Good Practice Principles
The good practice example guide presents a number of key principles of assurance of learning linked to examples of how these are practiced within Australian universities. This guide sets out these principles in four categories, with a few examples of each from universities that participated in the research. The examples are derived from interviews with 25 Associate Deans of Teaching and Learning of business schools in Australian universities, and key stakeholders from law, pharmacy, engineering and nursing disciplines. The categories represent different parts of the assurance process described by participants, click on each to see some examples of how good practice principles have been implemented. These examples are drawn from project interviews across a number of disciplines.
The following elements are viewed as good practice principles in curriculum mapping:
- an inclusive and participatory process that brought together staff for free and frank discussion and collaborative problem solving;
- an emphasis on getting stakeholders to take a program-wide view which allows for changes based on the progression towards graduate level;
- mapping the development of the attribute over the program allowing for introduction, development and assurance of attributes;
- mapping by assessment tasks, providing a greater level of clarity and detail in the mapping, and allowing students and teaching staff to clearly value the alignment between assessments and graduate attributes;
- encouraging a sense of progression and active participation in learning, promoting student awareness of attributes and their distribution in the program;
- mapping with capstones across the program emphasises working back from this point of assessment looking at the development of attributes across the program; and
- clear presentation of the distribution of attributes throughout a program is supported by the use of mapping software or analogues for constructive discussion among staff.
Effective data collection and measurement involves the following:
- a consistent criteria for attributes across programs using developed and meaningful criteria, allowing for benchmarking comparisons;
- embedding measurement in the curriculum normalises practices and encourages the process to be valued;
- external examination to benchmark across institutions;
- using multiple measures of assurance of learning enriched the discussion and interpretation of the data collected; and
- a variety of different data collection/measurement software solutions are available; the suitability of the system to the context is particularly critical for a sustainable process.
|GOOD PRACTICE PRINCIPLES||EXAMPLES||TOOLS|
|Consistent Criteria for Attributes across Programs||UTS QUT Bond||ReView Overview
|Embedding Measurement||UTS QUT Bond|
|External Examination||Bond Monash UNSW Melbourne UWA|
|Use of Multiple Measures of Assurance of Learning||QUT Bond|
|Use of Data Collection / Measurement of Software||UTS Griffith UWA Bond|
Staff engagement is the crux of all well implemented assurance of learning systems. Principles to foster this engagement include:
- leveraging the acceptance (or tolerance) of assurance of learning processes that accreditation processes bring to promote a quality and improvement agenda;
- fostering staff engagement often involved directly confronting perception about assurance of learning, particularly in communicating the ease of the process;
- engagement can also be fostered through the demonstration of success/effectiveness, highlighting the benefits that can come from assurance of learning;
- for assurance of learning to become an institutional norm, there needed to be consistent high level commitment and leadership;
- good data quality and the ability to present the data in meaningful forms fostered engagement through being able to provide a clear picture of student learning;
- staff engagement also came from the development of leadership across the faculty/school, primarily staff that effectively engaged in assurance of learning processes themselves; and
- the importance of professional development around assurance of learning processes for fostering engagement was emphasised by the participants.
Closing the loop is the culmination of all previous stages, where data and discussion turns into practical change in curriculum or teaching practices. Important principles for effective closing the loop processes involve:
- including a broad set of stakeholders, particularly staff directly involved in delivery can help make change specific and effective, along with fostering staff engagement in the change;
- the willingness to have a critical and reflective discussion about graduate attributes was important for improvements to the process itself along with enriching the discussion around changes;
- starting the discussion by reviewing previous proposed actions served to reinforce the commitment to change and improvement;
- by making changes once the process has settled, a clearer understanding of the current state of affairs can be reached, leading to more thoughtful changes;
- focusing on improvements at the program level leads to more systematic and considered changes taking into account the development of an attribute over the program; and
- being able to demonstrate the benefits of assurance of learning processes through keeping change manageable.
Curriculum Mapping refers to the process of plotting out the distribution of graduate attributes across a learning program; identifying in what units or assessments different graduation attributes are addressed. The examples below show how universities have successfully gone about mapping their programs.
The next step of Data Collection represents the process by which student performance is checked against a number of standards relating to the graduate attributes. A clear set of levels of achievement are applied to student assessments in order to assure students meet the learning outcomes. The examples below describe successful data collection processes in place across a number of universities.
The major challenge identified by the participants was fostering Staff Engagement, having their academic staff go beyond mere compliance to actually be invested and participate in the process actively. A number of examples are provided of how this was achieved.
The final step of assurance processes is Closing the Loop and feeding back the data to staff in order to foster continuous improvement in the program and in teaching practices. A number of examples are displayed concerning how universities went about facilitating the discussion with academics on how to improve programs using the data collected about student outcomes.
If you’d like to include an example for the good practice example guide, please get in contact with the project officer at firstname.lastname@example.org