Curriculum Enhancement Priorities

The white layer identifies the curriculum enhancement priorities that are recognised across the higher education sector and at JCU, as supported by Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement. These priorities are explained below.

First Year and Capstone Transition Experiences

First Year Experience

“First year students face unique challenges as they make very individual transitions to university study; particularly academically and socially, but also culturally, administratively and environmentally” (Kift, 2015, p. 53).

“First year curriculum has a vital role to play as the intentionally First Year Experience centerpiece, ‘designed to assist student development and to support their engagement with learning environments through the intentional integration and sequencing of knowledge, skills and attitudes’ ” (Kift, 2009, p. 41, cited in Kift, 2015, p. 54).

» See First Year Experience

Capstone Experience

Capstone curriculum is intended to provide students “a culminating educational experience with focus on the consolidation of prior learning, the development of graduate capabilities and the transition to post-graduation settings” (Lee & Loton, 2015, p. iii; Capstone curriculum website).

According to Lee (2015), the key principles of capstone curriculum design are as follows:

  • Integration and extension of prior learning
  • Authentic and contextualised experiences
  • Challenging and complex problems
  • Student independence and agency
  • Emphasis on critical inquiry and creativity
  • Active dissemination and celebration

» See Capstone Experience

English Language and Numeracy Development

As stated in the JCU English Language and Numeracy Policy, JCU recognises that:

  • English language and numeracy proficiency are key employability indicators
  • Legislative requirements mandate a focus on the development of English language and numeracy proficiency
  • English language and numeracy standards on entry are not adequate to ensure students’ English language and numeracy proficiency on graduation
  • The development of English language proficiency is integral to the development of discipline-based knowledges, and that language use varies according to context, audience and purpose. It is primarily through English that students both interact with knowledge and are assessed. Relevant Divisions, therefore share the responsibility for making explicit and developing their students’ English language, specific to their discipline(s), in their courses
  • Numeracy requirements vary across disciplines.

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Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment is “assessment requiring students to use the same competencies, or combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes that they need to apply in…professional life” (Gulikers et al., 2004).

The key characteristics of authentic assessment is that it:

  • Positions students as producers of knowledge rather than reproducers
  • Involves complex, ill-structured challenges that require judgement, multiple steps and a full array of tasks
  • Seamlessly integrated with core learning activities
  • Is performance-based, motivating, challenging, yet achievable, tasks
  • Stimulates a wide range of active responses
  • Requires significant time and effort in collaboration with others, involving social, cognitive and reflective learning processes, and
  • Focuses on assessment for learning and involves self, peer and/or client assessment.

(Herrington & Herrington, 2009)

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Blended Learning

Blended learning involves “learning design that strategically, systematically and effectively integrates a range of face-to-face, online, mobile, distance, open, social and other technology enhanced learning across physical and virtual environments, as informed and driven by student needs and support for desired learning activities and learning outcomes” (JCU Blended Learning Policy, 2014).

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Work Integrated Learning

Work integrated learning in an “umbrella term for a range of approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum” (Patrick et al., 2009, cited in National WIL Strategy, 2015, p. 1).

Examples of Work Integrated Learning:

Career Development, Employability and Entrepreneurship

Career Development is a “lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure and transitions in order to move towards a personally determined and evolving future” (Canadian National Steering Committee for Career Development Guidelines and Standards, 2004, cited in Career Industry Council of Australia, 2011, p. 20).

Employability is “a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy” (Yorke, 2006, p. 8).

Economic entrepreneurship is “the ability to recognise commercial opportunities and the insight, self-esteem, knowledge and skills to act on them” (Jones & English, 2004, p. 416).

Ethical entrepreneurship recognizes that “entrepreneurialism is not just about making money but also being able to identify and resolve complex personal and societal challenges locally and globally” (Fullan & Scott, 2014, p. 3). Fullan and Scott (2014) assert that “for the first time in history the mark of an educated person is that of a doer (a doing‐thinker; a thinker‐doer)” (p. 3).

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