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Principle of teaching Essay

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Maintaining an environment for first-class higher education Nine educational principles underpin the University of Melbourne’s teaching and learning objectives. These principles represent the shared view within the University of the processes and conditions that contribute to first-class higher education.

The nine principles were first adopted by the University’s Academic Board in 2002. This renewed edition of the document reflects the bold changes the University has undergone since then with the implementation of the Melbourne Model.

Many elements of the nine principles are embedded in the philosophy of the Melbourne Model. The provision of a cohort experience, the breadth component, research-led teaching, attention to the physical and intellectual learning environment, knowledge transfer opportunities: these features of the Melbourne Model incorporate the nine principles on a structural level, reinforcing their importance and the University’s commitment to them. Aspects of the principles guiding knowledge transfer with regard to teaching and learning are the most significant additions and while they are embedded throughout the document, they are particularly concentrated in principles two and seven.

In principle two the interrelations between research, knowledge transfer and teaching and learning are described while in principle seven the practical elements of embedding knowledge transfer in teaching and learning are discussed.

Nine guiding principles
1. An atmosphere of intellectual excitement
2. An intensive research and knowledge transfer culture permeating all teaching and learning activities 3. A vibrant and embracing social context
4. An international and culturally diverse learning environment 5. Explicit concern and support for individual development
6. Clear academic expectations and standards
7 Learning cycles of experimentation, feedback and assessment .
8. Premium quality learning spaces, resources and technologies 9. An adaptive curriculum

The nine guiding principles are interrelated and interdependent. Some relate to the broad intellectual environment of the University while others describe specific components of the teaching and learning process. Together, these principles reflect the balance of evidence in the research literature on the conditions under which student learning thrives. Each principle has a direct bearing on the quality of students’ intellectual development and their overall experience of university life and beyond as they embark on a process of lifelong learning, regardless of whether they come to the University as undergraduate, postgraduate coursework or postgraduate research students.

Generic statements of beliefs, values and practices cannot completely capture the diversity and variation present in a large and complex University. However, the underlying principles presented in this document hold true despite variations across the disciplines in traditions of scholarship and in philosophies and approaches towards teaching and learning.

Indeed, the nine principles described here support the process of interdisciplinary learning encouraged by the Melbourne Model: they provide a framework under which teachers from different backgrounds and disciplines can work together to plan, develop and provide coherent interdisciplinary learning experiences for students.

The ultimate objective of the University of Melbourne’s teaching and learning programs is to prepare graduates with distinctive attributes — described in the next section — that enable them to contribute to our ever-changing global context in a meaningful and positive way. The purpose of the present document is to guide the maintenance and enhancement of teaching and learning standards that serve this end. It is a statement of what the University community values. As such, it has aspirational qualities and the suggestions for good practice offered provide laudable benchmarks to which the University is committed within the availability of resources.

The maintenance of the University of Melbourne’s teaching and learning environment is the responsibility of the whole institution. This document identifies various University, Faculty and individual responsibilities, though not all of the detailed implications apply equally to all members of the University community. The Academic Board is responsible to the University Council for the development of academic policy and the supervision of all academic activities of the University of Melbourne, including the preservation of high standards in teaching and research. It has core quality assurance functions, including the approval of selection criteria, the monitoring of student progress, the approval of new and changed courses, and the monitoring of the quality of teaching and learning.

The Provost is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the conduct, coordination, and quality of the University’s academic programs and the planning of their future development. The Provost provides academic leadership, working in close collaboration with the Academic Board, deans and professional staff to ensure the alignment of accountability, budgets and initiatives in the delivery of academic programs and consistent, high quality student support.

