Why do we need a tool for course handover?
Jones and Ladyshewsky (2009, p. 16) in their OLT Final Report of Academic Leadership for Course Coordinators highlight the way course coordinators are prepared for their role as academic leaders as being required to “rely upon the ‘wisdom of experience’ or ‘learning on the job’ in relation to learning and teaching”. The report asserts that academics are expected to somehow intuitively ‘know’ or learn very quickly with little formal support. This is a risk not only for the course, but for the program and student learning. It also has implications for accrediting bodies and universities if courses and programs do not deliver what they are accredited to deliver.The establishment of a course handover tool will support course coordinators and help mitigate the concerns that underlie the assertions of Jones and Ladyshewsky (2009).
The idea of handover is not new in other disciplines. For example in nursing the concept of ‘clinical’ handover is a requirement in every health care setting (Government of South Australia, 2012a). Clinical handover occurs where an outgoing nurse informs the incoming nurse about the clinical status and needs of the patient. Clinical handover follows a process called ISBAR, which is an acronym that steps out the order in which information should be delivered, specifically Identity, Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation (Government of South Australia, 2012b). Clinical handover performed using this approach has been shown to speed up the process of handover, avoid omissions and has resulted in better patient outcomes and fewer clinical errors. In the same way that accurate and complete information is needed for clinical handover, accurate and complete information is required for the handover of a university course.
What is the relationship between curriculum mapping and course handover?
The Office of Learning and Teaching has funded a number of projects that relate to curriculum mapping. These projects typically relate more to the ‘intended’ curriculum rather than the ‘taught’ curriculum.
A major risk in achieving congruency between intended and taught curriculum occurs when the incoming course coordinator does not understand the course’s role in the overall program. A structured course handover process is about the identification of pertinent information but is differentiated from other mapping projects by focussing on the communication of that information.That there is no process to make this information overtly and readily available to incoming course coordinators at present is undesirable and represents a clear risk.