See how we are improving our curriculum, so we can provide the best learning community for our students and staff.
What it is: A project reviewing our curriculum and how it can evolve to provide the best possible education for our students.
Why it’s better for us: It will offer a curriculum for students that is distinctive, expresses our values and creates communities of learning that engage students.
Why it’s better for the University: It will meet the Sussex values and simplify assessments to reduce the pressures on staff.
When it’s happening: We are aiming to bring our first round of decision to the University Education Committee in later 2023, for some things to be adopted in the new academic year (where regulations permit). Some enhancements will be rolled out after the new Student Information System is in place. Other changes will take place for future cohorts from 2024 onwards.
About the project
We are currently reviewing and reimagining our curriculum. Our aim is to improve the curriculum for our students and increase their overall satisfaction with their studies.
This forms part of our Learn to Transform strategy, which will provide students with a transformative, high-quality education and learning experience that will allow them to realise the futures that they want.
For further information about this project contact Professor Claire Smith at: email@example.com.
Watch our Open Meetings
- Video transcript
Professor Claire Smith: So, good morning, everyone. A very warm welcome to our fourth open meeting on the curriculum, reimagined and going to be sharing this meeting today with Jessica.
Our project Manager Helen and Katy Piatt.
Katie Piatt: You're on mute, Claire.
Professor Claire Smith: Curriculum Reimagined meeting, delighted to say, going to be sharing the presenting with Jessica and and Katy Piatt from head of education, enhancement, and Helen, our project manager, as well.
This is gonna be sort of last open meeting before we pause for a little bit.
[Second presentation slide reads: Why? The Learn to Transform Strategy is both bold and ambitious. In order to fully realise the aims of the strategy, a root and branch review of the curriculum is required]
So I thought it was helpful to go back. Go back to the beginning of when we, when we had our first open meeting in January, thinking about why we were undertaking curriculum reimagined, and as the slides says learn to transform has bold and ambitious ambitions to deliver our curriculum, and we haven't had a large-scale review of the curriculum at Sussex for a considerable number of years.
As you know, lots has changed and not changed. As we are settling back from the pandemic with the outcome of the timetable review.
We know we need to streamline. We know we need to make our curriculum less complex.
And we need to be looking, not just standing still will only send us in one direction, which is backwards.
So we need to be all looking very future facing of what we want.
Our curriculum to look like in the future. Recognising that with various regulations and time to do the work, it's going to take time to do that.
So our Curriculum Reimagined, has four principles that you can see there
. [Third presentation slide reads: Principles To ensure Sussex’s educational offer is distinctive, expresses our core values, and reflects
our research strengths.
To enhance our approach to inclusivity and accessibility, including to ‘design-out’
Reasonable Adjustments and tackle Awarding Gaps.
To streamline the curriculum, and underpinning administrative processes, whilst preserving interdisciplinary choice and best pedagogical practice, including the use of digitaltechnology.
To ensure that our courses prepare students with the modern skills needed for work or further study so they can influence global challenges such as environmental sustainability, smart technology, and human flourishing ]
The time between our January to now we've been really busy working with our different working groups and through the different open meetings as well, and our core stakeholder groups.
[Fourth presentation slide displays a benefits map which is explained below]
To really think about what is curriculum reimagined going to deliver. I know it's a very busy slide.
Our principles to make our curriculum distinctive, inclusive, streamlined, and future proof. We've mapped into a series of sub projects the deliverables and you can see these group together.
And these have then been matched onto the outcomes.
And we've done this as well through having lots of lines joining different parts which you'll be able to see in in future documents. I didn't do today because it really looks like a like a jumble, because actually, what we're trying to do as part of curriculum reimagined. Everything is so integrated, and has so many co-dependency’s on different components.
The outcomes will bring about benefits that we really want to see improvements in our student experience improvements in our staff experience and these map out into the key performance indicators for the institution.
So just before I hand over to Helen to talk about our governance map.
It's where we are with the project at the moment is about.
We've got some big committees coming up that will be taking the different groups of the of the benefits.
Map and the the sub project areas. So we have UEC coming up in May and then on to Senate in June
I'm going to mute myself and hand over to Helen.
[Fifth presentation slide displays a timeline diagram which is explained below]
Helen Mc Aleer: Thanks, Claire, so I just wanted to give everyone a bit of an overview of where we are with. With this large project, that you will understand. So we're currently from the beginning of the year in scope phase.
And this is, you can see where we are now, and as Claire's touched on, this is very much a lot of work has gone on with, with loads of colleagues across Professional Services and academics of consultation research and really trying to work out what the potential is and what we could deliver. So, as Claire said, we will be going to UEC, and then on to Senate.
So there's a series of academic approvals coming up in in May and June.
And that's a very important milestone to reach within the project, and then that once we've got through those, and we sort of know the direction of travel, and we're in agreement of what we want to deliver, then the outline business case, will follow and that will go through to the Capital Investment Board, and then, after sort of through the summer July to December, the next 6 months. That's another really crucial time where we really need to then get into the phase of thinking about how all these codependencies and and all these different sub projects can be delivered, how long they will take.
You know what change that will mean for for everyone, and and how we can do that together as an organisation.
So there'll be further development of the detail that we'll be planning around how we can implement these changes in phased way.
We'll go back to UEC and Senate for further academic approvals of this detail.
In the autumn, and then ending up the year with the final business case of of the detail of you know how we, how we will deliver that.
Then from January onwards, it will be going into the implementation phase of the rollout.
And really this becomes less detailed at this stage, because we are yet to know what has been approved and what's not so from January onwards, will be will be phasing the implementation.
It won't all happen in one. Go, and we'll work out that detail, and I would imagine that we would really have a true understanding of that phased implementation this autumn and then into the handover phase of then the curriculum reimagined becomes slowly as it the different phases get handed over to, they just become the norm.
And then the evaluation phase, I think, will probably, you know, is something that will take years in some sense of really trying to capture.
Have we achieved what we wanted to do? In the first place, in terms of looking back and going okay.
Well, we've actually done what we set out to do.
In the first place, that's me at the moment.
Professor. Claire Smith: Thank you, Helen. That's really helpful. One of the things that this project has asked us to establish with regard to the governance route.
[Sixth presentation slide displays a governance diagram which is explained below]
We have a very, good and well established governance.
A route for our education matters. We also have an established governance route for project management at the University and for some areas of project management for estates planning, for example, this doesn't involve a separate route.
So we've actually had to work very closely to establish where the core decisions as part of curriculum reimagined are going to be made.
If I go back slide, it's probably just worth highlighting.
We've had as part of curriculum reimagined our 3 working groups, which they've all been contributing a massive amounts. So it's also very big. Thank you. To everyone who's contributed to those they've met 6, 7, 8 times done working between and feeding up to our curriculum reimagined steering group, and which is now met 3 or 4 times, and we wanted to make sure that steering group will feed into University Education Committee.
This is the place for the academic decisions with regard to curriculum reimagined.
We then have running kind of alongside it as part of the Project management group, and the various governments really for that.
And I just wanted to use this opportunity to reassure people.
The academic decisions are through UEC and onto Senate, the types of things that the project management route are going to allow us to do is the request for release of funds for X or Y that we need to do and to make sure that the whole project overall is on time and all the risks are managed as part of that.
Both of the different groups, the education route and the project group all end up at council in a very much joined up way.
Alright, Helen and Jessica! Have I forgotten to say anything?
I think everything so far, for those elements was covered.
That's great. Just realising that it has been so busy that we have. There has been so much work I didn't want to miss anything I'm gonna hand over now to get her to update you on her workstream.
[Seventh presentation slide title is Architecture & Structure Update)
Working with students and staff in Educational Enhancement on Sussex Choice/Theming electives.
Watch out for elective meetings this summer!
Soon to continue work on reducing complexities of thecurriculum/timetable by reducing "cross-threading"
Enrichment weeks still under consultation.• Smaller elements (e.g. reallowing some year-long modulesproposal) concluded.]
The slide includes a QR code.
Professor Jessica Horst: Okay. Thanks. Claire. Yeah. So I'm leading on the architecture and structure working group.
And in many ways this working group is the organising, you know, group so we're trying to almost everything we're trying to do is streamlining, you know, streamlining a lot of the things that we do which ultimately, if you go back to that benefits mount that work will lead to enhanced student experience it will, I hope, lead to Sussex. Being a really nice place to work.
Where we're not, you know, just not getting things done are not innovating, because you know the things are are, you know, so clogged.
The work that both Claire and I are doing in our work streams will feed into that operations group that will really narrow down and hone.
Oh, we actually need, you know, I don't know a new form, for you know, suggesting new courses.
And you know that sort of fine grain stuff.
But right now we're working on kind of the structure.
So it's nice that the group is named architecture and structure, and some of the things that we've been up to are listed here on this slide.
Right now we're working with the student change managers.
Student connectors and staff with educational enhancement, to run some focus groups with students on the electives that we offer and the choice that we give them.
Sasha and other members of the community are quite keen that we go back to our interdisciplinary routes and start theming our electives.
For example, students might see, oh, look! Here's this package, and instead of being showcased, as all in one particular department, it's across, you know, multiple departments.
Possibly even modules that are taught with colleagues across departments, but it fits a theme like sustainability or health and well-being, and so on.
So we're doing some initial work with students on that now
But then, later on in the summer we'll be hosting a sort of a electives festival where we're gonna be asking the staff members of the University community to come together with what the students have said that they that they have identified as potential themes or potential gaps have an opportunity for Staff to start discussing more with each other, where we might offer additional themes and choice, or where maybe different things could be combined right?
If we have two electives that are trying to cover the same kind of topic.
But they're taught in two different departments, perhaps bringing them together is a nice direction to go in.
We're also continuing our work on reducing complexity in the curriculum which then leads to complexity in the timetable.
So this is part of the work that I started being involved in last summer on reducing post 6pm teaching, which is a, you know, the hot topic for some members of our of our university community, and I think rightly so, both for students and staff and the university.
Recently conducted a timetable review, and if you want to read that you should be able to get to that document on Sussex direct, going to searches committees.
University education Committee, and then it should be listed in the February Committee papers just the same way that you can read papers that go to Senate.
But here I have the QR code from our Curriculum Reimagined page.
But it has the video from our second open meeting, and in that meeting I explained in a bit more plain English than our current academic framework, what are our different multiple types?
You know, how do they interact? What is the what is the problem here?
How is this elective tube meant to work? I'm hoping to refer to that differently going forward for variety of reasons, but I strongly encourage especially academic staff, who work in in within the schools and have something to do with like teaching allocation or knowing which modules are running, or, you know, admissions head school detail, DoSE. I strongly encourage you to watch that, so that you understand that the differences there that are already in our framework, and then over the summer we're gonna start trying to organize that a little bit better because we need to and if you want to read the rationale of why, that's laid out in that timetable review with the recommendations that we do things like, stop what's called cross threading.
We spoke about enrichment, weeks that are last open meeting, and this is something that's still under consultation.
There's a lot of strong opinions on including enrichment weeks.
I do want to note if we are to include enrichment weeks beyond the inter session week that we have now.
Or maybe we even move the inter session week that we have now.
Or maybe we even move the intersession week that we have now.
These would be in addition to the 11 weeks of term. We do not have a lot of time that's you know, the structured teaching weeks of the year, and Denise can't make it to this meeting today.
But if she were, I imagine she would want to pipe up with how, as an educational provider, we're really low on the amount of of like teaching weeks that we offer to our students.
So I don't want anyone to worry that. Oh, this means it's really going to be 10 week semester. It.
No, but it won't go down to 10, and then some smaller items that we've been working on that should be sort of straightforward, you know, relatively quick, like allowing some departments not not forcing on people, but allowing some departments who want to have year-long modules back again, to do that. That isn't approved yet.
That's gonna go to University Education Committee. But we've nearly wrapped up our work on that.
So that's sort of what we've been up to.
And I really look forward to working with everyone more on that disentangling the cross threading and also going forward, rethinking how to sort of, you know, re-energize, or, I guess, re-imagine our elective offer.
And now I'll hand back to Claire.
[Eighth presentation slide Title is Curriculum & Assessment update
Slide reads: Sussex Curriculum Framework
•Defining Blended Learning
• Programme Specifications]
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you, Jessica, and I think it's probably helpful to say there are so many things in all of the different sub projects that we had to really work out what things do we need to do?
First as part of this. And Jessica, architecture and structure working group have been fantastic, and that will, sorting through what things need to happen.
First, and which is why focusing on the electives and reducing the complexities with regard to enrichment weeks, I wanted to do it at the chat as well.
