As we continue to showcase best practices used within the faculty (of Business and Economics), we came across Professional Development in Banking and Finance (AFIN881). A unit that seamlessly integrates unit content with professional development, mostly because of a multidisciplinary team including Guy Schofield, Angela Chow and Roneil Latchman from FBE and Clare Hurst and Justine Fowler who are the Faculty Career Consultants. This is a very well received unit in the Master of Banking and Finance program, and we sat down with Dr Guy Schofield who runs the unit to chat about what makes this unit so unique. (Hint: it’s more than the Careers angle and Team Based Learning (TBL)).

I understand that you recently re-developed the unit. What factors did you have in mind as you did that?

Guy: My journey on being asked to develop this unit started with the challenge that professional development is a term that people use to cover a broad range of areas, as illustrated in the following figure. I created a discussion paper that I shared with the program director and others in my faculty.

Professional Development

Professional Development

The area that we gave weight to was the area of Ethics and the Professional. This a highly topical unit given the revelations from The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

I met with the convenors of a number of other units including MEDI206 and ACCG950. There was a wealth of learnings that were available. For example, the unit themes were adapted from MEDI206 and are: Finance and society; Ethics and professionalism; Reflection and learning; Team work; Communication; and Evidence and research.

These themes best align with the following three Graduate Capabilities:

  • Engaged and ethical local and global citizen
  • Capable of professional and personal judgment
  • Effective Communication

Another key question for me was how the University student experience could be unique and different from that which could be achieved with an online-only course. Postgraduate students bring many backgrounds and their feedback is that they find debating perspectives on issues a stimulating and rewarding learning environment, and I wanted to be able to utilise that more effectively.

Team-based learning is a big part of this unit design. What made you lean towards this structure?

Guy: I attended the Team-Based Learning (TBL) workshops held in late 2017 and the approach really resonated with me. I also thought it would be very relevant as most of the students in this unit are international students and TBL allowed them to interact with their classmates and build their networks.

We decided we would try to use class time to do things that we can only do effectively together. Much of the lecture material was put online and created using Echo360.

This approach provides flexibility as to when students prepare for class providing it is complete by the deadlines. This places responsibility on students to manage their time out of class. The range of deadlines helps students develop their time management skills.

In line with the TBL approach, we have an Individual Readiness Assessment Test (IRAT) and a Team Readiness Assessment Test (TRAT) to check understanding at the start of class. These represent 30% of the assessment weighting.

And how are the rest of your assessments designed?

Guy: We make significant use of cases as activities to allow students to apply the learning and concepts. The case task has a weighting of 50% and comprises of case analysis note submitted prior to class (20%), in-class contribution to team and class debate (10%) and Review – Peer and Self review (20%). The final assessment task is a video presentation task (20%).

Does having TBL mean the students have to use technology significantly?

Guy: Yes – All assessment tasks are undertaken using existing technology – iLearn and PeerMark.

The Quizzes are conducted in iLearn in class. All students are required to attend class with a device that they either own or borrow from the university. Students have two attempts at the week’s quiz: an individual and a team attempt. The team attempt engages students who have to discuss and manage conflicts in a team setting. Activities that are time-bound require students to manage their time. Furthermore, team members get zero for the team attempt if any member of the team gives a different response to another team member.

For the Case Assessment there are three components. Students submit a case note prior to class via Turnitin. In class students debate and get to appreciate the breadth of considerations. The class equips them with the knowledge to provide a peer review. The peer review is undertaken in PeerMark and students are given another student’s case note to review. Next session we are also introducing a self-review to further develop skills reflection.

The cases are on many occasions based on real life events drawn mainly from the Harvard library we have access to. This encourages participation on a topic that is applied and relevant to students’ future employment. This presents itself as authentic assessment, and whilst the cases can be quite long and detailed, their relevance encourages students to take the time to analyse.

The Video Presentation Assessment provides students with a task that involves them becoming familiar with a form of media that is becoming increasingly common, including for an initial interview. The students also get to consider their personal brand and how to deliver this message. The Careers team play an active role in delivering a number of classes.

Any other innovations you have used in the unit?

Guy: The unit has a KickStart module developed by you, Shaheen, and this provides postgraduate students with an opportunity to prepare for the session. The KickStart module also includes a Qualtrics survey that encourages students to consider what they hope to get from this non-technical unit and assists with teaching analytics.

This information collected was also used at the end of session in evaluating if there were some explanatory variables associated with the final marks. I was particularly concerned about whether, given the role of case readings, the unit privileged native English speakers. Encouragingly, whilst there was a positive association, this was not significant.

Where to from here?

Guy: This is the third session that this unit has been offered. Assessing this non-technical unit is an ongoing discussion. We are considering whether some aspects of the assessment be a pass/fail rather than attempting to award a mark.

We are also looking to develop some additional case materials to draw out some specific ethical issues and to deliver these via video recordings.

Posted by Shaheen Hajira

Shaheen is a learning designer passionate about the role of universities in creating socially responsible, engaged thinkers.

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