Last week we introduced and provided an overview of the Curriculum Architecture Project. Here we unpack some of the key principles, provide more information on your part with the project, and send a reminder to provide your comments in the feedback forms.
Across the sector there is a realisation that we need to be putting the student experience front and centre of what we do. Teaching is a core element of the university. We want the student learning experience to be rich, valuable and, ultimately, transformative. One thing that has detracted from the current student experience has been the complexity of our program structures and requirements, which can make progression and completion harder. In keeping with the original mission of the university, under the new architecture, students will still have access to the breadth of experience our university has to offer, as well as the depth of knowledge that will equip them for employment, further study, general wellbeing and a sense of satisfaction in life.
The proposed new architecture aims to simplify program structures, and give students opportunities that align more to the changing world of work they’re moving into.
This means easier access to double degrees and easier access to extending their programs into the postgraduate space via vertical double degrees. Along with single degrees, these maintain and expand opportunities for students to gain real depth of knowledge in their chosen area while they also become acquainted with other fields of study, if they wish to do so.
The Postgraduate restructure will see significant simplification and standardised improvements that will make the experience easier to navigate for both staff and students, and make admissions and the degree structure and a lot clearer to students.
The Curriculum Architecture Project team would like staff to read, consider and feedback (for UG here and for PG here) on the following documents:
- The “MQ Model Undergraduate Working Paper” has 35 principles under consideration
- The “MQ Model Postgraduate and Micro-course Working Paper” has 23 principles under consideration for the postgraduate architecture, and 9 principles in the micro-credentialing and continuing professional development architecture.
Academic programs of study are complex because they are diverse – so even though the new architecture aims to simplify, it’s not simple. There is no quick and easy way to get your head around this – I’m still trying to understand some elements of it myself, mostly in conversation with colleagues. We suggest you read the full drafts of proposed principles (linked above) but if there are areas of particular interest to you, focus on them and be specific in your responses to the feedback survey on the principles. In-depth, thoughtful feedback on a few items is more valuable than superficial responses to all of them (or none at all)!
Changes to nomenclature (course naming systems)
Firstly, Programs will now be known as Courses.
Changes need to be made to address a regulatory anomaly and to help us align our regulatory reporting with the regulatory reporting of other institutions.
Courses, that is degrees, will be classified as either
General or Specialist.
The reason behind this is that student demand is diverse, some students prefer a generalist degree in which they can select a major (in a particular area), but they’re not necessarily wanting a degree that will determine their next steps too narrowly. They want to get a good, sound, broad education, with a major in a particular area, but with options under one umbrella. Not everyone is ready to specialise. But then for those who do want to specialise, they can focus more deeply on a particular area that prepares them for a specific pathway. Specialist degrees don’t necessarily need to be a professionally accredited course, however all professionally accredited programs will be Specialist Courses. (Please view comments section for further discussion/clarification of this point).
This new structure sends a clearer signal to the student who is enrolling as to what that degree aims to do for them.
If you need more information about naming of degrees and specialisations, pose your questions in the feedback forms or speak to your Faculty Associate Deans Learning & Teaching and Quality & Standards. The nomenclature will be ultimately be approved by the “course authority”, and is open for change.
More easily change and combine degrees
The new structure enables students to more easily shift to another degree if they want to, and to more easily combine any two degrees, in a more cost effective way. Currently only certain degree combinations are offered as double degrees. The new structure will enable students (in more cases) to choose what degrees they want to pair up.
Changes to credit point amounts
Currently we have a standard of 3 credit points for undergraduate units and 4 credit points for postgraduate units. The credit system is important because it impacts on how we report on our student load for regulatory purposes.
Now we’ve approved vertical double degrees (meaning you can plan an in-depth and blended sequence throughout your undergraduate and then postgraduate experience), the differing credit point weighting for undergraduate and postgraduate units poses a problem. The current credit point system runs into trouble blending the undergraduate and postgraduate pathways.
Standardising the credit point offerings throughout undergraduate and postgraduate degrees is a good idea. After looking at different options and looking at what other institutions are doing, settling on 10 credit points for each unit, at both UG and PG levels, standardises the system in a simple way. The AQF looks at volume of learning, set at 150 hours of learning per unit, so we’re standardising all units to 10 credit points.
Then, if we want to offer short courses or professional development, we can have smaller divisions than 10 credit points (where notionally you could give 1 credit point for every 15 hours of learning). These short courses are not currently part of our award system, but in the future, we’ll be able to use the same system.
Red Zone, Purple Zone, Magenta Zone
Red Zone (depth) – includes everything that’s in the current major, all required/core units and necessary option sets, to meet the qualification requirements of the degree – all the units that students HAVE TO complete for the requirements of the course.
Purple Zone (breadth) – Free choice – This allows for student co-creation and gives shared power to the students. This zone allows students to SATISFY THEIR MORE DIVERSE INTERESTS. This zone essentially replaces People and Planet units. In double degrees the purple zone is eliminated, as the combined degrees provide the further breadth.
