Project Details

An 18-month project to explore policy and practice related to graduate outcomes in higher education institutions in New Zealand. A collaboration involving University of Otago, University of Sydney, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Victoria University of Wellington.

Aims: 

The overarching aim of the project was to explore how higher education institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand are engaged with graduate outcomes.

Methodology: 

The methodology of the project included:

  • a review of the tools used to measure organisational use of graduate attributes
  • an examination of current policies and practices related to graduate attributes
  • identification of factors that promote and hinder the development of graduate attributes
  • development of in-depth case studies in four institutions to explore examples of good practice and benefits to learners
  • data collection through surveys and interviews with staff and students.

Team

university of otago

Associate Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith

Contact Project Leader

University of Otago

Associate Professor Simon Barrie

University of Sydney
ara

Margaret Leonards

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT)
ara

Martin Jenkins

Ara Institute of Canterbury
university of otago

Dr Carol Bond

University of Otago
university of otago

Martine Darrou

University of Otago
AUT

Dr Stanley Frielick

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
victoria university

Dr Stephen Marshall

Victoria University of Wellington

Status

Completed

Funding

$130,303.00 (excl GST)

$130,303.00 National Project Fund

Key Findings

Findings on policy and practice

  • The focus on graduate outcomes was patchy across the polytechnic and university sector.
  • In general, polytechnics were more engaged in this agenda than the universities.
  • Institutions with strong engagement with graduate outcomes demonstrated strong senior leadership in the area and the necessary enabling structures.
  • There was better engagement by higher education institutions with the planning, systems and delivery of graduate outcomes, but much weaker engagement with assessment, evaluation and professional development.

Findings on the benefit to staff and students

  • Any engagement with graduate outcomes was beneficial for both students and staff.
  • Students were more aware of what knowledge, skills and values were being fostered, how their courses were structured to achieve a graduate profile and what employment and educational pathways were available.
  • For staff, engagement with a graduate outcomes agenda promoted collegiality and efficiency, and encouraged them to think deeply about their teaching.

Findings on indicators of student engagement

  • Students were aware of a graduate profile for their programme.
  • Students saw strong links between the graduate profile and the learning outcomes and assessment in their courses.
  • Students tracked their progress towards attaining the graduate profile.
  • Students knew a range of employment options resulting from their degree.
  • Students were aware of further educational pathways.

Findings on indicators of lecturer engagement

  • Lecturers had a sound understanding of the graduate profile for their programme.
  • Holding a ‘translation’ or an ‘enabling’ conception (Barrie, 2006) of graduate attributes meant they felt some responsibility to foster attributes in their students.
  • Lecturers had clear links between the graduate profile and the learning outcomes and assessment in their courses.
  • Lecturers assisted students to track their progress towards attaining the graduate profile.
  • They ensured students knew about the employment options resulting from their degree.
  • They ensured students were aware of further educational pathways.

Findings on enablers of graduate outcomes for institutions

  • External drivers were forces to which institutions were required to respond or that they perceived they were responding, or should respond.
  • Structural and procedural enablers were those that facilitated or engaged staff and communities within the institution to become aware of or work towards change in practice.
  • Developmental enablers were those that assisted staff/groups/departments to introduce and develop graduate outcomes and embed them in curricula, or undertake some curriculum development.
  • Achievement enablers were those that were concerned with how students are assisted to achieve a graduate profile.
  • Contextual enablers were those generic institutional and/or individual cultural/affective qualities that crossed the four enablers described above and made them more or less effective.

Key Recommendations

Cultural change | Promote a culture within the institution that values teaching.

Consider external drivers | Take advantage of external drivers where possible, as these are a powerful enabler.

Balance graduate outcomes | Ensure that a careful balance is struck between graduate outcomes desired by external agencies and those desired by the institution.

Renew the curriculum | Consider instigating curriculum renewal with a focus on graduate outcomes.

Renew the curriculum with care | Ensure any curriculum renewal includes strong leadership; the assistance of academic or educational developers; ownership by teaching staff; development of a graduate profile; a focus on learning outcomes and assessment; and allow at least a couple of years for curriculum renewal.

Put enablers in place | Ensure that structural and procedural enablers are in place to assist with a graduate outcomes agenda.

Put developmental enablers in place | Be clear about the institutional role and relation to graduate profiles; provide academic development support; and allow sufficient time for change.

Pay attention to achievement enablers | Assist students to track their attainment of graduate outcome through an ePortfolio framework or the advice and mentoring of students.

Report

How to Engage with a Graduate Outcomes’ Agenda: A Guide for Tertiary Education Institution

A report prepared by Rachel Spronken-Smith, Carol Bond, Angela McLean, Stanley Frielick, Nell Smith, Martin Jenkins and Stephen Marshall. 

(PDF, 3.57 MB, 147-pages).

  • 6 July 2013
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Guidelines

How to Engage with a Graduate Outcomes’ Agenda: A Guide for Tertiary Education Institutions

A guide prepared by Rachel Spronken-Smith, Carol Bond, Angela McLean, Stanley Frielick, Nell Smith, Martin Jenkins and Stephen Marshall.

(PDF, 3 MB, 32-pages).

ISBN: 978-1-927292-54-8.

  • 6 July 2013
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Tool

Toolkit to assist Heads of Department and Programme Directors to engage with graduate outcomes.

A toolkit prepared by Rachel Spronken-Smith, Carol Bond, Angela McLean, Stanley Frielick, Nell Smith, Martin Jenkins and Stephen Marshall. 

(PDF, 734 KB, 13-pages).

  • 6 July 2013
Read more

Tool

Toolkit to assist Lecturers to engage with graduate outcomes.

A toolkit prepared by Rachel Spronken-Smith, Carol Bond, Angela McLean, Stanley Frielick, Nell Smith, Martin Jenkins and Stephen Marshall.

(PDF, 734 KB, 14-pages).

  • 6 July 2013
Read more

Tool

Toolkit to assist Institutions to engage with graduate outcomes.

A toolkit prepared by Rachel Spronken-Smith, Carol Bond, Angela McLean, Stanley Frielick, Nell Smith, Martin Jenkins and Stephen Marshall.

(PDF, 740 KB, 14-pages).

  • 6 July 2013
Read more