Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

A toolkit to assist academics to embed graduate attributes in their courses  (#170)

Rachel Spronken-Smith 1 , Nell Smith 2 , Angela McLean 1 , Carol Bond 1 , Martin Jenkins 3 , Stephen Marshall 4 , Stanley Frielick 2
  1. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. Formerly of Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Christchurch, New Zealand
  4. Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

With an increasing focus in higher education on outcomes for graduates, many academics have to undertake curriculum renewal using an outcomes-based approach.  While many researchers have explored factors that assist in embedding graduate attributes into curricula, there was a lack of a practical toolkit, with step by step instructions for academics. Accordingly, in this session we present a toolkit that was developed as a practical outcome during a national project on engagement with graduate outcomes across higher education institutions in Aotearoa/New Zealand. A synthesis of project findings from survey and case study data enabled the generation of three toolkits: one for institutional senior leaders, one for heads of department and one for lecturers ( . Here we focus on the toolkit for lecturers. Key aspects for embedding graduate attributes in curricula include strong leadership; academic developers to facilitate conversations about graduate attributes and teaching towards them; ownership of the process by the teachers; the development of a contextualised set of graduate attributes for the particular degree; curriculum mapping to promote alignment between graduate attributes, learning outcomes and assessment tasks; incorporating high-impact educational experiences and signature pedagogies to foster graduate attributes; the use of evaluative data to inform continual enhancements; and allowing at least five years for curriculum renewal to occur.  The process of embedding graduate attributes in curricula involves four steps: 1) aligning courses with relevant graduate attributes; 2) using powerful teaching and learning activities to foster graduate attributes; 3) gaining leverage from enablers of engagement with graduate attributes (e.g., use external drivers, ensure enabling structures and processes are in place); and 4) monitoring progress of embedding graduate attributes and using feedback to improve the learning experiences for students.  In this session we will consider each step and share examples of practice. 

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

This session is centrally linked to the overarching conference theme, as well as to subthemes one (Educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals) and especially three (Assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities). The drive behind our project on graduate outcomes was a desire for graduates to be better equipped for uncertain futures and a complex world. In this Showcase we provide a practical toolkit to help lecturers embark on renewing their courses so that the desired graduate attributes are fostered in their students.

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