Here are the University's answers to the student submitted questions for the Graduate Atttribute Modules Round Table.
The University adopted a comprehensive communication programme with existing and future students to alert them to potential changes to the curriculum, because of the pandemic. Letters were sent to all existing students in levels 4 and 5 who would be undertaking the Graduate Attributes modules at the end of August/early September 2020. Modules are explained to new level 4 students on arrival. Furthermore, news bulletins were sent out on 10th August 2020 and 14th September 2020.
The University was responding to an evolving situation with the impact of the coronavirus being subject to rapidly changing government guidelines and varying levels of health risk and safety dangers.
The University took several positive steps to alert both current and potential students (as outlined in question 1) of the required changes in the way that courses would be delivered whilst these risks remained. The position of individuals going through the application and enrolment process was particularly complicated as communication methods such as open days needed to be conducted on a virtual basis, however, arrangements were put in place by the University to provide for all students who participated in the Open Days to be alerted to the proposals.
Applicants were told about the introduction of these modules over the Summer period. News bulletins were sent out on 10th August 2020 and 14th September 2020 and video presentations prepared. See also response 1. above.
As noted in the Roundtable event, Covid-19 has transformed the workplace and accelerated the digital revolution and the need to prepare students for such a world. We have a duty of care to equip students for a post Covid world providing them with tangible, practical skills for the workplace and life in general, alongside their subject specialist knowledge. As noted, modules are explained to new students on arrival. The Terms and Conditions for applicants when accepting an offer of a place at the University includes reference to the fact that changes may occur under certain circumstances. Such changes, in response to the pandemic, would not be seen as substantial changes.
See the response to question 2.
As noted in the Roundtable event, student consultation was arranged through the SU and was factored into the development from the start with student representatives from across the University feeding into the creation through the writing groups, trialling the material created and through representation on the Programme Development Board. Modules were signed off by the SU before delivery as part of the approval process. Several open focus groups have also been held during the year and feedback received through disciplines. Feedback continues to feed into the ongoing revisions.
7. Why does the university feel like they know what students want better than students themselves?
Coronavirus has, as noted in an earlier response, transformed the workplace, and accelerated the digital revolution. The University has focussed on responding to the challenges presented by the pandemic in a positive manner, through ensuring these modules cover a range of key graduate competencies. These were chosen following detailed consultation with employers and former students along with the consideration of extensive, regional, and national skills surveys.
Lecturers know very well what students will be able to absorb and find useful (not these modules currently) as they're professionals in their field
Lecturers from across the University volunteered to write these modules during the summer as they felt such modules particularly important for students. The writing teams consisted of over 60 individuals and all Institutes and discipline areas were represented. Academic staff from all Institutes who are teaching these modules have been given the opportunity to feed their thoughts into the developments throughout the year.
The above was covered in the Roundtable event. The Graduate Attributes modules will remain in the curriculum for the reasons cited. CMA guidance states students should be advised of any changes ‘as soon as is reasonably possible’. This was undertaken through the usual channels as emphasised in previous responses.
The importance of independent learning from a skills perspective and changes in light of the ongoing pandemic were highlighted in the Roundtable event. The University believes that the interactive content designed as part of the module is equivalent to a portion of the contact on the course. Due to the different circumstances of students, it was felt that flexibility needed to be built into these modules to allow students to learn in the time that suited them most. This resulted in focused guided learning and reduced specific contact time to allow for this flexibility. For most students, this has been well received.
The expectation is that the split between online asynchronous learning and synchronous tutor-led learning should be 32/16. This will include a tutor- led introduction and assessment preparation.
The modules have been designed so that all activities and tasks should be related back to the student’s subject area. Where this is not apparent for the student, it should be raised with the lecturer who can explain the contextualisation.
The ability to study and learn independently is an important skill to develop and has always been an essential part of the curriculum. Equally important, in light of the pandemic and individuals’ wider commitments and responsibilities, is the fact that online independent learning enables students, for certain modules, to have the opportunity to study when it is convenient for them and at a speed that suites them.
The focus of the modules is deliberately small bite-size topics which enable further research and independent learning. Bite-size sections ensure students do not need to spend a prolonged period focussed on an activity and are flexible enough to allow students to stop and start according to their needs. Lectures will not be included in the modules moving forward for these reasons although several revisions have been made in light of staff and student feedback.
The University believes that successful learning and teaching takes a wide variety for forms, and as outlined in the benchmarking statement for Philosophy, this can include: “online teaching and learning resources (including virtual learning environments), including the employment of message boards and online discussion forums, live or recorded audio-graphic tutorials or lectures, video conferencing, and wikis”.
Both team working and independent working are important skills required by employers and both are possible through an online or blended approach. By ensuring group work was embedded into the modules, the University was trying not to disadvantage students as evidence of effective team working is so critical to the modern workplace. These skills are also an essential part of the benchmarks against which courses are designed.
As noted in an earlier response, these modules were created by academic staff during the summer period following extensive consultation. The modules are not being made up as they go, reflection and revision are naturally important elements of programme design in general.
The purpose of YouTube videos in any module is to provide a quick overview or summary to aid understanding and enable more detailed academic analysis through taking advantage of reading lists etc. Different mediums provide different types of learning opportunities similar to real life scenarios. In the same way that students would not normally be expected to reference in-person lectures in an essay, the ability to demonstrate wider reading and analysis beyond the content presented as part of the module is an essential skill.
