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The foundation for graduate attributes: developing self-regulation through self assessment

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This paper focuses on how Scottish higher education institutions might design courses and programmes of study in ways that will nurture and develop desirable attributes in their graduates. It argues that the underpinning requirement for all attribute development is the students' ability to evaluate critically the quality and impact of their own work. This is true for attributes developed through the formal curricula and through co-curricula experiences. The evidence for this argument is derived from an analysis of the attribute descriptors of universities in Australia and in the UK.

It is further argued that if courses and programmes are designed so that they foster this critical evaluative experience, then this will result in the simultaneous development of multiple attributes. The paper identifies some high-level assessment and feedback activities that would help foster critical evaluation and shows how any missing attributes can easily be brought into play through refinements of the tasks and activities that students engage in while they learn. The paper also highlights the benefits of this approach in terms of practicality, efficiency, transferability and the disciplinary embedding of attributes. It ends with a brief discussion about how to monitor opportunities for attribute development in courses and programmes.
Authors: 
Professor David Nicol, University of Strathclyde
Publication Date: December 2010

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