What will that mean? We're really looking in terms of timeframe for further discussions about enrichment weeks and and and the academic year structure I don't want to say too much about it, is Denise's Denise, this area will come to a future UEC meeting. And so it's not one that we're. There's no decisions that will be made in the next couple of months.
With regards to that, and we would be looking very much just couldn't we?
Have having a range of options on the table for discussions with within the academic community, and wouldn't help you.
Just for those couple of questions in the chat.
What would you like to, Alison's asking?
Professor Jessica Horst: Yeah, I, yeah. I've answered it in the chat.
We haven't ruled out, increasing the number of weeks per term.
But there's some hesitation in different areas.
I mean, you know I'm only one member of the university community, right?
But my sense is that that it would be very challenging for UEC, and then send it to approve.
12 week semester, like 12 actual teaching weeks, with the thirteenth week of enrichment.
But it might happen also I forgot to mention, and I mean I had 16 weeks as a student.
So I'll stop my own personal views on how long the semesters I did forget to mention the timeline of this is designed so that we're going to start talking about electives and start talking about how modules need to potentially maybe change a little bit over the summer in order to give schools time to prepare things for the November School Education Committee meetings.
So that's kind of that part of that timeline that Helen reviewed.
Okay, yeah, maybe what we'll end up doing as well as having additional meetings about 12 week semesters as we discuss where, if anywhere, to insert enrichment weeks.
Okay. Thanks. Again. Claire.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you. I can also see some discussions in the chat from from Wendy, Wendy and myself were at the Association for National Teaching for those Conference earlier on in the week, and I think also we need to really be thinking about the wellbeing of students in this and building, in what time for learning means to students is very different. Across different student groups, and how we can build in opportunities for students and staff that will be a benefit to their well-being and via for learning rather than and maybe trying to go on a really sort of short-push everything together.
And okay, thank you. In that case I can move on.
So I know. Get to talk about our curriculum and assessment working group.
And one of the things that's when we started discussing, actually, what are we going to do as a working group which parts what we're going to be looking at and the discussions quite quickly turned to, what, actually, how are we going to be making decisions, we have a we have a large transform strategy we have a whole series of academic rules and regulations and policies that exist alongside.
And so we started really thinking about what, how we're going to operate, that, how would that was all going to work.
[Ninth presentation slide title reads Sussex Curriculum Framework, with a diagram that explains how this sits within university policy explained below]
And we we decided that we felt we needed to implement and introduce a Sussex curriculum framework, which is one of the things I'd like to talk about in a minute.
The other areas we were looking at were actually well, what does what blended learning at Sussex mean, having had lots of discussions with student unions about hybrid hybrid learning and working working on that.
So Katie's going to kindly talk in a minute for us about the group's work on that we were also talking and listening to students on how over the course of their study.
Can they? Can they then demonstrate to future employees of future study areas what they, what they, what they do studied as part of their degree, that the transcript side, the learning outcomes side, but also the different components, that they've undertaken as part of skill set whether it's been presenting writing written reports, various various other parts of that understanding. AI.
For example. And so there is possibly a separate project area looking at credentials throughout a student's journey, and how we can do that.
Trying to improve streamlining efficiency, also Amanda and Oliver have been looking at how we could use program enhanced program specifications within our frameworks and to ensure that we have the right amount of information on on degree programs course, level and module level, how we can help track progress through intensive learning outcomes, how we can separate out and learning outcomes from knowledge and skills. So this sub project work area belonged to that.
Katie, is it easier to hand over to you now to talk about blended learning before I talk about the framework?
[Tenth presentation slide title reads Blended Learning Definition
Blended learning is teaching and learning that combines in-person
delivery and delivery in a digital environment.
• Hybrid learning is teaching and learning activities which involve two
modalities at the same time. For example, when a lecture is delivered
live in a room on campus and simultaneously live-streamed for students
Sussex will explicitly state they will deliver Blended Learning for
September 23 onwards, where it makes sense to do so.]
Katie Piatt: Perfect. Yes. Can I screen, share you?
Professor Claire Smith: Yes, I will stop screen sharing.
Katie Piatt: Thank you. Hi! Everybody! I'm Katie. I'm head up the educational enhancement team and I'm chairing the blended learning task and finished group.
As Claire said, and the role of this group was to define our blended learning offer here at Sussex, which currently is not something we actually say we do and we've been looking at this from the perspective of what the can we do.
Now, what can we do for September, as well as the longer term picture?
So to save you all a bunch of typing, and I'll share these afterwards.
I've just put what we've come up with, and what we've agreed so far into a few Powerpoint slides this doesn't sound like rocket science to tell you that blended learning is teaching and learning that combines in-person delivery and delivering a digital environment. Honestly, it's not rocket science, but it was really important to PIN this down quite early, because, as Claire mentioned, there's been a lot of talk here about hybrid delivery blended delivery.
What that actually means. And after some soul searching and convoluted discussions, the the group which contains faculty reps Professional Services reps, and student reps came up with the fact that we agree with the OS definitions, which is what you see in front of you.
There so this is the way the OFS distinguished between blended and hybrid.
The difference primarily being that hybrid is simultaneous, online and in person, whereas blended is separate things, there's some in-person stuff, some things delivered digitally.
Everybody was comfortable with these, and it matches what the OFS said.
So, whatever you think, if we, this is what we now mean at Sussex and in in the sector as a whole, when we say blended and our proposal is that Sussex will explicitly state we do blended learning here, though for September 23 onwards, where it makes sense to do so. We do blended the caveat is to cover various things, such as our online distance learning courses, for example, that are obviously fully online and don't have in person elements.
I can't see the chat at the moment, but I'll have a look later, and see and see what you're thinking.
Okay, so that was the first thing we pinned down as a group is, what exactly do we mean by blended?
We mean some stuffs in person, some stuff stuff digital and that's what we do here.
What we then went on to look at is some particular aspects of that.
So we spent some time looking at our polls on recording teaching also known as the lecture Capture policy.
[Eleventh presentation slide title reads Blended Learning Recorded
Slide reads: We will stick with our existing Recording of Teaching policy for Sept 23, noting some changes we propose in due course and recognising the limitations ie working with the tech and network we have at present.• We agree students should be provided an alternate way to meet learning objectives if they miss a session that has not been recorded (eg due to illness).Ask “What is that person not getting and how can I provide it in a different way?” Balanced with expectation on students to attend and not adding staff workload.• Accessibility considerations will require different ways of doing things in the classroom and online.]
But it's actually much broader than that. It's about recording teaching.
And we've agreed to a group that due to other constraints, we were run with the existing policy for the coming academic year.
But we have noted some changes. We'd like to make in the future.
At the moment because of the technology we have the network we have.
It makes sense to stick with what we've got, but we do recognize we would like to broaden the scope and add some freedoms in there and look at things other than Panopto.
Remove Panopto, for example, as the only way of doing this, the big bit on this one is that middle bullet point is that if a student misses a lecture and in-person session, of whatever kind you for example, to illness or a myriad of other reasons why they might need to miss, a session that this should be an alternate way for them to meet their learning objectives. This would be the lecture recording. But where that isn't possible, we recognise some responsibility to ensure those students have a way of getting the stuff that they missed.
So we've said, ask yourself, what is that person not getting?
And how can I provide it in a different way? We had obviously discussion there on the expectations on our students, they're supposed to show up and we don't want to increase staff workload.
But what is that we can do to make sure that if a student misses something through whatever reason it isn't recorded, what is there that we can do to help them?
Make sure they can still meet their learning. Objectives. So that's an ongoing one.
That middle bullet point, and we'll welcome some feedback on that.
The other note there is that accessibility. Considerations mean that the way we do things online and the way we do things in person may well be quite different so it's not just a matter of doing what you would normally do but doing it online okay, so that's recording then the third thing we looked at was our tool set for delivering blended learning because we recognized we can't say off you will go and deliver blended learning. If we haven't given you the tools with which to do that.
[Twelfth presentation slide title reads Blended Learning: Tools
Work is needed to identify the tools required to deliver Blended Learning at scale including looking at the
types of platform we need and any gaps.
• It was agreed there are Core/Essential tools required of all staff, regardless of how teaching is delivered:
currently Canvas, Turnitin, Panopto and Sussex Direct
• There are also supported Enhancement Tools such as PollEverywhere and Padlet, which are optional.
• Recommended tools which may not be licensed and fully supported but are assessed for use.
It was noted we need more than just 2 or 3 tools in order to innovate and have the ability to engage
students, a plan for evaluating and adding tools to our toolset is being developed.
It was agreed we need a focus on staff getting the basics right balanced with pushing forward innovation.
So the piece of work we're doing and it's ongoing is looking at all the tools, all the bits of software we have.]
What supports available for them, and what gaps there are.
For example, we don't have a good solution at the moment across the university free portfolios.
Is that a gap? Is that something we need to go and explore?
But we've agreed the following structure, as we look at our tools, language still to be determined.
But we talked about the core or essential tools that all staff need to use regardless of how you deliver your teaching, which is canvas, turn it in Panopto and Sussex direct. That's our core tool set at the moment.
We also invented the phrase, enhancement tools, which are things that you don't have to use, but they're there for you to enhance your teaching, add interactivity, etc.
And then again, this is still to be determined, but there are many, many tools out there in the world I know there's Cahoot lovers in the audience.
These things can be recommended, they're not licensed by the University at present, and there isn't full support for them.
But they're still recommended as a great way of adding engagement in your teaching.
So that's sort of where the discussion is. At the moment we recognize it's not enough to just say what you've got.
Pollever and padlet, off you go, deliver engaging, teaching.
We need to have the ability to add tools in to evaluate stuff, to bring it through a sort of a pipeline to get a really rich tool set for you, to work with.
So we're working on that as a thing in action of how that can be funded and supported, etc.
And we also recognize that we will promise not to get distracted by the enhancement stuff getting the basics right on these big core tools is the priority.
First check. Everybody's okay with those.
[Thirteenth presentation slide title reads Blended Learning: Next Steps
The group are in the process of reviewing the current
Digital Learning Principles which will form the new
Blended Learning principles for staff:
The group will meet again in Mid-May to discuss
Digital Skills for staff and student and finalise these
And then finally next steps on this you might be familiar with the current digital learning.
Principles, page and somebody could stick that link in the chat for me.
That would be great. This is what we're currently reviewing.
The with the intention that it will be rehashed and reframed as a set of our blended learning principles, along with what you should use and why and then the how linking to the existing educational enhancement resources and all of that will tie up with our next meeting where we're looking at digital skills is the support there for both staff and students to have the digital skills to make the best use of all of these things.
So that's what we've agreed so far.
They're currently obviously our draft recommendations. And we welcome feedback. I'm gonna stop sharing and see what's happened in the chat.
Professor Jesscia Horst: There were some questions about recording seminars, and I think that those are largely answered.
Except for Hans question about in GDPR. For recording seminars, and when students are the one, you know, doing more of the speaking, and then Ben and Allison's longer questions towards the end I don't think have been answered yet.
Katie Piatt: Oh, well, the GDPR question you absolutely right Hans. And that's what our policy currently says.
If there's primarily student speaking, it's an interactive seminar.
You're not expected to record it. That's exempt and they're the ones where that second bullet point I talked about comes in.
If the good reasons it's not recorded and that is a good reason, but a student misses it.
Is there something we can do, something we already have that we could upload to canvas or something we could do with making loads of extra work to allow that student to catch up a bit, and that's the difficult thing to think through.
Sorry, which was the other one. Alison's. Was it?
Yeah, if you scroll down to the bottom of the chat and work your way up.
Allison has a longer one, and Ben, right before that one.
Thanks. I'll go and just reading. Thank you.
Professor Claire Smith: Katie, how about if shall I talk about the framework and give you a little few seconds to read, to read things, and then we'll catch up in a minute.
Katie Piatt: That's probably more helpful. It brings things in really nicely so it's part of the Sussex Curriculum framework.
Final slide title reads; Next Steps
University Education Committee
• University Executive Group
• Time to undertake work and next Open
• Website is Live-
Professor Claire Smith: We will. The work of Katie's. Katie's working group will be very much as part of that.
So I'm going to move. If you've got if the QR code. Our Sussex curriculum framework is an open document.
I think you can see it's on version 43 or something like that.
At the moment, if for any reason, the the options to add in comments or edited isn't there for you, please still, just send in comments, or let haven't I myself know this is very much still an open document, and will be for the next kind of 10 days before I then need to sort of put it down offline and get it ready for University Education Committee.
