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?
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