In designing course programs, it's important to consider the overall aims for student learning in the course and how the structure of the course and its component subjects enable students to achieve these aims. As Bowden and Marton (1998, p.94) note, university courses need to prepare students "for a future which is largely unknown". Courses need to be designed so that students experience a broad variety of opportunities for developing the professional, personal and intellectual attributes that we expect of graduates, so that they can continue to learn in the future.
The UTS Model for Learning provides a framework for practice-oriented learning and teaching at UTS which links to the development of graduate attributes and curriculum design that values diversity and inclusivity and draws on implications of different ideas about learning. The model has three distinctive features that are inter-related in the UTS student experience of practice-oriented learning:
- An integrated exposure to professional practice through dynamic and multifaceted modes of practice-oriented education
- Professional practice situated in a global workplace, with international mobility and international and cultural engagement as centre piece
- Learning which is research-inspired and integrated, research-inspired and integrated, providing academic rigour with cutting edge technology to equip graduates for life-long learninginternational and intercultural engagment that prepares students for a global workplace.
The UTS Graduate Profile Framework (pdf 135 kB) describes the UTS approach to developing graduate profiles to reflect the attributes students will develop in specific courses. The report on Generic Capabilities of ATN University Graduates is a useful starting point for considering how you might design courses to develop students' graduate attributes in ways which relate to their disciplinary or professional understandings.
The teaching and learning goals set by the University's strategic plan are long term objectives designed to assist students of the University to have the kinds of experiences expected from practice-oriented teaching and learning. These goals are formally stated in the University's purpose, values and objectives and the UTS model of learning, which are incorporated into the Graduate Profile Framework. To achieve these aims the University encourages Faculties to develop supportive aims and objectives for their courses in line with the UTS Curriculum Design Principles (pdf) and Curriculum Principles and Practice - Majors, Sub-majors and Streams (pdf)
Curriculum design principles
Until recently, there has been little written on the meaning of curriculum in higher education (Hicks, 2007, Barnett & Coate, 2005). For many academics, curriculum is seen only as the content that is taught in a particular subject and course (Fraser and Bosanquet, 2006). This view of curriculum focuses only on aspects of what students might learn and not on how students learn or the broader intentions that students, teachers, universities and society might have for learning.
The curriculum can be usefully considered as a dynamic concept that includes- but is much broader than- the selection of particular content. It can be described as a system that includes students' and teachers experiences of: content, how content is structured and represented, teaching and learning practices, assessment, evaluation and student support, situated within broader administrative, educational, practice and social contexts (see Hicks, 2007; Higher Education Academy, 2007).
Distinctions can also be drawn between the intended curriculum as described in documentation, curriculum as enacted by teachers and students in the processes of teaching and learning and curriculum as experienced by students and indicated by their learning outcomes. Students' prior experiences and expectations and their perceptions of the learning environment, in particular their perceptions of assessment, have powerful influences on what students see as important to learn, how they go about learning and the learning outcomes that they achieve (Ramsden, 2003).
There are a number of ways of structuring curriculum to enable particular learning pathways consistent with the UTS Model of Learning. Toohey (1999) described five common approaches:
- around the perceived logical structure of subject matter or disciplines
- around the development of particular competencies, attributes or abilities to perform in professional roles
- problem-based, inquiry or project based structures
- 'cognitive structures' based on overarching themes, concepts or intellectual abilities
- hybrid structures, including aspects of several of the above
Each has particular advantages and disadvantages, and there are other modes and variants. From the perspective of UTS as a practice-oriented university, hybrid structures involving combinations of approaches 2 and 3, with other approaches might be particularly relevant to existing professional programs with emerging interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary courses combining elements of 2, 3 and 4 with other approaches.
An important element of curriculum design is the assessment of coursework subjects which has to follow the policies and procedures set out in Assessment of Coursework Subjects Policy and Procedures. These documents outline the principles by which students are assessed at UTS so that it is fair and equitable for all students, is based on criteria, appropriate student workload and the assessment focuses on learning higher order skills such as analysis and criticism. Academic Liaison Officers (ALOs) handle applications where special consideration or alternative examination is required.
Lecturers are required to provide students with all of this information in their subject outline in the first week of class. The online Subject Outlines System includes all of the essential information for students including the educational objectives of the subject and course, the assessment requirements, when the students will receive feedback on their work, and the teaching and learning activities that will support them in meeting their subject's objectives.
A series of policies assist staff and students in meeting the goals of curriculum design and assessment, such as the advice to students on good academic practice. The student charter, includes links to policies and guidelines on student support and rules concerning student discipline issues and complaints handling. Where students do not abide by the rules of the University, academics have guidelines for options that they can take, such as dealing with misconduct in class. Students found guilty of plagiarism are dealt with according to Faculty policy, which will be consistent to the University's rules on academic misconduct. Advice on deterring plagiarism is available on the assessment section of the IML website.
Support for course and subject developers
Managing curriculum data provides an authoritative source of all information relating to the development and approval of award courses at UTS, which should involve reasonable workloads for both staff and students appropriate to the allocated credit points.
Where a subject has a fieldwork component, the University has produced the UTS Fieldwork Guidelines to ensure that all fieldwork activities are properly planned and managed for the safety of staff members, students and the wider community. The Guidelines complement the UTS Environment, Health and Safety Policy and should be read in conjunction with the Policy.
When developing a new course or making changes to the structure/contents of an existing course, course developers should take into consideration the following UTS policies and guidelines related to curriculum development.
Credit Point System for UTS Coursework Award Courses
Graduate Profile Framework (pdf 135 kB)
Courses developed at UTS must also meet the requirements set by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
Australian Qualifications Framework (External web site)
Barnett, R. & Coate, K. (2005). Engaging the curriculum in higher education. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill
Bowden, J. & Marton, F. (1998). The University of Learning: Beyond Quality and Competence. London: Kogan Page.
Fraser, S.P. & Bosanquet, A.M. (2006). The curriculum? That’s just a unit outline, isn’t it? Studies in Higher Education, 31 (3), 369
Hicks, O. (2007). Curriculum in higher education in Australia – Hello? In Enhancing Higher Education, Theory and Scholarship, Proceedings of the 30th HERDSA Annual Conference [CD-ROM], Adelaide, 8-11 July.
Higher Education Academy (2007). Curriculum. Retrieved 26.05.07 from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/curriculum.htm
Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in Higher Education. London: Routledge.
Toohey, S. (1999). Designing Courses for Higher Education. Buckingham: SHRE & Open University Press