I've left comments on there that we've made that Sasha's made because it it is very much, very much that working document with it needs to be owned by by the whole community.
I'm going to share my screen again now. Second.
I thought it would be helpful to start with to really say where the Sussex curriculum framework and we've had many discussions about what it's going to be called teaching and learning, curricula then curriculum principles,
Sussex curriculum framework, and how it interlinks with the other components.
So if you can see the why, what we're doing to to provide a high quality, learning, experience and different components of that part of learn to transform the Sussex curriculum framework will will say our approach to that.
So it's going to say, actually, well, what are the things that we have as part of our curriculum?
And what things matter to us within our curriculum, inclusivity, sustainability, for example, it will say what our approach is from blended learning, and it will provide some really basic information, such as our module, our module structure, how many credits what they the mechanism is that just because working group, you know, the elective themes, how are, how our courses are structured. And and so it will point out lots of detail that already exists within the academic framework, within the academic regulations.
And a lot of policies. So it will be that one place for that information, pointing out to things.
So, therefore, in the draft framework as it is at the moment, and it will stay in this way.
And so it's been through the various committees it's color coded. So any areas that are new or are new directions or traveling changes that are being made as part of a curriculum reimagined is highlighted, I think, in orange and anything that is anything that is existing policies that we're not trying to change is just there in text, as it is.
And this is important because we didn't want it to be opening up everything back on the table for things.
It was about what things is this curriculum framework going to look at. Okay, then, the things that you can see within the document we're looking at, making sure we have themes within our curriculum.
The Vice Chancellor, and all of us are very keen on ensuring that we have themes that reflect inclusivity.
Teams that reflects sustainability and themes that reflect a transformational experience for students that includes human flourishing.
It includes students being able to follow our internationalisation at home.
It includes all of the amazing work on employability skills.
That's very much kind of foregrounded within there, our curriculum themes.
I'm just gonna have a quick look at the chat.
Probably still comments related to your area. Katie, Say, create and framework please do circulate the link.
Please do pass it on individuals, and please say, add comments in and get get in touch.
It is a document that we are hoping will be approved through. University Education Committee in May and on to Senate in June.
Therefore, for implementation. In September.
Katie Piatt: I've just made the worst typo.
Please forgive my terrible typo. I meant to share the recording teaching activities, policy and I typed the word reducing teaching activities, policy, it should say, recording apologies to pick back up on some of the points you said.
There's that interesting point about assessing engagement.
If it isn't in-person teaching. So if it isn't in-person teaching, so I just want to rewind and be really clear primarily at Sussex.
Our teaching is in person. We're being really clear about that.
There are things we do online. We know we do online assessments.
We have canvass. We have discussion boards, but primarily it's in person, and one of you, I think, is Wendy has talked in the chat about the importance of in-class discussion, and the richness of that absolutely.
We are not trying to take away any of that, and we recognise that engagement and attendance in person is absolutely what we're asking our students to do.
The digital just adds to it. That's the blend of where it can be supportive, where it can be additional where it can provide other tools that you can use.
So the the questions that were coming up in the chat were at.
Do we expect you to provide additional contact students? If a student chooses not to attend, this is quite different from the ones who, for whatever reason, can't attend, they choose not to show up.
Do we also have to provide more work for them, and the aim is no.
The aim is. No, we're not trying to make more work here.
One of you. I think it was Allison I was talking about how where you've got workshops that aren't recorded.
You provide a one-page guide with some links in it.
So there's something for them. I don't know if you want to say something about that, Alison, because hopefully, that's not more work.
Allison Chisholm: No, I'm happy to say something. how ELS works is that we all write workshops that all ELS team can use
So it's not quite the same as running your own lecture series, which I fully understand.
But when we write a workshop we condense it into a one pager, and sometimes with a few activities, sometimes not, sometimes with links.
But it is different, because for us it's it's skills.
Whereas it's not, it's more difficult if you've got abstract concepts or something.
But there is something that students can go to, and we keep it short.
So it's not an enormous amount of additional reading for the student group, but we just highlights it.
But that's all. On the canvas site. So that's how we workaround, and students can't get to our workshops. And also because students say they want us to record them.
But we don't, for the reason that they're very student, led.
But it just gives somebody something to take away.
Katie Piatt: Thank you. Allison, and Wendy's, Wendy's actually on this group.
So we've had some of this discussion. It's a really good point, is you can't tell you can't distinguish students who choose not to attend in students who are ill and who might say, Well, you're going to do an alternative.
So I'll just wait for that. We need to go back to the drawing board.
I think on that because we're not trying to add workload here.
We just want to make sure that we're not disadvantaging students who are ill.
So something we need to look at there. It's a challenging one.
The only other question I wanted to pick up on at the moment was, Vicky had asked about alternative digital activities.
And yeah, absolutely. We'd we'd love to be doing richer, more interactive things.
This is all going to get wrapped up when we talk about the digital skills and how we can help develop and support staff to have the confidence to go further and do more and have that richer tool set.
So that's the one that quite a lot of us get quite excited about.
But we're just trying to get that baseline first for everyone.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you. Katie, and thank you for much really helpful discussion.
One of the other points in the chat I picked up on was about assessments, and the their inclusive nature, and one of the sub project areas on that benefits matter.
I know I can show it to you, but it'll be. It'll be on the website and out of Powerpoint. So you'll be able to copy and copy and share it in as you need to enhance that if you need to lower.
Is about reassessing the assessments that we have for the offer at Sussex.
And Sarah and myself started work looking at this, looking at what the other institutions offer, we started putting together the idea of creating a survey that would go out across our institution to really to really ask people what are the assessments they using and what would they like to see because we know, and naturally I would do the same as a teacher.
You fit what you kind of want into something to make it quite work, which means it probably doesn't make me do what it says on the tin type of thing, and that idea is very much still there.
And that's a piece of work that will probably start really, as we head into head into the autumn, because of the areas of work we need to do to begin with the one area of work that I haven't mentioned that I just would like to do before we close is a piece of work about the information that we provide out in our prospectus, we provide an awful lot of detail in our perspective down to the types of assessment with we're going to use.
And this is creating a rod for our own backing.
In some ways, and it's not as simple as let's just stop doing that, because it's about how the systems are gathering that information.
So we have been working with different teams that are involved in producing the perspective and the systems behind it, working with our colleagues in the legal governance teams with regard to what information we're required to do with the CMA.
And so we have a. We have our first workshop in the next couple of weeks.
Where all different individuals that are involved in this, because they're from different different areas of the institution, and different teams are going to be coming together to start to really unpick how we can go about reducing and simplifying the level of detail that we offer in our perspective that I have to say all the teams have been really fantastic about this. There is a real energy to actually to do this.
But it is complex, it is untangling and I think this is one of the things that we need to do quite early on.
And we imagine, because it's going to enable some of the changes we want to.
See, we've all agreeing we want to see happen, because otherwise we're going to be in this very frustrating place, where it'd be like, yes, great just could go and do X and Y
To your particular modules. Please do this because the framework says, say, and we will agree.
This is what we want to see. But actually you can't do it for three years time, because the way that the mechanism of actually what we put on the perspective say, we we want to change that to make part of the future peer proofing side if quickly reimagined to make sure that our curriculum that we're making is adaptable, and changes can be made in a much more easier way.
So I'm hoping that everyone is going to be.
I think everyone's in support of this happening it's it's just actually the mechanisms.
How we're going to do it, and I think now I'm just going to go back for one very quick slide on what our next steps are.
So next steps we have we have our next curriculum reimagined steering group in a couple of weeks time.
This will be looking at the various work packages and under those areas of distinctive and inclusive at future-proofed and streamlined curriculum, as part of the benefits map and the individual details of those and once they've been approved through steering group they'll be going on to an update to the University Executive group before going to University Education Committee on the seventeenth of May we are having a special UEC to discuss curriculum reimagined on that day.
Then they will go on. They'll go back to the University Executive group in their full detail, and before going on to Senate we then all need to take a pause.
It's a time when I know many of you are already heavily involved in, and a term last week teaching time into assessments.
So we then need to do some work to actually do the work that's been hopefully approved, or any areas that have been and needs change.
So, then over the summer, just because we would be expecting to have a festival to look at elective things, and then we'll come back with a next open meeting in September.
In the meantime, the website, is live. I'm going to make sure that following this meeting, the recording from today will also be up there, and together with a timeline that haven't shared our benefits map.
And so we'll have. We'll have an update.
And I think now that's everything.
We're going to stay on, and we can answer any questions.
Thank you very much.
Alison Chisolm: I have a oh, I have a quick one with all of this, as you'll see.
Professor Claire Smith: Yes, please. Jump in.
Allison Chisolm: I've got a lot of things I'm always talking about, but I think what this is.
What you're doing is great, and I think, as you say, it's quite long overdue.
But and I know this is probably further down the line. But how?
Will these changes in the need for these changes be passed on to the staff?
Who need to implement them, not the Professional Services, the academic stuff.
The reason I I'm saying this is that this academic year I've seen assessment proofs given to students which still send them to S3 which was the precursor to the skills hub, and nobody is checking these assessments.
Nobody's checking what's been given out. There's still assessments going out with the wrong reference to word counts, but nobody checks them so and I've been here a very long time, and I just we've been here before on wanted to improve changes they've been agreed but they're not implemented. There are still schools, I think, only one school now who doesn't name a referencing system, and it would suggest it was sent out that all schools had to name one, even if they were more flexible about what students did but one school still refuses to so any change in these changes do look fantastic, but they'll only work if they're enforced, and I just don't see how that's going to happen.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you, Alison I completely agree to move to the direction of travel that we need to.
The things we've been talking about need to be implemented, and I think it's probably the answer to how we're going to do that is multi factorial.
I think it's we all own collectively a responsibility to to be ensuring that we're doing what are what our institution is requiring us to do.
So where they are part of policies or rules and regulations, there is, it would be completely reasonable and appropriate, for whether that's the module convenor or the course convenor or the director of teaching and learning to place a requirement on that having already improved are in pre-program specifications will also help that with it.
With regard to changes that we'd like to see that top of the suggested approach direction of travel, and we would be expecting mechanisms.
We haven't defined exactly how what the forms will look like, but there will be a mechanism that will infiltrate portfolio approvals committee as an oversight, but also with school education committees having a degree of flexibility, to be able to make module changes that are coming out of Curriculum Reimagined, and it's part of the work of Katie's team education and enhancement.
So where we need to be working with colleagues to to enhance their teaching areas, the gentle, nudging kind of side of things, and as well, I think we need to be.
We have examples of showcasing best practice. For example, in our education festival, which is coming up soon as well.
So probably a mix. But it I think we all want.
Yeah, without naming. You know individuals here or areas here.
Please do feel free. Anyone to drop us a message at any time.
If there is something that you're aware of that isn't happening. But actually, it's a requirement to happen. Jessica got her hand up
Professor Jessica Horst: Yeah, yeah, I wanted to come in on that point, too.
Yeah, I completely agree. Allison, like, I see so much of what I'm doing right now.
That wouldn't have needed to be done if things had been if we had had monitoring in place right?
So as a like a real example. Right? We get told that a bunch of our incoming year, one students come.
They're given this giant list of electives. They, you know, and that's been overwhelming.
And then they like narrow it down to the few that they want to take, and they're full, because the year 2 students have used up all the places right and and going forward what you know as part of that cross-threading on doing that right if we have level 4 and level 5 we can have a mechanism, where over the summer we say, Oh, quick! Let's check do we actually have enough seats
Is there enough room, right, you know, in those electives? But we do need to start implementing this stuff.
I don't know if Wendy Graham is still on the call, but I know, like her module just it's like they pay no attention to how big the room is.
Right. It's you know. It's way more popular than the room she gets assigned.
And so there's just different checks that that just aren't happening.
And if you, I hope, Wendy, that I described that properly, if you I think of these things that are like, you know, this is kind of broken, or this isn't working like Claire, said.
Let us know, like now is a great time to say, oh, you know what?
Yeah, when we update, say, the reading list policy, right? Let's go back to that school and say, Come on now, like you know, at least give us like, maybe a couple referencing systems, or whatever the the thing is in in your circle that's kind of broken.
And then also, there was another point that I so telling us things things aren't being checked.
But also, yeah, with that, you know, like, the idea is that now we'll go through, we'll do these initial approvals, and then we'll we'll fine tune.
What schools are gonna need to do. And Vicky put something.
I think it was Vicky in the chat about like some school meetings like Board of Study School Education Committee.
Those would be great places to check some of these things, but unfortunately there are a few things that are so central, right?
