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Writing aims and objectives

Overview

Section 2 of the Course statement document requires you to define two inter-related aspects of the course.

  1. its aims
  2. its objectives

Within the definition of these elements there also needs to be a clear relationship between them and graduate qualities.

Course objectives also need to correspond to the year level. As students progress through a program, the course aims and objectives need to indicate the increased levels of engagement with the body of knowledge and with the attitudes and skills expected of UniSA Graduates.

Course aims

The aims of a course are broad statements of its purpose or intent. They encompass the purpose and philosophy of the course, specifying its overall direction and content. They let students know what you will be teaching them over a study period and what they may learn by taking the course. Course aims are typically identified in relation to the broad program aims as well as their relationship to the aims of other courses within the program. To write this component of the document you will need to understand the role played by your course in the overall development of graduate qualities across the program.

See Assessment tasks and development of the graduate qualities and Progression through a program for more information on mapping an individual course's responsibility to developing graduate qualities.

Course objectives

The course objectives are statements about what students are expected to be able to do, understand or to have learned by studying the course. They use concrete terms to specify and define the broad aims. They often refer to stages a learner must progress through in order to achieve the aims of the course. Course objectives need to be written in terms of student achievement and be related to the graduate qualities each course significantly develops. They are therefore directly related to assessment tasks. The purpose is to assess how well the students have achieved the objectives of the course.

Your course objectives should cover:

  1. Knowledge: what new understandings, definitions or approaches students are expected to gain
  2. Skills: what students will be able to do
  3. Attitudes: how students’ beliefs or values will be shaped

Ensure that your statements are more than vague descriptions (e.g. graduates will show an understanding of course theory) but indicate in concrete terms how achievement will be recognised (e.g. graduates of the program will show a significant body of knowledge concerning the principles of project management, procurement methods, defining the scope of projects, risk assessment and management, project scheduling and the legal framework for project delivery by applying these principles to case studies and demonstrating their ability to manage small class projects).

Course objectives and graduate qualities

Each course within a program contributes to the overall development of graduate qualities. They serve as building blocks, with each course contributing at least one component of the overall graduate quality  profile. Within this broad scheme, some courses focus intently on developing one graduate quality, while others may develop more than one. All courses will develop Graduate quality 1 – the body of knowledge – but may have another focus for student development.

Your course may be identified in the program approval documentation as significantly contributing to a particular graduate quality. If so, your course objectives need to be written in relation to that graduate quality. See Selecting assessment to support development of Graduate quality s.

Example: A fictional 2nd level course Leadership in Stationery Supply has a body of knowledge concerned with staff management principles in the Office Supply industry. Its assessment tasks are:
  • individual presentation
  • group presentation
  • individual reflective journal on group presentation process

This course carries a large burden for developing graduate quality 4 - working autonomously and collaboratively - within the Office Supply Management 3 year undergraduate degree program. This focus can be evidenced in assignments that involve group work and which assess the students’ understanding of the body of knowledge regarding staff management techniques and theories.

This does not mean that no other course in the program develops this quality nor that this course only assesses and develops graduate quality 4. For instance there is also a focus on oral presentation and communication skills (graduate quality 6) in the assessment tasks. However within the Office Supply Management program, the Leadership in Stationery Supply course is a key site for the development of graduate quality 4. It has a primary role in its development throughout the three year degree and its objectives demonstrate this emphasis.

Its course objectives may be written this way:
On completion of this course, a student should be able to: demonstrate an understanding of staff management techniques utilised within the Office Supply industry by applying concepts to explain examples. They will show understanding of international best practice by contrasting and evaluating different models of leadership. A student will be able to demonstrate the practical application of these concepts in group work assignments. They will be able to work with other students to identify and criticise management approaches in the field and be able to collaboratively develop alternative models of practice. A student will be able to work effectively in a team environment to solve problems of management practice.
 

Graduate qualities and the tasks which assess achievement of those qualities also need to be developed as students progress through a program. The location of any course within the overall degree structure may affect the particular emphasis it places on developing graduate qualities and consequently the kinds of assessment tasks associated with it (see Progression through a program for more information).

For further assistance in developing your program or courses in relation to graduate qualities, please contact the Academic Development team.

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