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Experience of Elective Provision at UCD

Author Patrick Purcell, John Dunnion & Hilda Loughran
Abstract There have been numerous calls to broaden the education of third level students and thus prepare them to serve society with an awareness of and sensitivity to the cultural, political, economic and social dimensions of their work. There have been many innovations in recent years to make undergraduate education more student-centred, offering students greater flexibility and choice in how and what they study. In relation to how students learn, novel pedagogical techniques that make students take an active, self-directed approach to their own learning are increasingly common in higher education. In relation to what students learn, most university curricula have gradually evolved into core curriculum as a specified or fixed course of study coupled with some element of student choice in selecting elective or optional modules. In 2005, University College Dublin (UCD) introduced the 'Horizons' initiative to provide a broader undergraduate education through the provision of non-programme electives for their students. One of the key features of the initiative was the introduction of an element of elective choice for students in the first three years of their studies. The experience of teaching across disciplines from the perspective of students at UCD has been previously examined and the proposed paper will examine the subject from the perspective of delivery by schools and individual academic staff. A survey/questionnaire/interview of a representative sample of Heads of School across the University was undertaken. The results will be presented under the following headings: Awareness of the School re. elective provision;  School philosophy on electives;  School policy and practice on electives;  Staff views on electives;  School views on elective models.
Keywords Elective modules, School philosophy, Staff perception, Third-level education
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2013
Date 2013
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