Banana baton

Passing the baton: Unit Convenor Gathering, 14 October

I’ve observed in several previous posts that the unit convenor role is vitally important to the quality of our teaching and curriculum and yet poorly recognised and often under-valued, and largely seen as an administrative service role. I’ve argued that unit administration, while necessary, is not where convenors have the greatest opportunity to contribute to excellence in teaching and curriculum at Macquarie. Unit convenors are also in a position to provide vital leadership with respect to curriculum and teaching, the latter especially so in large units with many tutors.

Unfortunately, both new and experienced unit convenors are often swamped with the detail of unit administration, with little time to focus on the design and delivery aspects of it, nor on the leadership and development of tutoring teams in large units. Some work I’ve been doing for the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) has revealed that many unit convenors receive little in the way of “handover” information when taking over a new unit, although there are also some excellent practices in existence across the University.

This gives rise to a few questions that really need to be answered, including:
• What should be included in a “unit handover” process between convenors?
• What support and information are needed for unit convenors (new or experienced) in taking over a unit they have not taught or run before?
• How should we store and access information about previous offerings of the unit?
• For new units, how does a convenor who was not involved in the unit approval process find out information on the unit so that it can be designed and implemented in accordance with the approval? (In particular, with respect to learning outcomes and assessment)
• How could we improve or support unit administration to make it easier for convenors to focus on quality curriculum and teaching?

This month’s Unit Convenor Community of Practice gathering (Wednesday 14 October 1-2pm) is an opportunity to discuss these issues – prospective, new and experienced unit convenors all welcome!

Lunch is provided, so please register here.