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Capstone learning outcomes – drawing on threshold standards

In 2010 and 2011 the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) conducted the Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (LTAS) project, with the goal of articulating academic standards in several broad discipline areas. Carried out by the Discipline Scholars, this work resulted in a series of ‘LTAS’ statements, which include the threshold learning outcomes expected of graduates of a course in those disciplines. LTAS documents for each discipline can be found at http://www.olt.gov.au/resource-library?text=LTAS

We undertook a review and synthesis of the learning outcomes to identify the commonalities across discipline standards and to distil a set of capstone learning outcomes.

The learning outcomes demonstrated commonality across four broad themes: knowledge, engagement with others, personal qualities and procedural capabilities. The table below shows the organisation of capacities under the themes, along with the associated learning outcomes for each at a generic threshold level for undergraduate (AQF Level 7). However, some caution is needed in their use. In individual capstones it would be realistic to see a great deal of variation in emphasis and depth of achievement, with some elements at a higher level. For example, although theoretical knowledge and its utilisation can be present in, and underpin, all capstone types, some depth in this outcome would be expected in academic inquiry projects focused on a theoretical piece of work. Other capstones may result in highly sophisticated production skills, but less depth in historical knowledge.

The challenging task of the capstone designer is to balance the depth and breadth of outcomes in reference to discipline threshold learning outcomes, program-level learning outcomes, students’ future roles and the expectations of the discipline and the profession. It is not intended, therefore, that these outcomes be used wholesale for every capstone, but that they may be a useful set of ideas on which to commence the process of learning outcome design. The overlapping nature and breadth of learning outcome themes means that, as always, the list is tentative and subject to user interpretation, reconceptualization and revision.

Knowledge

Abstract Draw upon historical, theoretical and conceptual discipline knowledge
Contextual Integrate and apply knowledge of the context in which the profession operates, as well as more broadly the ethical, regulatory, cultural and social contexts of the discipline
Technical Select and apply appropriate academic and professional procedures, techniques, tools and rules

Engagement with others

Communication Clearly communicate ideas and arguments as part of day to day practice and more formally, to multiple audiences
Teamwork Work collaboratively and cooperatively with others within and outside of the discipline to effect positive outcomes
Stakeholders Collaborate with, and/or respond appropriately to the needs of stakeholders as partners and consumers

Personal qualities

Self-development Use critical self-reflection and the feedback of others to identify and act on opportunities for learning
Self-direction Independently devise plans and take responsibility for own work, seeking advice when necessary
Ethics and judgment Make informed and ethical judgments in relation to day to day activity and the production of outcomes

Procedural capabilities

Investigation and evaluation Seek and critically evaluate relevant existing and new information as the basis for developing outcomes
Problem-solving and creativity Use a range of processes to continuously define the components of, and propose solutions for, complex problems and scenarios
Production and aesthetic Complete work to professional quality, demonstrating a range of production and/or aesthetic skills

 

 

Download the learning outcomes as a pdf here.

 

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