Postgraduate diploma collaborative assignment: Implications for ESL students and curriculum design
AbstractThe commerce faculty at the University of Cape Town (UCT) offers a 1-year, postgraduate management diploma that is regarded as a mini-MBA. It appeals to a wide variety of mainly English-as-second language (ESL) students. In the past, core course diploma lecturers in marketing, tourism and leisure, enterprise management and sport management ‘did their own thing’, with little collaboration in terms of group formation, assignment topics and workload. A brutal timetable and
crunch hand-in times created unnecessary tensions. As our communication course, viewed as a soft option, bore the brunt, we took the lead in devising an integrated and collaborative teaching/learning model involving the major course convenors. Business groups remained intact across various diplomas and large focus areas, which would act as a pivot for the major group assignments, were forged using scenarios from three core
courses. Each general topic thus included at least three separate yet complementary portfolio assignments that differed in genre, purpose, and target audience. The quality of the work and mood of all concerned improved tremendously. Students found the course ‘realistic’, ‘daunting but exciting’, ‘relevant’ and ‘powerful’. Although this approach requires careful co-ordination, the improved results and collegiality are well worth the effort. This article will describe the model used and provide examples. It will also speculate on its relevance to higher education, in particular the
needs of ESL students.