Enhancing professional development in higher education: A student-focussed model aimed at improving organisational learning

Year: 2005

Author: Dixon, Kathryn, Dixon, Robert, Scott, Shelleyann

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This research proposes a "Partners in Learning" approach to improving the quality of learning and teaching in an Australian University. This partnership is three-way and encompasses the student, the lecturer and the organisation. The main theme of this paper is the exploration of the students' perspectives on what supports their learning and their suggestions for continuing improvements in unit design, materials and assessment practices in higher education. The student-focused model which is the focus of this paper encompasses systematic, in-context professional development, articulation into teaching qualifications; the sourcing of significant funding to facilitate curriculum review; and the integration and assessment of professional skills. Focus group data have been collected and analysed in order to investigate the initial impact of the model from the students' perspective. Two opposing ideological perspectives have emerged - firstly that Universities as highly commercialised enterprises are supposed to be delivering quality learning outcomes, and secondly that Universities are providers of traditional academic education. Time, continuing debate, and exploration of the issues surrounding these two philosophies, are needed before the innate tensions can be eased and an ideologically satisfying compromise can be found.