The Academic Board and Provost together ensure that the University: • recognises and rewards excellence in teaching through its policies in staff recruitment, selection and promotion criteria;
• provides extensive opportunities for professional development in teaching and learning; • supports and promotes research-led teaching;
• develops and maintains high quality teaching and learning spaces and resources; • places high importance on the place of knowledge transfer activities in making its degrees relevant and distinctive and supports its staff and students in pursuing such activities; • encourages and supports innovative approaches to teaching and learning, including through the application of advancements in information and communications technology; and • provides mechanisms for on-going curriculum review involving all stakeholders (students, community, industry, professional associations, and academics) of the content, structure and delivery of courses and the learning experiences of students.

The University is committed to the scholarship of teaching in the belief that academic staff in a research-led environment should apply scholarly principles to teaching and to the leadership of student learning. In practice, the scholarship of teaching involves academic staff being familiar with and drawing on research into the relationship between teaching and student learning. It also involves evaluating and reflecting on the effects on student learning of curriculum design, knowledge transfer activities, teaching styles and approaches to assessment. The present document is designed to support consideration of the University’s obligations in terms of the scholarship of teaching and to assist in the review and enhancement of the quality of personal teaching practices.

Students have responsibilities as well for the quality of teaching and learning. The effectiveness of a higher education environment cannot be expressed simply in terms of the challenge, facilitation, support and resources provided by teaching staff and the University as an institution. Students have complementary responsibilities. Students have responsibilities for their personal progress through their level of engagement, commitment and time devoted to study. Students also have obligations to contribute to the creation and maintenance of an effective overall teaching and learning environment. These obligations include: • collaborating with other students in learning;

• contributing to the University community and participating in life beyond the classroom; • developing a capacity for tolerating complexity and, where appropriate, ambiguity; • respecting the viewpoints of others;

• being reflective, creative, open-minded and receptive to new ideas; • actively participating in discussion and debate;
• seeking support and guidance from staff when necessary;
• accepting the responsibility to move towards intellectual independence; • being familiar with the Graduate Attributes and consciously striving to acquire them; • respecting and complying with the conventions of academic scholarship, especially with regard to the authorship of ideas; and

• providing considered feedback to the University and its staff on the quality of teaching and University services.

The Attributes of University of
Melbourne Graduates
The University of Melbourne Graduate Attributes are more than simply an aspirational vision of what the University hopes students might become during their candidature. They can be used practically to guide the planning and development of teaching, knowledge transfer and research to ensure the University’s students acquire the experience, skills and knowledge necessary for graduates in today’s complex global environment.

Graduate Attributes
The Melbourne Experience enables graduates to become:
Academically excellent
Graduates will be expected to:
• have a strong sense of intellectual integrity and the ethics of scholarship • have in-depth knowledge of their specialist discipline(s) • reach a high level of achievement in writing, generic research activities, problem-solving and communication • be critical and creative thinkers, with an aptitude for continued self-directed learning • be adept at learning in a range of ways, including through information and communication technologies

Knowledgeable across disciplines
Graduates will be expected to:
• examine critically, synthesise and evaluate knowledge across a broad range of disciplines • expand their analytical and cognitive skills through learning experiences in diverse subjects • have the capacity to participate fully in collaborative learning and to confront unfamiliar problems • have a set of flexible and transferable skills for different types of employment

Leaders in communities
Graduates will be expected to:
• initiate and implement constructive change in their communities, including professions and workplaces • have excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills, including an awareness of personal strengths and limitations

• mentor future generations of learners
• engage in meaningful public discourse, with a profound awareness of community needs

Attuned to cultural diversity
Graduates will be expected to:
• value different cultures
• be well-informed citizens able to contribute to their communities wherever they choose to live and work • have an understanding of the social and cultural diversity in our community • respect indigenous knowledge, cultures and values

Active global citizens
Graduates will be expected to:
• accept social and civic responsibilities
• be advocates for improving the sustainability of the environment • have a broad global understanding, with a high regard for human rights, equity and ethics

Principle 1: An atmosphere of intellectual excitement The excitement of ideas is the catalyst for learning Intellectual excitement is probably the most powerful motivating force for students and teachers alike. Effective university teachers are passionate about ideas. They stimulate the curiosity of their students, channel it within structured frameworks, and reveal their own intellectual interests. While students have strong vocational reasons for enrolling in courses of study, unless they are genuinely interested in what they are studying their chances of success are low. Pascarella and Terenzini’s (1998) meta-analysis of research on the effects of university education concluded that the evidence unequivocally indicates that greater learning and cognitive development occur when students are closely engaged and involved with the subjects they are studying.

