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Faculty of Sciences

The following information outlines the process undertaken and the resources developed in the Faculty of Sciences for curriculum renewal in the target program, the Bachelor of Science. The approach is a blueprint for ongoing curriculum renewal in other programs within the Faculty.

  • Overview of the Faculty Project

    Curriculum Renewal Process

    Introduction to Reviewing the Current Bachelor of Science Curriculum

    Course mapping and alignment is the beginning of a broader and comprehensive process of curriculum renewal that involves 4 stages overall.

    Stage 1: Reviewing the current curriculum

    • Step 1 - course coordinators map and analyse each constituent course in the major
    • Step 2 - discipline academics map the major by collating the individual course reviews and collectively analysing the results

    Stage 2: Agreeing on the preferred curriculum

    • discipline academics collectively determine the preferred characteristics of the major (content, weightings of the DSLOs, progression of skills, etc)

    Stage 3: Renewing the curriculum

    • course coordinators reshape the curriculum of their courses (learning outcomes, assessment, and teaching and learning arrangements) to fit the expectations of the major

    Stage 4: Documenting the changes

    • course coordinators complete necessary documentation and submit through the appropriate channels.

    Summary of the Resources

    This set of resources covers Stage 1 - Steps 1 and 2 of a whole curriculum renewal process. The resources include the following documents:

    • Introduction to reviewing curriculum: includes an explanation of the stages of curriculum renewal; a list of the resources; background information on the purpose and process of review mapping and alignment; and a framework diagram for mapping and alignment. (i.e. this page.)
    • Process for reviewing curriculum BSc Stage 1.1: includes an introduction to how to use the process and proformas in Stage 1, Step 1 of course review and lists the tasks (1-5) required to complete the proformas; it contains a set of questions for analysing the resulting information as well as a risk analysis approach if that is required.
    • Proformas for reviewing curriculum BSc Stage 1.1: includes proformas for documenting tasks 1-5 of Stage 1, Step 1 of course review. The Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science have been entered into the tables (a version has also been prepared containing the Chemistry Threshold Learning Outcomes).
    • Process for reviewing curriculum BSc Stage 1.2: includes an introduction to how to use the process and proformas for Stage 1, Step 2, and lists the tasks 6-9 required to complete the mapping of courses in a major in the proformas; it contains a set questions for analysing majors (sets of courses) as well as a risk analysis approach if that is required.
    • Proformas for reviewing curriculum BSc Stage 1.2: includes proformas for documenting tasks 6-9 in Stage 1, Step 2 of a major review. The Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science have been entered into the tables (a version has also been prepared containing the Chemistry Threshold Learning Outcomes).
    • Processes and proformas for mapping contingent courses BSc: This process and related proformas are currently somewhat underdeveloped and not trialled, but are included as they will be useful if contingent courses need to be examined. A larger scale less detailed approach to mapping is taken - enabling a number of courses, potentially all those that may contribute to a major sequence with several electives to be displayed in one spreadsheet. 
    • Summary alignment mapping GA etc to TLOS (staff only): Early in the project the Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science and Chemistry were mapped to The University of Adelaide Graduate Attributes to test the strength of the alignment between them and whether the learning outcome could be used as a proxy for the Graduate Attributes. It is included as it will be a useful resource.
    • TLO Science, guidance statements and GA mapped: These essential reference sheets contain the detailed Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science with the guidance statement for each one.  A thorough understanding of them, along with the mapping to the University's Graduate Attributes, is required to meaningfully complete several tasks.
    • TLO Chemistry guidance statements and GA mapped: as above for Chemistry. At this stage several other discipline specific learning outcomes in science are still being developed natinally.
    • GA and TLOS program mapping shell: includes spreadsheets for mapping whether and where a Threshold Learning Outcome (Science – Sheet 1) or a Graduate Attribute (Sheet 2) is introduced, developed or assessed in courses over a whole program. The spreadsheets also form part of the 'Processes and proformas for mapping contingent courses', but are presented separately as they may be useful for other purposes as well. A worked example (staff only) is also included for reference.
    • PPT major mapping plus: This PowerPoint is under development and contains the results of the trial mapping of Chemistry and Ecology level III major courses as well as a brief overview of the tasks in Stage 1.1. It will be developed further in the next couple of weeks (to include Stage 1.2 and other material) and then included in the Resource Package for use in implementation.

    Background

    This particular mapping process, designed for the Bachelor of Science, is based on the assumption that the major in the final year of a Bachelor of Science degree is the key contributor to assuring that a graduate has met the learning outcomes for the discipline and the level of the qualification. Other courses the student undertakes contribute to or reinforce the learning outcomes overall.

    The mapping of majors in Science uses as its primary high level focus the Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science (TLOS) (PDF) developed by the Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project in 2010/11 and endorsed by the Executive of the Australian Council of Deans of Science. See this website for the latest developments in Discipline Threshold Learning Outcomes

    The Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science provide a succinct description of the nature and extent of science and describe the threshold (or minimum) level of achievement that can be expected of an Australian bachelor level graduate in science.

