Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Systematic curriculum renewal to develop graduate capabilities: Successes and lessons learned from a distributed approach (#52)

Jo McKenzie 1 , Peter Kandlbinder 1 , Lilanthi Ambanpola 1
  1. University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content

If students are to develop graduate capabilities, university curriculum design must focus on opportunities for them to develop, be assessed and gain feedback on these capabilities. This showcase will report on the approach and outcomes of the UTS Graduate Attributes Project, which had the aim of developing and assessing discipline-specific graduate capabilities across all UTS courses. The project used a distributed approach to facilitate systematic renewal of the curriculum, balancing the autonomy of Faculties to develop their own graduate attributes and curriculum change approaches with an overarching strategic vision and central framework. Each Faculty was provided with funding to employ a project coordinator along with support from a central team. Over three years, Faculties mapped curricula from graduate attributes down to assessment criteria and renewed learning and assessment approaches to align with the new attributes. Different local leadership approaches were used in different Faculties, with some similar and some differing outcomes. The project has been evaluated in several ways. Faculties completed a spreadsheet at six-monthly intervals, reporting on progress against twelve project stages. A creative reflection workshop was used to gain group feedback on perceptions of the project outcomes, including emergent features. Following this, in depth interviews were conducted with Associate Deans, Faculty GAP coordinators, support team members and two or three academics from each Faculty. The outcomes showed that all courses now had defined graduate attributes and ways of assuring them through assessment. Faculties also reported significant cultural change, with graduate attributes now part of the common language of learning and teaching and a reduction in subject silos. The showcase will report on the features of the project approach that facilitated Faculty ownership and successful curriculum change, and the lessons learned for future large-scale change projects.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference

The showcase addresses the sub-theme “How do we ensure that our students’ learning experiences contribute to the development of their graduate capabilities? What strategies, approaches and policies can support this?” It does this through describing a systematic university approach to curriculum renewal. The approach included university curriculum policies and systems, including the responsive development of a system for Faculties to map curricula from graduate capabilities to individual assessment tasks and criteria and display relevant information in subject outlines for students.