Whats coming up.... Historical survey of approaches to academic credit Analysis of the current position in Britain and Europe Critique and possible ways forward
Origins of Credit (1) Origins of Credit in the USA: courses with 3 hours of credit, 32 semester hours required at each of 4 levels for a degree From 1969: Open University credit model: units equivalent to 15 credits and 30 credits OU Modular academic structure, Credit Accumulation and Transfer, APL.
Origins of Credit (2) 1963 Robbins report urging development of curriculum structures offering student choice 1967 University of London course unit scheme: large modules equivalent to 40 credits 1970s: Modular degree schemes introduced in several polytechnics and large colleges Toyne Report (1979) and ECCTIS (Educational Counselling and Credit Transfer Information Service)
Credit in the 1980s 1981: Manchester Open College Federation (MOCF) Scheme: 50 hour (later 30 hour) credit scheme with 4 levels and level descriptors: 10,000 learners by 1988 MOCF definition of credit as an award to a learner in recognition of their achievement Other OCNs adopt similar schemes BTEC 60 hour credits
CNAA Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) Introduced in 1986 by the Council for National Academic Awards 120 credits/year for full time UG and PG students Four levels: 1,2,3 and M No level descriptors
Vocational qualifications in the 1990s Further Education Unit (A Basis for Credit?,1992) proposes credit system for vocational qualifications with 8 levels based on 30 hour credit Influence of Open College Networks NCVQ: 5 levels Kennedy and Fryer Reports SCOTVEC: full credit-based modular scheme with learning outcomes and module descriptors 1999 National Qualifications Framework: a major missed opportunity in not embedding credit
Robertson Report, 1994 Choosing to Change: extending access, choice and mobility in higher education (HEQC, 1994), Recommends: a single unified credit framework covering F & HE based on the 30-hour credit; A National credit transcript Development of 2 year Associate degrees Extending arrangements for credit accumulation and transfer Enhanced arrangements for student guidance
Credit developments in HE in the 1990s Formation of the Credit consortia/ bodies SEEC, NUCCAT, NICATS, HECIW, SCOTCATS Dearing Report (1997) proposes credit-based HE qualifications framework with 8 (HE) levels InCCA Report A common Framework for Learning (Reynolds et al, 1998) recommends adoption of the 10- hour credit QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications EWNI (FHEQ), 1 st edition 2001, with qualification levels C, I, D and H but doesnt mention credit (another missed opportunity)
Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, SCQF (2001) Builds on SCOTVEC and SCOTCATS First nationwide integrated credit and qualifications framework within the UK Uses 12 levels (1-3 access, 4-6 FE, 7-10 UG, PG) Uses 10-hour credit Strong emphasis on learner progression, Recognition of Prior Learning and learning in the workplace
Further developments Northern Ireland NICATS (1999) SEEC Level Descriptors (2001 and 2010) Welsh Assembly approves CQFW (Integrated credit and qualification framework, 2003) Transition from NQF via Framework for Achievement to Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF, 2007) Second edition of FHEQ (QAA, 2008), with levels 4-8, but still not adopting credit Parallel publication of Higher Education Credit Framework for EWNI (UUK, Guild HE, QAA 2008)
Europe: FQ-EHEA Framework for Qualifications in the European Higher Education Area (FQ-EHEA), 1999 Meta- Framework with 3 cycles (plus the short cycle) and corresponding Dublin descriptors Linked to ECTS credit scheme but no levels in ECTS
Europe: EQF European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong learning (EQF) Meta- Framework with 8 levels and full level descriptors Referencing of national schemes against EQF under way across Europe Linked to ECVET, a credit system with credit points that reflect the weighting of qualifications: no levels in ECVET
Level Descriptors Level descriptors are Generic statements describing the characteristics and context of learning expected at each level, against which learning outcomes and assessment criteria can be reviewed in order to develop modules and assign credit at the appropriate level (Moon, 2002) So...what do they look like now?
Level Descriptor: Example 1a Characteristics The following descriptions are for guidance only it is not expected that every point will be covered Knowledge and understanding Demonstrate and/or work with: A broad knowledge of the subject/discipline in general. Knowledge that is embedded in the main theories, concepts and principles. An awareness of the evolving/changing nature of knowledge and understanding. An understanding of the difference between explanations based on evidence and/or research and other forms of explanation and of the importance of this difference. Practice: applied knowledge and understanding Use some of the basic and routine professional skills, techniques, practices and/or materials associated with a subject/discipline. Practise these in both routine and non-routine contexts. Generic cognitive skills Present and evaluate arguments, information and ideas which are routine to the subject/ discipline. Use a range of approaches to address defined and/or routine problems and issues within familiar contexts.
Level Descriptor: Example 1b Communication, ICT and numeracy skills Use a wide range of routine skills and some advanced skills associated with the subject/ discipline, for example: Convey complex ideas in well-structured and coherent form. Use a range of forms of communication effectively in both familiar and new contexts. Use standard applications to process and obtain a variety of information and data. Use a range of numerical and graphical skills in combination. Use numerical and graphical data to measure progress and achieve goals/targets. Autonomy, accountability and working with others Exercise some initiative and independence in carrying out defined activities at a professional level. Take supervision in less familiar areas of work. Take some managerial responsibility for the work of others within a defined and supervised structure. Manage limited resources within defined areas of work. Take the lead in implementing agreed plans in familiar or defined contexts. Take account of own and others roles and responsibilities in carrying out and evaluating tasks. Work with others in support of current professional practice under guidance.
Level Descriptor: Example 2...the ability to... generate ideas through the analysis of concepts at an abstract level with a command of specialised skills and the formulation of responses to well-defined and abstract problems; analyse and evaluate information; exercise significant judgement across a broad range of functions; and accept responsibility for determining and achieving personal and/or group outcomes.
Level Descriptor: Example 3 Knowledge: advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles Skills: advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study Competences: manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision making in unpredictable work or study contexts take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups
Level Descriptor: Example 4 Summary statement: Achievement at level X reflects the ability to identify and use relevant understanding, methods and skills to complete tasks and address problems that, while well defined, have a measure of complexity. It includes taking responsibility for initiating and completing tasks and procedures as well as exercising autonomy and judgement within limited parameters. It also reflects awareness of different perspectives or approaches within an area of study or work.
Critique Seven national frameworks operational in all or part of the UK, despite attempts (eg Robertson) to promote a single scheme : You wouldnt start from here Confusion potential for learners (and tutors) FHEQ (ENWI and Scotland) fails to differentiate between different qualifications at the same level NQF will continue to exist for the time being Impenetrability of ECVET and limitations of ECTS
Proposals (adapted from Chapter 16 of Making Sense of Credit and Qualification Frameworks in the United Kingdom Merge the FQ-EWNI and the HECF Discontinue the FQ-Scotland Integrate GCSE and A levels into QCF and close NQF Rationalise ECVET and ECTS Clarify compatibility of FQ-EHEA and EQF