This project gathered evidence to be used by decision makers across the sector to optimize future curriculum development in the light of the potential value of the Bachelor of Arts. It provided options and guidance to the sector for other crucial projects and for further work in implementation and response to future demands. An outcome of the BA Scoping Project was a clearer definition for Arts programs.
The summary reports below are designed to inform Deans and decision makers for Bachelor of Arts program development. These reports are supported by datasets below.
Case studies are short-focused reports, describing experiences and current practices in addressing common issues, identified during interviews and round table discussions as significant to the Bachelor of Arts. These observations are from the period the original scoping project was in progress from March 2007 to August 2008. As a result, the practices described in these case studies may vary from current practices or institutional policy.
These case studies are viewed to be dynamic documents. Changes and additional cases can be submitted for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Retention and recruitment strategies
Of major concern to most participants in the project, was the issue of recruiting quality students to participate and to remain within the Arts programs. In order to ensure that this happens, there have been novel strategies put in place at various institutions to recruit and retain students.
- Advanced studies
Interviews and round table meetings frequently referred to declining numbers of honours students in Arts disciplines and attracting and meeting the needs of exceptional students.
Communicating the course structure to students in a way that makes sense to them can be difficult. This is made more problematic by the extensive use of online enrolments where students are wholly responsible for their own enrolment. If they chose incorrectly or misunderstand the course structure they may find that they have not fulfilled the graduation requirements. These issues may be further complicated by the jargon used in the university materials a first year student is especially vulnerable to a lack of understanding of the requirements on them. Teaching staff often have the added responsibility of addressing these kinds of administrative issues.
- Work integrated learning
Arts programs across the sector invariably offer some form of work integrated learning opportunity. The project team found that there were 2 main types of work integrated learning opportunities that are becoming increasingly common: Internships and Service Learning Programs. This case study explores examples of each type.
- Links to community
Links with the community and with feeder schools were frequently referred to in interviews and the round table discussions as opportunities for ensuring that the local communities valued Arts programs and could lead to future recruitment. The following examples illustrate how some institutions have engaged in these strategies.
- Teaching quality
Through the project, a number of strategies were identified at various institutions to ensure that teaching quality is ensured across the programs. Some of these are institutional strategies; some are Faculty or program specific.
There appears to be a general perception amongst students and the larger community that graduates of the BA are not as employable as graduates from professional degrees, as there is no clear career paths associated with an Arts program. One response to this issue has been to add professional elements into Arts programs, such as internships and capstone courses. A further aspect of this issue is getting Arts students to understand the skills they have acquired throughout their BA, so they can learn how to market themselves and those skills.
- Effective use of technology
Through the round table meetings, there was repeated reference to the notion that Arts programs are increasingly making use of information and communication technologies and moving away from traditional “talk and chalk” teaching styles. The following cases illustrate how some institutions are using technology to address specific challenges.
- Trans-cultural curriculum
These examples illustrate how some institutions have developed a curriculum that encourages students to work across cultures in order to develop culturally competent graduates.
- Effective attention to globalisation
While there are a number of student exchange programs available, they are often very individual experiences and may not address the issue of preparing students to live in a global economy. Comments included the perception that few students took advantage of these opportunities because of financial restrictions. The following examples illustrate how some institutions have addressed these issues.
- Curricula structures
Ways in which Arts curricula have been structured or modified.
- Graduate attributes
It is important for students to be aware of the graduate attributes/skills/capabilities that they have developed so that they can sell themselves in the workforce and so that they have an understanding of what they have gained. It is important for students to be aware of how the attributes will be included in the course so that they can see what they are gaining is more than the knowledge needed for their final assessment. In addition, recognising these skills as they learn them is a useful skill in itself. For example in focus group 1 students saw the content of their courses as the only thing they gained from uni i.e. the things they read and had to write in exams. There was no recognition or understanding that they had also acquired skills.
- Interdisciplinary learning
Different institutions manage interdisciplinarity in different ways.
- Different approaches to positioning and marketing of Bachelor of Arts degrees
Three universities located in Brisbane, each competing for the same pool of domestic students, offer examples of significantly different approaches to the issues of defining fields of study and positioning and marketing Bachelor of Arts degrees.