AISHE 2010: Designing and delivering curricula for the future

Day 1

Introductory keynote: Richard 0’Kennedy, Vice-President for Learning Innovation and Professor of Biological Sciences, Dublin City University

Exploiting research based teaching: opportunities and challenges for design and delivery of curricula

Important thing is how to develop individuals and give them skills for the future.


  • Teaching –research nexus is central.
  • Student intellectual development and staff identity developed by focusing an the ‘nexus’
  • Effective teaching-research links are not automatic and have to be constructed
  • Important disciplining variations in teaching- research relationships
  • Schools and Departments are vital are change
  • Sharing case studies and experience is very important

Need excellence in  teaching, research and administration are integral

Teaching –Research Nexus

  1. Research-led teaching

– students learn about research

– often transmission

2. Research-orientated

-students learn about research approaches

-learn by doing to some extent

3. Research-based

-students learn as researchers

-learn about failure (as well as success)

Healey model (2005) –students as audience or students as participants

Strategies for linking teaching and research within programmes

Strategy 1: Develop students’ understanding of the role of research in their discipline (including how to apply for funding)

Strategy 2: Develop students’ abilities to carry out research (everybody should be doing research)

Strategy 3: Progressively develop students’ understanding

Strategy 4: Manage students’ experience of research (include linking skills to employment)


How to deal with complex problems where we don’t know the answers? How to  prepare students for this? What are the big problems? How to navigate over/breakdown silos?

Strategy 5: Manage staff experience of research- everybody should be teaching and research active. Both equally valuable for promotion and part of load allocation. Mix can vary but both equally respected. Enables creation of a vibrant learning environment

Learning Innovation programme @ DCU driven by outcomes

Dynamic process (model)

Use your own research papers /reviews/books in teaching

Maximise resources

–          alumni, former staff, industry, funding agencies, government, senior community members to contribute to the curriculum

Encouraging and nurturing student initiated collaborative and multi-contributory projects: Claire Allen, University of Huddersfield

Team projects with first year students. Students choose teams and dysfunction is important part of learning process.

Different project types  – inter subject collaborations, multiple cause collaboration and specific collaboration module.

Magazine projects designed rapidly so had to rely on networks

Final year major projects demonstrated 3 types of collaboration- partnerships, multi-discipline partnerships, contributory experts and specialists including skills trading

Interesting ideas on use of networks for the development of project work

2 key factors identified

–          Self confidence

–          Networks informal and formal

These were critical but on their own don’t produce effective collaborations.


–          Student anxiety

–          Individual agenda/ self interest

Tutors must manage associated risks of collaborations

Assess process of collaborations not just final work.

Who determines the curriculum? Denise Chalmers, The University of Western Australia

Should teachers and students alone determine curriculum? No, also need link to department, faculties, Schools. University values and orientation is important.

Paul Blakemore’s work on international curriculum models.

University of Western Australia will have four degrees only. Similar to Melbourne model. Only get professional qualification at postgraduate level. 3 + 2 model. Will employers buy-into this? will students want to do this.

Accredited bodies can have a big influence on the curriculum without evidence eg class size.

Is there less to distinguish between universities? Will there be a national curriculum for disciplines at universities? And who will determine this? Big or small players ?

Government funding controlling curricula. Performance funding and quality reviews. What  is suitable indication of quality? Student satisfaction and learning outcomes-attestive learning? Political agenda including social inclusion and economic impact. [value of a degree?] transition and curriculum change relating to WP.

Do governments and agencies have a legitimate role in determining the curriculum?

Ministerial groups and organisations eg Bologna. Determining length of degree determines what data can be collected and what counts. Bologna having are international impact. OECD impacts on statistics and what counts. AHELO project –test of learning that is independent of culture and language. Research suggests that national curricula impact negatively an lower socio –economic groups eg Hispanic achievement in US. Insidious impact of UNESCO and World Bank.

Whose values count? Western imperialism and implicit colonialism. Why should everyone have an homogenised education?

Teacher has less and less influence on the curriculum, government and multi national agencies more and more.

How engage all but not have one area dominating? Teachers must be engaged if curriculum determined too much by others then teachers will feel disempowered and disengaged. How can negotiate curriculum to have all satisfied?

Programme assessment strategies –making assessment transparent or needless bureaucracy? Marion Palmer, IADT

How manage assessment in a way that makes more sense for staff and students?

Law in Ireland that all assessment should be fair and consistent.

Marking is a legitimate, recognised, important part of an academics’ work. Not an add-on.

HETAC policy on assessment standards 6 basic principles.

Capstone assessments/ projects ie those that demonstrate values / Sum of programme.- role of these?

Programme assessment structure = w way of having a rhythm for the year.

Programme assessment strategies-developed by team; annually reviewed; he tac requirement but enabled tool for considering assessment across a programme. It is a documents about assessment- given to all lecturers and students- particularly intended programme Los. Part of handbook.  Students need it but very valuable for lecturers to see overview of all assessment. Externals and validation panels find it very useful.

Programme strategy asks:

–          how many assignments

–          how long between submission and return?

–          How many exams and length?

–          Marking of assignments –grades vs marks,holistic vs analytical. Biggs 2003, 157

–          Range and type of assessed work? Gender bias?

–          Co-ordination of assessment schedule?

–          Information to students?

–          Summative and formative assessment suitable for the programme?

–          Workload for staff and students?

–          Link to institute policy?


–          Implementing national policy enabled discussion about assessment.

–          Proving a powerful tool, puts assessment into focus.

–          Enables discussion and questioning of existing practices.

–          Developed a common language for discussion –Summative/formative assessment

–          Enables expectations to be aired eg grammar, late submission

–          Effort to provide a coherent approach

–          Informs students, programme teams and management

–          Identifies strategic approaches of learners

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