    In parallel with the TLOS project, outcomes statements were also developed for two specific disciplinary areas – Chemistry and Mathematics. Other specific science discipline statements, based upon the TLOS, are currently being developed by national working groups and may be available to use for curriculum mapping in 2014. See this website for the latest developments.

    To support this curriculum renewal process, both the TLOS and the discipline specific learning outcomes for Chemistry have been pre-mapped and aligned with the University of Adelaide Graduate Attributes[1]. Overall the alignment was found to be sufficient with the exception of the Graduate Attribute 'A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community', which matched indirectly with one of the threshold learning outcomes through a guidance statement.

    The TLOS (and Chemistry) align well with the Australian Qualifications Framework qualification type descriptor for the bachelor degree and the Dublin descriptor for a Tuning (European Union) first cycle qualification. The TLOS and Chemistry statements have also been mapped to the Research Skills Development (RSD) framework and align mainly with RDS level 3 (Scaffolded Research). All these pre-alignments are summarised here.  Other considerations taken into account throughout the process and tables include the range of initiatives in learning and teaching and student experience that arise from the University's current strategic plan The Beacon of Enlightenment and how these are expressed through the design and implementation of curriculum.

    Course Mapping

    Mapping of the majors at course level has two purposes.

    First, it gathers information that can be used in reviewing the major—the contribution a particular course makes to a major, and the characteristics of a major as indicated through its constituent courses. In turn, the major sequence a graduate undertakes is the key contributor to ensuring that they are able to achieve the graduate learning outcomes for the whole program.

    Second, it provides a means of reviewing the intentions of a course in its own right—the appropriateness of the course learning outcomes, assessment and teaching and learning activity, and how these aspects relate to each other and contribute to scaffolding student achievement of overall program outcomes through the major.

    Course mapping may be undertaken for each course in the major or for selected courses and includes mapping the:

    • learning outcomes
    • assessment
    • learning and teaching arrangements.

    Learning outcomes are the University's 'contract' with students with respect to a course. They are the basis for all learning activity in a course and they construct very specific expectations for students about what they will learn. Course learning outcomes should clearly and unambiguously express the focus of the course.

    Course learning outcomes go beyond topics of study (syllabus) to include the various kinds of outcomes identified in the Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science. The learning outcomes of any particular course in a major should be a subset of the TLOS as they are developed for that major.

    Assessment has two major functions. First, it is the means by which student learning is fostered. Student effort is understandably centred on assessment and so the way to promote particular learning, such as using the tools and techniques of science, is to make it the focus of assessment.

    Second, assessment is the means of making judgements about the extent to which students have achieved the course learning outcomes. In order for these judgments to have validity, assessment must be aligned with course learning outcomes. Where the assessment is not directly related to course learning outcomes there are serious issues about the quality of a course, and this ultimately threatens the value and reputation of the award to which it contributes.

    The mapping also gathers information about other aspects related to the major, for example:

    • identifying the types of summative assessment (eg exam, report, oral presentation, poster) will give an indication of the variation of the forms of assessment and their relationship to the achievement of learning outcomes.
    • documenting the type and frequency of assignments will give a sense of how well courses across the major support students in developing skills and knowledge coherently.

    Learning and teaching arrangements are the ways in which students are supported to succeed in the assessment. If the course learning outcomes are broadly based, valid assessment will comprise a corresponding array of activities and processes, and the teaching and learning arrangements will respond to these expectations by providing support that is targeted and timely.

    This support may include a range of direct and indirect methods that are teacher controlled (lectures, seminars, practicals or labwork), student-led (student-managed groups, peer teaching, team assignments, fieldwork group projects), resource-based (text books, journals, websites) or technology assisted (quizzes, simulations, email, blogs, forums, webcasts, podcasts).

    The alignment of course learning outcomes, assessment and teaching and learning arrangements is a critical aspect of course and major design and a key indicator of the quality of an award.

    The diagram below gives an overview of the 'connectedness' of the various aspects of curriculum towards achievement of graduate learning outcomes for the Bachelor of Science at the University of Adelaide.

    Figure 1. Curriculum Renewal for the Bachelor of Science: a framework for mapping and alignment

    1. In the higher education sector generic learning outcomes are generally known as graduate attributes and are defined by each higher education institution. Generic learning outcomes are (required to be) explicitly identified in the qualification and align with the level of the qualification type, the purpose of the qualification and the discipline. See page 47 in the Australian Qualifications Framework for the qualification type specification for the Bachelor Degree.

  • Discipline Context
  • Curriculum Renewal Process
  • Proformas & Templates
  • Worked Examples

    The excel speadsheet below has been developed by Griffith University for mapping purposes. It is an example of how the mapping process can be facilitated and represented visually. The numbers included are to demonstrate the working of the spreadsheet only and have no relationship to any courses at the University of Adelaide.

