DSC topic projects
Curriculum for ExcellenceThe project team have published their final report on Curriculum for Excellence: impact on higher education. Following the call for tenders for the phase 3 project to organise regional workshops and a sectoral conference to engage higher education practitioners, Dr James Moir of the University of Abertay, was appointed to lead the project. The first Curriculum for Excellence workshop from the project was held in Dundee on 26 November. The programme included a keynote presentation from Professor Mark Priestley, University of Stirling and discussions round the collaborative case studies. Further information on the event will appear in our March 2014 newsletter.
The flexible curriculumThe project team are looking for institutions to help pilot their Flexible Curriculum tool. This would involve holding workshops with practitioners in their institutions. If you are interested in taking part please contact Heather Gibson.
Staff: Enhancing TeachingThe final report on the Staff: enhancing teaching has been published. The project team will hold two workshops on 12 and 13 December to present their findings to the sector. These will be at the University of the West of Scotland and the University of Dundee. Registration is now open.
DSC Institutional Team Meeting
Our recent DSC meeting was held at the University of Edinburgh and was open to each DSC steering committee member and members of their institution’s enhancement team. The day was a great success and provided the opportunity for institutional team members to gain a better understanding of the work of the three DSC Tracks in workshop sessions and to take part in group discussions focusing on inter-institutional collaboration.
2013-14 is the year of the evaluation. We invited tenders for a range of evaluation projects and we are doing this to demonstrate how the work of the Themes are making a difference, and how we can improve our methods of working. The projects include:
The first Student Network meeting of 2013-14 was held on 17 October and was very well attended. The members discussed each of their institutions’ enhancement update reports and identified institutional goals they would like to happen. They also chose goals they would like to see the Student Network achieve in the coming year. These included:
The Student Network will present their ideas at the Enhancement Themes conference on 12 June.
Scottish Parliament reception
On 12 November we held a reception at the Scottish Parliament to celebrate 10 years of the Enhancement Themes in the Scottish higher education sector. The event was sponsored by Marco Biagi, MSP and hosted by our Chair of SHEEC, Professor Andrea Nolan, OBE. There was a great turnout of guests from across the sector including staff and students, and colleagues from the Scottish Government and the business world. As well as Mr Biagi and Professor Nolan, we also had speeches from Dr Alasdair Allan, Cabinet Secretary for Learning, Science and Scotland’s languages, and Danielle Borrett, who made a great contribution when she was the student member on our DSC Steering Committee 2012-13 and part of the Student Network. In addition to our speeches we had three posters from our international conference on display, case studies from each of the institutions and another showing of our 10 years of the Themes video. There was a lovely atmosphere throughout the evening and that was largely down to our fantastic musicians from the University of the Highlands and Islands. Thank you to all our presenters, musicians and guests for making it such a memorable occasion.
10 years of the Enhancement Themes publication
Professor Terry Mayes has produced a publication highlighting what has been achieved by the Enhancement Themes over the last 10 years. We have also produced a leaflet which summarizes the publication.
Diane Grayson from the South African Council on Higher Education has kindly contributed an article on their quality enhancement project.
The South African Council on Higher Education’s Quality Enhancement Project
The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is South Africa’s statutory body responsible for quality assurance and promotion in higher education. From 2004 to 2011 the CHE oversaw comprehensive institutional audits of South Africa’s 23 public higher education institutions (HEIs) and several private HEIs. As the cycle of audits came to a close, it was decided not to embark on another round of audits, at least not for now, but rather to focus on improving teaching and learning. In working out how best to do this, we have learnt a great deal from the Scottish QAA’s approach to quality enhancement.
Of course our context is very different. South Africa has nearly 52 million people, but just under one million students in higher education. The intentionally discriminatory practices of the old apartheid government, combined with our complex history, have created enormous diversity in both our HEIs and our student body in terms of material, academic and financial resources, language, culture and history. We therefore need a process that will encourage collaboration while recognising differences in institutional contexts.
Through a lengthy process of broad consultation, we have designed the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP), which we plan to launch in February 2014. The focus of the QEP is on student success, which we have operationally defined as, “enhanced student learning with a view to increasing the number of graduates with attributes that are personally, professionally and socially valuable”. In the QEP we are only focusing on undergraduates, since they constitute over 80% of our students and only about 50% complete their degrees.
