Developing tailored study plans for the new higher education environment: letting go of control

This final report is from an Office for Learning and Teaching fellowship awarded to Professor Joe Shapter (formerly Flinders University), co-authored with Associate Professor Ingo Koeper (College Science and Engineering) and Dr Don Houston (CILT).

With the higher education sector of the education system at a crossroads, the approaches used for the better part of the last thousand years are no longer working or engaging students. This fellowship explored two approaches to engage students more deeply in their education. The first approach is generally termed ‘interdisciplinary studies’ where students define their own program of study; the second approach focuses on topic structure where students are given a wide range of choice and in effect can build a topic that suits their interests.

The program of work explored the systems of delivering these programs in the United States where the framework of developing an interdisciplinary study plan is student driven and in fact very strict and well developed. Many institutions use these programs as test cases for programs they might introduce into their mainstream offerings in the future.

The second aspect of the program explored the impact of delivering a topic with no lectures, a variety of activity choice and assessment largely through discussion using the first year topic, Modern Chemistry at Flinders University.

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