The research evidence shows that most undergraduates commence university with a strong interest and curiosity in the field they have selected, providing a strong foundation on which to build. A Centre for the Study of Higher Education study of applicants for university places (James, Baldwin & McInnis, 1999) showed that intrinsic interest in the area of knowledge was among the most important influences on their choice of a university course. University of Melbourne graduates confirm these sentiments. When asked for their views of their educational experience at the University some time after graduation, graduates consistently stress the influence of staff who were excited about ideas, and the importance to them of studying in an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and discovery.

Part of fostering an atmosphere of intellectual excitement in students includes providing them with stimulating experiences that enable them to realise the value and knowledge of their skills in external settings. Some of these experiences will involve activities in the classroom – such as problem and project-based approaches and involvement of community and industry participants in class activities – but many will take students beyond the University’s campuses, to include such activities as field and industry placements or internships, on-location subject delivery and student exchange programs.

As well as providing students with a vibrant intellectual experience, embedded knowledge transfer activities allow students to understand and analyse the social, cultural and economic contexts in which their own knowledge acquisition is situated as well as help them realise their capacity, responsibility and opportunity for current and future knowledge transfer.

Implications for practice
• Subjects are planned and presented in terms of ideas, theories and concepts. • Conflicting theories and approaches are incorporated into courses to stimulate discussion and debate. • Courses are designed to foster an understanding of the legal, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts for practice in national and international settings, and of codes of conduct and the ethics of practice.

• Knowledge is presented in terms of broader contexts — intellectual, social, political, historical — to help students understand the significance of what they are studying. • Students’ personal engagement is fostered by teaching which encourages them to relate their learning to their own experiences.

• Staff convey enthusiasm for the subject matter and work to provoke students’ curiosity. • Courses and subjects are revised regularly to incorporate new theories and approaches. • Staff model the excitement of intellectual exploration when working with students. • Students are given opportunities to make discoveries for themselves and creativity is rewarded. • Innovative approaches to teaching and learning are incorporated into existing courses so that necessary, ‘base-line’ learning is revitalised.

• The University provides resources and activities to allow students to develop their interests beyond the experiences provided within their courses.

Principle 2: An intensive research and knowledge transfer culture permeating all teaching and learning activities
A climate of inquiry and respect for knowledge and the processes of knowledge creation and transfer shapes the essential character of the education offered by a research-led University It is a basic conviction within the University of Melbourne that the University’s research activities and research culture must infuse, inform and enhance all aspects of
undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning. Across all disciplines and across all study levels, education in a research-led university develops its distinctive character from an understanding of and respect for existing knowledge and the traditions of scholarship in particular fields, recognition of the provisional nature of this knowledge, and familiarity with the processes involved in the ongoing creation of new knowledge.

Historically, research and teaching have always been considered in symbiotic relationship at the University of Melbourne; however, the Melbourne Model introduced a crucial third strand to this relationship: knowledge transfer.

In the context of teaching and learning, knowledge transfer experiences “underpin the development of high levels of skill and flexibility in problem-solving, in creative contributions in the workplace, in understanding, assessing and initiating innovative contributions to community needs and in promoting and developing egalitarian ideals and social, civic, ethical and environmental responsibility” (Curriculum Commission 2006: 35). Research thus lays the foundations for knowledge transfer, but knowledge transfer, in turn, elucidates the significance of research by placing the knowledge it produces in context.

