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RHETORIC OR REAITY: THE SHIFT TOWARDS LEARNING OUTCOMES Thessaloniki, 15-16 th October 2007 SESSION 3 Shifting to a learning outcomes perspective in higher.

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Presentation on theme: "RHETORIC OR REAITY: THE SHIFT TOWARDS LEARNING OUTCOMES Thessaloniki, 15-16 th October 2007 SESSION 3 Shifting to a learning outcomes perspective in higher."— Presentation transcript:

1 RHETORIC OR REAITY: THE SHIFT TOWARDS LEARNING OUTCOMES Thessaloniki, th October 2007 SESSION 3 Shifting to a learning outcomes perspective in higher education: experiences and challenges Stephen Adam, University of Westminster

2 Learning outcomes, credits and qualifications frameworks are just tools to improve our educational systems!

3 Shifting to a learning outcomes perspective in higher education: experiences and challenges FOCUS: 1.LEARNING OUTCOMES IN EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION – THE BOLOGNA PROCESS 2.PROGRESS TO DATE 3.TOWARDS A TYPOLOGY OF LEARNING OUTCOMES AND THEIR MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS 4.LEARNING OUTCOMES AND EDUCATIONAL REFORM 5.FINAL THOUGHTS: LEARNING OUTCOMES – CHALLENGES FOR EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION

4 Learning outcomes are the basic building blocks of the Bologna education reforms: 1.LEARNING OUTCOMES IN EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION –THE BOLOGNA PROCESS

5 THE BOLOGNA EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION Bologna Process – 48 countries + intergovernmental process … creating the EHEA by 2010 Huge European Commission educational reform agenda All about - mobility, recognition, efficiency, competitiveness and attractiveness of European Higher education

6 The Bologna Process - driver of change and context for debate –Reaction to globalisation + modernisation of outdated education systems and practices –Involves 48 countries (6,000 universities, 32 million students) + impacts outside the Europe region –Encompasses comparable degrees + common approaches to quality assurance, credits, lifelong learning, institutional reform, research, mobility, recognition, etc. Bologna Conferences on Learning Outcomes: –UK Bologna Seminar: Using Learning Outcomes, Edinburgh, 1-2 July 2004: –ECA 2007 International Conference on Learning Outcomes, “Defining and measuring learning outcomes in higher education”, Zurich, 3-4 September 2007: Ministerial Bologna Communiqués indicate agreed policy positions:

7 Communiqué of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education in Berlin on 19 September 2003 ‘Ministers encourage the member States to elaborate a framework of comparable and compatible qualifications for their higher education systems, which should seek to describe qualifications in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competences and profile. They also undertake to elaborate an overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area.’

8 Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education, Bergen, May 2005 ‘We adopt the overarching framework for qualifications in the EHEA, comprising three cycles (including, within national contexts, the possibility of intermediate qualifications), generic descriptors for each cycle based on learning outcomes and competences, and credit ranges in the first and second cycles. We commit ourselves to elaborating national frameworks for qualifications compatible with the overarching framework for qualifications in the EHEA by 2010, and to having started work on this by 2007.’

9 18 May 2007, London Communiqué Towards the European Higher Education Area: responding to challenges in a globalised world ‘Efforts should concentrate in future on removing barriers to access and progression between cycles and on proper implementation of ECTS based on learning outcomes and student workload.’ ‘Qualifications frameworks are important instruments in achieving comparability and transparency within the EHEA and facilitating the movement of learners within, as well as between, higher education systems. They should also help HEIs to develop modules and study programmes based on learning outcomes and credits, and improve the recognition of qualifications as well as all forms of prior learning.’ ‘We urge institutions to further develop partnerships and cooperation with employers in the ongoing process of curriculum innovation based on learning outcomes.’ ‘With a view to the development of more student-centred, outcome-based learning, the next exercise should also address in an integrated way national qualifications frameworks, learning outcomes and credits, lifelong learning, and the recognition of prior learning.’

10 The Tuning Educational Structures in Europe Project ‘Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of learning. They can refer to a single course unit or module or else to a period of studies, for example, a first or a second cycle programme. Learning outcomes specify the requirements for award of credit.’ ‘Competences represent a dynamic combination of knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities. Fostering competences is the object of educational programmes. Competences will be formed in various course units and assessed at different stages.’

