Vanguard departments take first steps in curriculum transformation

Posted in: Curriculum development, Education strategy

Professor Andrew Heath, Academic Director of the Centre for Learning & Teaching, talks about the progress made during phase one of curriculum development for our vanguard programmes.

Over the last few months CLT has been developing a process to review and redesign programme content. This will support the University’s plans to transform the curricula and assessment of all our undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes.

We have been working with academic colleagues to redesign undergraduate programmes in Chemical Engineering, Health & Exercise Science, Sport & Exercise Science and Sport & Social Sciences, and the Masters programme in Biosciences. These are acting as our ‘vanguard programmes’, early adopters to help us to test approaches, identify the type and level of support required, and develop curriculum design and approval processes, ahead of rollout to the rest of our UG and PGT programmes. These particular programmes were identified as suitable pathfinders as they are relatively self-contained with few shared units.

CLT’s primary role is to act as facilitators, providing expertise, background research and advice to guide each programme through a process of curriculum development. Each academic department has identified a member of academic staff to oversee transformational change of their curricula, supported by programme development teams. Additional support has been provided by Academic Registry and the Faculty Assistant Registrars. We have ensured that the overall approach is flexible in order to adapt to the different requirements of each subject area.

Phase one of our curriculum development process focusses on stakeholder engagement. Our vanguard departments have been seeking input from a wide range of sources to generate ideas and discussion around the knowledge, attributes and skills that our students require in order to succeed in their future careers. Consultation has taken place within each department, including DLTQC, academics, professional service staff and academic student representatives. Accreditors have been approached from the early stages, and will be regularly consulted as programme content is developed and refined. Focus groups have been held for current students and online surveys have been sent to recent graduates to gather feedback about the student experience of our existing curricula, and their views about possible future innovations. Key industry contacts, placement providers and employers have been asked for their opinions and invited to workshops. Input has also been sought from examiners, academics at other institutions and other key contacts.

This activity has been a wonderful opportunity to think about each programme’s strengths, challenges and opportunities for change, and to reflect on how we teach and how we can continue to improve the student experience. Moreover, it has been a chance to have in-depth discussions to identify aspirations for the future.

We are now embarking on phase two with our vanguards. This will involve a more detailed look at curriculum design, including aims and learning outcomes at each year of study, delivery methods and assessment types.

Over the coming months we will be contacting staff who will be leading curriculum change for our other UG and PGT programmes. If you are enthusiastic to get started now, first think how to engage current students and your other stakeholders in articulating the knowledge, attributes and skills that future graduates will need to succeed. Once you have gathered feedback from your stakeholders, you will be in a strong position to design programme structure and unit sizes. Please do contact us for further advice.

Posted in: Curriculum development, Education strategy


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