Tertiary course design 'very poor'

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
CHALLENGING TALK: New Zealand Curriculum Design Institute chief executive Susan Stevenson speaks in Hamilton yesterday.
MARK TAYLOR
CHALLENGING TALK: New Zealand Curriculum Design Institute chief executive Susan Stevenson speaks in Hamilton yesterday.

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A tertiary education expert claims the sector is underperforming by up to 70 per cent in some cases because of poorly designed courses.

New Zealand Curriculum Design Institute chief executive Susan Stevenson made the comments yesterday during a three-day symposium in Hamilton.

Nearly 100 academics from New Zealand and overseas have been in town for the International Higher Education Curriculum Design Symposia at which Ms Stevenson was a keynote speaker.

After an introduction from Mayor Julie Hardaker, she argued that teachers at higher education institutes required training as educators.

"After 33 years of working in higher education in all parts in NZ, the US and UK, the one thing we've become very clear about in curriculum design is that our people in higher education need to actually be educated as educators to work at that level," she said.

"And they need to have education that equips them to design curriculum."

She said that while teachers who work in early childhood education, primary and secondary schools require a degree, it was not so at the tertiary level.

"Why, when we get to the higher education sector where the work is much more complicated, do we suddenly say it's no longer necessary?"

The NZCDI's website says it is a New Zealand Qualifications Authority-registered and approved course owner that designs "innovative higher education qualifications" at all levels from certificate to post graduate.

They partner with institutions to provide "international quality, nationally approved qualifications". They had no political affiliations, nor are they in it for the money, Ms Stevenson said.

Tertiary educators are often "massively" qualified in their area of expertise but their understanding of learning and designing education programmes at that level is "very poor".

While deficiencies vary from programme to programme Ms Stevenson estimates the sector is underperforming by 25 per cent on average.

"We've come to that through looking at what a course is designed to do then evaluating the actual outcomes of that course.

"We will look at everything from students leaving the programme to students failing because often those are the symptoms of a poorly performing programme."

Students could be getting "so much more" out of their education if their courses were "expertly" put together, she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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