Like, yeah, is there enough room on the electives for the student population that each school can't do their own part of the puzzle because they they only get the admissions info from like for their school?
So it starts to get really complicated and lots of degrees of freedom.
But we're trying. And yeah, concrete examples of this could be better.
That could be better. This is the loophole that actually works for this become the real policy. Now is a great time to suggest those things.
Alison Chisolm: I think one of the things that I would like to see, and I used to do for years.
About 15 years I worked on academic misconduct, and I gave up because change didn't happen.
Really, and it one of the things was students would come.
And yes, there was misconduct, or there was, but sometimes I actually threw cases out because the instructions students have been given was so poor. The letter going to the department saying, this needs to be reviewed would have outlined by, but nothing changed.
Then you'd have the same assessment or similar format the next year, I'm not talking about anything very Draconian.
I just think that if a tutor or course convener is repeatedly writing poor quality assessments, they need to be trained just, you know.
It just needs to be picked up and actually actions, because very often I have highlighted these things.
And in my role. Now, when I see something, which is incomprehensible, we sometimes see assessments.
The students come to us. We read, them, and we don't make any sense to them either, and it's not that they're in physics or something else, and I will send those back to the Dtl.
But nothing happens.
So there isn't this sort of we just need to ensure that not in a punitive way.
But if students have a problem, they can say, I don't understand this assessment, and I don't think it's fair.
The other thing I see, which is a really big bug of mine
If you take, for example, maybe a first-year first term students across the university, and they may be have to write an essay.
One school will give them the title will give them a sample outline.
The other schools. Just give them a title. How is that fair?
Professor Claire Smith: And that's not Alison. That's the type of it's making sure that students haven't equal experience.
And that's the that is exactly the type of work that we'll be looking at as part of the assessment reading the assessments because we're going.
We will have to have a matrix system that equates whatever percentage of time or whatever things into that. Ben.
Ben Fincham: Hi, there, yeah. Funny enough. It's related to that point about electives.
And I was wondering. So in 2 places I'm hearing different things about the ways in which interdisciplinarity is going to be encouraged in whatever curriculum we end up with, because the discussions in Senate have been very much oriented in my view towards simplifying and streamlining in a way which made me anxious that the kind of principles of interdisciplinarity which are a strength that you know it's still, even though it's a bit of a ghost of a strength.
It's still there at Sussex. I'm wondering how this is.
The discussions that you're having here boiled down at a course or module level.
So how are electives going to be selected? I'm sure you've had these discussions, but I'd just be interested.
How are they going to be selected? And how are they going to work in terms of these kind of disciplinary streams that Sasha was talking about?
I couldn't. I couldn't see how they would fit within the ways in which we're delivering courses and modules in the schools as they are I know there's this whole faculties discussion, but we're also given assurances that nothing will change on the ground with that so again, there's a lot of mixed messages coming from different places in my head.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you, Ben. I'm gonna ask Jessica, yeah.
Professor Jessica Horst: Thanks. Yeah, thanks for raising that. I encourage you to go back to that curriculum imagined site.
Sam put the link in the chat of how to get there from the staff pages and look at that recording of what electives ought to be like at the moment the big problem is that we have a lot of modules that we're claiming are electives.
But they're actually like for these students, or an option for students on this and this course.
And oh, yeah, by the way, students can take this as an elective, and that leads to large clashes and big problems in where we're offering things.
And that basically is one of the main reasons why we teach pass 6 pm.
But at the same time, when you've then looked at the student, comments on those modules right?
They're very, they're very unhappy. The students who are who are there to really get into the deeper topic, and the students who are there to just get like a bit of an overview cause they're kind of interested.
They're neither are getting what they're wanting to get out of it.
I mean, some students will, but you know we get complaints from both ends, and so the idea is to go back to what we ought to have had, which is really having a dedicated space for electives having them instead of packaged to students as oh, you can do electives in don't know chemistry, or media, or you know something else to have them more.
Have the themes that we give them, be interdisciplinary.
So oh, look! Here's you know, sustainability, and you can learn about, you know to me sustainability from media.
You can learn about changing people's views from psychology, and you know, and you know, have, like a theme where you can go across module if possible.
We want to get to that point where we can, even within a module, have call, you know, multiple colleagues from different departments teaching together right?
And so I I don't know your specialism, but you know, maybe somehow there'd be a way where you know you.
Do some of the teaching, and I do it, and then we still have sessions that actually work together.
So it doesn't seem like they're just taking too many modules.
And so some of that is what we wanna nail down at that electives festival this summer.
We're having the students do an initial mapping of what themes we already have and what they wish.
We taught that we don't, which we taught that we don't, which might still work with themes that we have.
They might come up with things that we don't offer yet, like I don't know.
We should have a minor in video games. There's some. There's a new video game elective that looks really good.
I think it's creative writing and video games or something.
Maybe they want a whole minor in that, right? So so we're gonna be taking the and then going to staff and then coming up with the themes.
There's a few that Sasha has mentioned, that she's keen, that we offer we'll see if we you know where we have capacity and where the student interest is on that.
And then the sort of solution to make sure that this works is that we have to actually protect electives, just like we protect for modules, and other pockets of our curriculum.
I hope that kind of answered it. I think there's a lot more getting at what you're asking in that recording.
Ben Fincham: Yeah, it did to an extent.
I think the key issue is, though, that when, if you look back at the founding principles of Sussex, that the point was that you were aware that you would be teaching people from other disciplines, at no point if I've been asked in an elective module to teach away from the ways in which I would teach sociology students.
Which, then, is what creates the problem in the ways in which students from other schools or departments will take to that module because they that's not their language particularly, but I'm not being asked to deliver anything other than that so I think the idea of teaching across modules. Well, that would be exciting and interesting for me, anyway, I just don't know how you'd organize it.
Professor Jessica Horst: That's and I suppose that's the point of this, isn't it?
Yeah, yeah, no, but but this is useful, and I'll try to look back around.
This idea of, you know, are the training and staff development opportunities that we give to staff who do teach electives.
Are they fit for purpose? So that's helpful. I'll make a note to come back to that this summer as well.
Professor Claire Smith: Well, thank you so much for those questions. I know it's very much.
Yeah, much more space is needed. And this is why curriculum reimagined, is it's not going to be a short thing that we're going to put in.
You know all these changes in, for you know, for September it is a program of work that is going to take a number of years and it's because we need such rich discussion to make those changes.
Actually the right ones. And thank you very much. Everyone, as always.
Jessica myself, Denise. Helen, always around. If you want to chat anything further and ask us anything, have a lovely day.
- Video transcript
[Presentation slide deck being shown to the right of the screen. First slide reads: Curriculum Reimagined – Professor Claire Smith and Professor Jessica Horst]
Speaker Prof. Claire Smith: Good morning. Everyone if you are just joining I hope it's all a very good Monday morning for you.
Slightly darker mornings, but really nice to see some sunshine as some blue sky.
Okay, just going to share my screen.
I see next down Helen Jessica. Does that look okay. Sharing my screen. Everyone.
Thank you, Sarah. Appreciate the thumbs up.
Yeah, it looks fine.
Okay, we'll start a very warm welcome to our third Curriculum Reimagined open meeting. Thank you for joining us on this nice and sunny Monday morning, and today going to talk to you about our updates and what we've been up to.
Jessica Horst, who is leading the architecture group, is also here today, Jessica is not feeling fantastic, so I'm going to talk to her slides, but some she's really happy to take questions in the chat and then also might be able to answer some as well, Denise is leading the operations workstream. Denise Cooper is also here as well and we'll be happy, I'm sure, to answer any questions as we go through.
I can't see the chat all that easily, so I'm going to let you put questions into the chat.
Our plan for this morning is to take you through a 15 min.
Update on what's been happening with the project, what things we've been doing.
And then it's really over to you into some breakout groups to help us answer some two, Help us look at some two key areas that we'd like your feedback on.
[Second presentation slide reads: Why? The Learn to Transform Strategy is both bold and ambitious. In order to fully realise the aims of the strategy, a root and branch review of the curriculum is required]
So just to think and arrive at a Curriculum Reimagined.
This is about enabling our Learn To Transform strategy. It's a bold and ambitious strategy, and we want to really take a pause and think about what our curriculum offer is, why, we're moving forward with it.
Why we need to really make larger systemic changes to our provision, to really unblock some of the issues. And to make that improved student experience.
[Third presentation slide reads: Principles To ensure Sussex’s educational offer is distinctive, expresses our core values, and reflects our research strengths.
To enhance our approach to inclusivity and accessibility, including to ‘design-out’ Reasonable Adjustments and tackle Awarding Gaps.
To streamline the curriculum, and underpinning administrative processes, whilst preserving interdisciplinary choice and best pedagogical practice, including the use of digital technology.
To ensure that our courses prepare students with the modern skills needed for work or further study so they can influence global challenges such as environmental sustainability, smart technology, and human flourishing.
Curriculum Reimagined has four principles, as you might have seen before, to ensure that our education offer, is distinctive.
To enhance our approach to inclusivity and accessibility, reducing awarding gaps, to streamline a curriculum, and underpinning the admissions processes, particularly bringing in the recommendations from the timetabling review and to ensure that our courses prepare students for that time after university.
[Fourth presentation slide displays a benefits map which is explained below]
Now I know there's a lot on here, but for Monday morning, but I thought actually this might be helpful.
And we've been spending time having a look at the aims of Curriculum Reimagined and actually, what pieces of work we're actually going to do as part of this project.
And using our and grouping our principles into Distinctive, Inclusive, Streamlined, and Future proofed.
We've then be looking at the deliverables in in this column. You can see here. And these are going to form groups of sub project areas of work.
Our plan is to take our proposals to the University Education Committee in May.
This will then go onto UEG and to Senate. So for some of these pieces of work, for example, curriculum framework, which we're going to talk about later on, is a piece of work that's already in trail, for some of them for example, looking at what our elective tubes are going to be, the themes of them. And how they're going to work.
It's going to take a little bit more time, and the principles of this will be going to the University Education Committee.
The same for the review of assessment modes, and designing in choice and assessment.
This is not something that we can suddenly do overnight, and do, for example, for our September start date going to the University Education Committee will also put this on the curriculum reimagined website will be a timeline for these projects.
And when they're going to start and finish, I think it's always important.
Sometimes when we're looking at the details of these to get caught in the details, but also to be pulling out what our overall aims and benefits are going to be.
[Fifth presentation slide reads: Architecture Working Group Update
1.Making strides on streamlining and simplifying the curriculum (e.g., reducing cross-threaded modules)
2.Working with students on priorities and themes for electives and minor provision (look out for special focus group meetings to join)
3.Consulting on “enrichment weeks” (cf. reading weeks)
•In addition to the 11 teaching weeks per term
•Including some centrally coordinated events (e.g., careers)
•Including some school/dept coordinated events (e.g., lab skills)]
As a result of this.
Jessica's working group, the architecture working group, has been meeting frequently, and it's been making real strides on streamlining and simplifying the curriculum.
So as part of this, it's really important that we don't build in any further complexities through curriculum reimagined, and that we look at our offer.
We look at where we have cross spreading of modules, we look at where we have different modules, for example, teaching different levels with some modules end up being core, optional, and elective.
So we need to really unpick this this all to make it much more manageable and streamlined.
But at the same time making sure that students still have still have choice and optionality.
So it's set to simplify that pathway.
The architecture working group has been working with students, and Jessica's got a team of student connectors looking at electives and minor provisions, particularly looking at what the themes are going to be for electives because we want students to be really able and clear to say I want to take an elective.
And I'm really interested in sustainability. So within a theme, for example, of sustainability, these are the electives that I might be able to access and look at as part of that.
The other element, that the architecture working group is looking on is consulting on the idea of enrichment weeks, and this would be, in addition to the 11 weeks of teaching per term, and the idea is to include some centrally coordinated events. So, for example, bringing in work from the careers team from sustainability's team, but also bring in some school coordinated events that those particular disciplines might benefit from within, that.
And it's really important. To say, this is, we're consulting on enrichment weeks.
This is not put here as a ‘this is what we're doing’.
This is to say, to help get to the aims that we've looked at would the idea of an enrichment week help Jessica. If there anything on there that I haven't mentioned.
Thanks, Claire, the only thing to highlight is that at the moment those bullet points under the idea of enrichment weeks are coming from both schools, so, consulting with heads of school and some other department heads, and senior managers within schools, and then also for some of our Professional Services, our Central Professional Services colleagues.
So, for example, staff in the library and in student engagement.
