Design for learning

30 May 2019

This is my application for a CLeaR Fellowship for 2020 in the theme ‘Design for learning.

Overview

As a result of Faculty of Business and Economics review of the Bachelor of Commerce and the Bachelor of Property, the faculty has recently given approval, in principal, for the piloting and introduction of a range of capstone courses. Capstone courses represent an important thrust by the Faculty to address a range of pressing issues.

In particular, as the paperwork accepted by Faculty notes, the justification of capstones are:

  • Provides opportunity for students to demonstrate achievement of graduate capabilities and enhance employability skills as well as assist their transition to work.
  • Incorporating work-related experiences into the degree will improve performance in rankings and student surveys
  • Greater flexibility to be more experientially based if sits outside the major(s)

A range of options supported provides the flexibility to accommodate the diversity of student capabilities (feasible to set specific prerequisites, limitations and minimum GPA requirements to manage selection) including cross-disciplinary capstone options that enable students to bridge their two fields of interest.

The Faculty of Business and Economics is not the only faculty to begin moving down this pathway; for example, the Faculty of Science is already in the process of developing its own suite of disciplinary-based capstone courses. With regard to the 2020 Fellowship them of Designing for Learning, capstones implicitly are concerned with issues of equity, engagement, motivation, graduate attributes, and employability, and personal growth. Anyone of these presents significant challenges in a regular course; in a capstone course—when many stakeholders have competing conceptualisations of what they are meant to do and to deliver—the heady mix of these aspirations is challenging (to say the least). Given the aspirations for capstone courses and the challenges the present, there are three components to the fellowship proposed here.

  1. As a particular approach to teaching and learning, capstone courses are under researched. Nevertheless, an important first step in to undertake a literature to review to understand the evidence that supports the design and deliver of capstone courses (in particular, rather than in general), with a view to publishing that literature review.
  2. Furthermore, capstone present a variety of design challenges that either do not exist in ‘regular’ courses or are less important. For example, under what conditions should a capstone course focus on knowledge coordination between students versus knowledge integration (given students from different majors will be working together). Thus, it is necessary to develop an understanding of the gaps that exist in the literature and the programmes of research that might address the most pressing of those gaps.
  3. Finally, it is important to map out, record, and disseminate the learning that occurs across the University as capstone courses are piloted and then fully rolled out. In doing so a network of colleagues working on similar problems—beyond the Fellowship programme, e.g. Dr Julia Novak in Science—may emerge, increasing the success of the capstone initiatives.

Current achievements in teaching

With regards to teaching, I am a multi-award winning academic (with teaching excellence awards both at the faculty level, and the university level) for curriculum design, innovation in teaching, and collaboration in learning. Colleagues who have won University and National teaching excellence awards often cite my influence in their teaching portfolios (e.g., A/Prof Christine Woods, Andrew Eberhard). I have successfully completed the certificate in Academic Practice.

Alignment with Fellowship aims and university plans

The justifications for capstone courses, presented in the earlier section are necessarily directly connected to the Business School’s Strategic Plan, the University’s Strategic Plan, and University’s Learning and Teaching Plan and Strategic Plan. Given that this fellowship is in direct support of those justifications, this fellowship is also aligned with those planning documents.

Desirable outcomes from the Fellowship year

  1. A published literature review of teaching and learning in capstone course;
  2. Identification of a programme of research to address gaps in the literature vis-a-vis the ‘peculiarities’ of capstone courses;
  3. The documentation and publication of the University’s learning around captstone courses, and; 4 The creation of a community (of excellence?) regarding capstone courses across the university.