Teaching staff and leaders want more investment in curriculum design

Three out of four of our survey participants were concerned about high workloads, and nearly two-thirds about investment in staff development.

A new report from Jisc reveals that higher education (HE) staff are reviewing course design to consolidate pandemic lessons around online teaching and enhance the on-campus experience for students.

However, it showed staff that were worried about resourcing for curriculum design work. 74% of respondents were concerned about staff workload allocation and reward structures, and 62% had concerns about investment in staff development.

The report, approaches to curriculum and learning design across UK higher education, was launched today at the 50th student experience experts group meeting in Birmingham.

Commissioned by Jisc and written by independent consultants Sheila MacNeill and Helen Beetham, the report uses interviews, a review of current literature and active research, and a survey of leaders and teaching staff to reach its findings.

75 of 163 UK universities took part in the study. This makes it the most comprehensive review of curriculum and learning design in the UK HE sector to date.

It reveals that there is widespread use of sophisticated frameworks and models in the curriculum and learning design process. 64% of respondents said they had access to learning design resources.

The study also found evidence that across the sector, courses and curricula were being reviewed to integrate digital elements more effectively.

Students are yet to be fully integrated into the curriculum and learning design process, the report found, with respondents indicating ambitions and plans to involve them more in the design process.

Sheila MacNeill said:

“If universities are to meet the challenges of flexibility around space, place and modes of delivery, then strategic consideration needs to be given to providing updated workload models that recognise and reward the changing needs of staff.

"This will help them engage with design activities, evaluate their practice and provide support for innovation and changes of practice that will engage learners.”

Helen Beetham said:

“Our report indicates a need for a shared vocabulary and understanding around modes of participation to aid collaboration and sharing best practices.

“Evidence of different student experiences and outcomes could be shared more effectively. This is also true of examples of different ways of organising time, space, independent and collaborative working, and synchronous and asynchronous interactions.”

Download the report (pdf) to read it in full, along with its recommendations for the sector, or listen to an interview with Sheila and Helen about the report's findings on Jisc’s Beyond Technology podcast