DoLT Forum 23 March Curriculum enhancement project Agenda • Project update • Options for change to the structure of the academic year • Models for broadening the curriculum • Your views on: - some key broadening questions - the proposed academic year structure Project update: Principles Within all UG programmes: • Integration of research with learning and teaching • Core threads will be incorporated and demonstrated in the context of the discipline • Deeper learning and less ‘pocketed knowledge’ • Opportunity to broaden within or beyond the discipline • Opportunity for placement learning/study abroad Project update: What’s been agreed • Employability, ethics and responsibility and global and cultural insight - the core threads within Leeds curriculum • Threads to be demonstrated in all programmes from 2012 onwards • Electives to be structured within coherent strands • New structure for electives to be in place for 2012 Project update: Under development • A commonly agreed definition of Research and L&T integration • Definitions for each of the threads and exemplars • Broadening: Characteristics/criteria of an elective strand • Principles and drivers which will inform structure of the academic year • Model for new academic year structure Structure of the academic year Simon Biggs: Pro Dean L&T Engineering The Academic Year Main issues highlighted: • Second Semester is less than ideal • Need for 2 formal examination periods? • Need to reassert primacy of programmes over modules • Need for more imaginative and well thought out assessment maps The Academic Year Principles & drivers • A fundamental principle is that any change, or changes, made to the academic calendar must improve the student experience at Leeds. • Similarly, any change or changes made to the academic calendar must not impact in a negative way on the staff experience; balancing the imperative of protecting research time with the impact of increased fees on students’ expectations. • The needs of the curriculum should drive the support process. • The requirements of the different disciplines must be accommodated; prescription or restriction should only be introduced in order to fulfil: equality and equity of the student experience across all programmes essential practical considerations; the feasibility of running such a complex set of curricula across a range of subject areas in a large institution. • We must be clear of the attributes of the graduates that we wish to produce and then provide a flexible space that will suit the teaching, learning and assessment needs of all of our programmes. • Given the change in fee structures after 2012 the impact on perceptions of students, and other external stakeholders including parents, of the length of the teaching / contact periods must be taken into account. The Academic Year • Teaching in a compressed and intensive way excludes opportunities for students to assimilate concepts and knowledge and for them to develop intellectually, technically and reflectively to their full potential. • The current academic year structure, with two periods of University-organised assessment, militates against the possibility of synoptic learning and assessment; synoptic assessment would require students to synthesise their learning across modules as well as within modules. • The heart of course design should be at programme rather than module level. An unhealthy focus on the module can result in fragmented student learning and ‘pocketed’ knowledge; achievement of programme level outcomes should be the arbiter of success. • The integration of research with teaching is a given for study at Leeds. • Students need to be prepared for any significant, summative piece of assessment; development of skills and attributes through the course should focus on this end. • The review of the curriculum gives an opportunity to address aspects of our variable NSS, and other programme evaluation, particularly the scores for assessment and feedback. • The moveable Easter holiday causes problems with the current model; it disrupts the continuity of the teaching & learning period in the spring & summer terms. • The length of holiday periods at Christmas and Easter can be adjusted to suit the needs of the curriculum. • Whatever is decided, programme teams should be having a conversation about their curricula; the more open and flexible the academic calendar, the more creative and ambitious these discussions can be. Options Broadening Martin Purvis: Pro Dean L&T Environment Broadening – Aims and Rationale • To allow students to adapt/apply knowledge from main discipline in different ways/contexts • To give students the opportunity to undertake subjects, develop skills and explore topics beyond main discipline • To meet employer demand for individuals with broad academic horizons and the confidence/ flexibility to question received wisdom – not just specialist knowledge of a single subject area (Graduate Talent Conference 2010) Broadening at Leeds – Flexible Opportunity • Enhance/render explicit broadening elements within primary disciplinary content • Facilitate/enhance co-curricular broadening opportunities, external/research placements etc. • Coordinate/enhance broadening electives as component of most programmes Broadening: Elective Strands • Reformat electives as coherent strands of related modules – both as organisational device and to clarify rationale for broadening • Ensure strands offer students the opportunity to pursue an interest across more than one level of study • Ensure more equal opportunities for students to pursue broadening strands within their degree programme • Broadening beyond main discipline at the student’s discretion • Timing of broadening opportunities within specific programmes may reflect particular disciplinary/ professional contexts An Elective Strand is: A co-ordinated and structured series of related elective modules allowing sustained exploration of a specific subject, issue or skill which lies beyond the primary disciplinary content of a student’s programme. Elective Strands should: • Have a clear focus, but include range of alternative modules – allowing choice for students and some flexibility in timetabling around study for home degree • Offer modules over at least 2 levels (and ideally 3 levels) to allow for progression • Be constructed to ensure that a student who exits after study at only one level also has satisfactory and stimulating experience • Be sufficiently flexible to accommodate unorthodox progression paths – e.g. a student who starts strand at L1, exits for a year and then reenters Types/functions of Elective Strands • A structured exploration of key aspects of an academic subject beyond the home degree discipline • A suite of modules which develop additional skills and competences – with academic and/or vocational relevance • A suite of modules which enhance understanding of external commercial/institutional environments and/or enterprise • A co-ordinated exploration of an important issue or debate from a complementary range of different disciplinary perspectives Possible inter-disciplinary strands • Knowledge, communication and technology • Sustainability or apocalypse? • Languages, translation and global scholarship • Public engagement and understanding • The future of the university • Work placement and professional awareness Steps towards a Broader Curriculum Step 1: Provide clearer information about rationale for/benefits from ‘broadening’ to students and Schools/Faculties. Step 2: Develop defined structure of Broadening Strands, as a series of related elective modules, to add significant value to current elective system. Step 3: Work with Schools/Faculties to ensure ‘broadening’ traits evident in core disciplinary programmes. Step 4: Explore scope for innovative forms of timetabling and/or module delivery so that choice in theory translates into choice in practice. Your Input Consultation document will ask you to … a) review existing elective provision in the light of strand model – may entail more selectivity about which modules offered as electives b) consider scope for innovative strands – taught within School/Faculty or through new interdisciplinary partnerships c) consider strands that you and your students would like to see developed to generate new broadening opportunities Questions and Discussion Academic Year • What do you think about the principles and drivers that should inform any change to the structure of the academic year? • What are your views on getting rid of the formal examination period at the end of semester 1? • What do you think about the suggestions for incorporating revision time or work placement/experience opportunities within option 3? Key broadening questions • How can we best encourage/co-ordinate the development of an imaginative range of broadening strands? • Should be wary of offering too many strands/too much choice? And how much is too much? • Can we accommodate student choice to migrate between strands – plus opting out (and back in)? • Can all programmes accommodate ‘flexible opportunity’? • Does it matter where, and at what level(s), broadening opportunities are located within specific programmes?