Using waste to fight against Dengue Fever, Kiribati (central Pacific) – an industry linked project

Rowan Brookes Director of Education, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University

Dr Rowan Brookes Director of Education, School of Biological,Sciences, Monash University (Prior Coordinator of BSc – Advanced (Global Challenges))
rowan.brookes@monash.edu

The Bachelor of Science Advanced-Global Challenges Honours year is a unique research program that immerses talented science students in an experiential and industry-linked education.

Students work in groups on authentic multi-disciplinary challenges posed by our industry partners over the year-long project.

The student groups are co-located between the campus and the partner organisation and the students are jointly mentored and assessed by the industry partners and Monash University academics. This co-location provides students with the opportunity to learn through direct industry exposure, whilst also developing their research skills.

Djuke Veldhuis, Coordinator of BSc – Advanced (Global Challenges)
Andrea Robinson, Coordinator honours program BSc – Advanced (Global Challenges). 

Website: Global Challenges

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Full details of 'An industry-linked Honours program in Science'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

STEM

Model of WIL activity

Industry/community based projects

Brief description of WIL activity

The Bachelor of Science Advanced-Global Challenges Honours year is a unique research program that immerses talented science students in an experiential and industry-linked education. Students work in groups on authentic multi-disciplinary challenges posed by our industry partners over the year-long project. The student groups are co-located between the campus and the partner organisation and the students are jointly mentored and assessed by the industry partners and Monash University academics. This co-location provides students with the opportunity to learn through direct industry exposure, whilst also developing their research skills.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

The Honours year has been running for one year with its inaugural cohort in 2018. The degree that this Honours year is embedded within commenced in 2014.

Who benefits from the WIL activity?

There are three groups that benefit from this WIL Honours program. Firstly, our students develop skills directly relevant to industry and increase their exposure and understanding of different sectors. Secondly, our partner organisations gain access to our talented students who generate novel and tangible solutions to the industry challenges. In addition, our partner organisations are able to develop a new talent pipeline into their organisations, as the students are in their final year of study.  Finally, through this program the Faculty of Science is able to create new industry linkages to a diverse range of industry partners.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

This activity demonstrates good practice in education as it is designed to provide an authentic, student-led, collaborative and experiential education. The challenge-based approach requires students utilize their creative and critical thinking skills, in addition to a host of other skills, within an applied setting. The Honours year has industry linkages throughout its inception, design and implementation.  For example, the concept was proposed in consultation with alumni and industry partners and industry groups were consulted during the design phase of the activities, assessment and the curriculum design. Finally, the students work on real-world challenges supported by industry partners throughout their learning journey.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

This Honours approach could be adaptable to other disciplines or teaching practices who wish to create industry focused education projects. The students in this degree program have gained a series of scaffolded skills earlier in the program (e.g design thinking, professionalism, stakeholder management, project management). Therefore, it would be recommended that if this approach was implemented in a different context, students should be given modules on some of these additional skills that they may not have not developed in their earlier studies.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

This Honours program is a sustainable model for two reasons: 1) The degree that this is embedded within is in high demand by students; 2) The program will continue to attract interest from industry partners, as they are wish to gain access to talented students. The biggest challenge for the sustainability of the program will be to find appropriate mechanisms to engage academics as the supervisors and assessors of student work. This is a challenge because the normal rewards of supervising an Honours student (research output and potential recruitment into higher degrees) are not primary objectives of the program.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

To determine the impact of this approach, the Honours program is evaluated by gathering feedback from the industry partners, students (student evaluations and informal feedback) and reflective observations of the educators involved in the program. The data collected from this feedback examines satisfaction rates, student and partner experience and student learning gains. Preliminary data is also being collected by the Faculty of Science on graduate employment rates and will later be collected through the Graduate Destination Survey to determine whether this program assists in higher employment rates.

What are the wider impacts of the WL activity beyond completion?

Early evidence provided from the graduates of this program immediately after they completed their final project show a 50% employment rate, with the remaining students undertaking postgraduate study (25%), or choosing to travel internationally before considering work or further study (25%).  Our industry partners indicate a high level of satisfaction working with the students and Faculty. Partners describe the students as high calibre, dedicated and resourceful students with the ability to understand complex, multidisciplinary problems. Several were impressed by their ability to engage with a diverse range of project stakeholders – from members of the public, technical boffins, industry leaders, corporate management and academia – and create productive internal and external collaborations for the partner organisation.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

By the commencement of the upcoming (2018) Honours year all students have undertaken at least one internship, have been mentored by people working in industry and engaged in a number of events involving industry partners. At the start of the year, the students complete an online module where they are required to investigate their industry partner and complete a range of activities to familiarise themselves with industry needs and objectives. Students also complete reflective tasks on their own skills and knowledge and identify skills to strengthen. The students complete a reflective assessment at the midpoint of their Honours year after they have completed their individual research project and prior to starting their group project.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

This program develops responsible and effective global citizens who:

  • Engage in an internationalised world by working across broad stakeholder groups and effectively negotiate with a partner organisation.
  • Demonstrate ethical values by demonstrating a high standard of professionalism throughout the project.
  • Can align their skill set with stakeholder and scientific need.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

This Honours year will continue to be provided to students in the Global Challenges degree with gradual iteration as we learn through feedback from the students and partners. Now that the first year has been successfully completed, it is planned that this approach will be extended into the Schools in the Faculty of Science and used as an alternative model for students completing their BSc Honours year. It is hoped that other universities might learn from this approach and trial it within their own context.