So those bullet points there are sort of if we do enrichment weeks, we're going to want to have them as something in addition to our current 11 weeks, so that we're not losing teaching time.
And they should not be a 100% centrally managed, and not a 100% sort of schools have to come up with sort of a activities for the week.
But also there should be a little bit of structure to them, so that it's not just, Oh, go! Fly off and take a holiday? If they're really meant to enrich.
But again, like Claire said, this is, if we agree as a university to move this forward.
So we're still consulting on this before we decide whether or not we're going to propose to include this or not.
When we have additional committee meetings this summer for University Education Committee and Senate.
Thank you. Thanks. Jessica.
[sixth presentation slide reads: Curriculum and Assessment Working Group Update Curriculum Principles: Sussex Curriculum will be underpinned by four themes that will be integrated throughout all elements of the student life cycle. There are: Inclusivity, Sustainability, Employability, Internationalisation at Home. ]
The curriculum and assessment working group has also been meeting, and one of the first things that we were really thinking about is how to join our aims of learn to transform into everyday practice, and as we briefly mentioned in the previous open meeting, we really think that it's important that we develop a curriculum framework for this. And what a curriculum framework can be you cut the cake very many different ways. It's about trying to say in a short document and say, for example, 10 pages, what our offer is, what are those boundaries related to the architecture.
So how many weeks, how many credits per module, what the structure is, what our approach is, what our overall assessment is, and it will link out to individual policy, so that we have so, for example, linking out to our digital principles, linking out to lecture capture and linking out to our internationalisation at home work, our sustainability work. So it's pulling it all into one place.
To do this, we've been consulting and thinking about actually, what core things really matter to us at Sussex and through, I can see some of people's faces.
There was very messy diagrams on very many different ways of digital boards and physical Boards.
We would like to think of our Sussex curricula being underpinned by four principles and these being inclusivity, sustainability, employability, and internationalization at home, and one of the things we'd like to ask you in your discussion groups later is have we got this right or is there something that's not right about these about these four principles?
We also need to think about our approach to the curriculum.
How everything we're going to be doing from our modules overview documents to validation, to review how?
How are we always thinking about our curriculum offer?
And we spent quite a bit of time thinking about this.
And it's cyclic nature, and we'd like to.
We'd like to make sure that within our curriculum approach.
That it is applied and relevant, responsive and adaptive and connected and coherent.
So in terms of it being applied, it needs to be not just knowledge of the safe knowledge, but knowledge in a way that can be used out in the place of work or further study.
It needs to be relevant, relevant, based on what future employers need, what the wider society needs, it needs to be responsive.
So, for example, the introduction of Chat Gpt, other areas of AI. VR, AR, etc. The next parts we need to respond to how this is, we need our curricula to be able to move much faster, to help generat interest from students, future student markets and to keep satisfaction within our cohorts so we need to make sure that our processes are slightly more agile to that so responsive and adaptive, also bringing in being responsible and adaptive to student feedback, whilst they are here, being able to do that much better and much quicker.
[Seventh presentation slide reads: Curriculum and Assessment Working Group Update with diagrams that are explained below]
Students need to feel connected to their course, to their discipline and connected to the University as whole, and be able to have a coherent experience so to be recognising that if they're doing a course on X subject, but actually that experience is very similar to Y and in choosing different modules that they're experiences between them are also coherent.
You've then got a draft again, of trying to bring in lots of different ways and ideas of having those things very much at the heart of what we want to do at Sussex, having our curriculum approach going round it, and then having our graduate attributes on the outside and this is where I've got to. We've had several iterations of it, and they seem to be the easiest to show you there, so we've been working on our curriculum framework, and in the chat, or in a minute there will be a link to where to where this document is it's a document that's on box please feel free to share the link.
And would really like consultation on this our working framework until the end of end of this month, when we then need some time to further work on it, and then come back for further consultation.
[Eight presentation slide reads: Discussion Time
Question 1. (Select Odd Number Break out rooms)
In our draft Curriculum Framework we have identified four themes that will permeate through every aspect. Are these the correct 4 themes? How do you feel about the curriculum approach, how do you think it will be helpful in your teaching?
Question 2. (Select Even Number Break out rooms)
What would you be willing to compromise on to enable us to insert enrichment weeks into the academic calendar? (e.g., earlier start in September, shorter break in the Spring/Easter).]
Perfect timing. I think this is the end of our updates, and we'd now like to ask T to break into some groups and discuss particularly these 2 factors we have been working on.
If you end up in an odd number breakout room we'd really like you to have a look at the document we'd like you to discuss the 4 themes that we've identified, and we would like you to have a chat about how you feel about the curriculum approach that circular diagram, and how you see it be relevant in your teaching, and relevant in the process.
If you're in an even numbered breakout room, then we'd really like you to start thinking about actually, the idea for enrichment weeks.
What might you be willing to compromise, to enable us to insert enrichment Weeks, what things might be key to be involved in enrichment.
And then we'll come back for discussion.
If you feel able to in your groups, please nominate or self-nominate an individual that would be happy to feedback, or would be happy to put some dialogue into the chat.
I think this discussion time for those will be 15 min. So at half past we'd like to like to bring you back. So I'm going to stop sharing and see many more of your smiling faces on big screen.
There was then a discussion which the feedback has been documented separately.
[Ninth Presentation slide reads: Next Steps Steering Group, Working Groups, Future Open Meeting on precise topics that need further exploration, University Education Committee May, Website is Live]
- Feedback from break-out room discussions
Question 1. (Odd Number Break out rooms)
In our draft Curriculum Framework we have identified four themes that will permeate through every aspect. Are these the correct 4 themes? How do you feel about the curriculum approach, how do you think it will be helpful in your teaching?
Are the themes internal or external. Global citizen/world citizen and employability. Right wording? Considering deliverability of what we are proposing to do. What are students looking for in a course? Why are they coming to Sussex in the first place. Disparity in the naming. Is it external or internal. Very important is visible externally. How are the themes made visible through the curriculum?
A particular student may choose a specific course because they want a particular career. What if employability isn’t central for the student?
How future proofed is this? We should be doing this anyway. Don’t just follow the buzz words.
We don’t want to follow what everyone else is doing and then copying it. How can we lead. Innovative – how we see assessment and how we can do assessment.
Practicalities of innovative assessments. Clear plan of how we can implement more innovative assessment methods, rather than focusing of four buzz words.
Themes needs to be lived and students must have the opportunity to experience these principles.
Think about the timing – when do we tell students about these? When do we advertise these?
Internationalisation at Home. What does this mean? How could you structurally integrate this into modules or courses.
Is the word themes correct? We wouldn’t ever say we don’t want inclusivity as a principle or a theme. Perhaps these are outward challenges? Areas of focus.
Question 2. (Even Number Break out rooms)
What would you be willing to compromise on to enable us to insert enrichment weeks into the academic calendar? (e.g., earlier start in September, shorter break in the Spring/Easter).
Optionality in enrichment week
Difficulty of inserting these weeks into the current teaching pattern – no time
We only provide 22 weeks teaching, some institutions provide 33. One of the lowest Universities with regards to contact time
Sussex is short on contact time
We can’t remove content because of accreditation
Could we extend the term?
Are enrichment weeks and reading weeks the same?
Reading weeks are important because students and staff need to recuperate
Could the spring term start earlier – after A1 assessments?
The Business School are currently undertaking student-led work on enrichment within term
Flagging post Easter break. Bolting something on there isn’t going to work
Attendance for non-assessed events. Will students come?
Larger lecture theatres to improve timetabling
Reduce complexity to improve timetabling
Need reading week/enrichment week to be standardised across the University
If we want to begin earlier in September, we need to think about resits because they’re already too pressured.
Students focussed on doing really well. Only engage with events that directly relate to their final grades. Shall we put events on if students won’t turn up?
- Video transcript
[Presentation slide deck being shown to the right of the screen. First slide reads: Curriculum Reimagined – Professor Claire Smith and Professor Jessica Horst]
Professor Claire Smith: Well. Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us for our second open meeting of Curriculum Reimagined.
It's really nice to see you here today and it's nice and sunny outside as well.
Appreciate it's also on a Friday morning as well, and it’s fantastic to be at the end of the week.
And we're going to take some time today to update you. It's been a really busy month and a bit since we last spoke to you about Curriculum Reimagined.
And for those of you who might not know me, I'm Professor Claire Smith and I'm the lead for Curriculum Reimagined and joined today by Professor Jessica Horst, she is the Workstream lead for Architecture and Denise Cooper who is the Workstream lead for Operations, and I'm the Workstream lead for Curriculum and Assessment.
And we're going to go through some PowerPoint slides this morning updating you onto where we're at, but also enabling us to start ask questions. And so please feel free to put any questions as they arise into the chat. And then we can also have some engagement at different points in time.
[Second presentation slide reads: Why? The Learn to Transform Strategy is both bold and ambitious. In order to fully realise the aims of the strategy, a root and branch review of the curriculum is required]
So just to think about actually why we came here on this sunny Friday morning. Um, so our Learn to Transform strategy is a bold strategy, and to really think about how we're going to make sure we achieve the objectives of it.
And part of that is about taking time to really think about our curriculum offer and sometimes, in kind of fixing problems and moving forward, you get to a point where you can't fix, you can turn some individual cogs and you can fix X and Y, but actually you get to a point where system says no or things need to be a much wider look at.
And this is really our principals for curriculum reimagined.
[Third presentation slide reads: 1) To ensure Sussex's educational offer is distinctive, expresses our core values, and reflects our research strengths. 2) To enhance our approach to inclusivity and accessibility, including to 'design-out' Reasonable Adjustments and tackle Awarding Gaps. 3) To steamline the curriculum, and underpinning administrative processes while preserving interdisciplinary choice and best practice, including the use of digital technology 4) To ensure that our courses prepare students with the modern skills needed for work, or further study so they can influence global challenges such as environmental sustainability, smart technology and human flourishing.]
And last time we met, I highlighted some draft principles and took some fantastic feedback from the wider community on these principles.
These principles have now been through the working groups and have been signed off by the steering group and not going to be read over them, but you'll see them there. These are the four principles that in everything we do with regard to curriculum reimagined, we're going to be coming back to and really making sure that our work is aligned is to these. We're really excited by them as well.
[Presentation slide shows a diagram which explains the governance structure (explained below)]
One of the things that has been quite challenging is thinking of Curriculum Reimagined as a project. And I am delighted today, that we have our project manager Helen Mc Aleer with us. It is a project under the university governance structure and it's a project that also has so much academic side of its governance part of it as well.
So being really working and thinking how we can make sure that we have this governance framework, and this is only a draft that I'm showing you now, this hasn't been signed off by a steering group and will still need other arrows and everything going in.
But I wanted to highlight now that this project has its route through project review group but through the three streams that are identified architecture, curriculum and assessment and operations and these will be feeding into UEC and into Senates and ultimately both into council.
[Presentation slide reads: Architecture working group update – working toward reducing complexity and revamping academic framework, reviewing how electives are being used, consulting central PS colleagues and Schools on enrichment week's/year structure, consulting schools on elements in our current academic framework as well as items missing from the framework ahead of SIS implementation, e.g current constraints on credits per module, e.g number of students per module]
Now, first thing we wanted to do was to give you a quick overview of each of the work in each of the working groups and the work they've been doing.
So I'm going to hand over to Jessica, to take five minutes to tell us about the work of her Architecture Working Group.
Professor Jessica Horst: Thanks, Claire. Yeah. So as Claire mentioned, I'm leading on the architecture and structure workstream.
And this one is, is interesting because on the one hand, there's a lot of things that we potentially could change.
But as we get to reviewing what the wider community has told us what they want, so for example, through the survey we ran in December, through individual meetings with schools, through individual meetings with key stakeholders like Emily from the Careers and Entrepreneurship department or others at University Education Committee, what we kind of realised is that some of what people want we have rules for, we just haven't been following our own rules.
And this actually echoes something that the timetabling consultant said in a meeting where they also highlighted, you do have some policies and rules that you're just not following.
So I think that in general, that sort of creates a lot of structure that I think we'll be able to harness to change the things that we do want to change and then revamp things that aren't quite working exactly or quite right.
And so more specifically, the things that this group's been working on, we've been discussing reducing complexity and revamping parts of our academic framework.
Claire's going to tell us a bit more about the teaching and learning framework in a moment.
The academic one that we have, which I will touch on again later today, is really about like how many credits are on a course and a lot of that kind of nitty gritty, you know, numbers, the rules type stuff.
