Code of Practice for Graduate/Postgraduate Teaching and Learning
Level and Style of Instruction
The University is committed to quality teaching no matter what level of instruction is intended. The assessment required in a particular program will depend in part on the aims and objectives outlined when the course is under development. However, it is fair to say that the students in graduate/postgraduate courses need to reach certain levels: at least fourth year level in most Graduate and all Postgraduate Diplomas, and at least fifth year level within a Masters degree (noting the exception of those Masters programs listed in the Schedule of Exceptions). The quality of instruction should be the same across all disciplines, whether the students attempt research or coursework, and although it can be expected that a number of cross-disciplinary Graduate Diplomas and Masters programs would require some instruction at a more basic level, the majority of the course must be taught for graduate/postgraduate students and at that level.
Even when the subjects comprising a section of the course are at a more basic level, it must still be recognised that graduate and postgraduate students, by virtue of their increased experience, require a different and usually higher level of instruction than that given to undergraduate students. Course structures are based on the notion of progression through a course, and articulation implies building on one set of knowledge to attain another. The University should acknowledge these accepted premises when developing the teaching programs for graduate/postgraduate courses, and teach accordingly.
In particular, it should be recognised that many graduate and postgraduate students have been in the workforce for some years, and have learned different ways to examine issues from those learned by undergraduate students. An important facet of time in the workplace is the increased reliance on collaborative solutions to problems, and graduate and postgraduate courses must acknowledge the increased emphasis on this style of work by employers. Particularly in those courses where professional training is intended, ignoring the future needs of the students would devalue the course as a whole, and decrease its relevance.
The emphasis on lectures common to undergraduate units should be lessened in the graduate/postgraduate environment, and replaced where appropriate with a discussion-style approach to tuition. Even in those lower level units required in the cross-disciplinary programs, it should be possible to encourage the development of tutorials solely for graduate/postgraduate students, to encourage discussion at the higher stage of academic development they can be presumed to have attained.
Even in programs where the program of study is intended to lead to a higher level of professional development, and in which professionals from the field under examination will be used extensively to provide practical expert instruction, Monash must make the commitment to its graduate and postgraduate students that a Monash University academic will be the supervisor and primary developer of each unit and course, and that the University’s procedures to ensure academic rigour will be followed at all times in the development or amendment of programs of study.
The university has an obligation to its graduate and postgraduate students to clearly publicise the distinctions between teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in all cases.
Teaching vs learning
It is important to remain aware, however, that the issue is less what the students are being taught, and at what level they are being taught, than the amount and level of what they learn. The increased self-direction of the graduate/postgraduate student must be recognised and encouraged, for this is what commonly differentiates this student from an undergraduate student. In units developed solely for graduate/postgraduate students, this is an essential component; in units where graduate/postgraduate and undergraduate students are taking the same lectures, this distinction is even more essential.
Involvement of External Groups
Staff and students should, where possible, establish external links with professional bodies and industry. This allows feedback regarding the success of the course, and ensures that courses continue to change over time with new developments in the workplace. In addition, strong links with external bodies provide students with opportunities for both research projects and future employment.
Codes of Practice
All faculties have codes of practice for the supervision of Masters research students, which set out clearly the responsibilities of departments/schools, supervisors and students.
Similar documents should be available in all faculties setting out those same responsibilities in relation to courses undertaken by non-research students. Such documents should include statements regarding:
It is also expected that the faculty and department/school would provide a list of students’ responsibilities at the time of enrolment, which should include the following:
Each department/school should make information available to students on the facilities and resources available to graduate/postgraduate students within the department/school and the university, including library facilities, computing and technical facilities, wordprocessing training, statistical advice and assistance and English language tuition. In addition, other infrastructure arrangements should be made clear, such as telephone and mailbox access, photocopying provisions and desk availability. It is to be expected that all full-time graduate/postgraduate students should be provided with access to a desk or appropriate workspace, mailbox and other appropriate resources, and that wherever possible the same facilities should be made available to other graduate/postgraduate students.
Students need to be individually and expertly guided as to the most appropriate unit and course combinations for their background and future aspirations. For this purpose staff need to be well informed and well trained in this function. The majority of students in graduate/postgraduate courses other than those by research are studying part time and have fewer opportunities to explore areas of possible interest and build links between a number of diverse units. Choosing an inappropriate unit or program cannot easily be rectified within the limited time frame for the study. Clear and complete information provided at the point of application and in the faculty handbooks can help to avoid mistakes made by students which end in being both costly in time and in academic confidence and achievement.
Descriptions of the course need to clearly state what the student can expect during the program and what outcomes and skills can be achieved. These descriptions should include such information as:
An additional forum could be developed for dissemination of information regarding graduate/postgraduate courses with the development of a graduate/postgraduate course day or series of seminars, where the staff and students could meet with and discuss issues of graduate/postgraduate education with prospective students.
The objective of this policy is to set out standards of good practice for the teaching and learning of graduate/postgraduate students in all faculties.
This policy applies to all graduate/postgraduate coursework programs and students.
Responsibilities for Implementation
Academic Board shall consider this policy for review three years after approval, or earlier if required.
Approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Planning) on 2 December 2002.
Change to "Responsibilities for Implementation" made by Education Committee Meeting 6/2005, 26 October 2005.