Involving students in research decision making: Developing a competency graduated descriptors tool

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 33 : Reshaping Higher Education

July, 2010, 654 pages
Published by
M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg
0 908557 80 9

As an outcome of reorganisation within the Australian health sector to establish national, rather than state and territory, registration boards, many in the higher education sector are re-examining their role in building student knowledge and skills within competency frameworks. In regard to pharmacy education and experiential placements, Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded research during 2008–2010 has involved stakeholder consultations to identify competency graduated descriptors, with students as a key group. The importance of involving stakeholders in all stages of research processes from inception to results dissemination is highlighted in the literature. Researchers emphasise the ‘knowledge use’ dissemination model, which involves stakeholders in decision-making, including the use of extended workshops and follow-up action. In making decisions about higher education learning and assessment directions, evaluating differing stakeholder perspectives and valuing student ideas is an under-researched area. This paper reports on the processes involved in the development of the competency graduated descriptors tool including highlighting the role that students have played in various aspects of decision-making, including the competency graduated descriptor tool eventually developed. While some research and consultative work pays ‘lip service’ to or seeks to marginalise student responses, in this project the contribution of students has been foregrounded at all stages of the research process. This paper provides a model of a collaborative approach and has application across health education research and for other discipline areas in terms of working with practitioners and students in developing practically based materials to support improved learning outcomes.

Keywords: competency, researcher-student partnerships, student self-assessment