Programme Renewal at Stellenbosch University
The Vice-Rector (Learning and Teaching), Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, identified holistic programme renewal as one of his Responsibility Centre's (RC's) key strategic priorities for 2017. This stems from an emerging SU strategy for Programme renewal and integrated L&T Environmental Plans presented at the SU Institutional Planning Fora, Senate and Council. A community of practice was established in 2016 to include all the vice-deans for teaching as well as senior staff members responsible for programme management. Regular discussions took place as to how to go into action in 2017.
Going into action: Prof Gilly Salmon workshop
The programme renewal process is a holistic institutional project, with the first year focusing on the identification of one candidate programme for renewal per faculty as well as drawing up a programme renewal roadmap within faculties with different levels of renewal per programme.
The vice-deans was asked to identify a candidate programme, a team leader who will drive the renewal process, team members, a timeline as well as the resources they may need. As catalyst, Prof Gilly Salmon (Pro Vice-Chancellor: Education Innovation, University of Western Australia) hosted a workshop at Devonvale, Stellenbosch from 16-18 May 2017 focusing on the programme as well as module design aspects. Representatives from all ten faculties attended the workshop.
At this workshop, the programme teams consisting of faculty members and professional academic support staff focussed in groups ("pods") on their candidate programmes as well as two or three key modules within the programmes. Participants became acquainted with Prof Salmon's "Carpe Diem" methodology as one possible approach, and will now replicate the process for the remainder of the modules as well as additional programmes in each faculty.
One of the main barriers identified by faculties to engage in programme renewal is time and Prof Salmon's methodology is tried and tested to have an impact within a short space of time.
Maintaining the institutional focus and sharing of good practice
The regular meetings with the vice-deans will continue the cross-faculty discussions to raise critical questions and share good practice. These discussion forums also contain the bigger project team including representatives from the RC of the Vice-Rector such as the Senior Director: Learning and Teaching Enhancement; staff from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Centre for Learning Technologies and Language Centre; the Senior Director: Institutional Reach and Planning and staff from Academic Planning and Quality Assurance. The overarching themes of the project were identified at the previous think tanks. These will be addressed on both faculty and institutional level as part of an overarching three year project. The project plan will be refined as the faculties and the support teams gain experience on the candidate programmes and update their programme renewal roadmaps.