Part of reducing complexity is reviewing our electives and minors and pathways and optionality and how this is being used. And so I put on the slide more about this in a moment, because in just a little bit I'm going to give a second presentation where I'm going to talk about reducing complexity and specifically the electives we've been consulting as a working group with colleagues in central Professional Services roles and in schools on having things like enrichment weeks.
So sort of reading weeks that have a bit more structure and what that would do for our year structure if we inserted enrichment weeks.
We have not made a decision on this yet and there's going to be a lot more discussion and a lot more to come. But that's one thing that we've started talking about.
Another thing that we've started discussing are some of the elements of our current academic framework, because it turns out that there's pockets of knowledge that some colleagues have, that others don't, because some things aren't very well written in our framework, or they're written, but not where you'd expect to find them. And the reason that we're doing a lot of this now is because it directly feeds into how we're going to set up the new student information system software that we're in the process of setting up.
So we kind of need to know, you know, as soon as possible, things like if our module is going to stay 15 credits. Right? Are we going to stay with two terms, you know, things like that, which I'm not throwing out as something that we should discuss today, but, you know, those kinds of things they need to know for setting up the software.
And so things like, you know, how many credits per module or should we have a minimum number of students per module? Things like that are really tiny, but we kind of need to know them so that we don't set things up wrong with the new software.
And I'll hand back to Claire now. Thanks. Thank you.
[Presentation slide shows principles outlined above, with deliverables discussed below]
Professor Claire Smith: So sorry, I was trying to find my microphone while changing. Thank you, Jessica.
And it's really important to say, as is just highlighted, that we recognise that between now and sort of May time, when we're hoping to get some initial decisions and first stages of things to the University Education Committee and then on to Senate, that we're in this phase at the moment of scoping and gathering, and gathering all the information in, because it leads on really beautifully into the work of the Curriculum and Assessment Working Group.
And we've been really thinking about how we can scope in what is reasonable to do within the project work of Curriculum Reimagined.
And actually when you start asking everyone, everyone has been fantastic and comes in with lots of lots of ideas and lots of things of 'oh, can we fix this,' 'can we fix that?' And that's exactly what we wanted.
And, and then we have a filtering phase of working out, actually, that's business as usual. We can carry on doing that. That doesn't need to be pulled into this particular project to 100% this needs to be in this project. So this working group has focussed on the principles and really then working, asking, so what questions, what are we going to do about it, to actually fix, fix that particular problem.
And the deliverable list is our working list at the moment. Again, it's not been signed off by them, by the Steering Group.
So we're thinking about things such as how do we make sure that across all of our provision, undergraduate, postgraduate, that we're developing learning outcomes in a way that are accessible and useful to everyone and mapped across everything and is really underpinning and making sure that that our offer is distinctive. We can see where our values are, knowledge and all of that is expressed as part of that.
And one of the big constraints we've identified is actually how much information we put into the prospectus, because we're then held to it, so we want to have a look at how can we change the level of material that goes into the prospectus.
We want to, it was very clear from the survey we did in December, from our previous meeting, there is appetite to really redevelop the modes of assessment that we can use within our institution to increase the amount of optionality and to hopefully eventually design out the need for reasonable adjustments.
So moving on down the slide. One of the things we kept on discussing in all of these, we kept on coming back to, we want to map planning outcomes and we want to think about the mode of delivery, we want to make sure we've got a blended learning offer, and what does this blended learning mean for Sussex.
We kept on coming back to actually we have our principles for Learn to Transform, but what's in the next step down? And this is about learning and teaching framework.
And we then had lots of discussions about can we separate out learning and teaching – are they together? Are they separate?
So the work of the Curriculum Assessment Working Group is now really focussed on establishing, and perhaps the best phrase, the curriculum framework. And because we can't do this in isolation, we have to do this jointly with Jessica's working group as well.
So we need something that brings in our existing Learn to transform strategy and then brings in lots of our existing policies.
We're not setting out to change, for example, student voice strategy or academic skills strategy.
We're looking to say these are these things here, and here, and here. We need one place where they all come together under a framework.
And that framework will very clearly say, for example, we are going to be using a blended learning, this is what blended learning means for Sussex. We are going to be delivering this through multiples of 15 credit modules.
This is what the structure will be. So this really is all our work at the moment.
[Presentation slide reads: What are we going to do first? Develop a teaching and learning (curriculum) framework, then change level of material in prospectus, redevelop assessment and enhance LO mapping]
And you know, you know, my other side of professional background is in the human body. I can't even really say this is in its embryonic stage at the moment because it's very, yes, very kind of laying the individual cell level is probably where it's at, at the moment. We haven't even got a fully formed skeletal structure yet at the moment.
But we are, we are, really getting there with this. And we've actually got an awful lot of it already within our institution. This is about pulling it all together and we will pull it all together and we will place it on our website because we want everyone to look at it and we want everyone to critique it and give us, give that feedback on it.
And what we're going to try and do, if it works, is colour code it in a way that means that actually individuals will be able to clearly see where our existing policy is and where we are not sitting to change those things and where the results of the working group, where there is a proposal for any change in structure.
Once we've done that, then those deliverables you've just seen, once they are all approved, they will effectively form mini projects under this working stream.
And it's then we can look at mapping and working out actually what do we need to do to change the level of material in the prospectus.
How long is that going to take? When is it going to be implemented? Who needs to be doing it? And the same for the other, the other projects.
[Presentation slide reads: This will be one document that sets out our provision. It's current subheadings are: Our approach to learning, our approach to teaching, our approach to assessment, our approach to hearing the student voice]
So, yes. This framework, our initial structure, our initial kind of structures, we're starting on all of this and we will let you know when this is available on our website and so that you can you can all put your comments in.
I'm now going to stop sharing so that we can have a few little few minutes to take any questions or any comments, and then we're going to move on to have a look at reducing complexity in electives.
I'm going to look around the room for any questions or comments so far. I can see lots of smiling faces for a Friday, which is fantastic.
[Screen moves to Lucy-May Taraflder who asks a question]
Lucy-May Taraflder: Hi. Yeah, I suppose I picked up instantly and my ears twitch about the change in the material in the prospectus, which you're probably not surprised to hear about. So just obviously I'll link in with you on that and I can also send you some information, which might be helpful about what the guidance already is, and what we are expected to put in the prospectus, so you have that right now at the start Claire, so that you've already got that in front of you, about what we are required to do, because we have got flex within it, I think.
But, there's something, the way we present it at the moment is linked to our systems, so it might be worth us having a bit of discussion around that, so that you can then take that back, and you can know what is required and what might or might not be possible before that maybe goes too far down the line, or maybe computer says no later on, or anybody else to say that it's a lovely idea, but actually it can't work within our systems or whatever, does that make sense.
Professor Claire Smith: That makes complete sense and thank you Lucy. We realise that one of the things that people feel is, that is, I guess an issue at the moment, is the level of detail in the prospectus so that work, that project work hasn't started. The first thing is actually looking at the existing CMA guidance, looking at where the timeframes are, what's material changes, what things we can and can't do and also what our systems are.
Lucy-May Taraflder: The big one really though is the presentation of information at module level as opposed to course level and that level of granularity and that detail that you've just talked about.
And it's whether or not we can achieve what you want to do within our systems because rates are not system experts, but I just thought I'd flag that because I'm completely on board with the idea, completely behind the principle of not having too much detail that ties us in knots and makes us change how to deliver things. But at the same time it's the work arounds of that, and implementation of that.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you. I very much see that when I say, for example, that that project line starts happening, that we will then have dedicated focus group sessions and wider engagement sessions like this, just looking at those specific issues.
[Screen moves to Jayne Aldridge]
Jayne Aldridge: Thanks Claire, Lucy-May. This ties up exactly with the conversation we've been having this morning around the student information system.
It would be helpful if we can have that three way because I think we're all aiming towards making sure only the appropriate level of information is published that serves what we need it to serve to our external audiences, which doesn't hamstring us into locked in ways for two, three years. But in terms of how we're going to bring on board the student information system, it's going to be helpful for if, the college can be part of that discourse as well, I think we are all aiming in the same direction because with the implementation of the new student information system, we would expect the pull and the level of detail to be at the level we'd want it to be going forward, not what we've historically had. Thank you.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you. Thank you, Jayne. And we recognise that some things on these projects might be some things that we can change more immediately, and others of them we might be leading into a much, much longer lead time.
So each of these pieces of work will have that kind of dedicated map of work, what it needs. Rob.
[Screen moves to Rob Boyd]
Rob Boyd: Hi. Good morning. And I'm coming at this from a slightly partnership angle.
I think it's really exciting what you've been talking about and around this, the development of the teaching learning framework. I'm just wondering if the, when we're inviting feedback from colleagues whether there's an opportunity for some of our partners maybe to have an opportunity to feedback on that as well? Or is this completely internal?
Professor Claire Smith: I think. 100% to welcoming feedback. It is it is internal. But that doesn't mean that our partners who are really important to us can't have an opportunity in a way to comment as well, so I, if we can take it as a separate offline conversation, we maybe need to get to a point internally where we've got what we need to do first, at that point and then we bring in partners in due course when we've got a little bit more bones on what we're what we're trying to do, but I will 100% note that down and take that, take that away. Thank you.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you, Denise.
[Screen moves to Denise Cooper]
Denise Cooper: Just picking up on Rob's point, I think we agree that we probably need to integrate into the kind of discussion, that I fully appreciate, that you know the expertise and the advice that could come from some of our partners, but we need to bring Study Group with us because obviously we've got that point where we, we've got students who are transitioning from Study Group courses, you know International Year One and International Foundation Year into Sussex Awards.
So we need to make sure that those, those transitions work in the context of our students making that transition and making sure that the curriculum at Study Group are delivering matches. So just thinking that through and bringing them on board sooner rather than later.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you Denise. So now I'm going to hand over to Jessica who is going to, for 15 minutes going to present to us on where our thinking is with regard to reducing complexity.
And then we'll have some time for further questions and answers. So over to you Jessica.
Professor Jessica Horst: Thank you. Thanks, Claire. I think I will actually go a little bit over 15, but that's just because I care so much.
Can everyone see my screen? Okay. I think so.
[Presentation slide reads: Principle three, streamline the curriculum and underpinning adminstrative processes, while preserving interdisiciplinary choice]
Hold on. I need to minimise some things so that I can see my screen.
Okay. I'm guessing that everyone can see my screen just fine. Shout out if you can't, because I can no longer see anyone.
So I'm going to pick up on that third principle that we had on the slides earlier about streamlining the curriculum and those administrative processes that support what we're trying to do with the curriculum and the student experience while still preserving our interdisciplinary choice that Sussex has historically been known for. And so in particular, I want to focus on those elements of streamlining the curriculum and preserving that interdisciplinary choice.
Now, currently, this is sort of the system that we have, right?
[Slide shows a messy bundle of wires]
If we started pulling at one thing, it would all kind of come apart. it's messier than it ought to be. It works sort of on the other side of the wall. But behind things, it's just incredibly messy.
And having been at Sussex now for like 15, 16 years, and I know some of you in the virtual room with me today have been here even longer. We've kind of had this attitude, right?
[Slide shows cartoon character with sign reading; This is fine]
It's like, yeah, it's Sussex. This is kind of where we are. And so it was quite refreshing when we had the external consultants come and review the timetable who told us that actually our curriculum is characterised by extreme levels of choice for students and this far exceeds anything rational, and we just can't really deliver it well. And it's not just like a timetable thing, right?
This this feeds into staff morale, workload, student workload, students ability to have part time jobs and balance their other activities and how well we manage contact time.
And if we're really doing the best things for our students, it's all like what I'm showing with these wires, it's all really messy, really entwined.
And my personal goal with Curriculum Reimagined is that when we're done,we end up with a university that's a much better, more exciting place to study and also to work.
Right. So some of the things that I want to highlight here is that our level of choice is no longer a unique selling point.
Sasha has mentioned this in some of her talks.
Like we think of Sussex Choice and we think that we're super great and unique in the sector with offering this choice.
But that's not the case anymore. Again, we have more choice than is possibly rational.
A big issue in the timetable review is that we are cross threading modules. This is module types and module levels and I'm going to get to this in a moment.
Again, they also highlighted we don't have a university rule for minimum module size and we have a large number of tiny modules in places where we may not actually want them to be.And so this is all something that that was recently reviewed and that we're now taking on board further.
[Presentation slide shows how to find Sussex Direct on the website]
The timetable review, the review from the from the consultants was approved at the last University Education Committee meeting, and you can go read the review.
