The 'Whole Curriculum' including graduate attributes
There is a widespread recognition of the 'whole curriculum' as something that extends beyond formal classroom experiences. In particular, some institutions are placing an increasing emphasis on employability, which requires a changing mindset on the part of staff, students and employers.
Such an emphasis encompasses issues surrounding personal transferable skills or graduate attributes: what they are; how they might be developed in students; what their place is, or should be in the curriculum; how they might be taught and then assessed. For a description of the ways the University of Abertay Dundee has embedded graduate attributes into the curriculum at a subject level and finally the ways in which learning in such skills should be represented.
There is also the vital aspect of 'research-mindedness', something that might be fostered through explicit attention to academic writing in year one and which might be further extended and developed through intensive research projects in later years, and especially the final one. Engaging employers and particularly professional bodies in such a process is challenging but necessary. Another dimension is the way such work might be funded.
That might be through national initiatives, such as those in New Zealand, Australia, England, the USA and Ireland or through national research or 'third- stream' funding sources.
It is therefore possible to envisage a range of initiatives that, while ensuring 'international level' research is further developed in Scotland, would also feed into the higher education curriculum, thereby developing graduates with research skills and research mindedness and the abilities to apply them in a way that will enhance employment and civic life.
Sixth Century Courses at the University of Aberdeen have been launched as a part of the University's Curriculum Reform project. Students on these courses are encouraged to consider different approaches to knowledge and enquiry as they look at issues affecting the world in which we live today. They are designed to help students to develop a deeper, critical understanding of their chosen area of study by setting the subject in a wider context.
They are taught by interdisciplinary teams and are assessed using continuous assessment. In the G21C Case Studies, three of these courses are described: 1 The Natural World; 2 The Mind Machine and 3 Science and the Media. Each one is taught and assessed in different but innovative ways and each one challenges students to 'think outside the box'; and in particular to think beyond their own subject discipline.
The courses have proved equally challenging for staff, but both students and staff have reported high levels of satisfaction and enjoyment with the courses.
The University of St Andrews has introduced 'The St Andrews Award', which recognises and celebrates students' development through extra-curricular and work-related activities. The Award consists of four strands: contributing to university life; giving to others; working for your future; and extending your horizons. It is open to all undergraduate students, commencing in the second semester of their first year of study.
For each strand, students must undertake a range of activities which enable them to give evidence of their achievements and personal development. The Award will appear on the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) of graduates and therefore, the University has to validate the student's experiences, which form the basis for assessment.
The Reflective Reports that form part of the assessment of the Award come under 'Assessment Guidelines' and a selection are second marked. An external examiner ensures the quality and standards of achievement, the standards of student performance and the validity of assessment processes.