop to continue their own learning in the workplace or research field require a whole of course approach to curriculum design over the period of an undergraduate degree. While mapping what assessment is done and where graduate capabilities are incorporated over a three year degree assists with aligning graduate skill development, the next task is to develop the teaching and learning strategies and resources to support how the students engage with the assessment task. Are the outcomes visible and understood explicitly by the students? Deep learning such as this is a complex, scholarly teaching approach that can be difficult to navigate for many academics. Our teaching and learning unit acknowledges that academics are best supported through diverse means considering the complexity of the teaching and learning outcomes they are asked to deliver.