Challenges of the Graduate Attributes Movement

In response to pressures for accountability, most Australian universities are currently working to integrate the development of desirable “Graduate Attributes” (GAs) into their curricula. Although the adoption of GAs is typically initiated by senior management and implemented through the institutional structure of committees and academic units, it is wise for LAS advisers to inform ourselves about them for two reasons. As we are perceived to teach generic skills, we may be called upon to play a role in designating attributes and/or facilitating the integration of these into the subject curricula, and perhaps also to assist with the professional development of staff in the disciplines to adapt their teaching. Secondly, it is possible that we will be asked to teach generic units focusing on developing Graduate Attributes. In this paper, therefore, I discuss the problem of designating attributes that can be fostered, observed and assessed during a course of study, and then go on to focus on particular challenges for Arts degrees. There are practical difficulties in integrating GAs into a degree structure that typically has no stable cohort progressing through common subjects. There are also cultural problems such as tensions between the corporate values of the workplace and the academic emphasis on individual competition, and between the action orientation of business and the academic search for nuanced understandings. The paper suggests ways of making explicit what Arts degrees do well, and of fostering attributes that are often underdeveloped in a B.A.

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Chanock, Kate
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Adelaide; Student Learning Centre, Flinders University
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Refereed proceedings of the 2003 Biennial Language and Academic Skills in Higher Education Conference
Deller-Evans, Kate
Zeegers, Peter
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