How do I address that in the rubric?': Integrating units and assessment to give course coherence.

Year: 2012

Author: Roberts, Philip, Shann, Steve

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Chair: Dr Simon Leonard

In response to decreasing student satisfaction with a graduate level secondary teacher education course, a teaching team was asked to design a new approach to the course.  Common themes in the negative student feedback include that the course lacked coherence, that is included too much theory, and that is did not seem related to the end goal - the practice of teaching.  Rather than respond to such feedback with the first instinct of hiding behind external requirements and the mantle of expertise, the issues were approached as a pedagogical problem.

The approach adopted was built upon nine provocations designed to enable students to identify, and sometimes challenge, the ideas and assumptions about teaching that they bring with them from their educational and social biography into the course.  These provocations are foregrounded in the course and progressively considered across the 8 mandatory units.  Linking these units are four integrated assessment tasks that require students to progressively explore these provocations while also demonstrating achievement of the individual unit learning outcomes. This approach reduces the overall number of assessment tasks throughout the course encouraging deep thinking and engagement with the complexity of professional practice.

The result has been a dramatic turnaround in course feedback and also an increase in the quality and complexity of student work.  Such an approach has the potential to help develop the critical praxis needed to overcome perennial issues in education and provide a basis of the meta-competencies advocated by Connell (2009) as part of a new professionalism.


Connell, R. (2009) Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism, Critical Studies in Education, 50:3, 213 — 229