Symposium: Curriculum, assessment and academic quality: A whole of university approach

Presenter: Donna Mathewson Mitchell

Co-presenter(s): Rebecca Acheson, Sheeja Samuel, Hayley Farrer

Faculty / Division: Division of Learning and Teaching

School / Unit: 

Session Type: Symposium

Session Number: 8

When: Thursday 17th November 11:15 am

Zoom link: Passcode: 701786


Individual paper titles 

Presentation 1 – Transforming curriculum management to support academic quality, Hayley Farrer  

Presentation 2 – Using curriculum architectures to improve the staff and student experience, Bec Acheson 

Presentation 3 – Enabling assessment to facilitate engaging and adaptive learning opportunities, Donna Mitchell 

Presentation 4 – Celebrating success and encouraging improvement: Growth mindset and quality assurance, Sheeja Samuel 

Academic quality in higher education (HE) does not have a simple definition but rather is multi-faceted and underpinned by a philosophy that values students, educators, and continuous improvement (Mizikaci 2006; Gill et al, 2022;).  At Charles Sturt our focus on academic quality is guided by the requirements of HE regulators (HESF 2021) and directed by institutional policy and procedure. The challenge is to establish a connected, university-wide culture of quality, that is visible to stakeholders and consistently supported and monitored in systems.  Associated risks include the oversimplification of quality and the creation of compliance hurdles that lack meaning and impact. 

This symposium addresses this context and the challenge of defining and evaluating academic quality in meaningful ways that retain an understanding of academic quality as multifaceted. The four papers explore academic quality in relation to the implementation of a new curriculum management system (CDAP), the recently developed Curriculum Architecture Principles, QUASAR and assessment.  In each of the respective presentations the university initiative being focused on is examined in terms of how it addresses, improves, facilitates or evidences academic quality. As the symposium progresses, connections between these areas will be explored to promote a whole of institution approach.   

Presentation 1 will open the symposium with a focus on curriculum and how the implementation of a new curriculum management system (CDAP) has been an opportunity to transform our collective practice. This paper will examine how academic quality has been enabled and supported through consultation and engagement across the university. This has involved moving away from a ‘managed curriculum’ and towards an ‘aspirational curriculum’ through consultation and support.  

Presentation 2 continues the focus on curriculum, turning to the Curriculum Architecture Principles (CAPs).  The development and rationale behind the CAPs is outlined and examined in terms of how they intend to improve the staff and student experience, through course structural guidance and consistency. 

Presentation 3 extends this discussion to focus on assessment. Informed by the literature on effective assessment, the challenges of assessment, innovation and change are explored. The affordances of CDAP are outlined and a two-level design process involving both structure and flexibility is proposed. The ways in which this process can streamline assessment design, facilitate curriculum alignment, assure consistency and enable meaningful adaptation and student engagement are outlined. The focus is on the power of assessment to enhance the quality of learning. 

Presentation 4 moves the discussion to a subject level to examine quality assurance using a growth mindset that celebrates successes and encourages improvements. The ideals of QUASAR are examined, including collegiality; integration with other systems and processes; use of rich data; and holistic use of evidence.