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Postgraduate Basics

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Postgraduate Study – The step up

For some of you this may be the first time you have entered into postgraduate study. At this level, you will build on existing skill and knowledge and therefore much of it is about exploring your area of practice, redefining skills that both extend and expand them, and researching topics in a lot more depth.

Postgraduate learning is therefore self-directed learning in which self-directed inquiry is of utmost importance.

In any curriculum there are three elements to teaching and learning.

Post Grad Elements

The core elements are those aspects of the programme that provide essential academic threads that are pre-determined and consistent throughout all courses offered at postgraduate level. These elements are essential for the successful and effective outcomes of the programmes that address industry, student, organisational and professional needs and expectations. They are demonstrated through the embedding of agreed graduate qualities, standard of teaching methods and essential assessment criteria.

Evidence based excellence relates to the acquired knowledge that is expanded upon through reading extensively, exploring the research literature and applying new knowledge to your practice area.

Innovation is the ‘bit on top’ that takes you from concrete foundational information that is essential in your field of practice, to using the research and evidence to expand you practice in a way that you are now looking outside of the square and asking questions such as, What are we doing? Why do we do it this way? Is it the best way? What could we change? How does it improve the service we provide?

Peer discussion in this situation is essential, and with much of the work being done online, you as students need to actively participate in the forums and discussions that are provided by your lecturers in EIT Online courses. Online activities become the “classroom” interaction for you, and should follow that same discussion and inquiry process that a teacher would have with you in a face to face classroom setting.

Participation in forums is essential for learning because they focus you on the skill and knowledge that you require for the subject/theme under discussion. Whilst lecturers do not need to stipulate the number of responses you provide, the discussion and debate generated by your input into other students’ discussions and the sharing of ideas, is key to successful peer learning, subject focus and collaboration.

A guide to forum discussions is set out below

Assessment criteria Performance standard

Writing provides a clear, coherent and independent exposition of knowledge and ideas


  • reflects the writer’s own voice

All ideas

  • are presented logically with no extraneous details
  • demonstrate fresh, original thought and reflections

Knowledge of content area
and development of ideas are demonstrated

  • All points are fully elaborated and support ideas
  • Original thoughts and ideas are presented and supported with clear, accurate and detailed information and references


  • Seeks to understand concepts by examining openly own experiences in the past as they relate to the topic, to illustrate points
  • Demonstrates an open, non-defensive ability to self-appraise
  • In-depth synthesis of thoughtfully selected aspects of experiences related to the topic
  • Makes clear connections between what is learned from outside experiences and the topic

Participation in discussion

  • Maintains flow and quality of discussion without prompting
  • Helps to redirect or refocus discussion when it becomes side-tracked or unproductive

Critical thinking

  • Identifies embedded or implicit issues, addressing their relationships to each other
  • Formulates a clear and precise personal point of view, and acknowledges objections and rival positions providing convincing replies to these
  • Identifies and evaluates some of the more hidden, more abstract concepts 
  • Rigorously evaluates all important evidence offered
  • Provides new data or information for consideration

Engagement with the literature

  • Concepts are  drawn from wider literature evaluated in depth
  • Information is referenced

(Adapted from Carnegie Mellon Learning and Teaching Principles, n.d.)

Interdisciplinary Learning

At EIT our many of our postgraduate courses follow an interdisciplinary learning approach (IDL).  You will be learning alongside people from all different walks of life and from all different professional perspectives within the health care industry. Below is a short explanation about interdisciplinary learning, followed by some references for you to access and read in your own time.

The IDL approach is supported by many researchers who outline several characteristics of the student, the learning environment and the learning process that all come together to influence learning outcomes. In this setting, every student brings with them a set of learned knowledge and skills which they then use and adapt to current learning opportunities, which are set by the experiential process, the teaching, assessment and curriculum content.

For example, in health care this professional skill and knowledge has traditionally been drawn from one health professional perspective because of the single learning environment from which they come: Nurses are taught and socialised by nurses in nursing schools and medical doctors are taught by medical doctors in medical schools, rather than being exposed to the wider health care professional environment in the initial formative learning years. In the latter, Moore (2007, p. 183) says that the desired outcome of knowledge and learning is evidenced in the student’s “capacity to act effectively in the world in respect to some situated goal, to recognise, to understand, to make sense and do.” In the health professional’s case the goal is patient centred care, where the clinical skill is as important as the professional skill, and where the health care team contribution is the sum of all those skills and professions that work together for optimum health care delivery.

Given that interdisciplinary learning is seen as integrative, the outcome is interdisciplinary thinking in which all players within the team have a much broader insight and understanding into all facets of clinical and professional skill, interpretation and interaction. 



Bennett, P., Gum, L., Lindeman, I., Lawn, S., McAllister, S., Richards, J., . . . Ward, H. (2011). Faculty perceptions of interprofessional nurse education today, SciVerse ScienceDirect Journals, 31(6), 571-576.

Boix Mansilla, V., Milla, W., & Gardner, H. (2000). On Disciplinary Lenses and Interdisciplinary Work.  In S. Wineburg  & Grossman, P. (Eds.), Interdisciplinary curriculum: challenges of implementation. New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Carnegie Mellon Learning and Teaching Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Moore, D. (2007). Analyzing learning at work: An interdisciplinary framework. Learning Inquiry, 1, 175-188.

Spelt, E., Biemans, H., Tobi, H., Luning, P., & Mulder, M. (2009). Teaching and learning in interdisciplinary higher education: A systematic review. Education Psychology Review, 21, 365- 378.

Zimmerman, S., Short, G., Hendrix, E., & Timson, B. (2010). Impact on interdisciplinary learning on critical thinking using case study method in allied health care graduate students. Journal of Allied Health, 40, 14 - 19.