Enabling Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Activities Across a Curriculum Design Framework: A Lever for Faculty Engagement

Enabling Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Activities Across a Curriculum Design Framework: A Lever for Faculty Engagement

Deanna Meth (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Holly R. Russell (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Rachel Fitzgerald (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Henk Huijser (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2212-7.ch018

Abstract

This chapter outlines the multiple ways in which Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) activities might be activated and/or realized through the processes of curriculum and learning design of a degree program. Key dual enablers for these activities are an underpinning curriculum framework, bringing a series of defined developmental steps each underpinned by SoTL, and the Curriculum Design Studio construct as a vehicle for collaborative ways of working between staff, including academics and curriculum designers and students. Drawing on evidence from the practices of four curriculum designers, examples are presented across a wide range of disciplinary areas. In many instances, SoTL not only brings an evidence base to the work, but also the potential for research outputs, thus becoming a useful lever for academic staff to engage in ongoing curriculum design discussions and evidence-informed practice. Such activities serve to mitigate against acknowledged challenges faced by academics such as lack of adequate time for such activities and the pressure to produce research outputs.
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Introduction

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a cornerstone of learning development in higher education worldwide because it has a focus on evidence to inform practice. This is a deceptively simple idea, but to abide by its principles in an effective manner is not as simple as it sounds. As the authors will argue in this chapter, evidence-informed practice requires both structured and multifaceted approaches to curriculum design where SoTL is consistently woven through the fabric of design at all stages and ultimately built within implementation and teaching delivery. In this conceptualization of SoTL, the emphasis is on evidence for effective practice, and this comes in different forms:

  • Evidence that informs initial ideas around curriculum design and renewal, including evaluation data from previous iterations or data around specific student cohorts.

  • Evidence that suggested educational approaches have been shown to work in other contexts, thus providing a basis on which to build.

  • Building evidence streams into the design itself, in the form of identified measures of success, which can then be used in an ongoing basis for evaluation.

  • Using collected data/evidence to disseminate success (and points of learning) to the broader academic community.

In this chapter, the aim is to outline a structured process around curriculum design and renewal that has been initiated in the Learning and Teaching Unit at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, and the role of SoTL in that process. This process is based on a framework for curriculum design called the Future-Focused Curriculum Framework (FFCF), which is an iterative model with the intent to enable meaningful change to the design of programs, placing learners at the center of their learning. The chapter is written from the standpoint of four curriculum designers who work collaboratively with academics on program development within a Curriculum Design Studio setting, a space conducive to collaborative development, with disciplinary-focused support.

The chapter proceeds to outline and demonstrate how this framework embraces and exploits the full potential of SoTL in all its different forms across the framework, fulfilling Felten’s (2013) principles of good practice: inquiry focused on student learning, grounded in context, methodologically sound, conducted in partnership with students, and appropriately public (p. 122). Each step of the framework intentionally builds on and/or aims to grow the scholarly evidence base, thus yielding multiple benefits to not only the quality of the program under development, but also academics’ own practice and research profiles, whilst enabling cross-institutional research collaborations with curriculum designers and others. Discussion of how this plays out in practice is enriched through a range of discipline-based examples spanning Science, Education, Design, Law and Urban Development. As part of this work, a discussion around challenges in engaging faculty staff and the role of SoTL as a lever in such engagement is incorporated as an important element before concluding the chapter by presenting a summary of transferable learning points and opportunities identified across the chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curriculum Designer: A curriculum designer works collaboratively with academics and academic support staff to design curriculum through all stages and enable the approval and implementation of curriculum. Depending on national and institutional contexts, “curriculum designer” may have considerable overlaps with the terms “educational developer” and/or “academic developer.”

Future-Focused Curriculum: A curriculum which places a strong emphasis on skills, knowledge and competencies predicted by the labor market and wider research to be those of future individual, societal and industry needs.

Program: As in course of study, or chosen degree, sometimes written as programme (UK spelling).

Curriculum Design Framework: A framework which denotes a series of stages by which to undertake the process of curriculum design.

Students-as-Partners: Describes the increasingly recommended practice of collaborative course development between students and staff. This may occur on a range of scales and for varying durations.

Communities of Practice: Groups of individuals linked by their shared concerns or interests who work together collectively to solve such concerns and further develop knowledge and/or practice in that area.

Faculty: A term denoting an organizational and management structure in the university which brings together Schools/disciplines into a cognate group, for example, the Creative Industries Faculty comprises the Schools of Design, Creative Practice, and Communication. In the North American context, it is used to denote teaching staff working higher education institutions.

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