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Developing a Bachelor of Arts capstone subject for WIL And it’s not an internship! Dr Amy Forbes 2012 NZACE Conference
The Bachelor of Arts degree • The Bachelor of Arts degree - once the foundation stone of university education - decreasing popularity resulting from contemporary profession-focused, employmentcentered tertiary education landscape • University of Technology (QUT) shut down entire BA program in 2007 citing ”heavy financial losses in traditional arts courses, lower enrolments, high attrition rates, poor performance, and low entry cut -offs. ” (Kuttainen, et al. 2010)
Sally Kift’s Six principles for first year curriculum design • • transition diversity purposeful curriculum design engagement, assessment evaluation monitoring
Context and History • JCU’s Bachelor of Arts degree flagged in 2009 as requiring “deep attention. ” • Development of two first year core subjects that: - aid with transition - retention - skill building - developing cohort-identity in the BA
Context and History • Two first year subjects developed and delivered for the first time in 2010 BA 1001 - Time, Truth, and the Human Condition - investigates ideas of 'truth' and 'ways of knowing' as they have developed over time - provide an overview history of attempts to understand the world - show this history has led to present circumstances; and to develop the skills required to continue this story
Context and History • Two first year subjects developed and delivered for the first time in 2010 BA 1002 – Our Space: Networks, Narrative and the Making of Place - focuses on the related notions of "place, " "networks, " "narratives, " and "identities” - explores different ways that academic disciplines approach shared concerns and address shared questions - introduces students to a range of methodological approaches and academic disciplines that are central to the Faculty
= SUCCESS! • • critical thinking communication (written and oral) independent thought social awareness problem solving teamwork (cohort identity) creativity innovation
Where to next? • Develop a capstone subject for the BA ready by SP 2 201 • Capstone as means for final year students to transition from university into the workforce • Common in business subjects but not in fields such as Law and the various BA discipline • Recent emphasis on ‘final year experience’ and the student life-cycle • Low perception of students’ skills as shown in employer surveys
Team members - AProf Kay Martinez, School ADTL - Dr Allison Crave, BA 3000 team leader - Dr Richard Lansdown and Dr Nigel Chang, BA 1001 leaders - Dr Victoria Kuttainen and Dr Anita Lundberg (Singapore), BA 1002 leaders - AProf Deborah Graham, Psychology - Dr Amy Forbes and Dr Greg Manning, Humanities - Dr Marie Caltabiano, Cairns campus - Sharon Moore, Indigenous Studies - Helen Hooper and Jodie Derrick, Library and Admin support
Four major types of capstones Magnet – put together learning within a major or program Mandate – required by an outside body Mountaintop – across disciplinary specialisations to engage in multi- or inter- disciplinary enquiry Mirror – students reflecting on their learning and experiences against program goals and outcomes
Challenges specific to this capstone • the need for enhancement of the currently stagnant outlook for graduate transition and employability; • embrace of a recently acquired student cohort in JCU Singapore; • and address to the university's strategic intent in re-branding its historical tropical profile, and its expanding perspectives in the Asia Pacific region.
Q & A: Design Challenges (Questions and Arguments) Core subject learning outcome: • Integrate BA as more than the disciplines — ethos, spirit? • Cross-cultural — how now? Space? Time? • Interdisciplinary — how? What is that? Multidisciplinary? • Industry — what sort of confidence? • Workplace or/and research — possibilities • Collaboration — how now, after BA 1 XXX?
Q & A: (Questions and Arguments) • The BA ethos, the Arts spirit— is this getting clearer under the capstone? • Two key flexibilities, time and space, history and culture — have they grown stronger or perhaps become atrophied in disciplinary study? • Two majors; a major and a ‘minor’ — how related? How superseded?
Q & A: (Questions and Arguments) • BA 1 XXX: ‘I want to get started on my disciplines; why are you stopping me? ’ • BA 3000: ‘I want to keep going with my disciplines; why are you taking me away? ’ • How can we allow students to be independent of their disciplines — the final goal of flexibility? ; as synthesis and a bridge Cardinal Newman: ‘I only say that knowledge, in proportion as it tends more and more to be particular, ceases to be knowledge. ’
BA 3000 Draft – Lessons from FY cores • • Staff input/teaching — obviously Clear expectations — essential Assessment requirements — certainly Good organization — vital Team experience — surely Analytical/problem-solving skills — less so? Written communication — of what kinds now? • Confidence with the unfamiliar — emphatically
BA 3000 Draft • ‘Networked’, outward-facing, writing and research: the CV, the report, the discussion paper • Continuing academic life: lifelong learning • Look back to BA 1: fill them out — one’s time in the BA, one’s future place in the network
Current draft This subject is the core capstone subject of the BA course. It prompts students to reflect on the outcomes of their degree studies, to tabulate their skill base, and to apply their learning to a group project, The Edge. The project will be based on a theme derived from the unique situation of Arts in Far North Queensland Singapore, taking into account local and global priorities, Indigenous perspectives and ethical frameworks derived from the various disciplinary interests represented by the students, and themes of seminars. Students will synthesise and integrate their learning across the BA, examine the place of Liberal Arts education in contemporary national and global contexts, and look to their individual futures as employees, thinkers, leaders and citizens.
A range of individual and collaborative activities will allow students to demonstrate their initiative, resourcefulness, imagination, scepticism, intellectual gregariousness and diligence, within a condition of reflection on Arts learning and its potential applications to future workplaces, areas of research, roles of leadership and citizenship. There may also be opportunities for international exchange, including between Australian and Singapore campuses, and possibly other destinations. In this culminating subject of the BA, you will be given licence and encouragement to ‘cap off’ your studies at JCU in ways that are meaningful and interesting to you as BA graduands, and which benefit you, your peers, and your community, while working within the JCU community and beyond it. You will seize outlets to demonstrate very high levels of understanding and communication that will advance you into your future.
More work and challenges… • A generous teaching resource including: literature on capstone theory and practice; discipline capstones; first-year core materials; vocational resources, etc. • A latest version of the subject outline and graduate attributes • An annotated bibliography of 131 items by discipline for tropical curriculum • Initial designs and content for Lib. Guides with links for: Tropical Boundaries; Tropics as Other; Sustainability; Cultures of the Tropics) • A list of nearly 40 alumni to approach for participation in seminars and projects
BA 3000 Arts Edge represents not only an expansive exercise in applied and self-directed learning for students but also a unique enterprise in trans-disciplinary staff interaction (involving lecturers and graduate students from Humanities, Languages, Social Sciences and Psychology) as well as engaging alumni, community and industry. While capstone pedagogy has advanced significantly in recent years, including various national and international applications in Arts curriculum and WIL initiatives, the project to devise and teach Arts Edge has posed some formidable challenges, and also exposed potential new interfaces for transitioning Arts graduands.