We envisage that the QEP will comprise two phases. In each phase we will identify focus areas with which HEIs will engage both individually and collaboratively. For the first two years (Phase 1) there are four focus areas: enhancing (i) university teachers, (ii) student support and development, (iii) the learning environment and (iv) programme and course enrolment management. In 2014 HEIs will be asked to make submissions in which they indicate, for each focus area, what they are doing, what is working and not working, and what still needs to be addressed. We will analyse these submissions in order to identify promising good practices and common problems. This analysis will form the basis for further engagement with the focus areas in 2015, both institutionally and collaboratively.
In order to provide a sound intellectual base for the QEP, we are encouraging groups of academics to engage in a process of knowledge co-creation on what affects student success in South Africa through rigorous research. Collecting empirical evidence will help us know what works. Developing theory will help us know why. We also hope to provide an enabling framework for HEIs’ to develop their capacity for evidence-based decision-making and reflective practice.
Through the QEP we hope that, as has happened in Scotland, we can help develop a higher education system that is improving continuously as members of the higher education community collaborate to share good practices and solve shared problems for the benefit of our students.
Contact: Diane Grayson, Director: Institutional Audits, Council on Higher Education South Africa.
In this edition we have three TiP Zone articles. The first is from the University of Abertay and looks at the mentoring of young learners. The next is by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and examines the potential impact on learner engagement and graduate attribute development at SRUC. The final article in this issue is from St Columba's Hospice Education Centre and is about enhancing the induction of students.
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Author: Jason J Turner and Helen Smith, Dundee Business School (DBS), University of Abertay Dundee
Universities and Colleges across Scotland are becoming increasingly aware of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) programme that has been implemented in secondary Schools and its implications for the Higher Education sector. It has become clear that educational sectors need to work more closely together if they are to gain an understanding of the impact of the CfE on the future students of the tertiary sector. It is in this context that DBS established a partnership with a secondary school to a) encourage young learners to engage with business and get them to think about their curriculum options, b) pursue business subjects at National 4 and 5, Higher and Advanced Higher and c) give them a taste of ‘student life’ through accessing University facilities and collaborating with University student mentors.
In 2013, 80 S3 learners from Morgan Academy, Dundee worked in mixed ability groups on a marketing and finance task twice a week over a four week period in March/April, supported by student mentors. The S3 learners were required to plan a promotional campaign for a real business, which required market research with different customer age groups, designing packaging and promotional steps, calculating the costs of the packaging and promotion, and suggesting sales channels for the business. The S3 learners then pitched their proposals directly to the business, Scotherbs, a business which grows a wide variety of fresh herbs and salad leaves and sells to Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, based in the Carse of Gowrie, Dundee, employing over 90 staff.
Through real business scenarios DBS brings together secondary schools, local businesses and the University to enhance the employment skills of young learners and University students, providing creative solutions to business problems and provide case studies to be used in Abertay University programmes and modules. The activity allowed University students to act as ambassadors for the University, mentoring young learners through every stage of the real business scenario. The mentors passed on their knowledge and experience in a way which engaged the learners with the subject which was in part due to their ages (18-21) and the fact that young learners recognised that they were not teachers. The University mentors encouraged the young learners to express themselves creatively and to provide reasons for their ideas and develop confidence working on individual tasks and in groups, providing feedback and feedforward to the learners. It created a win-win situation with the student mentors also benefitting from this experience, developing both their practical skills (management, communication, leadership, problem solving and creative thinking) and the softer skills (resolving group conflict, project management, confidence, responsibility, autonomy and critical self-reflection). The activity further embedded the graduate attributes (Confident Thinkers, Determined Creators, Flexible Collaborators, Challenging complexity, and driving change) which are developed through their modules into their skill set for work and life.
Author: Alison Campbell, Scotland’s Rural College
In September 2015, Higher Education institutions will welcome the first group of students entering higher education directly from the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). In light of this, research was undertaken by SRUC in conjunction with the Higher Education Academy to identify the potential impact of the new curriculum on the pedagogic approach to teaching and learning in higher education. With definite focus of the new curriculum being towards developing the skill base of learners in terms of the four capacities (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors), a clear link between secondary and higher education was evident from the outset in terms of higher education institution’s Graduate Attributes. SRUC was keen to establish the wider potential impact on learning, teaching and curriculum development - and through speaking with school teachers, head teachers and 3rd and 4th year school learners identified key areas that may potentially impact on the learning experience of HE students. The opportunity exists for student engagement to be promoted and increased by embracing the capacities of the CfE, and utilising the skills developed in school leavers.
