Final Year Experience

Swinburne University of Technology

Ms. Nicolette Lee
Academic Coordinator, Experiential Learning
Phone: +61 3 9214 4382,
nlee@swin.edu.au
Maryanne Mooney
Careers Consultant
Phone: +61 3 9214 4624
Email: mmooney@swin.edu.au

Briony Jennings
Research Assistant
Email: bjennings@swin.edu.au

nicolette

Maryanne

Vignette title and details

Final Year Experience: Major projects for all final year undergraduate students

Discipline

Multiple Disciplines

Employment sector

Multi-sector

Student numbers

All undergraduates across 5 faculties at Melbourne Campuses

Optional/compulsory

Compulsory

Credit bearing

Credit bearing

Assessment

Assessment incorporates process and outcomes of projects, with a strong focus on peer and self assessment.

Payment

Payment not generally given, although some individual cases may differ

Number of staff involved

A university-wide curriculum initiative, involving a project team of three central staff and a large number of academic and administrative staff across the faculties

Weblink

http://www.swinburne.edu.au/spl/projects/finalyear.html

Key Words

Multi-discipline; projects; curriculum.


Overview

Swinburne combines teaching, research and industry expertise within a supportive real world learning environment which produces great professional outcomes for its graduates. As part of its major Professional Learning initiative, Swinburne is increasing its range of work based and project based learning options and overseas study opportunities, strengthening industry connections and integrating career skills development even more firmly in undergraduate teaching.

Major Projects provide Swinburne degree students with professionally focused learning experiences during their final year of study. Project units utilise real-world, authentic activities and challenges in a supportive and collaborative environment. Projects may be externally-sourced industry and community projects, competitions, research-based projects or internally developed project briefs (including, in some cases, student-initiated projects). Each student is encouraged to identify their personal strengths, develop project management, team work and personal skills, and to apply their learning to real-world projects. These experiences enhance students CVs, preparing them for successful employment on graduation and for their future careers.

Excluding small numbers of articulating students, it is anticipated that all undergraduate students will be undertaking at least two such units (one quarter of a full years load, usually scheduled in final year) as part of their degree by 2009 .

Structure of program

Features of major project units of study include:

  1. Students are set a major task (project topic) to achieve over one or two 12.5cp units of study. Students may be assigned (or allowed to choose, with approval) to work in teams or individually, with an emphasis on collaborative group work. Projects may be discipline-specific, multi-disciplinary and/or inter-Faculty.
  2. Projects are open-structured, real world focused, and feature authentic professional activities and challenges. In each case, students are expected to: a) apply and/or synthesise a broad range of knowledge and skills that they have already learned, b) acquire new knowledge and skills in order to complete the tasks, c) develop the skills, behaviours and attitudes required of a professional in the workplace, and d) become self-directed learners, independently seeking resources, peer and professional assistance as needed.
  3. Depending on the discipline and project topic, students may be provided with access to specific facilities (e.g. labs, studios), work in an industry context, or work in their own time and choice of location.

Special features

Swinburne faculties are home to a wide range of discipline groups, including life and social sciences, physical and health sciences, design, ICT, engineering, marketing, philosophy and media. Taking account of the diversity of curriculum, the aims of the implementation process were to:

The project team have carried out substantial studies of modes of delivery, variations in learning outcomes, and student experience in the particularly complex area of group-based learning. A comprehensive literature review has also been carried out. These studies have informed resource and professional development programs across the university. Outcomes to date include:

Future work

Interdisciplinary units designed to span the disciplines of psychology, sociology, politics and tourism are currently in the planning stages, whilst expansion plans are in development for a wide-catchment work integrated learning program. The project team aims to continue working with individuals and academic groups in the development of project-focused units, and developing resources for staff and students. Work also continues to review policy and procedural issues that impact on the ability of the institution to deliver innovative learning experiences to students.

In addition, the design of campus spaces specifically oriented to major professional project experiences is underway. The first of these, a project hub is in development in 2008, with plans to launch to coincide with the 2009 academic year.

© 2011 Australian Collaborative Education Network Inc. All rights reserved.