Course Review Information
Broad Curriculum Issues
Employers, as cited in numerous studies, want graduates to know 'something
about something'. That subject specific curriculum material is what most
academics are comfortable about developing.
Employers in those same studies demand that graduates possess a range
of more generic, rather than knowledge based, skills. This has also been
discussed in a report by the University of Alberta Senate. This is an area
where most academics feel uncomfortable when developing curricula. Students
also need to know the skills they have been developing as they develop
their own 'profiles'.
In addition, a group of universities around the world has also committed
themselves, in the Talloires Declaration, to placing a degree of environmental
awareness in all subjects in university degree programs.
The following links and references review the importance of generic
skills in curricula and university education in general.
Interdisciplinary Research. A report from the US National Academy of
Sciences that argues that undergraduates should have the opportunity to seek out
interdisciplinary experiences spanning more than one traditional discipline.
Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College. A
report from the Association of American Universities and Colleges emphasizing
the importance of liberal education.
College Year: Findings from a survey instrument designed to measure
studentsí curricular and co-curricular experiences in their first year of
Educating Future Scientists.
An editorial in Nature 414:673(2001) inviting scientists to consider the trade offs between providing a less challenging
curriculum and increasing participation in science.
SUCCESS by Degrees:
a report by the University of Alberta Senate that includes Rod Fraser's
skill sets for all graduates.
The Council of
Ministers of Education, Canada in discussing the quality of postsecondary
education identifies five important learner outcomes for individual students
The Dearing Report,
of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education in the UK, says
in its Recommendations 18 and 21:
Learners and graduates have acquired a taste for lifelong learning and
the capacity for self-directed study.
Graduates exhibit field-specific learning, problem solving and analysis
skills, and a capacity to access and use knowledge in their chosen area
Graduates are equipped with, in addition to field-specific knowledge, the
skills required to search for, acquire, hold, or create employment. This
includes effective oral and written communication skills, self-motivation,
the ability to work independently and as part of a group, critical thinking,
and problem solving.
Graduates have the ability to participate fully as citizens in a democratic
society. They have intercultural sensitivities, inter-personal competencies,
and leadership skills. They have a capacity to deal with uncertainty and
Graduates, whatever their areas of specialization, have the skills to deal
with, in a discriminating fashion, the large volumes of complex information
made available by communications and computer technologies and individual
The Association of Graduate Recruiters. 1995. Skills for Graduates of the
21st Century. A study led by Dr Peter Hawkins and written with Jonathan
Winter, Whiteway Research, Cambridge, UK: The Association of Graduate Recruiters
[Trotman, Australia], 49 pp., ISBN 0 9520999 1 8, $60.00
18. We recommend that all institutions should over the medium term, identify
opportunities to increase the extent to which programmes help students
to become familiar with work, and help them to reflect on such experience.
21. We recommend that institutions of higher education begin immediately
to develop, for each program they offer, a "programme specification" which
identifies potential stopping-off points and gives the intended outcomes
of the programme in terms of:
the knowledge and understanding that a student will be expected to have
key skills: communication, numeracy, the use of information technology
and learning how to learn:
cognitive skills, such as an understanding of methodologies or ability
in critical analysis:
subject specific skills, such as laboratory skills.
This report examines the qualities needed by UK university graduates.
It includes a discussion of the challenges faced by higher education in
providing graduates with the required skills.
The Talloires Declaration,
in its Article 4, calls upon institutions of higher education to:
Create programs to develop the capability of university faculty
to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional
Skills. This site was originally prepared for the University of New South Wales and it gives more information,
including material on student 'profiling'.
Australian Technology Network.
This site review the Graduate Capabilities Project at five Australian universities.
Hertfordshire Integrated Learning
Project. Follow links through 'Progress' to read their 'Graduate Skills
Further information on this topic can be obtained by contacting John
© University of Alberta, 20050118.