Magenta Zone (foundation) – Postgraduate – This zone allows a for students who have done a non-cognate degree (an undergraduate course in a different discipline) to PROGRESS to a masters. It’s essentially a transitional foundation course in the basics of a discipline different from that of a student’s undergraduate degree, to prepare them for a Masters. This could be considered as a Graduate Certificate and there is an exit pathway here also.
These zones will standardise the proportion of a generalist degree that students need to look at to fulfil requirements. The Red Zone will clearly show students ‘here’s what you absolutely have to do to get this degree’, a combination of core units (pre-requisites for the major), major units and unit option-sets. Currently Generalist degrees have a fairly broad set of options – this new structure aims to standardise the required proportion of the course.
This may be complex and take time to get your head around, but look at UG principles 6-11 for more information. If you’re concerned about how PACE or Capstone units fit in this structure, read principles 17 and 18.
Majors, Sub-majors, Minors, Specialisations, Concentrations
Majors, sub-majors and minors are components of Generalist degrees. Specialisations are sequences of study within a specialist degree course, and concentrations are a sequence within a Specialisation.
A major is a coherent set of subjects that address a particular interest, specialisations are a deep exploration of a more specialised area.
Please look at UG principles 19-22, on the naming of majors and specialisations outside the home faculty and the structure of major levels, as there are several options within each section that the project team would like your feedback on.
There is an introduction of a ‘major-schedule’, where the majors for a particular course are listed— not dissimilar to our current “qualifying major list”. Sub-majors can be drawn from majors included on this schedule.
Specialisations are larger than majors (at least 12 units), with more focused and structured content in a specific area of study. They include accreditation requirements for professionally accredited courses.
If you’re concerned about structural changes to these areas, read UG principles 19-22.
Speak to your AD Q&S or AD L&T, or your ASQC or Senate representative. Alternatively, you could post questions in the comment section below and we’ll ensure they get to the relevant people. Talk to your faculty and your department colleagues – and if you want to, you can put in a department or collective response in the feedback forms. Focus on the points you’re most concerned about. Note: The Weighted Average Mark section is a largely an administrative issue (it’s referred to in postgraduate admission standards), but it is worth looking at if this concerns you.
Curriculum Management System
Along with changes to the architecture, options around a new Curriculum Management System are being explored. More details will follow in the implementation plan, but data will need to be provided by course authorities for the ‘handbook’ equivalent by the end of 2018 for the 2020 cohort.
What happens next
- The feedback forms are open until Monday 25 June (links below). We suggest you focus on areas of particular interest to you, rather than feeling like you need to comment on the full suite of draft principles. If you’re involved with general or specialist degree you may want to pay more particular attention to those areas. Please note, that principles, 17, 19 and 21 have 2 options (highlighted in red) that the project team expressly wish to get feedback on.
- A Town Hall is being planned, to discuss the survey feedback, around early July
- In order to have new architecture formally in place for the commencement of the 2020 academic year, the new Curriculum Architecture principles need to endorsed by Senate at the 24 July meeting.
- Over the next few months, Teche will continue to provide rolling progress reports and will aim to provide the information you need for each step of the process.
- Implementation – once the principles are endorsed in late July, the project team will provide more detail on the implementation process.
A reminder that the opportunity to provide feedback closes Monday 25 June 2018.
Curriculum Architecture Draft Principles Workshop Slides – June 2018 >
The MQ Model Undergraduate Working Paper >
The MQ Model Postgraduate and MicroCourse Working Paper >
Undergraduate draft principles feedback form >
Postgraduate draft principles feedback form >
Use your OneID username and password to access the feedback forms.
Follow-up comment to the above – a clarification and a question.
Clarification: I’m not an official spokesperson for the curriculum architecture project, although as an ASQC member (and a general busybody) I have been involved in the workshops and feedback sessions on the project proposal and the principles that have been circulated. I’m doing my best to understand the details of what has been put forward, and the implications of it all, and this article represents my interpretation of the principles to date.
And now for the question: As set out in the article, my understanding is that professionally accredited programs will be classified as “Specialist” degrees, but there is actually no statement to this effect in the principles. My interpretation has arisen from a combination of conversations, assumptions and reading between the lines – so my question to the Teche audience is:
Are there currently any externally accredited programs (majors) that would fit better into the Generalist degree structure?
While I wait for your answers, I will clarify the assertion in the article with the project team, and get back to you asap.
OK folks – thanks to the project team leaders – I have a clarification for you:
While a general assumption is that accredited programs will become Specialist degrees (because of their depth of study in a specific field), the principles as they stand contain no technical obstacle to an accredited sequence being part of a Generalist degree, as long as it fits the structure.
So my statement was a little too strongly worded, and should read that “it’s generally expected that most externally accredited programs will become Specialist degrees.” Hope that helps with your planning!
Very helpful article, thank you Cathy
Please note that the deadline for providing feedback has been extended to Monday 25th June. Please keep those comments rolling in!