Without wishing to sound too zen, everything is connected. Student satisfaction and engagement is connected to the skill of the teaching staff, their own resilience to face the challenges life may throw at them and the design of the curriculum. In many institutions, curriculum design, particularly where there is no professional or statutory body engagement, has been a paper exercise in order to meet quality standards. However, there is a vast body of work on the different types of curriculum design and how careful design can make all the difference to student learning and student engagement. The recent shake-up of UK Higher Education introduced by the Higher Education and Research Act (2016) have led to considerable changes in our approach to quality whilst retaining the outcomes-based approach to curriculum design.
So, what do we mean by ‘outcomes-based’? We identify a set of knowledge, skills and personal behaviours/values that we expect our students to be able to demonstrate by the time they complete their programme of study. Some of these outcomes may be dictated by employers, since employability is a key theme in a system which is designed to support the social mobility of its participants. Thus, most institutions will have a set of identifiable graduate attributes which must be developed, usually within the context of a programme of study.
The UWL graduate attributes are:
‘Professional and Creative’: Our graduates are self-aware; understanding the need for ethical action and considering how they impact others. They are creative, able to communicate ideas effectively, finding solutions to problems and influencing change. Working effectively alone or in teams, they contribute to organisational success
How do you create in your course an environment / context(s) that will enable students to learn how to learn and develop, and be able to demonstrate professionalism, and / or creativity, while tackling tasks that simulate the real-world of employment.
‘Thoughtful and Proactive’: Possessing strong Information literacy skills, our graduates can explain, interpret, analyse, evaluate and draw inferences from a range of sources. They are emotionally intelligent, using their learning to lead, encourage and influence others through cogent arguments. Wanting to positively change their worlds, they are committed to equality and inclusivity, personal and professional development and supporting the development of others
How does your course challenge students, explicitly, to think critically, and explore and confront their cognitive dissonances and preconceptions, and through that develop an ability for collaboration and debate, seeing things from the perspective of others? Does your course require students to gather information from different sources, and to demonstrate abilities for analysing, evaluating, interpreting and explaining the meaning of such information in different ways (not exclusively only in writing)?
‘Globally aware and resilient’: Originating from diverse backgrounds, our graduates are resilient and culturally aware. Embracing change, they are courageous and understand how committing to learning, and developing the requisite skills, allows them to face challenges in highly interconnected, rapidly changing, national and international, environments
Does your course present students with tasks that require flexibility of thought and action in order to account for changing circumstances/priorities? Does it encourage inclusive approaches to everything and the development of resilience