    Graduate attribute and threshold learning outcome program mapping example (Staff only)

    Summary of alignment of TLOs Sc and TLOs Chem with relevant learning outcomes based frameworks (Staff only)

  • Project-Generated Faculty Resources
  • Relevant Resources & References

    Learning Outcomes and Constructive Alignment

    Anderson, LW, Krathwohl, DR, Airasian, PW, Cruikshank, KA, Mayer, RE, Pintrich, PR, Raths, J & Wittrock, MC 2000, A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: a revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, Pearson, Allyn & Bacon, NY.

    Atherton, JS 2013, SOLO taxonomy, Learning and Teaching, viewed March 2014, <http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning2/solo.htm>.

    Baume, D 2009, Writing and using good learning outcomes, Leeds Metropolitan University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://repository-intralibrary.leedsmet.ac.uk/open_virtual_file_path/i3128n162822t/Writing%20and%20using%20good%20learning%20outcomes.pdf>.

    Biggs, J 2002, Aligning the curriculum to promote good learning, Constructive Alignment in Action: Imaginative Curriculum Symposium, LTSN Generic Centre, 4 November 2002, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://78.158.56.101/archive/palatine/files/1023.pdf>.

    Biggs, J & Tang, C 2007, Teaching for quality learning at university, 3rd edn, Open University Press McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.

    Clark, D 2013, Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html#SOLO>. [Alternative to Bloom: Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO).]

    Heer, R 2011, A model of learning objectives based on a taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: a revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Iowa State University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/RevisedBlooms1.html>.

    Macquarie University 2013, Setting learning outcomes, Macquarie University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://staff.mq.edu.au/teaching/curriculum_assessment/assessment/toolkit/setting_outcomes/>.

    Macquarie University 2014, Writing learning outcomes in units, Macquarie University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://mq.edu.au/iLearn/resources/units_learning_outcomes.htm>.

    Race, P, Brown, S & Smith, B 2005, 'Designing learning outcomes and linking them to assessment', extract from 500 Tips on Assessment, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://phil-race.co.uk/most-popular-downloads/>.

    University of Adelaide 2013a, Guide to writing learning outcomes, University of Adelaide, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.adelaide.edu.au/learning2/teaching/curriculum/outcomes/>.

    University of Adelaide 2013b, University of Adelaide graduate attributes, University of Adelaide, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.adelaide.edu.au/learning2/strategy/gradattributes/>.

    Assessment

    Race, P, Brown, S & Smith, B 2005, 'Designing learning outcomes and linking them to assessment', extract from 500 Tips on Assessment, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://phil-race.co.uk/most-popular-downloads/>.

    University of Technology Sydney, Assessment Futures, University of Technology Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/teaching-and-learning/assessment-futures/overview>.

    Development and assessment of graduate attributes

    Griffith University, Griffith graduate attributes, Griffith University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.griffith.edu.au/learning-teaching/student-success/graduate-attributes>.

    Assessment tasks

    University of Adelaide 2012, Assessment types, University of Adelaide, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.adelaide.edu.au/learning2/teaching/assessment/introduction/assessmentTypes.pdf>.

    University of Sydney 2012, Blooms revised taxonomy with matched sample verbs, learning outcomes and assessment tasks, University of Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/Blooms_taxonomy.pdf>.

    University of Sydney 2013a, Assessment resources, University of Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/default.htm>.

    University of Sydney 2013b, Matching learning and assessment, University of Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/increasing_complexity_matching.htm>. [Sourced from: Integrative Assessment. Blending assignments and assessments for high quality learning. Guide no 3. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2007.]

    University of Sydney 2013c, Types of Assessment, University of Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/increasing_complexity_assessment.htm>. [Sourced from: Brown, G. 2001, Assessment: a guide for lecturers. Assessment series no.3, The Generic Centre LTSN.]

    Assessment and group work

    Crebert, G, Patrick, CJ, Cragnolini, V, Smith, C, Worsfold, K & Webb, F 2011, Teamwork Skills Toolkit, 2nd edn, Griffith University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/290870/Teamwork-skills.pdf>.

    Isaacs, G 2002, Assessing group tasks, University of Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014 <http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/pdf/Link11.pdf>.

    James, R, McInnis, C & Devlin, M 2002, Assessing groupwork, Assessing Learning in Australian Universities, University of Melbourne, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/group.html>.

    Watson, P 2009, The 39 steps. A checklist for assessing team and group work, Macquarie University, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://staff.mq.edu.au/public/download/?id=40252>.

    Graduate Attributes

    Bath, D, Smith, C, Stein, S & Swann, R 2004, 'Beyond mapping and embedding graduate attributes: bringing together quality assurance and action learning to create a validated and living curriculum', Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 313-328.

    Oliver, B 2014, Assuring Graduate Capabilities, Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Sydney, viewed 4 March 2014, <http://boliver.ning.com/>.

    Prosser, M & Barrie, SC 2003, 'Using a student-focused learning perspective to strategically align academic development with institutional quality assurance', in R. Blackwell & P. Blackmore (eds), Towards Strategic Staff Development in Higher Education. Open University Press, Buckingham, pp.191-202.

    Sumsion, J & Goodfellow, J 2004, 'Identifying generic skills through curriculum mapping: a critical evaluation', Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 329-346.

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