Brown, N and Phegan, R, Developing breadth through a renewed curriculum , HIgher Education Research and Develpment Society of Australia: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World, 6-9 July 2015, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-1. (2015) [Conference Extract]
In 2014, the University of Tasmania introduced 12 curriculum principles to guide the development and review of courses (University of Tasmania, 2014). One of these, ‘Multi-disciplinary approaches deepen student learning’, has been supported by an institution-wide initiative, Breadth Units. By definition, Breadth Units are required to be inter-disciplinary (with at least two faculties sharing the teaching), problem focused, and offered in the UTAS Blended Model of delivery (Brown, Kregor & Williams, 2013). From 2015, students in the majority of courses will study two of these units during their degree. Supporting this initiative has been dedicated funding for Breadth Unit teaching teams, to resource unit design and the preparation of online components. Teams have also had the services of a dedicated Educational Developer to support the design process. Unsurprisingly, the initiative has been a valuable learning experience for all involved. In essence it became an action learning process that resulted in the formation of a Community of Practice to share, problem solve and document through an online space. At a pragmatic level, the process identified a range of process issues that needed to be worked through in order to operate across faculty boundaries. A spectrum of understandings and practice in unit design and assessment was also uncovered. This was particularly, but not exclusively, the case for those relatively new to the online environment. Designing beyond a single discipline also provided challenges, and teams needed to work through a process of developing their own shared understanding of inter-disciplinarity as applied to their chosen focus. This presentation discusses the Breadth Unit initiative in the context of curriculum reform at UTAS, and outlines the methodology adopted to support implementation and our key learnings with respect to enactment of this initiative.