Transformation through education

Editorial — By on May 29, 2017 11:45 am

The University is committed to delivering high impact learning experiences that prepare students to face the challenges of working and contributing to an uncertain world, in which they are likely to change careers more than five times.

In 2016, as an expression of this commitment, the University renewed what is known as its graduate profile, which defines aspirations for all Auckland graduates and the developmental opportunities that every student will have access to while completing a University of Auckland degree. From 2017 our academic community is working to embed this framework to ensure that all students are aware of and have access to the significant personal development opportunities available to them.

The overarching aspiration shared by our academic community is that a University of Auckland degree will transform graduates into independent and critical thinkers able to apply their disciplinary expertise in all spheres of their lives. Our vision is that University of Auckland alumni exhibit a number of trademark qualities that set them apart from other graduates in the marketplace. These include the ability to develop unique and sustainable solutions to real world problems, and to lead and influence others with integrity and fluency across global cultures and perspectives.

The new graduate profile is central to the University’s long-term academic plan. It provides academic staff and student support services with a shared framework for designing and delivering high impact educational experiences to our students. For instance, it provides the frame for a major reconceptualisation of the structure and content of our Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees – two of our largest degrees that provide the foundations of a liberal education. We are in the process of implementing significant changes to the structure of these degrees, and programmes within them, to embed clearly-defined, highly marketable skill sets that provide enhanced career and postgraduate study outcomes for students.

Our profile also frames the development of new types of active and learning experiences (internships and work placements, for example) that are being embedded in programmes and courses, as part of the University’s student employability strategy. These opportunities are increasingly being made available to students within their programmes of study and are designed to support them to develop forms of knowledge that are acquired in context and thus increase their professional as well as academic capabilities. The emphasis of these experiences is on problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration.

In addition to renewing its graduate profile, the University has harnessed new learning technologies and pedagogies to support student learning. In 2016 it invested heavily in a state-of-the-art learning management system (Canvas) and technology suite. Our teachers and students now have access to a wide range of new and exciting technology (including lecture recording tools) to support learning within lecture contexts and extend opportunities for engagement beyond the classroom.

We are using our increased capacity for blended and online teaching to increase educational opportunities for distinct constituencies of learners, including off-campus learners. The University has expanded its Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offerings to provide global access to University of Auckland staff in popular curriculum areas (e.g. introductory data analysis, academic integrity, and logical and critical thinking). The development of a MOOC based on our Logical and Critical Thinking course has led to the enhancement of our face-to-face course as well as the development of an online for-credit version for University of Auckland students. This option provides flexible access for students.

Finally, the University is exploring the introduction of micro-credentials – a type of alternative credential that provides students and alumni with opportunities to develop knowledge in niche areas relevant to their professional goals. These credentials are typically modular and delivered in short time frames in a range of flexible formats – online, blended and face-to-face.

These significant developments in the University’s teaching and learning, combined with our ranking as the most innovative university in Australasia(excelling in knowledge discovery and application) will ensure that our graduates have the best chance possible of enjoying fulfilling careers in which they make significant contributions to the quality of material and cultural life of all New Zealanders.

Professor John Morrow
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

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