The process of knowledge transfer is also inherently two-way: as students engage in activities such as substantial field-based projects or placements and internships, so too they engage with industry, the professions and the broader community, taking their knowledge – which has its origins in research – and experiences to the world. Not all students are directly involved in research activity, but the University has a strong commitment to the teaching-research nexus, and aims for all undergraduate and postgraduate students to benefit from being taught or supervised by active researchers, from studying a curriculum informed by the latest research developments, and from learning in a research-led environment.

Training in research skills is fundamental to students acquiring the skills of critical thinking. As Baldwin (2005) has shown, there are myriad opportunities and methods for teachers to incorporate research in teaching, a process fundamental to students ’learning how to learn’; that is, how to
effectively process and apply both their present understandings and giving them a framework and skills for using the knowledge they will acquire in future. It is essential, therefore, that teaching staff are learners too and that their teaching is infused by their learning and their love of research and scholarship.

The particular benefits for undergraduate students of an intensive research culture derive from experiencing the ‘latest story’ — curricula underpinned not only by the corpus of human knowledge in the particular field but also by the latest research and scholarship — and from learning in an educational climate in which knowledge claims are viewed as fallible, ideas are questioned and inquiry-based learning is given a high priority. Knowledge transfer adds yet another dimension, giving students the opportunity to see knowledge at work in social, economic and cultural context.

Interdisciplinary learning and teaching can also provide students with unique perspectives and solid understandings of how knowledge is created and used. However, while interdisciplinarity should be embraced — underpinned by the maintenance of established quality assurance and evaluation processes — a strong disciplinary focus should, nonetheless, be preserved (Davies and Devlin 2007).

A climate of respect for ideas and spirited inquiry in which theories and ideas are actively contested supports the development of critical thinkers and heightens student sensitivity to the history of the evolution of knowledge, the provisional nature of knowledge and the processes of knowledge renewal. Knowledge transfer adds a significant new dimension to curriculum design and delivery, encouraging innovation and dynamism in approaches to teaching. It is essential, however, that the overriding principles of coherence and appropriateness – within both a subject and the broader course of study itself – are maintained; that is, that knowledge transfer activities are embedded, relevant and targeted to the overarching goals of the degree.

Ultimately, exposure to the interdependence of research, learning and teaching and knowledge transfer provides students with the opportunity to acquire the graduate attributes (see page 4), and to use them in practice.

Implications for practice
• Teachers model intellectual engagement in the discipline, including an approach of analytical scepticism in the evaluation of all research.
• Current research and consultancy experiences are directly incorporated into teaching content and approaches. • Teachers demonstrate that they value lifelong learning, and foster in students an awareness that it will be essential in their professional and personal lives.

• Students are trained in the research skills of particular disciplines, but that they are also aware of the possibilities for and challenges in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research; • Students are made aware of the traditions of scholarship in particular fields, the history of knowledge development, and the body of existing knowledge.

• Teachers keep abreast of current developments in their own and related disciplines and incorporate this knowledge into their teaching.
• Evidence-based or scholarship-informed practice is emphasized, and students gain experience in critically evaluating and contributing to the evidence base, or in critically assessing and contributing to the scholarly discourse on practice.

• Research students are exposed to current research through involvement in staff seminars and conferences. • Students are made aware of the questioning of paradigms that is central to the development of knowledge. • Staff demonstrate a commitment to professional values and ethical practice in the conduct of research. • Students conducting research are made to feel part of the community of researchers while they are being trained in its procedures and values.

• Staff adopt a scholarly, evidence-based approach to the decisions made about curriculum design, teaching approaches and assessment methods.
• As appropriate, staff conduct research into the effects of teaching on
student learning. • Staff demonstrate a willingness to revise their own views and admit error, and encourage this attitude in students.

• Students are enabled to see the relevance of research to current practice through exposure to experienced practitioners, e-enabled case experiences, field trips and other in situ learning experiences.

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