Curriculum design to engage and empower first year students

There is an increasing value being placed on engaging and empowering first-year students. First-year curriculum design is a key driver and opportunity to ensure early enculturation into successful learning at university. The paper of Catherine Bovilla, Cathy J. Bulley and Kate Morss summarise the literature on first-year curriculum design linked to student engagement and empowerment.  You can read more about their summary of the evaluation of curriculum design to engage and empower students(

Bovilla, Bulley and Morss, also, made a list of principles and guidelines for curriculum design to engage and empower.

  1. Facilitation of student development should be based on abilities on entry.
    Explore students abilities on entry, aims and goals and conflicting roles.
    Become familiar with students’ needs and aspirations.
  2. Students should be enabled to develop the abilities required on graduation.
    Curricula should be designed to develop abilities required on graduation in a cumulative manner.
    Reflection and independence should be facilitated to ensure potential for lifelong 1earning’
  3. Academic skills should be developed throughout the course or programme Development of academic learning and literacy skills should be facilitated.
    Student needs should be developed in a long-strategy throughout the whole programme of study.
  4. Students should be aware of their progress in relation to course standards.
    Integration of early and ongoing formative feedback should be used to inform students on standards and progress
  5. The conflicting roles of students should be understood and valued.
    Learning experiences from paid work should be capitalised on.
  6. Engaging learning experiences should be generated.
    ‘Engaging learning environments’ should be designed with contextualised tasks.
    Information and communication technologies should be strategically integrated in learning.
  7. Course content should integrate research into teaching.
    Course structures should be coherent and current.
    Research and teaching should be linked from year one, promoting discovery and debate institutional structures should support curricular strategies
  8. An institution-wide approach should align curriculum with administrative and support services.

From: Engaging and empowering flrst-year students through curriculum design perspectives from the literature.
Catherine Bovilla, Cathy J. Bulley and Kate Morss (2011).
Teaching in Higher Education Routledge. Vol. 16, No. 2, April 2011, 197—209

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