Course design as a collaborative enterprise: Incorporating interdisciplinarity into a backward mapping systems approach to course design in Higher Education

Elizabeth A Thomson, Greg Auhl, Kerri Hicks, Kerstin McPherson, Caroline Robinson, Denise Wood

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The Higher Education sector in Australia is no longer protected by its national border. Traditional universities across Australia are experiencing competition unlike anything that has occurred in the past (Universities Australia 2013; Norton 2013; Ernst & Young 2012; Maringe and Sing 2014; Stromquist and Monkman 2014). In this climate, the need to be distinctive and able to offer something more to the student is part of a counter response to greater competition (Seimens 2004). Charles Sturt University has approached this challenge by recognising the need for quality improvements in learning and teaching. CSU has introduced a university-wide, collaborative course design process to address this. Through a process of backward mapping, learning outcomes, learning experiences and authentic assessment tasks are aligned with a set of graduate attributes comprising both industry and professional standards. The value of this interdisciplinary collaboration is important to highlight, as it facilitates a creative and innovative approach to curriculum design. Academic and professional staff external to a course team/School/Faculty, offer new perspectives which academics within a specific discipline may not conceive when working in relative isolation. Using this model of working, course review becomes a process which facilitates ‘boundary spanning’. This paper presents a case study – a Bachelor of Physiotherapy - which illustrates the application of this backward mapping approach to curriculum design. This approach of interdisciplinary collaboration and iterative feedback enabled a philosophical shift away from the historical medical model to a holistic social model of health provision.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch and development in higher education: Curriculum transformation, Volume 40
Subtitle of host publicationRefereed papers from the 40th HERDSA Annual international conference
EditorsRuth Walker, Simon Bedford
Place of PublicationSydney, NSW
PublisherHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780994554666
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Event40th HERDSA Annual International Conference - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 27 Jun 201730 Jun 2017 (Conference website ) (Conference program)


Conference40th HERDSA Annual International Conference
Abbreviated titleCurriculum Transformation
OtherOn behalf of the conference planning committee, we invite you to join us for the 40th annual conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) to be held 28-30 June 2017 (with pre-conference workshops on 27 June) at the ICC (International Convention Centre), Darling Harbour, Sydney.

The theme for the conference is Curriculum Transformation. Effective curriculum transformation is seen to optimise the curriculum as a framework for student learning and experience rather than as simply an organising framework for disciplinary knowledge. It puts quality at the centre of this process and ensures support for staff in curriculum development and innovative teaching practice.
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