Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy

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1 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy As Approved by the Academic Council on 7 May 2010 and by the Governing Body on 27 May 2010 The strategy is aligned to the Institute s Strategic Plan Your Place - Your Future and incorporates findings from staff and student consultations conducted in November/December 2009 and April 2010.

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3 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy Table of Contents Introduction... 2 GMIT Mission, Vision and Values... 2 GMIT Student and Graduate Profile... 3 GMIT Graduate Qualities and Characteristics... 5 Background, Objectives and Key Strategies... 5 Objective 1 Approaches to Learning and Teaching... 6 Objective 2 Student Engagement... 8 Objective 3 Assessment... 9 Objective 4 Learning Environment Objective 5 Community and Enterprise Engagement Objective 6 Staff Development Objective 7 National and International Collaboration

4 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 INTRODUCTION At GMIT learning and teaching is a core activity of the institute. Through its academic programmes and approach to learning, teaching and assessment, the Institute will ensure that all graduates have a comprehensive understanding of relevant disciplines, professional knowledge and skills appropriate to their awards. The need for a formal strategy for Learning, Teaching and Assessment arises from a number of challenges and opportunities for the institution, which include: 1) The commitment to providing a high quality learning experience for all students. 2) The importance of developing high quality graduates with robust transfer and adaptable skills. 3) The transformation of Irish society, its economy and its cultural and social diversity. 4) The internationalisation of education and the impact of globalisation. The institutes vision for the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy is to maintain and further develop quality and engaging environments for all students and staff. This strategy constitutes for the institute a framework for learning, teaching and assessment. It applies to undergraduate, postgraduate and other programmes which are officially recognised by the Institute. The strategy is aligned to the Institute s Strategic Plan Your Place - Your Future and incorporates findings from staff and student institutional review consultations conducted in November/December 2009 and April The key themes that emerged from the consultations include: The need for an Institute Assessment Strategy Improvements to physical learning environments Student Engagement Direction and support on Teaching and Assessment Methodologies Alignment with NQF, Bologna etc Staff Development i.e. Regular Discipline and LTA Seminars The First Year Experience (FYE) Building Work-Based Learning into the Curriculum Following approval of this strategy an implementation plan will be developed. 2

5 GMIT S MISSION Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy At GMIT we develop life-long learning opportunities through our teaching and research, by supporting regional development and by implementing national higher education policy. The institute will pursue its distinctiveness in Ireland s higher education through a long term strategic approach formulated upon the following vision: GMIT Vision Learning, Teaching and Assessment is and will continue to be core activity of the Institute, bringing students, staff and the region together to share, apply, test and create knowledge. GMIT will be an organisation characterised by its flexibility, creativity, responsiveness and a capacity to adapt. GMIT Values The Institute, in pursuit of its mission, values: Higher Education for the benefits it brings to society and the individual Equity in support of social cohesion. The role of education as a catalyst for change. GMIT STUDENT AND GRADUATE PROFILE GMIT Learner Today The student body has never been more complex in terms of its make-up, and the environment to which they are exposed. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds and diverse experiences. This multiplicity can play a role in how students learn in the classroom and it can have an effect on the classroom environment. Students today have a better range of technology available to them and want to experience a variety of learning methods. Student motivation has changed greatly over the years and now lecturers feel they need to compete with internet sites such as Facebook for the student s time and attention. They feel students don t focus fully on their college work anymore but instead spend a lot of their time updating their personal internet sites or have part time jobs, and few focus fully on their academic responsibilities 3

6 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Figure 1 represents the student learning experience in GMIT. The outer layer represents learner outcomes for each module, the next layer is linked to a range of assessments and the inner layer highlights where the learning and teaching takes place. Figure 1: Understanding students is key to developing an effective curriculum. Being aware of students' learning styles and diverse experiences will help a lecturer plan their class in such a way as to engage training and support, lecturers can creaet an inclusive environment where all students have a chance to flourish. 4

7 GMIT Graduate Qualities & Characteristics: Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy GMIT will be defined by the quality and employability of its graduates. The Institute, through its approach to learning and teaching, will ensure that all our graduates have a comprehensive understanding of relevant disciplines, professional knowledge and skills appropriate to their awards. The qualities and characteristics of GMIT graduates can be defined under the following categories: Academic Life Professional Life Social Life Personal Life Applied Orientation Balance between Theory and Practice International Qualifications Technology Literate Research Skills Experienced different Learning Styles Adaptable and Transferrable Skillset Continued Personal and Professional Development Exposed to Entrepreneurialism Exercise Reflective and Critical Judgement Value Different Cultures and Diversity Community Contributions Broad Experience Self Directed Innovative Leadership Opportunities Promote a Sustainable Environment Value Freedom of Expression Recognise Human Rights Respect International Cultures Gain a Holistic Overview of their Learning Be Independent Capitalise on their Learning BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES, AND KEY STRATEGIES The objectives and key strategies outlined in this section are aligned with the Institute s Strategic Plan Your Place - Your Future and the staff and student institutional review consultation process, which took place in November/December 2009 and April The Institute strategic Goals include: GMIT will be known for the quality of its learning environment characterised by empowered students, high quality teaching and support infrastructure technology. The GMIT strategy includes a Learning Teaching Pillar which aims to facilitate more the active learning experience of the student. The development of this learning, teaching and assessment strategy is the first step in meeting the Institute s strategic goals. Key findings from the academic staff survey reported GMIT s overall teaching strategy is student centred. Although most respondents do not feel overloaded with teaching responsibilities (62%), and the majority believe that class content is well within their expertise, many feel that administrative duties may be keeping them from devoting enough time to teaching (65%). A majority (77%) seek advice from colleagues on teaching methods, and 58% feel that lower standard students make them rethink the way they teach. Sixty per 5

