Essentials: Ways to communicate the Essentials to students

Ways to communicate the Essentials to students [DOCX 46KB]
Ways to communicate the Essentials to students [PDF 83KB]

The Essentials are aimed at producing students who are "... able to address the most pressing global challenges intelligently and decisively."
- La Trobe Essentials Information Website

An overview of the Essentials, including brief videos that explain the focus of each of the Essentials, is available at the Essentials Overview Website.

Why tell students about the Essential in your subject

Students need to know that the Essential is an integrated and significant part of the subject they are taking, for several reasons:

  • They will be clearer about what is expected of them, in their learning and assessment, as this is described in the Essentials-related Intended Learning Outcome(s) for the subject.
  • Their learning will be enriched by having a global, futures oriented, innovations context for their learning.
  • They will benefit from having the Essentials subjects they complete listed on their AHEG* statement that will be attached to their results transcript – they can draw attention to this when applying for employment.
  • Some of the ideas covered in the Essential may not currently be a major focus of the discipline (e.g. sustainability in Health), so you need to be clear with them how and why these ideas are being included.

*AHEG = Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement – will list what Essentials the student has covered, and a summary of what the Essential addresses.

What to tell students

You need to provide a clear statement of what the Essential covers:

  • Point out that the Essential is clearly evident in the subject ILOs, Student Learning Activities and Subject Assessment Tasks (as required by the Essentials approval process).
  • Remind them that the Subject Description also includes a clear statement about how the Essential is addressed in the subject.
  • Use language to explain the Essential that is clearly understandable to your students. The Essentials for Students description (see http://www.latrobe.edu.au/sdvc/la-trobe-framework/essentials/definitions) may help you to find student-friendly terms.
  • Also explain Essential in the context of the subject – why it is important for the subject and the discipline, where it appears, and how.  For example, the Essential might be included in one of the following ways:
    • As a major focus for the subject
    • Addressed as a discrete topic within the subject
    • Threaded as a theme throughout the subject
    • Included in a specific project or assessment task
    • Developed through a wider context relevant to the discipline. Examples of contexts already used by staff to help explain why the Essential are useful include: the diabetes epidemic; food and society; future of conservation; change processes in business; etc.

Where and how the information should be given

  • Refer to the Essential as part of your introduction to the subject – sample PowerPoint slides are available for you to adapt to your subject in the LTLT Resource Library.
  • Briefly mention how the Essential will be of benefit (see below), and when the Essential will be first encountered in the subject.
  • Point out, in introductory classes or elsewhere as appropriate, where and how the Essential is covered in learning activities and assessment tasks
  • As the Essentials-related Assessment Tasks are introduced, provide clear directions regarding what is required of students (including assessment rubrics where appropriate) – in particular because the type of approach required by the Essential may be different to what they have already encountered in discipline-specific assessment tasks.

Why the Essentials are Useful for Students AND Staff

For Students

  1. Students will have learning outcomes that are more directly relevant to them and their lives, including the employment they are pursuing – Essentials relate directly to real-world problems.
  2. Students benefit by getting a broader and more well-rounded education, and insights into the deeper context within which their discipline is located.
  3. Essentials promote interdisciplinary learning, even within disciplines shaped by strong boundaries, and have the capacity to stretch these boundaries to connect with ideas from other disciplines.
  4. For their future employment, students will have a statement attached to their transcript that outlines what they have covered for the Essential, in addition to the discipline-based subject ideas and skills they have covered.

For Staff

  1. Staff are a direct and identifiable part of the renewal of learning and teaching at La Trobe. This leads to increased attention from those 'above'.
  2. Staff will benefit by being prompted to think in new ways about their discipline area and new contexts for their discipline.
  3. Staff are able to raise their profile within the institution through their contribution to the La Trobe Strategic Plan - Future Ready 2013-2017.
  4. Essentials are one area where staff contributions to learning and teaching can be recognized by teaching awards.

