Implementing the threshold learning outcomes for agriculture at two Australian universities to inform curriculum design and quality assurance
Acuna, TB and Kelder, J and Able, AJ, Implementing the threshold learning outcomes for agriculture at two Australian universities to inform curriculum design and quality assurance, Research and Development in Higher Education: The Shape of Higher Education (Proceedings of the 39th annual conference of the Higher Education research and Development Society of Australasia), 4-7 July 2016, Fremantle, Australia ISBN 978-0-9945546-2-8 (2016) [Conference Extract]
The national Learning and Teaching Academics Standards Statement for Agriculture (AgLTSA) defines the nature and extent of the discipline and provides a set of Threshold Learning Outcomes statements (TLOs) that define what a graduate should know, understand and be able to do on graduation (Authors, 2014). The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture has endorsed the AgLTAS document, which can be used to communicate to potential and current students the minimum standards of their degree, and also to inform curriculum design. While the AgLTAS document provides explanatory notes to assist educators to further understand the intent of the TLOs there are no exemplars on how the AgLTAS can be implemented. We present two case studies of how academics at the University of Tasmania and the University of Adelaide used the AgLTAS to map their respective agriculture curricula. Curriculum mapping, via a curriculum mapping tool (CMT) adapted from the Sciences, was used to evaluate the links between the curriculum and the target learning outcomes, and to identify gaps and areas for improvement. the mapped degrees med graduate level TLOs for agriculture and, in some instances, individual contributing units exceeded them.
In general, external evaluation aligned well with the results from the CMT reports. A survey of academic staff in collaborative workshops suggested a positive reaction to the TLOs. The workshops also had the benefit of providing a forum for academics to engage in peer-to-peer development in curriculum design and identify areas of improvement. The convergence between curriculum mapping and stakeholder feedback has provided a strong basis for making recommendations for revitalising the curriculum of the degrees. The next phase is the development of Good Practice Guides for overarching TLO, which will showcase case studies of assessment and student learning outcomes that embed each TLO in the curriculum.