8 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 cent feel that non-traditional teaching and learning methods are vital to their enthusiasm for teaching, and are welcomed by the majority of students (77%). With regards to the student learning experience survey, respondents indicated a positive (3.85 out of 5) relationship with the school/campus teaching teams and 4.23 for relationships with other students. Students also rated their entire educational experience in GMIT as excellent (33%) and 57% as good. Furthermore 50% of students decided to study at GMIT due to the programme and 25% because of GMIT s reputation. Further sample findings are presented under each objective to follow and indicates the development aspect GMIT needs to work on. The seven major objectives that have emerged from the consultation process include: approaches to learning and teaching, student engagement, assessment, learning environment, community and enterprise engagement, staff development, and national and international collaboration. This learning, teaching and assessment strategy is about maintaining the positive aspects of the GMIT student learning experience and addressing some of the developmental issues. Objective 1 Approaches to Learning and Teaching Provide leadership and support for innovative approaches to Learning and Teaching Education is not a service for a customer but and ongoing process of transformation of the participant Key Strategies 1) Scope and setup a Centre of Learning and Teaching a. Promote and develop active and reflective learning techniques in the classroom. b. Recognise, promote and develop modes of learning which enhance professional practice inside and outside the classroom. c. Promote and facilitate experimentation and innovation. d. Develop a framework for Learning, Teaching and Assessment aspects of institutional research. 2) Develop more flexible programme structures and delivery options. 6

9 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy ) Develop the relationship between research and teaching, and create new learning opportunities for students. 4) Facilitate student engagement with their individual learning styles 5) Promote and support the Recognition of Prior Learning. Institutional Research 46% believe that the range of student ability in a lecture makes teaching more difficult. There is a diverse student body with reporting of teaching of mature students (96%), students with learning difficulties (83%), international students (91%), and minority students (65%). The diverse student body is presenting a number of challenges and demands on teaching approaches. Staff ranked educational goals (very important or essential) in the case of: - Developing student ability to think critically (94%) - Preparing Students for employment after 3rd level education (94%) - Supporting students individual personal development (88%) - Helping to master knowledge in a specific academic discipline (87%) - Developing students capacity for team-work (85%) Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey 46% felt that their study/learning approach at GMIT emphasised the following mental activities: memorising facts, ideas, or methods from their courses; and readings so you can repeat them in pretty much the same form Source: GMIT Student Learning Experience Survey 7

10 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Objective 2 Student Engagement Facilitate student engagement in their own learning The notion that you receive (education) passively is just a total falsehood. Education is something you create for yourself. And you no more receive it than you can receive a career, you have to create it for yourself. And the student who prospers will be one who is endlessly inquisitive, endlessly curious... Key Strategies 1) Make students aware of their learning responsibilities 2) Provide engagement for the student voice in assessment, teaching programme planning, quality improvement and institute governance. 3) Devise and implement a student retention and achievement policy for all programmes. 4) Continue to grow the FYE across the institute. 5) Use technology effectively for communicating with students. 6) Develop initiatives to prepare students for employment. 7) Increase opportunities for students to study/work abroad and accredit this work and study. Institutional Research Concerns with student engagement lie in the areas of: - Level of student attendance - Level of engagement of students - Quality of examination performance - Student writing skills - First year s student preparedness for third level 8

11 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy Information literacy - Keeping up with the progression of the course - Plagiarism Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey 62% of students would like the opportunity to undertake a placement, internship or some field experience before they graduate from GMIT and 50% would consider training and practising as a PAL leader. 90% of students agreed it would be useful to receive text messages from GMIT on course information (88%), deadline reminders (85%), key questions from lecturers (75%). Source: GMIT Student Learning Experience Survey Objective 3 Assessment Guide and support assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning How important is assessment In a nutshell, it s the most important thing that happens to you in higher education... If traditional assessment practises and instruments were working perfectly, there would be no need for innovative assessment Key Strategies 1) Develop a comprehensive policy on assessment. 2) Implement the new External Examiner Policy. 3) Ensure assessment strategies exist for all programmes. 4) Explore the benefits of moving to a Grade Point Average (GPA) System. 9