It is important that individuals have opportunities to write in a range of genres, concise yet reflective writing is an important skill to master regardless of the discipline. As in many of the activities in the Graduate Attributes modules, it is important to look beyond the task itself, to the transferrable skills it develops, whilst not forgetting their use in a range of work contexts.
All subject benchmark statements within the humanities specify the use of e-learning and its use in assessment and course design, for example the Subject Benchmark Statement for History (QAA 2019) points to the use of “mobile technologies as a teaching tool and guide students in the use of internet sources for the gathering, analysis and dissemination of information as part of their historical studies. A wide range of abilities, such as the critical use of written and non-written internet resources, the capacity to design websites and create multimedia presentations, and the creation and investigation of complex historical databases, may then be cultivated through a well-managed process of progression.”
Humanities students, like all other students, need to be appropriately equipped with the graduate competencies required by employers, particularly in a post Covid competitive world. The graduate competencies expected through the modules are also expected as part of the subject benchmarking of all humanities courses.
This question is unclear – any discussions re limitations in options should be discussed with the discipline. In relation to the Graduate Attributes modules, cluster tutors have autonomy in relation to certain assessments to ensure appropriate contextualisation. Such assessments should be available to all.
This question appears unrelated to the Graduate Attributes modules. There are standard assessment lengths across the University dependent on the percentage weighting of individual assessments.
The purpose behind the origami crane exercise and others was discussed in the Roundtable event. As noted previously, it is often important to focus on the wider purpose of a particular task, not the task itself e.g., problem solving in this instance, a key graduate attribute. This is an important transferable skill, in fact creative writers are expected to “adapt to different demands and tasks and be able to look beyond the immediate task to the wider context, including the social and commercial effects of their work.” In light of feedback however, this particular exercise has not been included in the module concerned moving forward.
As previously noted, the focus in the Graduate Attributes modules is on skills and competencies valued by employers, with contextualization opportunities, including through assessment, also enabled. This is balanced with specialist subject related knowledge enabled through other programme modules.
Approximately 50% of graduate opportunities do not require a subject specific degree, but all graduate opportunities require certain key transferrable skills. These are highlighted as key aspects in all UK Subject Benchmarking Statements. The Graduate Attributes modules focus on the skills they require from graduates at a time when every graduate is likely to have on average at least 12 jobs in their working life.
See above. Such transferrable skills are relevant to a wide range of roles relevant to all disciplines, recognising also that very many jobs are not discipline specific, but skills specific.
The University has taken on board the impact that new and emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, will have on future employment and careers. As a University with the wellbeing of its students at its heart, we believe strongly in developing the resilience of all students, to prepare you to the best of our ability for employment, the key to your future prosperity. The Graduate Attributes modules focus on equipping you with core competencies to aid your ability to thrive in an ever evolving, increasingly digitally enabled workplace, where the flexibility to cope with significant change in career paths will be key.
The Graduate Attribute modules are designed to strengthen and support the key transferable skills of graduates, particularly humanities graduates, these are also emphasised in the relevant subject benchmarking statements. For example, Anthropologists are expected to gain among other skills:
See previous responses.
Yes, it has been discussed and taken into account as we develop next year’s provision.
Attainment and retention data is closely studied in relation to all modules and all institutes. As noted in the Roundtable event, the Graduate Attributes modules will remain in the curriculum for next year, in light of their importance in preparing all students for an uncertain post Covid future. The Humanities may well be particularly impacted in this environment, given the lack of an obvious linear connection to a specific type of employment, job or skill.
UWTSD is all one Institution, and it is important that all students are treated with parity. All should have access to the same learning opportunities.
This question does not appear relevant to the Graduate Attributes modules. All Universities use Postgraduate students to do some teaching, it is an essential development opportunity and it closely monitored and supported.
Any such concerns should be discussed with the Director of your Academic Discipline in the first instance.
All degrees across the University meet the relevant subject benchmarks.
Yes, as they do at present. Contextualization of the Graduate Attributes modules will continue, and staff will have further opportunities for contextualisation within the asynchronous units. These credits will be taken alongside subject specific modules.
Several initiatives are in progress to strengthen opportunities on the Lampeter campus.
Whilst this question is not directly linked to the Graduate Attributes modules, as noted above, investment is focussed on all University campuses.
This question is not relevant to the Graduate Attributes modules.
No, additional individuals are brought into programmes to share their experiences, particularly from an employment perspective, and enrichen students’ experiences.
As noted, several exciting initiatives are in progress to strengthen opportunities in relation to the Lampeter campus.
No, they were put in place for the reasons indicated in the Roundtable event and as indicated above.
The importance of these modules in terms of providing appropriate support and transferrable skills for student in an ever-changing work environment has been highlighted previously both in the Roundtable event and above.
Yes, there are two 20 credit modules at levels 4 and 5 and a 40-credit independent project at level 6. All will remain next year.
The Institution works closely with student support on all campuses and will continue to do so next year. The Director of Student Services is a member of the Programme Development Board and feeds into the development of the modules as do the Learning Support Officers.