By Dr Kate Tregloan and Professor Kit Wise
Interdisciplinarity has been widely recognised as a valuable response to the wicked problems of our time. The ability to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries brings together different perspectives and expertise, and allows entirely new approaches and solutions to emerge. To prepare students and graduates for the complex challenges of the twenty first century we need good quality interdisciplinary programs. But how do we know what is ‘good’?
The recently completed Multiple Measures research project, funded by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) focused on interdisciplinary (ID) learning and teaching to investigate the meaning of ‘good’ when different disciplines collaborate. The project identified ID units/courses/subjects delivered at Australian universities that included the creative arts and humanities, and focused on ID assessment design for undergraduate and coursework masters studies.
The project team, led by Dr Kate Tregloan and supported by Project Manager Dr Debbie Symons from Monash Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, included art and design leaders: Prof Kit Wise (Tasmania); Graham Forsyth (UNSW); Prof Su Baker (VCA); and a reference group drawn from across Australia.
The Multiple Measures project aimed to:
- identify objectives and values of interdisciplinary learning;
- contribute to a shared understanding of ID assessment standards;
- support teaching staff to develop, articulate and apply assessment approaches and criteria for ID tasks;
- improve the equitable comparison of ID assessment across higher education institutions.
The key outcome of the project, the Multiple Measures online tool and website offers a rich library of ID exemplars. The library can be searched using bespoke filters developed through the project, that consider Student Cohort, Learning Outcomes and Pedagogy. The tool is designed to help educators to identify relevant comparators to benchmark and inform their own approach to ID education, and to inform their design of ID assessment. This can include developing ideas for ID engagements, as well as ID units/courses/subjects already delivered. Outcomes of the Multiple Measures project are also informing broader discussions of interdisciplinary education and its value.
A comprehensive series of workshops informed the project and the development of the tool. This has included numerous events in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra, with participants from every state of Australia. The Multiple Measures website and tool was launched at Monash University in Melbourne jn June 2016. It has also been presented to an international audience as part of the DRS2016 conference at the University of Brighton (UK) in July 2016. Further workshops are currently being delivered.
The Multiple Measures project seeks to support educators as they develop new approaches to ID education and assessment. It has brought together a great range of committed educators who have developed innovative and valuable approaches to the development of student abilities, and who have looked beyond the strictures of current paradigms to seek perspectives to offer the future. We have been very fortunate to learn from the experiences and hard-won wisdom of those who contributed to the library through interviews and participation. And the Multiple Measures tool and the library continues to grow! Members from any university throughout Australia who have new and interesting examples of interdisciplinary education involving the creative arts and humanities are invited to contribute by visiting the Multiple Measures site
Multiple Measures: Benchmarking quality assessment tasks to facilitate interdisciplinary learning in the creative arts and humanities (OLT ID14-3909) was an Innovation and Development project funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The project team was led by Dr Kate Tregloan from Monash University Faculty of Art Design & Architecture, with contributions by members Professor Kit Wise from The College of The Arts at the University of Tasmania, Mr Graham Forsyth from UNSW Art & Design, and Prof Su Baker from the VCA at the University of Melbourne, as well as a Reference Group drawn from across Australia. Dr Debbie Symons from Monash University Faculty of Art Design & Architecture managed the project and the contributions of research assistants, graphic designers, and multimedia developers.
Dr Kate Tregloan is Associate Dean (Education) of Monash University’s Faculty of Art Design & Architecture. She is a registered architect, and has a particular research interest in the qualitative and quantitative judgments that influence creative development, with national and international publications in this area. She is particularly engaged by the contributions of perspective to innovative outcomes. She has brought this focus to interdisciplinary education and research collaborations with colleagues from health, science, art and design, in Australian and international institutions.
Professor Kit Wise is Professor of Fine Art and Head of the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania. His research focuses on approaches to and outcomes from interdisciplinary education and research agendas. He is also a practicing artist, art writer and curator. He is an active member of national peak bodies in art and design and has engaged with art schools nationally and internationally in an advisory capacity on interdisciplinary course design, including Massey, New Zealand, Banff in Canada and LaSalle, Singapore.