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Issue No.01 - First Quarter (2013 vol.6)
pp: 25-37
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
R. Gluga , Sch. of Inf. Technol., Univ. of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
J. Kay , Sch. of Inf. Technol., Univ. of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
T. Lever , Fac. of Eng. & Inf. Technol., Univ. of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
ABSTRACT
It is important, but very challenging, to design degree programs, so that the sequence of learning activities, topics, and assessments over three to five years give an effective progression in learning of generic skills, discipline-specific learning goals and accreditation competencies. Our CUSP (Course and Unit of Study Portal) system tackles this challenge, by helping subject teachers define the curriculum of their subject, linking it to Faculty and institutional goals. The same information is available to students, enabling them to see how each subject relates to those goals. It then gives additional big-picture views of the degree for the academics responsible for the whole degree, including the ability to easily assess if a degree meets accreditation requirements. CUSP achieves this by exploiting a lightweight semantic mapping approach that gives a highly flexible and scalable way to map learning goals from multiple internal and external accrediting sources across the degree. We report its validation as used in a live university environment, across three diverse faculties, with 277 degrees and 7,810 subject sessions over a period of three years. Data from this evaluation indicates steady improvement in the documentation of the relationships between subjects, assessments, learning outcomes, and program level goals. This is driven by the reporting tools and visualizations provided by CUSP, which enable program designers and lecturers to identify parts of the curriculum that are unclear. This improved documentation of the curriculum enables more accurate and immediate quality reviews. Key contributions of this work are: a validated new approach for curriculum design that helps address the complexity of ensuring learners progressively develop generic skills; and a validated lightweight semantic mapping approach that can flexibly support visualizing the curriculum against multiple sets of learning goal frameworks.

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