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Organisational Behavior curriculum design meeting (SAFFIRE)

Curriculum design meeting for Organisational Behaviour unit, July 2013.

As part of the SAFFIRE project I have been working with various units in Business Government & Law in order to help prepare for Semester 2. As this stage units are the focus since Sem2 starts in a week or so. During semester 2 we will be focusing on course wide design in view of 2014.

Important aspects of this OB unit taken into account include:
  • unit convener inherited the existing unit design - too late to change the Intended Learning Outcomes but possible to change the content, activities and assessment.
  • Face to Face delivery mode.
  • most recently run Sem2 2012 (last year).
  • unit convener is teaching OB for the first time but has extensive experience.
  • last year lecture attendance was about 10%, in general engagement was low.
In terms of design approach we used John Bigg's constructive alignment approach, we began the alignment session by listing the given ILO's and numbering them. Following that we listed the existing assessment items, activities, and then content. Context is also part of the curriculum, so the mode, year level, nature of previous cohorts etc were noted. 

Experience as a student of OB tells me, having studied an introductory OB unit in the past, that students need to learn how OB principles and theories relate to their own life and experiences not just to distant scenarios. For example, after my degree I completed an IT project only to have no-one use the system because of OB related factors - I should have taken OB into consideration during the project but my training didn't help me see that it applied to this situation - every situation. I conveyed this during the meeting and that in my experience the OB unit I studies did not prepare me for my role (especially in that the unit was general and not cross-disciplinary - no IT development related case studies). 

In response the unit convener informed me that OB can relate even to family units - something new to me. We agreed the future design should help students see how OB relates to all kinds of organisations: families, small corner shops, etc, and that OB is already part of their lives - in fact the students themselves could provide scenarios to which OB principles and theory could be applied throughout semester - where text book case studies are used as a model. 

This discussion helped make explicit the more fundamental goal of the unit convener: for the students to connect theory with practice. Since OB is something the students already experience the answer was fairly straight forward - show students that this is the case and then help them articulate and document their own personalised scenarios to which they could apply core OB principles and theories in a model/do fortnightly cycle. The unit convener had already decided to drop F2F lectures and move to Week 1 Tute 1, Week 2 Group Work, Week 3 Tute, etc, so this approach: Model (using a common scenario) and Do (using students own scenario) suited the schedule.

Also, borrowed from my colleagues in Occupational Therapy, I introduced the team to the "What, So What, Now What", reflective model (or "Clinical Reasoning" in OT) as a way for students to approach their scenario with a different OB perspective each fortnight. E.g. 
  • What = their scenario each fortnight
  • So What = what meaning can be extracted through the lens of principle X
  • Now What = when looking at my scenario through principle X, how would I alter my response?
As a result of this, and discussion with others in BGL that included problem based learning (Doug) approaches, creating memes (Leonard), etc, this semester the unit convener has also changed the essay to a report (more authentic), and is using objective products of participation (as well as subjective) that will be assessed. Last years' lectures will be provided as background resources, and all activities are designed to be student centered, engaging and aligned with outcomes, content and assessment. The aim being that students will leave the unit with an awareness of how OB relates to their lives, that OB will apply to whatever they do in the future, and that they will be able to use core OB principles and theories effectively. 

As stated in the unit ILO's:


"Upon completion of this subject students will have developed or improved their
  1. skills in analysis and problem solving; 
  2. academic competencies as they relate to written and oral presentations; 
  3. application of basic and enduring principles developed from the study of organisational behaviour as they apply to the workplace; 
  4. comprehension of the interactions between the various theoretical approaches in organisational behaviour."

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