It's on Sussex Direct. If you don't know how to find committee papers, you go to searches, then committees, then you can get to the committee and then you can find the paper that you want to read.
[Presentation slide reads: What are the different module types]
So what I want to do is just take a step back really quickly and actually check that we're all on the same page. Right, and cover what actually are the different module types. Many of us have probably heard colleagues throw out option, elective, pathway, minor, all sorts of terms as if they're interchangeable and they actually have very different purposes. And so part of this is I think we need to get back to what is the purpose here.
[Presentation slide contains description of core modules and optional modules as discussed in following text]
Right. So module types, right. First thing core modules. Right. These are the modules that are required for the degree.
Students must take them and pass them in order to graduate.
They often cover professional topics that are required by external bodies.
They build on disciplinary knowledge from earlier in the course. Right. They they they really build on each other over the course of the degree, whether that's an undergrad degree or a postgraduate degree.
This contrasts with optional modules, right? These are specialist topics that are still related to your degree.
Right. So if, for example, we had a degree in gardening, we might have a specialist module on pruning and some students might take it and some students might decide to take, you know, planting annuals or water features or a totally different, different option. Right. But it's all sort of related to gardening and landscape design, right?
So often these are like a real deep dive into a specialist topic where you really, you know, get that depth of knowledge in, in something you're interested in. Again, this often builds on disciplinary knowledge from earlier in the course.
You often see a lot of prerequisites like, 'Oh, well, you need to have I don't know, I'm going to keep going with gardening', right?
Intro to hardscaping before you can take, you know, pergola design or you know, whatever element of landscaping.
[Presentation slide shows description of elective modules, as explained below]
This is very different from elective modules. Elective modules are things students elect to do right.
They are are optional in the sense of they could you know if they choose them or don't choose them, that won't have a kind of effect on their degree, the way that bringing in a deeper topic might then influence, you know, the dissertation or something.
These topics are meant to be from outside the students discipline. They're meant to be something totally different.
I was thinking this morning about how one of my favourite electives as a student was an astronomy one where we got to use the fancy telescopes, right? That had nothing to do with what my degree was on, but it was really exciting.
And those are cherished memories of getting to use that fancy equipment, right?
A big important distinction here is that electives do not require background knowledge, right? They are like the opposite of a deep dive. They do not require that students come in and already know lots of different information.
[Presentation slide shows description of minor modules as below]
Minor modules are closely related to elective modules and sometimes can be swapped in and out sometimes, right. These topics again are not related to the degree, but they are related to each other and have some academic coherence to them, right. There's sort of like a collection that makes almost like a little mini degree and they're very, very useful for areas where we don't have a joint degree, right. So for example, we don't have social work and British sign language as one degree, right?
So having a minor in British sign language could be quite, quite helpful as a sort of add on to your degree, right? Critically For planning curriculum, minor modules then become core and required for students who have that minor.
So then they have special rules they have to follow in terms of they have to be taught out if we close a program, for example.
[Presentation slide shows description of pathways and minors as below]
So a pathway is a carefully selected selection of electives that are academically coherent.
At Sussex, we offer a 60-credit pathway made up of 415 credit modules or a 90-credit pathway made up of of 615 credit modules, right. So minors and electives, right. I'm using the same shapes here because they're almost the same thing, right. Except a minor will always be 90 credits.
And so far everything I've been telling you is part of our current regulations.
So we have our current regulations that's there in case you want to want to review it.
So this is one of those cases where we have rules and we're just not following them.
[Presentation slide shows a diagram of a typical semester for students: three core modules and one elective]
So just to look at what a typical semester looks like for some students on some courses we have things like a student might do three core modules and then have a group of electives they can choose for their fourth module.
[Presentation slide shows two core modules and one optional module]
Or they might have two core modules and one optional module, but they can choose a selection from in their department or a closely affiliated department.
And then again, those elective modules. Okay, that's just a couple examples, we have, you know, several different variations and that's fine.
But right, this part isn't the part that's not working. Right. There are parts that are not working. Okay. I chose this slide very specifically because this is kind of where we are.
[Presentation slide shows disconnected plug with the sentence 'Why isn't this working?' above it.]
We're trying to cram things into places where they're the wrong shape, the wrong size.
They're not working. And and we're just, you know, doing crazy things like like, you know, teaching students at 7pm on Fridays when we actually have plenty of classrooms during the week because what we're doing just isn't working.
[Presentation slide shows the different purposes discussed below]
So I think it's really important that we think through that different module types have different purposes.
And when we double up on this, we actually get poor student experience for both groups of students.
So I went through some student module evaluations comments from my school, and I found two comments from the same module in the same semester. Right? So everything these students had was the same, right?
One student complained this module was incredibly basic.
While I understand that some students hadn't studied this topic before. The majority of us had. And a totally different student. Same module, same experience. Same lecturers. Same passion. Right. This module is really hard for someone who hadn't studied the general discipline before.
So we're actually doing both groups of students a disservice by just doubling up on all of this.
And like me, you may have lived through a pandemic in the last five years, and you might know when you try to double up and make something work for too many purposes at once, it's just not a good experience. Right. So one way to think about this is that doubling up really reduces our degrees of freedom.
And if you're from a discipline where you don't think in terms of degrees of freedom, right.
[Presentation slide shows a mock up of the booking system at a theatre]
It's kind of like when you book tickets at a theatre. Right. If someone else has chosen to sit somewhere or something else is somewhere like, say, a tour group comes in and they book out, you know, rows A, B and C like you just can't be there.
You now have less freedom in choosing where you get to sit. Right. And so it turns out that this is actually not as efficient as we think.
And in fact, in that time table review over and over again, they use the word impossible.
What we're trying to do is just not possible anymore. And we've grown a lot since we started on this route with this framework.
And we're big enough now that we can offer modules designed to deal with what we're trying to make them do. Right. So we need to start phasing out multirole modules, right?
Stop making core modules also be electives at the same time or options also try to be elective because they don't fit.
And I want to make sure that I mentioned that this is not about like withdrawing modules, right. I'm not arguing that anything should be withdrawn.
It's about reviewing if a particular module is serving the right purpose and reaching the right students.
[Presentation slide shows picture of flats in Brighton with header, How do we fit more in?]
Okay. So how do we do this? How do we fit more in?
Well, we do what the Victorians and Edwardians did, right. We stack. We put things one on top of each other.
And that's how you fit more in to less space or more in without needing more space or more time in the in the week, right.
[Presentation slide shows another mock up of theatre stalls booking system]
So we actually have an elective tube and I've now met with colleagues from every school and I've reviewed the syllabi and only four of our departments are still using the original rules for the elective tube. Right. So you can read our rules there.
We're supposed to stack the electives. They're all supposed to be at the same time.
And then there's no clash. Then a student can take just about anything.
But that's not what we're doing. Right. So I'm still in the process of this with my working group.
We're reviewing the real shape of what we're doing so that we can adapt to how we teach rather than trying to force our regulate, you know, our regulations on people. Right. Let's change the regulations to be more modernised. Right. So we're probably going to need a few places in the timetable for electives and a different shape of this tube than what we've had before.
And then the next step will be to protect those time slots, just like we protect Wednesday afternoons. Right. So we need to also phase out multi-level teaching. Right. This is the kind of teaching where we say, you know, every student level four and level five can take this particular elective.
There is an alternative to phasing out multi-level that I'm that I'm still exploring.
But re-reading the timetable review last night, it's I think that we're going to have to phase out we're either going to have to phase out or we have to like totally redo how we do electives to make them uni level.
And I think that pedagogically this makes sense, right?
Because students are coming to these electives with different levels of background knowledge. Right. If you take, I don't know, a gardening elective. Right. If you're coming in as a as a level five student, you already have different academic skills and different background that you can use to succeed in that module in a different way than a student who's maybe in their first semester at Sussex.
One thing that I am highlighting is I'm aware we're going to have to build in regular capacity checking and ensuring that the elective offer does fit the number of students who can take electives.
[Presentation slide shows 'Paradox of choice' graphic which shows happiness decreasing with more level of choice]
And I'm not sure that we've been doing a very good job on that. And so that's also on my radar. Now as we're reviewing this. Right. I just kind of want to highlight the paradox of choice. Right. So it seems like more should be more, but it's not having more choice is actually very stressful.
And we've heard multiple times that you're one students find the amount of choice we give them very stressful.
And so we want to be exploring what is the right level of choice. Right. And this is where some of our student connectors will come in as well and work with us and work with the architecture stream to figure out what electives should we be offering and what kind of choice is there.
But also in addition to this, right, if you think about what choice in your own life, like if you open a streaming service like Netflix, right.
And you're like, oh, I want to watch a movie. It doesn't give you every single movie on there in one giant list, right?
Or even by like, you know, director, it gives it to you in themes, right?
Like comedy and action and period drama or, you know, whatever the themes are.
And so that's some work that was already started in media, arts and humanities. They already started looking at electives, looking at theming them.
And that's something that the architecture stream is going to build on and continue with, with discussion with our student connectors about what themes make sense, right?
What themes do students want? What's interesting to them? What should we call them? Again, ensuring capacity. And also we want that feedback of what new topics are we not teaching that we should be teaching?
Yesterday I was in a great meeting and someone mentioned anti-racism and it's like, yeah, it would be lovely to have a pathway on that.
That would be so Sussex, right? But you know, now is the time to start thinking about what those might be.
And so we're going to be running special focus groups with staff and students and staff and students like together in the same group. So please look out for those. I really hope that you'll be able to join them.
[Presentation slide shows graphic of a pyramid as Jessica explains the by product of stacking as below]
And then I just want to mention some by-products of stacking. Right? By stacking we can ensure that the popular pathways can more easily become the popular minors right.
If we realised through stacking, oh look you know, if they're staffed we can say, okay, yeah, this pathway will always be protected in this special timeslot.
You'll always be able to do it and it's popular. We can turn it into a minor that we're offering, right?
So oddly, we're supposed to be protecting those, you know, where those, those minor modules are.
And we have some really cool degrees here, right, with minors like law, with media or psychology of neuroscience or mathematics with finance.
If we stack things and get really efficient, we can actually open up any minor combination, right?
[Presentation slide shows images of Brighton & Hove buses from former campaign]
Which I think is really cool. Like I imagine we could do something like that old on the bus campaign, right where we have something like, oh, I'm at Sussex, I'm on, I don't know, media with gardening or you know, whatever cool combination we have.
But of course, you know, we have a whole branding department and I'm going to leave it to the professionals for how the the branding would work.
But, you know, that's the kind of thing where we can think about, oh, maybe we can get back to our unique selling point of having really cool, distinct interdisciplinary views.
And so I want to highlight that this is fun. This is the exciting part of curriculum reimagined, right. Is actually reimagining, oh, we could do this and we could offer that and we could teach this.
And I'd love to hear more comments on what people want to be teaching and how that might look.
So I just want to give a quick mention to languages, okay. Language modules are very different from the other kinds of electives that we offer.
And this this is important to note, right?
So unlike other subjects, students come to Sussex with different background proficiency in languages beside, well in English, but also the languages that we offer that are not English.
And so and protecting our ability to teach languages is so strongly linked to our core values as a university, we want to make sure we don't do something that would make it challenging for us to continue teaching languages.
And so I've already been consulting with others who are working on the new student information system about how we might have a sort of different approach to presenting language modules for students because they so commonly have students on different levels at the same time. And some of you might be thinking, okay, fine, that's a lot about undergraduates. Well, what about postgraduates? The same principles apply.
We need to look through optionality. We need to consider. Are the modules at the correct level? Are we trying to cram too much in with the same modules?
Because it's still one timetable we're all using. It's still one set of general teaching rooms we're all using. And any resource we're freeing up helps everyone else. Right. And of course, in those elective, protected elective times. Right. The postgraduates who aren't taking electives, they will be able to use the rooms that the electives aren't using.
And hopefully those will be at much more sociable hours than some of our postgraduates have had so far.
So I hope you are keen to keep being involved and to start brainstorming and re-imagining what we get to do next.
I'm just posting the website we have for curriculum reimagined here.
[Presentation slide contains link to Curriculum Reimagined web page]
So, you can see when the next like open meetings and our different focus group meetings will be held.
And I'm going to stop sharing and hand back to Claire.
Professor Claire Smith: Thanks. Thanks, Jessica.
So much in that and I obviously I want to see some modules on gardening.
Beautifully illustrated on actually enabling us to see actually what is a very complex set of things and in a really clear way.
So I think it's time for questions and answers, well hopefully answers, I think it's time for questions.