12 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Institutional Research Staff indicated they almost never use open-book examinations, clinical reviews, reflective journals, peer assessments, web page creations, role-playing or model making for assessment purposes. Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey Students feel they have little experience with the following assessment methods: a Real Life Company Assignment (52%); a Reflective Journal (57.5%); an oral examination (46.4%); prepared a log book (64%); undertook a peer assessment (50%); poster presentation (67%); web page creation (71%); role playing (71%); and making models (70%). Source: GMIT Student Learning Experience Survey Objective 4 Learning Environment Create a learning environment to underpin student-centred learning It makes sense to begin the process not by buying technology but by considering what educational goals you would like to achieve. Second, ask what barriers currently prevent that kind of educational excellence. Third, begin lowering those barriers. That s key to making sure that, as technology becomes available, it is used the right way, right away. Key Strategies 1) Adapt current physical learning environments for a broader range of learning modes 2) Appropriately resource and maintain the wider learning infrastructure, which includes inter alia: library facilities, the IT learning centre, teaching venues, labs and computing access. 3) Improve access to learning, support and information resources using new technologies, a. make effective use of technology to support the student experience. b. to promote learning, through formal access initiatives, web-based intitiatives and blended learning. 4) Continue to develop the range and scope of Student Support Services to meet the needs of the diverse student body. 10

13 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy Institutional Research The Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle) is primarily used to make course material available (62%), to provide basic information (52%), or to provide access to other multimedia materials (42%), Moodle is least used for online discussion (13%) or to obtain student feedback (15%) or assess student group work (16%). Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey 63% of students expressed an interest in learning and participating in class through an online web technology interface. Source: GMIT Student Learning Experience Survey Objective 5 Community and Enterprise Engagement Enable students to develop transferable skills and capabilities through wider community and enterprise engagement. Service learning is an academic strategy that seeks to engage students in activities that enhance academic learning, civic responsibility and the skills of citizenship, while also enhancing community capacity through service Work based learning must blend theory and action. Theory makes sense only through practice, and practice makes sense only through reflection as enhanced by theory. Key Strategies 1) Promote student and staff engagement with broad-based community and business organisations. 2) Develop a civic engagement framework to promote student leadership. 3) Develop appropriate management structures for embedding community and enterprise engagement. 4) Further develop undergraduate projects from the wider community. 5) Further develop effective models for industry collaboration. 6) Support staff in undertaking projects valued by the community. 11

14 Code of Academic Policy No. 4 Institutional Research During the past four years, 60% of respondents did voluntary work in the community and 37% reported being active in an appropriate professional body relevant to their teaching programmes. Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey Over 55% students would consider community service or volunteer work. 62% of students would like the opportunity to undertake a placement, internship or some field experience before they graduate from GMIT. Source: GMIT Student Learning Experience Survey Objective 6 Staff Development Ensure that staff are effectively supported in making their contribution to learning and teaching All faculty [staff ] ought to be scholars in this broader sense, deepening their preferred approaches to knowing but constantly pressing, and being pressed by peers, to enlarge their scholarly capacities and encompass other often contrary ways of knowing Key Strategies 1) Provide pathways for staff to pursue professional development a. Linked to their discipline and/or b. Learning, Teaching and Assessment. 2) Provide training and support on new teaching approaches that enhance student engagement in the classroom. 3) Continue to develop an annual staff training programme on interacting with students from diverse backgrounds. 4) Continue to develop annual staff training programmes to support the delivery of the First Year Experience (FYE). 5) Promote increased opportunities for staff teaching exchanges with partner institutions. 12

15 Learning, Teaching & Assessment Strategy Institutional Research The professional activities most engaged by staff in the last two years is attending staff development workshops (87%), using the internet to support teaching (82%), developing a new programme or module (81%). 66% report that they do not hold formal qualifications in teaching and education Source: GMIT/LTAP Survey Objective 7 National and International Collaboration Strengthen National and International Collaboration and Partnerships In successfully advancing our knowledge capacity, there is now a need to re-examine the roles and relationships of higher education institutions across the Irish system Key Strategies 1) Explore the enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment for our staff and students by a. sharing facilities, services and technology with other higher educational institutions, b. leveraging research partnerships, c. exploiting formal arrangements with other HEIs, d. Integrate the international dimension into programme design. 2) Assess the SIF project outcomes with a view to mainstreaming collaboration with NUIG and AIT in learning and teaching. 3) Build alliances with selected further education providers in order to make transfer and progression seamless. 13

16 Administrative Headquarters Dublin Road, Galway, Ireland Tel: Fax: Castlebar Campus Westport Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Tel: Fax: Letterfrack Campus Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Ireland. Tel: Fax: Cluain Mhuire Campus Cluain Mhuire, Monivea Road, Galway, Ireland. Tel: Fax: Mountbellew Campus Agricultural College, Mountbellew, Co. Galway. Tel:

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