Herdsa 2011

HERDSA 2011 program: Symposia

Capstone Courses: What is their place in a ‘transition pedagogy’ for final year students?

Sally Kift, Janis Bailey, Lynda Andrews, David Gray, Elizabeth van Acker, Peter Woods

University students’ ‘final year experience’ (FinYE) has been on the agenda for some time. It has attracted renewed policy attention recently in Australia, with the federal government’s widening participation targets and its focus on the development of discipline standards. At the same time, employers have long been calling for graduates with better ‘generic skills’. Capstone courses are therefore under the spotlight for what they can achieve in students’ final year. Capstones aim to consolidate, extend and apply previous learning, provide a vehicle for professional socialisation and the development of professional identity to assist students’ transition to employment, and play a key role in ensuring graduates are critical, ethical, global citizens. This symposium has been organised by team members on two current ALTC projects on capstone courses in undergraduate business and law curricula. The focus is on the notion of a ‘transition pedagogy’ as articulated by The Legal Education Curriculum Renewal Project.  A discussion of this key conceptual issue will be counterpointed by a report of preliminary findings from The Business Capstone Project, and grounded by a discussion of simulations in marketing capstones.

Disciplinarity in teaching and learning: A snapshot of the landscape

Mia O'Brien, Karena Menzie, Christopher Klopper, Nic Carah, Winnifred Louis

University teaching and learning could be characterised as a varied landscape comprising rich tapestries of disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields of study. The development of discipline-rich understandings of teaching and learning  (Kreber, 2009; Land, Mayer & Smith, 2008) has garnered much interest across the higher education sector and offers a refreshing change from generic framings.  Yet the outcomes of this work imply that we must find ways to think deeply about the pedagogical nuances of disciplinary knowledge (O’Brien, 2008), the implications of disciplinarity for curriculum design and assessment (McCune, 2009), and reconsider academic identity and practice (Kreber, 2009).  Moreover such work appears most valuable when conducted collaboratively across respective fields and disciplines so that shared understandings can be explored and established.  In the face of intensification of workloads, diversification of student enrolment, and the increased emphasis on graduate achievement of professional standards – the allocation of attention and resources to the disciplinary specifics of a field and the implications for curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment is under-prioritised. This symposium is based on an ALTC funded research project investigating the nature of disciplinarity with clusters of academics drawn from six different fields.  Our aim is to consider how disciplinary forms of thinking and modes of practice can be made more visible within university teaching and learning.  The symposium panel will comprise members from each of these clusters, representing journalism and mass communication, social psychology, law, arts and social education. As research into disciplinarity of teaching and learning continues to flourish this symposium provides a forum for panel members and attendees to consider the following questions for discussion:

  1. To what the extent have these outcomes been effectively translated (or indeed to what extent are they translatable) into sustainable teaching and learning policy and practice? 
  2. What are the implications of this research for academic identity, workload and scholarship?

Approaches to monitoring and assuring academic standards in higher education

Beverley Oliver, Wendy Harper, Royce Sadler, Kerri-Lee Krause

This symposium will explore approaches for setting, monitoring and assuring academic achievement standards. It will be framed by national policy discussions about TEQSA’s teaching and learning standards and the government’s focus on exit standards in its new performance indicator framework.
Royce Sadler will consider two key issues in assuring unit-level grades. The first is the match between the actual quality of the student work submitted and the grades awarded. The second is the comparability of grades awarded across units so that broadly consistent standards are applied. Most existing approaches rely on standards descriptors or other ‘codified’ formulations of standards. These provide only arms-length generalisations that cannot address the two core issues. Participants will be invited to discuss approaches for setting appropriate standards, valid ways of capturing and conveying them, and ways of assuring grades through direct use of primary evidence.
Bev Oliver and Wendy Harper will explore the relative merits of standards rubrics and student portfolios as approaches for monitoring, assuring and evidencing standards at the whole of program level. They will propose an approach based on predominantly formative approaches, including: (1) creating course-wide holistic rubrics to articulate and exemplify levels of capability achievement; and (2) gathering evidence from a range of sources to show that those standards have been achieved. Participants will be challenged to consider the implications of these approaches for their own context. Discussion will explore strategies that might prompt students to take responsibility for gathering evidence of capability development and the relative merits of self-reported data and peer-assessment outcomes.

Is content a dirty word? A discussion on knowledge. research and professional development in academic development

Tai Peseta, Barbara Grant, Lorraine Stefani, Catherine Manathunga, Jan McLean, Angela Brew, Ian Solomonides, Tony Harland

This symposium takes its cue from a question posed by Peseta (2011) in The International Journal for Academic Development. She asks pointedly: is content a dirty word? The question expresses a growing unease about the current state, and status of, content and knowledge among the academic/educational development community. In fact, the question could be a proxy for several challenges that linger for academic developers: first, what is the knowledge base of academic development? Second, what should academic developers know about that knowledge base? Third, how is the organisation of academic development leading to advances to its knowledge base?
Content (crudely understood as a body of disciplinary ideas/skills) occupies a slippery and strange place within the practice of academic developers. In conversations with colleagues, there is often a sense that student learning happens most effectively when content becomes that most malleable and flexible of things: to be cut from the curriculum, whittled down and made over. Within academic development itself, it can sometimes seem that knowledge and ideas are the first casualties in the race to meet needs and to remain institutionally relevant. This symposium returns us to the question of knowledge and the way it figures in, and through, academic development. The contributors are, collectively, long-time researchers/scholars, directors, teachers and practitioners of academic development. They bring that experience (in some cases, across several national contexts) to consider the question of content and whether it is, in fact, too dirty a word for us to even worry about.

*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.

Event photographers will be working during HERDSA 2011 to photograph presenters and delegates during conference sessions and social events. Photographs taken during the conference may appear on the HERDSA 2011 conference website or in future publications related to HERDSA. A selection of photographs may also be displayed as a projected slideshow in the venue prior to commencing proceedings each day. Please advise photographers if you do not wish to be included in a photograph.

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