Arts edge at JCU: reflections on optimising the capstone experience and WIL for liberal arts students

M'Balla-Ndi, Marie, and Forbes, Amy (2017) Arts edge at JCU: reflections on optimising the capstone experience and WIL for liberal arts students. In: [Presented at the 20th Annual New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education (NZACE) Conference]. From: 20th Annual NZACE Conference, 26-28 April 2017, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Background/Context: In the last decade or so, the value of a Liberal Arts education has been undervalued and deemed problematic in discussions of WIL and future student employability. The increased attention, value and funding given to STEM career areas has exacerbated the issue by offering clear professional pathways and attractive remunerative careers. In earlier papers (Kuttainen et al 2010; Craven and Forbes 2012), we discussed the redesign of the Arts curriculum at James Cook University, and in particular, the establishment of core and capstone subjects in the BA. We contextualised these curriculum changes in terms of our address to the transition of BA students into university, and out through WIL and ultimately, preparedness for employability in the various professions.

Aims: In the spirit of the JCU Graduate Attributes, the core mission of JCU’s Arts capstone subject, Arts Edge (BA3000), is to offer students the opportunity to ‘look back and forward’ on their Arts education and training. In other words, the emphasis is on students reflecting on their gained knowledge and its application in the future, as well as the opportunity to develop reflection for specific employment and preparation skills. In this paper, we discuss our attempt to develop innovative pedagogical strategies in Arts Edge to ensure that the subject 1) addresses the needs of a fairly large student cohort with very diverse backgrounds and experiences, and 2) supports multi-campus and multi-mode delivery in Townsville and Cairns, as well as intra-campus engagement, student mobility and internationalisation of the student experience.

Methods: We discuss how the new Arts Edge curriculum, implemented in 2016, drawing heavily on a WIL pedagogical approach, with Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Project Based Learning (PjBL) methodologies – falling under the wider umbrella that WIL represents – has offered a robust opportunity to provide Arts Edge students with an increased degree of relevance and realism for their future endeavours. We present case studies of individual students as well as small groups who have successfully created a cohort identity crucial in locating themselves within their chosen professions.

Results: The redesign of teaching and learning activities as well as assessment tasks in Arts Edge attempt to promote synergies with real work experiences. They offer opportunities to develop greater critical thinking, incite students to think about complex and authentic issues, engage in ethical questions, incorporate cognitive and reflective processes of learning Students engage in tasks that are challenging but achievable, and ultimately, demonstrate and employ that ‘transferability’ -- the ability to carry critical intellectual skills from one challenge or industry to another such that they are comfortable in many fields.

Conclusions: The curriculum redesign has allowed us to address the challenges of highlighting Work Integrated Learning while promoting cohort identity across multiple campuses. We do this through design of a variety of comparable assessment tasks that support self-reflection of Liberal Arts learning and values as well as futures in employment or higher studies. At the same time, we maintain curriculum coherence and compliance with the use of digital learning technologies in a capstone subject.

Item ID: 49920
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Keywords: capstone; work-integrated-learning; research-integrated-learning; liberal arts
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2017 04:50
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130205 Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl Economics, Business and Management) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment @ 50%
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