Jean McNiff Workshop

Here are my reflections on a year of teacher professional development and coaching in 2011.

What is my concern?

My concern remains that we are living in a time of great change, and that students will need to be prepared for the world with a bigger set of skills, knowledge and values, than many of our teachers have acquired in their academic and working lives. I feel many of our teachers are unaware of their key responsibilties for student learning in higher education.

Why am I concerned?

Our graduates are going to become decision makers in our communities at a relatively early age.  As the baby boomers retired and their is a gap in the population, may of our graduates are going to be pushed forward into senior positions and management.  I am conscious of the work of Phil Gardner, who visited us in 2009, and who’s research is in this very area.

I am concerned that our teachers do not have the skills to be able to educate our young people. Althought teachers are well intentioned their own professional development does not necessarily place and emphasis on the future and on student needs.

What kind of data can I gather to show the situation as it it?

We have data available to us from the AUSSE survey and from the various programmes that are undergoing the Tick process. We have a measure as well. Beverley Oliver created a list of graduate attributes for Curtain University in Australia. These attributes serve as a benchmark for the programmes that we work with. In our Staff and Student Surveys, we use these attributes to gather data on what the staff and students think should be studied in the programme.  I am reminded of Gilly Salmond in her address at ASCILITE this year, that the only voice that matters is the student voice.

The attributes are:

  • Apply disciplinary knowledge.
  • Thinking skills.
  • Information skils
  • Communication skills
  • Technology skills
  • Learning how to learn
  • International perspective
  • Cultural understanding
  • Professional skills.

If these attributes are included in a curriculum of study both staff and students will be learning together. Not every teachers is an expert in all areas, but we would expect each teacher to be able to meet a basic threshold in all areas.

What can I do? What will I do?

The staff student survey is an excellent tool to measure what the staff think is espoused and enacted, and what the students think is experienced. The data collected is rich, and enables the programmem development teams to address key issues.  We can use this tool in all our work on curriculum design which involves the programme graduate profile.

We can ensure that each attribute in included in our own curriculum for teacher professional development. We can model good practice, and ensure we include each topic in our own professional portfolio.


How do I continue to gather data and generate evidence to show the situation as it changes?

We can continue to gather data from the AUSSE survey, the Student Destination Survey, and the Success and Retention data. We can also review the graduate profiles of programmes that we work with to see if they cover the essentials of the Curtain graduate profile. We can look for reasons why a particular programme would seek to exclude an area of learning and development.

We can create a matrix in which we measure each graduate profile, and advise on the key areas to address in curriculum development.

How do I ensure that any conclusions I come to are reasonable fair and accurate?

We must ensure that our data is collected from credible sources, that we share our findings and make them available for peer review.

How do I explain the significance of what I am doing?

This work is significant because is ensures students that give both their time and money to higher education are adequately prepared for the future of work. This work will ensure that in a study programme students will have significant and integrated learning experiences which develop all the attributes listed above.

How do I modify my ideas and practices in light of the evaluation?

The work we will do in evaluating graduate profiles will help us to develop resources and support for curriculum development.


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