How student input influenced the Curriculum Framework

Students across all faculties and at different stages of their degrees provided valuable insight and knowledge into curriculum framework suggestions, helping to shape the final document.

The University’s strategy and vision Taumata Teitei looks to create a distinctive and accessible experience that sets graduates up to make the world a better place tomorrow than it is today. One of the ways this can be achieved is by transforming our curriculum framework.

In July 2021 review of our current curriculum framework began, so that we could identify the ways that it might need to change to better align with this strategy. Staff from all faculties and large-scale research institutes formed various working groups which looked at key areas of focus. These working groups also included students.

It was important that students were engaged with in a meaningful way from the start, and by December 2021, the programme was ready to float their ideas with a wider group. AUSA was able to help the team recruit a wide cohort of interested students who agreed to join a 2-day online workshop to look at what was being developed.

In February 2022, a group of Summer School students (UniBound, Summer Start, Tōia ki Waipapa) were brought together for the second online workshop, which was closely followed by a workshop in March with the original group of students, and another with students and staff with disabilities.

The original student group was last brought together in July this year, to further explore some areas of development on after phase 1 consultation had closed.

Student workshops also covered pathways, flexible study, transitions, learning and teaching delivery, and the Graduate Profile.

Workshops and Phase 1 consultation

Consultation commenced in May and closed early June and was open to all students for feedback. Feedback was sought on eight aspirational taumata, which provided the guiding principles for curriculum framework change, alongside 24 recommendations relating to curriculum structure.

In total, there were 26 student submissions, either as a group or individuals.

Some of the feedback on the taumata included commentary on the absence of a specific sustainability principle and the presumed hierarchy of the taumata.

Feedback on the proposed standardisation of points was largely positive, although some confusion around conjoints was noted. The removal of general education papers and the introduction of breadth in a degree through other means was also well received.

Review panel and student representation

A review committee convened at the end of Phase 1 consultation to look at all feedback. This committee included student representation through the AUSA President and Vice President, as well as a current postgraduate student.

How did this feedback inform the final version of the curriculum framework?

The Curriculum Framework paper released eight draft taumata for consultation that linked back to conversations with our student groups. In their original form, these were:

  1. Demonstrates our commitment to mātauranga Māori, kaupapa Māori pedagogies, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and accountabilities.
  2. Advances our pursuit of excellence in the development, dissemination, and impact of knowledge.
  3. Builds on our world-class research strengths and ambition, expands opportunities and connections in research, and enhances research-led teaching.
  4. Fosters a sense of belonging that recognises the importance of people’s diverse identities, cultures and strengths, academic aspirations, and social and emotional needs.
  5. Creates accessible and equitable opportunities to experience relational learning practices, enhanced by physical presence, place and technology.
  6. Supports programmes that are accessible and navigable, are responsive to individual experience within a collective academic environment and accommodate different needs and life stages.
  7. Provides expanded opportunities to enrich disciplinary depth of knowledge with learning and experiences across academic disciplines and beyond the institution.
  8. Reflects our commitment to the collaborative development, wide sharing and application of knowledge for positive and material impact on our world.

Following further feedback from students and staff during consultation, the taumata were edited so that a final version included the following changes:

  • The taumata are more succinct, and noted gaps (i.e., sustainability, Pacific, excellence) have been foregrounded
  • Sustainability is considered as a lens across all taumata and environmental sustainability is specifically referenced in the “positive and material impact” taumata
  • Greater recognition of excellence
  • Our specific obligation to Pacific Realm countries has been made clearer
  • A greater reflection of the cultural and ethnic diversity and multicultural identify of Aotearoa New Zealand

The revised taumata now more clearly express the context of a successful, world-class, research-intensive university with unique attributes and strengths deriving from its indigenous scholarship, its location in Aotearoa New Zealand and its position in Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

Students and staff also helped influence changes to the original structural recommendations, including:

  • Removal of the 120-point standalone honours was not supported as it is important in some disciplines to retain market share and attract new students to the University.
  • Strengthening the 45-point breadth as a requirement for students (this change is still in progress)
  • Bringing together the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Capstone recommendations into a combined, revised ‘Integrated’ learning recommendation.

What happens next?

The CFT programme team has moved into a second phase of engagement that looks more closely at how some of the recommendations might actually be realised and what changes within programmes and courses might need to occur to make space for the transformation.

Students are still involved and critical in this process, with future engagement sessions in the pipeline, and the ongoing participation of students in various working groups.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Curriculum Framework and how it will affect you as a student!