It was identified that the new, learner focused approach of CfE increased awareness of personal learning styles, study techniques and of the benefits to be gained by creating and maintaining a personal development and learning profile. This could impact on lesson planning, learning activities and promoting student planning and mapping of skills development in line with Graduate Attributes. Within existing undergraduate modules at SRUC, such as Graded Units, Developing Skills for Personal Effectiveness, Industrial Management Placement and Work Experience, there are opportunities for students to consider their personal action planning, and continue skill development in terms of personal profiling. This must surely have an impact on student engagement with learning and attainment.
School learners stated that they liked to be aware of what they were expected to achieve from learning - and listed learning outcomes, criteria and success lists as vitally important. Whilst this is not new in terms of pedagogy in this area, it was interesting that it was identified by a relatively young group of learners and also linked with the importance of feedback.
Providing feedback is always an important issue in higher education and the school learners highlighted that they liked feedback to be both subject specific and wider in scope, leading to suggest that the extent to which the student is achieving the relevant graduate attributes could be incorporated into wider feedback strategies at SRUC. Interestingly, the school learners did not identify learning as being confined to the classroom walls and suggested activities to be carried out at home, online and in the community as methods of helping them learn. Therefore new students in 2015 are likely to have already developed independent learning skills and value learning outside of the classroom. This indicates the importance of effective use of the virtual learning environment (VLE), coursework and industry visits in the teaching and learning approach.
Contact Alison Campbell for further information.
Margaret Colquhoun, Senior Nurse Lecturer, St Columba’s Hospice; Janice Logan, Lecturer in Palliative Care, St Columba’s Hospice; Ailsa Espie, Lecturer, Queen Margaret University.
St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh, is a specialist palliative care unit, which provides high quality palliative and end-of-life care to patients and families. The hospice has always been committed to sharing palliative care knowledge and research through its education programme. As well as in-service education for Hospice staff and volunteers, the hospice runs an extensive programme of outreach education including degree level and postgraduate awards with Queen Margaret University.
St Columba’s Hospice, in partnership with Queen Margaret University, has recently developed a new interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care (60 credits at SCQF level 9) that can be undertaken by registered health and social care professionals working with palliative care patients and families in their own homes, hospitals, care homes or hospices. Palliative and end of life care are based on need not diagnosis1 and so the course has been planned to be relevant to those caring for people with non-malignant as well as malignant disease. The course can be accessed by those with or without a first degree. Modules may be taken in any order and there are two intakes a year.
To promote a high quality student learning experience and support study skills development, a longitudinal induction has been introduced. The induction mirrors the student’s journey through the course and we have used the Enhancement Themes Outcomes to frame this. In 2009 the Enhancement Themes e-Newsletter2 summarized the enhancement themes in terms of the student journey as getting there, being there, staying there and moving on from there. The longitudinal induction for the new palliative care programme therefore has four phases that encompass the course (Figure 1): getting there (admission and initial induction), being there (the first year), staying there (learning, teaching, assessment, staying the course) and moving on from there (life-long learning and career development).
Now that the new theme guide3 has been introduced the course team will consider building into the induction the “settling there” outcome.
The interdisciplinary planning team have used the enhancement themes outcomes in this way, not only because it emphasizes the importance of the student experience at every point in their course of studies, but also because it encourages the teaching team to engage with the work undertaken in each of the enhancement themes.
For more information about the work of St Columba’s Hospice please visit their website.
Margaret Colquhoun, Senior Nurse Lecturer, St Columba’s Hospice; Janice Logan, Lecturer in Palliative Care, St Columba’s Hospice; Ailsa Espie, Lecturer, Queen Margaret University
TiPZone articles focus on how higher education institutions have used or built on the previous Enhancement Themes to enhance the student learning experience. You could feature in the next newsletter by submitting an article! We would welcome contributions from any staff or students so please spread the word.
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