On 22nd and 23rd of August I attended a Communities of Endeavour Priorities Forum hosted by the Carrick Institute in Sydney.
Those who have been to the Carrick Institute would know that, given that it is a Centre devoted to Learning and Teaching, it is rather aptly housed in the grounds of an old, now defunct Public School in Chippendale. Carrick staff are situated in one of the school's original buildings and because it has not been overly refurbished, through the windows, it is easy to imagine you can hear the shrieks and cries of children playing in the school yard, queuing in the corridors, and working hushed in the high ceilinged class rooms.
The Carrick Communities of Endeavour Priorities Forum was designed for a different pedagogical reality. Participants were senior academics representing HES providers who had been brought together for an intensive day of group work. The aim was to identify a range of issues/pressure points related to learning and teaching that were common across institutions that could be prioritised and funded to provide best practice frameworks for shared action. For example plagiarism was cited as a common concern on which many universities had poured extensive time and effort. Had a national framework been developed and made accessible across the board, resources might well have been conserved. The question was raised: should everyone be trying to invent educational policy (usually on the run) or should Carrick provide frameworks/models on which the sector could draw?
Addresses by Prof Richard Johnstone, Executive Director of the Carrick Institute, and Professor Daryl Le Grew, Chair, Discipline-based Initiatives Standing Committee, included the need to recognise that today's student body: is different and they bring to their studies a different set of skills; they are no longer at university for didactic teaching but for exposure to research-led, evidence-based learning; and they have a need for student-centred approaches to learning, work-based learning and engagement across disciplines. They need to be challenged and extended (especially those often neglected high achievers) and should they proceed to further study, to be offered a postgraduate pedagogy – one that clearly makes the postgraduate experience different from that of undergraduates. The forum highlighted the need for the sector to be exploring issues such as teaching for diversity and to closely monitor standards in teaching and learning. Academics were also exhorted to exchange and learn from each other in spite of disciplinary differences.
A range of issues affecting the learning and teaching agenda of the HES were raised and discussed. The forum identified the following priority areas:
- Evaluation and management of teaching performance
- Work-integrated learning
- Curriculum development and review
- Understanding the student experience
- Preparation and renewal of teachers and learning support professionals
- Engagement of sessional staff
- Standards and assessment
- Integration and assessment of institutional mission, core values and graduate attributes
- Pedagogical issues in Honours, Coursework Masters and Research and PhD Education
- Interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary curriculum and learning
- Service teaching
- Laboratory-based education
- Transition education
- Evidence-based educational policy development
- Internationalisation and globalisation of curriculum
- Physical space and its impact on curriculum and teaching and learning
Carrick has already called for tenders to look at the issue of Preparation of Academics to Teach (closed 13th November) and is in the final process of devising a strategy to put the other Discipline-based Initiatives priorities up for tender. For further information visit the Carrick Institute website.