Herdsa 2011

HERDSA 2011 program: Concurrent sessions

The interdisciplinary edge: Transforming academic practice and enhancing student learning via interdisciplinary curricula

Carmel Coady, Kelly E Matthews, Aidan Davison, Emma Pharo and Kristin Warr  

As we enter the 21st century, the ways that we live, learn, work and interact with people and the environment are changing. Institutions of higher education are questioning how they can transform curricula to prepare graduates for the increasing complexity of the challenges facing humanity.  Can degree programs remain static and rooted in single discipline-taught subjects disconnected from real world applications, which inherently span traditional disciplinary boundaries?  Students stand to benefit a great deal from learning strategies that are derived from demanding and rigorous curricula based on relevant, real-world problems, which require high levels of self-aware inquiry and problem solving skills. Discussing practical ways to enable academics to collaborate around authentic problems in the face of university structures that make collaboration difficult is an important part of responding to the complex challenges our graduates will face.  This special-interest roundtable will centre on the issues associated with achieving interdisciplinary collaboration to facilitate educational change, with discussions of how the Australian tertiary sector should respond to the ongoing single-disciplinary focus that dominates much thinking about higher education. The conveners work across a range of disciplines and institutions and will focus on findings from two ALTC-funded projects that aim to create genuine interdisciplinary curricula to engage and motivate students to enhance learning outcomes.

A pedagogy of uncertainty: The role of creativity and innovation in enhancing student engagement  

Dawn Bennett, Philip Poronnik

As we grow older we begin to consider risk, and the consequences of ‘getting it wrong’. These considerations can inhibit spontaneity, creativity and play, yet there is growing recognition that creativity and innovation are a serious business and an essential component of learning and engagement. In part, this aligns with the need to look beyond conventional dualistic knowledge, un-ask the closed question, and look for a third solution that may be capable of expanding our knowledge in new directions.

The answers that lie beyond yes and no bridge the gap between theory and practice, challenge learners to employ higher level thinking, and transcend disciplinary boundaries. However, the demands of curriculum, assessment and accreditation can relegate creativity to the backbench. Furthering the concept of a ‘pedagogy of uncertainty’ as proposed by Poronnik and Long in 2010, this roundtable will draw on several provocative statements to challenge and stimulate participants discussion about the role of creativity in higher education.

Learning and teaching academic standards: A tool for curriculum reform?

Susan Jones 

With the projected establishment of the Tertiary Education Standards and Quality Agency, (TEQSA), the Australian academic community needs to engage with a new era of quality assurance. How can this ‘Standards Agenda’ be harnessed to improve the quality of our teaching programs whilst maintaining diversity across our institutions? 

This Roundtable will focus on learning and teaching academic standards. Discipline Scholars working within the LTAS Project have been facilitating the development of discipline-based, agreed sets of graduate capabilities that will help to inform the proposed monitoring of academic standards by TEQSA. In this project, academic standards are expressed as learning outcomes for graduates. Maxwell (2002) points out that standards expressed as learning outcomes will necessarily need to be interpreted by the community of users who should, amongst other strategies, share examples of student performance. Thus defining a curriculum in terms of student learning outcomes puts the focus clearly on the demonstration of student attainment: the emphasis shifts from inputs to outputs as measures of standards (James, 2003). In particular, the LTAS project has developed threshold learning outcomes (TLOs). These are learning outcomes that will, as a minimum, be achieved by all graduates of a particular discipline. However it is important to appreciate that the route through which those outcomes are achieved will vary between programs. 

It is timely to begin the conversation about how academic standards may be utilized to drive curriculum design and review. This Roundtable will allow participants to discuss and share ideas on how learning and teaching academic standards might be implemented at their institution, and what challenges and opportunities may arise for course coordinators, teaching academics and learning developers through exploring the following questions:
1. What will learning and teaching academic standards mean for us, our students and the employers of our graduates?
2. How may academic standards be used in curriculum design or review?
3. What challenges and opportunities may arise as we respond to the new national standards agenda?  


*Please note that this program is indicative only and subject to change. Pre-conference workshops incur additional fees and require registration. If you have already registered to attend the conference and would now like to register to attend pre-conference workshops please download and complete the pre-conference workshop registration form.

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