Learning and Teaching

Our students

Providing an engaging and personalised learner’s journey

Our studentsWe want to provide the best experience for our students and ensure our competitive strength. To achieve this, Murdoch is committed to providing an even richer campus life on all of our sites. We aim to rebalance our ‘student mix’ in line with other universities nationally and internationally. We will do this by increasing the proportion of international students studying on our Perth campuses and growing the number of postgraduate coursework students choosing Murdoch to support their career and further study aspirations. Consistent with our institutional intent to build a reputation for high impact translational research, we aim to strengthen progression pathways from undergraduate studies through to higher degree research.

In working to realign our mix of students we remain committed to high quality education. We must maintain balance in the scope and scale of our offering. We will need to gather our collective capacity and energy around Murdoch’s processes to support learning and teaching and develop strong targets for student recruitment. We need, systematically and strategically, to identify and support our disciplinary strengths and align our curriculum accordingly.

We will enhance and deepen our disciplinary fields of excellence, ensuring our students remain the best educated and prepared students for the global employment market. Our students will be equipped with 21st century skills which will give them problem solving and team working skills, allowing them to address challenges they will face during their lives.

Murdoch University will be known internationally for providing ‘activity-led’ and real world learning with students that graduate straight into employment or further study

In our undergraduate curriculum this work has already begun. We will complete the implementation of our new curriculum to ensure that every student achieves a depth of disciplinary knowledge, a breadth of understanding across disciplines, develops academic and research skills and has an undergraduate capstone experience.

A new understanding at Murdoch about how students learn

The key principles on which our learning and teaching strategy is based emerge from the University’s history of delivering learning and teaching to meet the changing needs of students.

Important among these principles is the concept of ‘building capacity in communities’8. We must invest in renewal and reconstruction in order to excel in meeting the needs of the communities we serve. As well as engaging with and adapting to the needs of our communities, and in line with our commitment to re-balance our mix of students, this will involve moving away from traditional silos towards the idea of planning learning and teaching to meet the needs of individuals9 and their ‘personalised learning’ journey’s10.

A second key principle is that of ‘engaging students and staff as partners in learning and teaching’. This is a central issue that links new assessment, activity-led and challenge-based pedagogy, the internationalisation agenda, work integrated learning and new pathways for learning and maximising student success and retention. Evidence that students are more engaged when they are an active part of learning confirms the need to engage them at the earliest stages in higher education in ‘partner learning communities’11.

By embedding such principles in our teaching practice, Murdoch students will be well grounded in 21st century critical thinking and problem solving preparing them to compete globally in their chosen field. With a growing and increasingly diverse student body, an evolving set of learner needs and backgrounds, and technological advances in performance tracking and monitoring, comes a deeper responsibility to understand the nature of our learners in greater detail. To achieve this we need to better understand our cohorts, their habits of learning and their progress and potential in more exact ways. We must work from evidence and data to inform the development and design of learning and teaching. We must explore the opportunities presented by learning analytics and adaptive learning technologies and proactively develop our capability and competence in these areas.

This will require a more focused approach informed by the excellent research we are already undertaking in education, computer science, psychology and neuroscience. To bring our existing knowledge together and ensure that our best practices are shared, we will establish a network of international excellence in the learning sciences as well as promoting learning and teaching scholarships for our community of teaching practitioners. This will provide focus to our collective effort and help to share best practices through engagement activities, piloting innovations and dissemination workshops and showcases.

Murdoch University will develop a research network of excellence in learning science and scholarship by 2020

By building our capacity for reflective teaching practice, by coordinating our research expertise in the learning sciences, and by harnessing data about our learners, we will monitor student engagement and the effectiveness of our learning activities and support interventions. We aspire to provide personalised support for our students and provide the assistance needed for them to achieve their potential.

Become a world leading university in learning and teaching innovations and personalised learning content

We will address learner motivation through the adoption of the principles of personalised learning, seeing students as active participants and partners in the learning process. We will increasingly seek to design learning to cater to the needs and preferences of individuals, including the development of open access content allowing learners to access materials from wherever they are regardless of platform.

We will engage our learners through high quality digital content across all our courses

We must also use educational technology more creatively to ensure that students accessing learning online are given the best experience we can design. Within the library, we will ensure that digital and mobile access can be provided across all our collection by 2020. This will require training support, technical support and horizon mapping and piloting so that we may experiment with new modes of online and adaptive learning technologies.

Murdoch graduates with 21st century skills for the global world

8 Gale, T. et al (2010) ‘Interventions early in school as a means to improve higher education outcomes for disadvantaged students’, Adelaide: National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, cited in Gale, T. (2011) ‘Expansion and equity in Australian higher education: three propositions for new relations’ Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp. 669 - 685

9 Hockings, C. (2010) Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: A synthesis of research York, UK: Higher Education Academy, retrieved on 21 January 2015 from www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/InclusiveLearningandTeaching_FinalReport.pdf

10 West-Burnham, J (2009) Rethinking educational leadership: from improvement to transformation UK: Continuum

11 Healey, M., Flint, A. & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York, UK: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved online on 20th November 2014 at: www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Engagement_through_partnership.pdf