Building Graduate Capabilities

Kevin Forde (Medicine) talks about embedding graduate capabilities development in a course.

Developing graduate capabilities - Kevin Forde

Why graduate capabilities are important

UNSW promotes particular Graduate Capabilities and most faculties have developed a similar set of graduate capabilities that are more discipline-specific. When you are designing curriculum, it is important for you to incorporate these capabilities into the learning outcomes.

Coursework should include learning activities and assessments that specifically address the relevant skills. Obviously not all courses can cultivate all graduate capabilities, but the achievement of graduate capabilities should be coordinated across a program. Online learning can be very helpful in supporting the development of some graduate capabilities, so consider this in your course design.

Students need to know that learning outcomes which are not subject-specific will be useful to them in their professional life. Keep them informed about which capabilities are being developed or assessed by each online activity and assessment task, and why.

LMS (Moodle) tools to support graduate capabilities

Many of the communication, collaboration and group work tools in the UNSW Moodle learning management systems can be used to engage students in the kind of learning activity that will develop relevant graduate attributes.


Teaching Strategy
Problem-based learning
Learning Activities
  • Conduct independent research on topic.
  • Work in groups to collate and analyse research.
  • Critically analyse information to develop problem solutions.
  • Work in groups to design best solution.
  • Reflect on problem-solving process.
LMS Tools Used
External links, discussions, group tool, self and peer assessment/workshop, blogs, journals.
Graduate Attributes Addressed
Effectively designed, these activities could support all of the UNSW Graduate Capabilities.

Here are a few more examples that match LMS tools with learning activities that can support the development of graduate capabilities.

Teaching strategy

Learning activity

Pedagogical rationale

LMS tools

Graduate capability supported

Prepare students for class work

Online reading/activity with quiz

Face-to-face classes provide an opportunity for interactive learning and feedback. If students are prepared by accessing material and working with it prior to class, less class time needs to be spent on delivering information, and both you and students are aware of which areas need more focus.

Content areas



"capable of independent and collaborative enquiry", "information literate"

Collaborative learning

Use a peer review activity to write a report on a field trip and associated laboratory activity

To effectively assimilate and apply new knowledge, students need to be actively engaged in learning, to reflect on what they have learned and be able to communicate it in an appropriate academic context. Reviewing the work of their peers helps them to be able to critically review their own work.

Collaboration and group tools

Self and peer assessment/workshop

Assignment submission

"understanding of their discipline in its interdisciplinary context", "capable of independent and collaborative enquiry", "rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection", "collaborative and effective team workers", "capable of effective communication"

Research project

Locate, evaluate and use information to develop understanding around a topic.

It is not possible to learn all the information relevant to a subject area, so it is important that students develop information literacy and independent study skills.

External links



"capable of independent, self-directed practice", "understanding of their discipline in its interdisciplinary context", "rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection", "capable of independent and collaborative enquiry", "information literate"

case-based, scenario-based and project-based learning

  • Conduct independent research on a topic
  • Work in groups to collate and analyse research
  • Critically analyse information to develop problem solutions
  • Work in groups to design best solution
  • Reflect on problem-solving process

Authentic and ill-structured problems require students to develop the skills to research knowledge and apply it in a broad real-world context. Working in groups to do this also supports development of communication and teamwork skills.


Collaborative tools



Further resources