How to answer student questions about the Essential in your subject

Some students may have questions about why the information and concepts introduced through the Essentials are being covered, beyond the more defined discipline focus of a subject, and may find this unusual; for example, Sustainability Thinking in Health; Global Citizenship in Science. 

Here are some example responses for each of the Essentials that can be combined with the explanations for students already outlined at the University level:

Global Citizenship

  • Point out that it is important for students to understand current processes of globalization, as well as being able to work in culturally diverse situations, as preparation for working in or with your discipline area (you may need to do a bit of homework to be up to speed with what this looks like for your discipline); and
  • That you as a staff member, as well as La Trobe as a whole, consider that students who have global citizenship perspectives and skills for working with cultural diversity in their discipline will have an edge in the future, as these issues and opportunities come to be addressed more centrally in the discipline, if they aren't already.

You might want to supplement your response with information from the following information.

Our explanation to students

Our globe is now more interconnected than ever. Important decisions made in the boardrooms, government departments or a family deciding to step foot on a leaky boat in search of a better life can affect us and our society in profound ways. Even seemingly small acts, including what we buy at the checkout to which party we vote for, can have huge implications for what happens in far distant places. The media we use, whether it's the latest YouTube clip that's gone viral, a new blockbuster computer game or Facebook status updates draw us into a web of endless global interconnections, unprecedented in human history.

At La Trobe, we're committed to creating opportunities for you to learn about the civic, social and economic responsibilities that come with being a global citizen.

For students studying at La Trobe, this involves:

  • highlighting how their studies fit into the larger global picture
  • presenting them with the diversity of values and viewpoints on a range of issues around the globe
  • providing them with experiences to develop skills to effectively work and communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • showing them how to propel their career and maximize their contribution in a globalized society.

Sustainability

  • Suggest to students that, to understand the impacts of developments and decisions in your discipline area on the future, and the complexity of interactions that affect the way the future unfolds, sustainability needs to be addressed at some stage in the discipline you are embedding the Essential in (you may need to do some homework to be up to speed with what this looks like for your discipline); and
  • Also that you as a staff member, as well as La Trobe as a whole, believe that students who have a sustainability perspective in their discipline will have an edge in the future, as sustainability issues come to be addressed more centrally in the discipline, and in most types of work.

You might want to supplement your response with information from the following information.

Our explanation to students

Sustainability Thinking is about meeting today's needs without compromising our common future.

It's a simple idea, but one that entails making often complex decisions about our environment, our economy, our demands for social justice and our culture.

Sustainability thinking is joined-up thinking. It's about securing our future food and water supplies while we ensure the future of the planet's diverse plant and animal species.

It's about ensuring that economic growth goes hand-in-hand with strengthening people's human and political rights. And it's about ensuring that our diverse cultures are respected and thrive.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

  • Point out to students that it is important for the future of your discipline to develop the capability to identify opportunities for innovation, and an awareness as to how these might be converted into enterprises - social or financial (you may need to do some homework to be up to speed with what this looks like for your discipline); and
  • Also that you as a staff member, as well as La Trobe as a whole, consider that students need have an innovation and entrepreneurship perspective on their discipline will have an edge in the future, as the momentum for change and innovation increases and employers expect staff to be able to find solutions to problems as a regular part of their work.

You might want to supplement your response with information from the following information.

Our explanation to students

The future is waiting to be invented.  From the latest technologies to finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems like global poverty, current approaches won't solve future challenges.  Tomorrow's innovators and inventors will need to seize and make the most of opportunities. They'll need to be able to think on their feet. The pace of change and the intensity of competition will require employees and managers to devise new strategies and target new markets and audiences.

La Trobe is committed to creating opportunities for you to take an active role in shaping the forces that will shape our world. Throughout your courses at La Trobe you will:

  • be taught how to thrive in a fast-changing world;
  • be challenged to use your creativity to generate and effectively manage new ideas;
  • learn how to understand and solve complex problems; and,
  • locate and use knowledge to reduce risk and make smart decisions.