In Part 1 Sean provided some sector and institutional context. In Part 2 he discussed the current work that is underway to build our Quality System. In Part 3 he discussed the roadmap to system implementation. In Part 4 he discussed the next steps given the approval of the policy suite.  In Part 5 he takes a deep dive on the new processes as they apply to units.

Over recent months I have introduced you to the MQ Curriculum Lifecycle Framework and the suite of policies which underpin it. In this post I want to focus on units and one of the stages which many colleagues will engage with at the end of Session 2. 

Units provide the building blocks for all our courses. In assuring the quality of our courses, monitoring and reviewing the quality of those building blocks is something we already do and TEQSA expects. 

Within the Curriculum Lifecycle Stage 4: Monitoring represents the processes through which we monitor the performance of our academic items — including our units. 

A central activity in this stage, and one which involves many academic and professional colleagues, is the monitoring of our units alongside the ratification of student grades after a unit has been delivered.

This process is outlined within the Unit of Study Monitoring and Ratification of Results Policy. But let’s look at a number of the key features here as our new data-driven and risk-based approach to unit monitoring differs from our previous approach in a number of ways.

First, parts of the process will now be captured as an activity within the Curriculum Management System.

Unit Convenors will continue to submit their unit report through their current Faculty approved system.  There is, however, a new institutional template that standardises the questions across the university.
Current work continues to fold this step into the MQCMS.  When complete it will mean this important information will be stored in a manner that allows all our unit records to be kept in one place.

Second, the institutional dashboard which was made available in 2020 to facilitate the grade-ratification process will also be further enhanced to assist in unit monitoring.

Important new data points include headlines from LEU surveys.

Third, to support the monitoring process one important change we have introduced is the mandatory running of unit of study LEUs after every offering. (read about changes to LEU surveys in this TECHE post)

This approach aligns with sector best practice, ensures all students in every unit offering have an opportunity to reflect on their learning experience, and provides useful baseline data for making judgements regarding a unit’s quality that extends beyond grades.

Fourth, and finally, the new system formalises the process by which issues or proposed changes within a unit are addressed.

If there are issues identified in a unit, or proposed changes desired in order to enhance or update the unit, an Action Plan will be implemented to address the matter.

While the data in the dashboard helps to identify where there may be an issue, or where staff or students may identify a way of enhancing a unit, the decision to submit a unit to an Action Plan will take place after collegial discussion within the Unit Monitoring and Grade Ratification meeting.

With support from a range of available sources, a unit convenor will complete the Action Plan and, when completed, submit its outcomes through the MQCMS for endorsement and approval. 

An Action Plan becomes the new procedure through which a unit of study may commence engagement with academic governance to undertake a revision within the MQCMS.

Focus-on-Unit-Monitoring

Outside the usual Unit Monitoring and Grade ratification process, a unit will also undergo a Unit Periodic Review at least once within the course reaccreditation cycle for the course it was primarily designed for. This offers an opportunity to take some time to pause and really explore all aspects of the unit, from the learning outcomes, assessments, unit content and the way in which the unit is delivered; as well as how it contributes to the Course Learning Outcomes. Units which sit within the Core Zone of multiple courses can be reviewed against the needs of all these courses in a single review.

This review will be conducted by a small Review Panel nominated by the Course Authority and drawn from related areas of study within the University. The Review Panel will consult with the Unit Convenor to finalise any commendations and recommendations which can also form the basis of an Action Plan.

As well as these unit specific processes, a unit Action Plan might also be triggered by the recommendations that are derived from a course in-cycle review, course reaccreditation or an institutional thematic review.

The Unit of Study Monitoring and Grade ratification process and Unit of Study Periodic Review process are essential keystones within our curriculum lifecycle and the quality system that supports it.

To assist colleagues in engaging with these processes a range of supporting resources and guides will soon be made available, starting with new Unit Monitoring and Grade ratification process.

Our approach to units of study within the Curriculum Lifecycle helps us to deliver a quality learning experience that meets the needs and expectations of our students. 

You can access all MQ Curriculum Lifecycle Framework policies in Policy Central.

Other articles in this Series:

Image credit: Stuart Upton

Posted by Sean Brawley

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