Tip 1: Consider running Curriculum mapping workshops across your whole course
Mapping workshops bring together all convenors who teach on a course and create opportunities to discuss how students will be developing skills/knowledge across the course. Convenors create visual maps of their units, which allow finding gaps and overlaps in content/assessment. These maps are invaluable to ensure that assessments are well-distributed and important skills get developed, and are well-supported throughout the course.
Want to find out more? Browse through some past MQ case-studies/interviews.
An interview with Panos Vlachopoulos about designing for the whole course (previously referred to as ‘program’)
Doctor of Physiotherapy (an accredited program)
Note: taking the ‘whole-of-course’ approach is the only meaningful way to embed such important areas as communication skills, sustainability, indigenous knowledges, diversity, digital literacies, employability, etc.
Tip 2: Gear towards ‘active learning’ pedagogies in your course
Students can passively listen to their instructor, or they could be actively constructing their learning through doing various activities, creating projects, working in teams, engaging with real-life problems, etc. The latter are referred to as ‘active learning pedagogies’ and they have been shown to be more effective for learning. Some ‘active learning’ make-overs can be:
– Replace ‘traditional lectures’ with ‘interactive lectures’. Students ask and respond to questions, work in pairs or teams and do other activities. Technology like Echo360’s Active Learning Platform and other classroom response systems make it possible even in large classes.
– Use problem-based/project-based/task-based learning. Students get presented with a problem or a task and the learning happens while working on this task. This is particularly important to support MQ’s signature pedagogy of ‘practice-based learning’.
– Use collaborative and peer learning, and help students learn from each other while developing communication and groupwork skills.
– Encourage reflection and assessment literacy. Students learn more when they get a chance to reflect about their learning, and they know what is being assessed and why (assessment literacy).
Tip 3: Consider using ‘shared’ and ‘integrated’ assessment
What would happen if 2 different units thought of an assessment task that they could share? Unit A would focus on some aspects of this task, while Unit B would attend to the others? It would arguably result in a more authentic assessment task that students could devote more time to and get more feedback on. Some thoughts on the difference between ‘typical’ assessments and ‘major projects’ from one of MQ students.
Workshop with your colleagues how you could create ‘shared’ assessments. Could you, for example, give students a semester-long project that will be assessed by the convenors of 2-3 of their respective units? Such projects can prevent assessment overload and will be more authentic, as they’ll be integrating skills from different areas. Think of such projects as ‘mini’ capstones that bring together skills/knowledge from 2-3 other units. If you’d like help with designing such assessments, contact your Faculty Learning and Teaching teams, or contact us at the Learning Innovation Hub. We’ll be delighted to help you come up with more meaningful assessments for your students.
Tip 4: Check your ‘feedback’ menu
Who do your students get feedback from? If most feedback comes from the instructors, then it’s a sign that
(i) students are missing out on important feedback sources like peer feedback and reflection and
(ii) there may be undue pressure on instructors.
Research suggests that feedback is often more effective when it comes from peers or reflection, so it’s important to design these opportunities into units. Check out our Coffee Course on Feedback for Learning.
Tip 5: Think beyond ‘student surveys’
Where do convenors in your course get data on how the course went? Only student surveys? There are other (potentially more powerful tools) for quality enhancement, such as informed used of learning analytics, peer-review, individual and group reflection, drawing on current literature. These methods are vital for continuous improvement and enhancement of learning and teaching quality.
There is always space for improvement. Now is a great time to consider how you could make your course or your unit even more exciting and relevant to your students.
And there will be benefits for you too – research suggests that collaborating with colleagues on course design improves well-being and job satisfaction of many academics. That’s what I call win-win!