Professor Jessica Horst: I do recognise it's a lot to take in and people will probably have questions, you know, at some point after and I'm always happy to, to take email.
My email is simply firstname.lastname@example.org.
So any, any time anyone wants to catch up, oh.
Lucy-May: Me again. I'm quite happy to talk I suppose, and that was fantastic. I think that's really really helpful for what you've been doing so far and I love the presentation Jessica and I will be gardening as well. My thoughts are really around, I'm excited to hear about the thing that's leading to electives and pathways and minors is because from a CMA perspective, as I said, that's always been when I have always had this high risk area.
So I suppose what I want to work with everybody here on and really make sure we're doing is that if this is going to be a big selling point, that we're very clear exactly what are we selling to our students so we don't have applicants coming in thinking, great, I'm going to do a pathway which is going to give me a degree with Law and Media, if there's no there's no guarantees that that can actually become the degree title I end up with.
So I just want to like flag that. I think it is brilliant it's all been looked at and I think your idea of stacking and the tubing or whatever it was could hopefully lead to that greater certainty, which will then reduce the risks that we already have around this at the moment.
But I just yeah, I just want to make sure that when we talk about it, we are very clear and working with marketing colleagues, that when we have I'm on the bus doing whatever it is, that we are very clear, saying if I'm on a bus doing law with media that they will get a degree, which is law and media at the end of it.
So yeah, thanks.
Professor Jessica Horst: That's that's an important point that gets back to how when something moves from a pathway to an official minor, right, those modules become core and we're contracted to teach...
Lucy-May: And it then becomes a separate title and all of that kind of stuff. And it's like kind of like what are we going to sell? What is the sell? What is the sell going to be to students, is it going to be we have an amazing range of system of choice and when you come to Sussex, you can craft your optionality for lessons that might lead you to the degree title, which is, say, law with X, or is it going to be a kind of like you can come here to do law with X?
They're very different propositions from getting clear about what is the one that we are going to be offering students.
Professor Jessica Horst: Yeah. Thanks for that. I will ensure we continue to pick it up with the working group, the steering group and in the focus groups when we start talking to our students.
Jayne Aldridge: Just building on that, we obviously need to be cognisant of students when they arrive.
I think if they want to do something at the age of 18, 19 and then 12, 18 months in they get excited by other things.
So it's about how we make the art of the possible with clarity coming in, but the flex in order to say that you know, I really like gardening right now so I want to be able to have my minor with gardening, for example, even though I'm doing astrophysics or whatever.
So I think there's a, there's, there's looking at it from the 360 in the round for the entire life cycle so that it works from all aspects from a student who's thinking at the age of 16 what they might want to do all the way through it, you know, 21/22 graduating with exactly what's going to help them for their next part of their careers, and making sure that we we look at it in, in that dimension as well and that we don't, we we enable the art of the possible, remove any unnecessary barriers, but do it in ways that actually enable us to hit our principles around that effectiveness throughout and efficiencies. Thank you.
Professor Claire Smith: Makes sense. Thank you. Linda.
[Screen moves to Linda Waldman]
Linda Waldman: Thanks. And thank you, Jessica, I found that really interesting that actually, as someone who doesn't really engage with undergraduate teaching very much at all, I just think it's more a question than a, than a a comment.
But it's it's around this idea that you mentioned about levels of knowledge coming into a module, and you gave that example from your own module. I mean, that's, I kind of feel at postgraduate level, maybe that doesn't hold as strongly because I want my postgraduates to come with differing experience, and I want them and I, I don't have much patience with a postgraduate that says that was too simple because they have the sophistication to ask new questions, to bring new ideas, and that's part of their role.
So I think that distinction for me, I think is possibly more important at undergraduate than postgraduate.
And I just wanted to ask that question.
Professor Jessica Horst: I mean, interestingly, those quotes were actually from a postgraduate module.
They were from a semester one, level seven, but that was one where for some of the students, it was sort of like a I don't know, imagine going from gardening to landscape design. And for other students it was like going from architecture to landscape design.
It was like a bigger disciplinary difference.
So so we definitely have degrees where we intend to recruit students from diverse backgrounds, like academically diverse backgrounds, right.
In those kinds of degrees. So it's a good idea to keep keep our focus on that as well.
Kelly, did you want to chime in?
Kelly Coate: Yeah, I thought that was so helpful. I just kind of wish I had seen it, like, five years ago.
It's like stuff you sort of know, but when you lay it all out like that and articulate it as well, it's like, Oh, well.
But anyway. This conversation is just making me think about how related this is to discussions and the assessment workstream because if we're not clear on the purpose of the module, how can we be clear about how we're assessing it? And if you're saying this module can be many things to many students. What are you assessing really? And I know, you know, in some ways you could say, well, there are core learning outcomes you could draw out.
But like really it I think it points to a lack of coherence that would thread through from your curriculum to our assessment.
Professor Jessica Horst: I mean, I've definitely seen examples in the last few years of colleagues across the university taking a core module for some students, or rather an option module for some students that gets to that deep dive.
And then having students trying to do it as like, Oh, for the minor, we'll just put this option on there and make that the minor module.
And then the students are coming from such different places that you're trying that you have to try to balance, like this assessment is just so in-depth that these students are really struggling.
But if you cater to these students, then the students who actually want to really go into that deep struggle with it.
But fortunately, I mean, Claire and I are, and Denise, but especially Claire and I, because Denise's workstream kind of comes online later, we're in almost constant communication about how these things map up, match up, because like that example of those wires, I mean, it's all just so you know, it's like if I pull something and Claire pulls something else, we might actually be on two ends of the same thing, you know?
And so we really need that joined up communication and thinking.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you. And Hannah you've mentioned in the chat about, discussing condition B1, which is a risk to students related to quality.
Is there anything further you'd like to expand on or say about that at all?
Hannah Wallace: Well, I mean, it's not my, it's not my world anymore.
And I'm glad it's not my world at Sussex because it sounds enormously complicated compared to the previous institution I was in.
But I remember when we were doing this work around our common academic framework, around the kind of rules around, you know, degrees and then degrees with 'and' and degrees with 'with' and discussing around whether we would be prescriptive in terms of the number of credits that might be required for, you know, a 'with' or an 'and' etc, etc. And and I think, you know, like, I 100%, you know, love the kind of ideology of degree for degrees sake, like education for education sake.
But then I think also, particularly with some of our APP students, when the context of students wanting to actually understand what their potential career path is, and working through a specific discipline that takes them in a particular direction. And I, I guess it's that kind of understanding of how if you have electives in a seemingly kind of discrete from your main discipline, how then that those learning outcomes map to the course learning outcome?
And are we at risk potentially of of having degrees which are incoherent?
And so I mean, that's just a kind of a blur of thoughts there because there's so much information that Jessica presented.
But I'm I'm. Well, as with everything keen to be as helpful as possible in the, in the discussions so hopefully when the students are drawn into those groups, I can help support that work.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you Hannah. And that was that was very helpful to further expand, expand the comment.
And maybe last question or comment, Jayne.
Jayne Aldridge: Thanks, just on that point, Hannah, you'll be pleased to know that part of the operations working group isn't just looking at the logistical operation, it's actually looking at it from the eye of our OFSB conditions and assurance, hence why Denise is leading it. So. So all of that, all of those really important questions will sit with the ops group, being able to ensure that we are appropriately compliant with the prevailing conditions at the time that the OFS have with us. Thanks.
Professor Claire Smith: Thank you Jayne. Thank you very much, everyone, for such great, great questions and engagement and to Jessica for the the really fantastic slides, and taking us through that.
Our next steps – the working groups and steering groups are going to continue to work on the areas that we've outlined.
And we have a, our third open meeting, is on the 27 March at 10am, also on Zoom.
I will make sure yeah, make sure it's in university communications to you as as well.
Our website is there, you know who we are, please do get in contact, if you're not sure who is your kind of closest representative on a working group, please let us know, because on those working groups you've got representation from level seven and eight, academics from directors of student experience, directors of teaching and learning, Professional Services, curriculum managers, academic developers and CMA areas. I think every area, education enhancement, every area is covered, but you might not know exactly who that is.
So thank you very much. Sun is still shining. This meeting will be recorded, is being recorded, and will also be placed up on the website.
If anyone is thinking of actually, hi Jessica could you come and say a little bit more to a particular group, please let us know and we would be really happy to do that.
Thank you. And hope you have a lovely Friday. Thank you, everybody.
Thank you. Bye bye. Thank you.
Principles of Curriculum Reimagined
The four driving principles of Curriculum Reimagined are:
To ensure Sussex’s educational offer is distinctive, expresses our core values, and reflects our research strengths.
To enhance our approach to inclusivity and accessibility, including to ‘design out’ Reasonable Adjustments and tackle Awarding Gaps.
To streamline the curriculum, and underpinning administrative processes, whilst preserving interdisciplinary choice and best pedagogical practice, including the use of digital technology.
Ensure that our courses prepare students with the modern skills needed for work or further study so they can influence global challenges such as environmental sustainability, smart
technology, and human flourishing.
Depending on the need for change, identified through our consultation process, you may see some changes in place for the start of the academic year 2023/24. Other changes will take longer to realise and will be delivered in phases.
The stages the Curriculum Reimagined project will go through are:
February – July 2023: This includes consultation with staff, Research and Development (R&D) academic approvals, and outlining our business case. We are here.
July – December 2023: This includes developing our phased implementation plans and seeking academic approval for our final business case. We will start our preparation and enabling works in spring 2023.
January 2024 onwards: This includes ongoing planning and phased implementation. (Timeline to be confirmed).
The status of this project is currently in the 'scope' phase.
We will be consulting different stakeholders in different ways throughout the project, including:
- inviting the University community to our Open Meetings
- attending School Meetings
- holding discussions at relevant University committees e.g. Exam and Assessment Regulations Subcommittee
- using existing groups (such as the Director of Teaching and Learning, the Directors of Student Experience, the Digitally Enhanced Education Programme group, Academic Developers, Heads of Professional Services, and Curriculum Managers) to feed into discussions on what we will be doing (this is a ‘grass roots’ progressive focusing approach and we will provide more information as soon as we can).
The project has a steering group that will report to the University Education Committee and the University Executive Group for academic decisions and to the Capital Strategy Investment Board for project delivery related decisions.
Our working groups (which organisationally sit underneath the steering group) are planning and proposing ideas for the project in the areas of curriculum and assessment, architecture and structure, and operations.
Sub working groups will exist in a ‘task and finish’ format – for example a blended delivery group will be feeding into the Curriculum and Assessment group.
Chair – Professor Claire Smith
Professor Smith is Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Innovation and a Professor of Anatomy. Claire is a National Teaching Fellow and a Principle Teaching Fellow of Advance Higher Education. She has published extensively on areas of innovation and understanding how students learn. Claire has been highly involved in curriculum review within medicine and allied health, leading projects for example the development of Core Syllabi recognised by the General Medical Council. Claire has experience of delivering complex projects at university level. She has been an external examiner for various institutions for the past 10 years and is looking forward leading this project for Sussex.
Architecture: Lead – Jessica Horst
Professor Horst is Interim Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Academic Experience and a Professor of Developmental Psychology. An award-winning teacher, she has a passion for embedding career readiness in the curriculum and has published two textbooks on research skills. Professor Horst was previously Director of Teaching and Learning for Psychology, where she oversaw the school’s curriculum review and several course re-designs. To enhance both student and staff experience. She has also served the university on several working groups including CMA compliance, PgCert HE training, and the new Student Information System, amongst others. With first-hand experience of being a student on a joint-degree programme with a minor in a modern foreign language, Professor Horst is keen to facilitate authentic interdisciplinary choice through Curriculum Reimagined.
Curriculum and Assessment: Lead – Claire Smith
Operations: Lead – Denise Cooper.
The following priorities were highlighted in our recent Pulse Survey (sent out in December 2022). We had 140 responses, with 450 comments – the findings were taken to our working groups and discussed at our first Open Meeting.
Top 10 academic priorities
- Exceptional Circumstances process
- Reasonable Adjustment modes
- Minors and pathways
- Employability skills
- Resits (structure of)
- Assessment modes
- Elective module choice
- Optional module choice
- Joint degrees
- Timing of assessments
Top 10 Professional Services priorities
- Elective module choice
- Optional module choice
- Resits (structure of)
- Assessment modes
- Employability skills
- Minors and pathways
- Exceptional Circumstances process
- Reasonable Adjustment modes
- Timing of assessments
Projects that will be feeding into Curriculum Reimagined include:
- the new Student Information System
- timetable review
- review of Exceptional Circumstances (EC).