Workshop: Teaching and Learning for the Living Curriculum

By the end of this workshop teachers will be able to:

  • Understanding the concepts and principles of active learning to meet the Living Curriculum.
  • Design an active lesson to constructively align with the graduate profile, course learning outcomes and assessments.
  • Value integrated course design, assessment, and active learning to achieve significant learning experiences for students.
  • Work both independently and within their teaching team.
  • Access, evaluate and share resources on active learning.

* To see where this third workshop fits into the current series of workshops on the Living Curriculum, visit Workshop One: Curriculum Design for the Living Curriculum and Workshop Two: Assessment and the Living Curriculum.


(1) Concepts and principles of active learning

Active learning assumes that students are doing something more than passively listening to a lecturer; they are doing things like practicing, processing, debating, researching, discovering, applying, producing and myriad other activities. Unitec's Living Curriculum policy encourages an active learning approach that:

  • involves complex conversations
  • is curiosity/inquiry led, and stimulating
  • is practice-focussed – educating students ‘for work, in work, through work’
  • is socially constructed – self-sufficiency and collaboration are equally valued, and together they help nurture resourcefulness and resilience
  • blends face-to-face and web-based learning
  • is research-informed
  • has a discipline base, and is also interdisciplinary
  • develops literacies for life-long learning
  • includes embedded assessment.


Activity: Brainstorm active learning and teaching activities that meet the criteria of the Living Curriculum.

Ed Flagg's post on Active learning in large classes offers some useful additional tips for this discussion.

Here's a nice blog post, sent through by Scott Wilson in Performing and Screen Arts, on Professors of the Year: They put students in charge of learning.


(2) The main activity: Designing an active lesson to constructively align with your graduate profile, course learning outcomes and assessments.

**All participants: Please bring the graduate profile, course learning outcomes and assessments for your favourite course.

The first thing to do is reacquaint ourselves with the prior Workshop on Course Design and the concept of Integrated Course/Programme Design.

So, what will actually happen in your teaching and learning activities? A lesson plan might look something like this or this.


Design a lesson for an existing course where you address the following questions:


(a) How will your teaching and learning activities align with the Learning Outcomes? And how will you make that alignment explicit for your learners?

Are your LO's explicitly related to knowledge, skills, competencies, behaviours? e.g. if the professional demand is for report writing, is this the type of writing that your students practice and are assessed on?

Do your learners clearly understand the connection between LO's and teaching and learning activities?

"Adult learners need to know why they're learning, what they're learning and where it leads" (Knowles, 1990).


(b) How do your students get to practice and receive feedback on their skills, competencies and knowledge?

e.g. if the skill is reflection on practice, perhaps your students can share regular reflective blog posts and provide responses to each others' postings? If the competency is around critical feedback on teamwork, perhaps your students can provide peer feedback on contributions to groupwork against criteria that they have previously negotiated? If the skill is problem-solving in teams, do your students practice and assess one another's ability to solve problems?

Three particular areas often require attention:

  • An assessment of your students' literacy skills against the demands of the course; provision of support and scaffolding as required (including digital literacies)
  • Consideration of the cultural backgrounds, forms of knowledge and learning styes of your learners, including those of Maori, Pacific and International students. How might you put in place teaching and learning activities that are positively inclusive and celebratory of difference, and that attend to Te Noho Kotahitanga?
  • Blended learning that supports different learners' needs and flexible learning practices.


(c) How will your T&L activities reflect a Living Curriculum?

...teaching methods are at the heart of the Living Curriculum. It is the process of teaching that is the focus for the renewal process. In what ways do you engage in inquiry, conversation, autonomy, collaboration? To help you wrap your head around what this means, TPA provide this map to help you see what needs to happen in classrooms. This will help you not only articulate a Living Curriculum practice, but give you ideas about how to apply these concepts in the classroom. Please download it here: MappingtheLivingCurriculum%27final%27withassessment.pdf

(d) How will the achievement of Learning Outcomes be assessed? How will your students kn ow if they have achieved the LO's today and at the end of the course?

Refer back to your course outlines. Are your assessments valid? To what extent is formative or summative assessment embedded in coursework? Are your assessments authentic to LO's and stakeholder needs?


Activity: Swap your lesson plan with someone else in the room. Talk them through your lesson plan and vice versa. Ask each other the questions (a) to (d) above.


(3) Debrief, next session and evaluation of this session

In the fourth and final workshop for this series, attendees will learn how to evaluate their teaching and learning activities to meet the demands of the programme graduate profile and the Living Curriculum.

Now, please take a few minutes to evaluate this session by clicking on the link in the right hand pane and completing a brief survey.

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