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Curriculum design to build capacity of industry professionals: a Masterclass in Horticulture


Gracie, A and Acuna, T and Knowles, C and Monckton, D and Close, D and Boersma, M, Curriculum design to build capacity of industry professionals: a Masterclass in Horticulture, Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, 26-28 September 2018, Adelaide, South Australia (2018) [Conference Extract]


The Masterclass in Horticultural Business is a new national program requested by and tailor made for Australian business managers and entrepreneurs in horticulture. The University of Tasmania has developed the Masterclass in collaboration with the internationally recognised higher education providers, Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands) and Lincoln University (New Zealand).

Building human resource capacity and leadership in production horticulture is of fundamental importance to the ongoing success and growth of the $9 billion industry in Australia (Horticulture Innovation Australia, 2015). The horticultural workforce, however, is less engaged with formal training and education compared with the broader agricultural sector. The Masterclass, delivered as a new pre-tertiary qualification (Diploma in Horticultural Business), combines a strong understanding of horticulture production and business practices. While this program aligns with professionally orientated qualifications, elements of the curriculum design are potentially transferrable to other science-based curricula.

First offered in 2017, the program has attracted a range of industry professionals in horticulture from across Australia. The design of the Masterclass for a national cohort of students necessitated online delivery that is highly professional, flexible and relevant to people working in the horticulture industry to foster innovative and creative thinking among students. As a new program, we have implemented an action research approach to evaluate the curriculum and student attainment of learning outcomes based on participant’s reflections in questionnaires (HREC 16252).

Intensive face-to-face workshops and field visits, are provided for students in parallel with Work Integrated Learning (Patrick et al., 2008). Module topics and assignments promote interaction of the participants with their staff (if they are business owners) or employers (if they work for a business owner). In this way, the students are applying learnings to their workplace. The participants engage in an interactive workshop providing support on content, followed by tours of farms and businesses, with talks by keynote speakers. In their final assessment, the participants prepare and present a business plan to their peers, academics and leading industry representatives. Many participants have provided feedback that they intend to put their business plan into action, applying it to their own businesses. For example, participants describe an ‘increased skills set… building confidence in those skills by implementing them back into the workplace’ and applying business strategies to implement change.

In summary, the high degree of industry engagement and endorsement as well as international collaboration in the design of the Masterclass is unique. This approach has the potential to be a "blue-print" for the development and delivery of new pre-degrees. It is already influencing curriculum design at the unit level in our Bachelor’s degrees in Agriculture in terms of flexibility of delivery to meet the expectations of articulating students.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:online delivery, work integrated learning
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum
UTAS Author:Gracie, A (Associate Professor Alistair Gracie)
UTAS Author:Acuna, T (Associate Professor Tina Acuna)
UTAS Author:Knowles, C (Dr Claire Knowles)
UTAS Author:Monckton, D (Dr David Monckton)
UTAS Author:Close, D (Professor Dugald Close)
UTAS Author:Boersma, M (Dr Mark Boersma)
ID Code:132156
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2019-04-24
Last Modified:2019-04-30

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