11 Albania Latvia Latvia  Andorra Liechtenstein Austria Austria  Lithuania Lithuania  Belgium Belgium  Luxembourg Bosnia and Herzegovina Malta Malta  Bulgaria Netherlands Netherlands  Croatia Croatia  Norway Norway  Cyprus Poland Poland  Czech Republic Czech Republic  Portugal Portugal  Denmark Denmark  Romania Estonia Estonia  Russian Federation Russian Federation  Finland Finland  Serbia and Montenegro France France  Slovak Republic Slovak Republic  Germany Germany  Slovenia Slovenia  Greece Greece  Spain Spain  Holy See Sweden Sweden  Hungary Hungary  Switzerland Switzerland  Iceland "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" Ireland Ireland  Turkey Turkey  Italy Italy  United Kingdom United Kingdom  2.PROGRESS TO DATE Situation 2004, source Edinburgh Bologna seminar on learning outcomes: question on – any use of learning outcomes

12 Considerable activity across Europe (97%). Most developed systems: Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, UK and Belgium (Flanders). Considerable bottom-up activities reported (34%). Majority of activity top-down (52%). Several countries linked efforts with the Bologna process (21%). No countries made any link with student-centred learning (SSL). In some countries activity focused on the non-university HE. There is a strong desire to share information and good practice.

13 Bologna Stocktaking Report 2007: Report from a working group appointed by the Bologna Follow-up Group to the Ministerial Conference in London, May 2007 Focus on learning outcomes ‘The three Bologna cycles are based on generic descriptors of learning outcomes, so it is clear that describing higher education programmes in terms of learning outcomes is a precondition for achieving many of the goals of the Bologna Process by Learning outcomes are critically important in the development of national qualifications frameworks, systems for credit transfer and accumulation, the diploma supplement, recognition of prior learning and quality assurance. However, the 2007 stocktaking shows that the movement towards adopting a learning outcomes approach in higher education takes time. This is particularly evident in the slow progress on establishing national qualifications frameworks and arrangements for the recognition of prior learning. Very few countries have put in place national qualifications frameworks that provide seamless progression for learners through all cycles of higher education, thus affirming the national commitment to lifelong learning.’ (Stocktaking Report 2007, page 51)

14 ‘If the Bologna Process is to be successful in meeting the needs and expectations of learners, all countries need to use learning outcomes as a basis for their national qualifications frameworks, systems for credit transfer and accumulation, the diploma supplement, recognition of prior learning and quality assurance. This is a precondition for achieving many of the goals of the Bologna Process by 2010.’ (Stocktaking Report 2007, page 3) ‘Developing national frameworks of qualifications will bring together a number of strands of the Bologna Process, all of which are based on a learning outcomes approach: quality assurance; credit transfer and accumulation systems; recognition of prior learning; lifelong learning; flexible learning paths and the social dimension.’ (Stocktaking report 2007, page 17)

15 ‘Understanding and integrating the use of a learning outcomes based approach remains a key medium-term challenge.’ (Trends V Report 2007, Page 8) ‘It is important to highlight, however, that the mention of much of the terminology of the Bologna process – whether qualifications frameworks and learning outcomes, or to a lesser extent diploma supplements and ECTS – often met rather blank reactions.’ (Trends V Report 2007, Page 22) Trends V: Universities shaping the European Higher Education Area

16 ‘Unsurprisingly, when starting in this mode, the process has sometimes been implemented rather superficially. Rather than thinking in terms of new educational paradigms and re-considering curricula on the basis of learning outcomes, the first reflex has been to make a cut in the old long cycle and thus immediately create two cycles where previously one existed. With minimal effort, the onerous task of “reform” is thus seemingly achieved. However, this approach inevitably has few positive consequences, and often has a counter-productive impact.’ (Trends V Report 2007, Page 24) However, it must be remembered that for most countries the difficult task of producing and implementing qualifications frameworks and learning outcomes is just commencing.’ (Trends V Report 2007, Page 69)

17 3.TOWARDS A TYPOLOGY OF LEARNING OUTCOMES AND THEIR MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS

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20 4. LEARNING OUTCOMES AND EDUCATIONAL REFORM LEARNING OUTCOMES CAN: Contribute to student-centred learning (focus on the learner not the teacher); Overcome some problems associated with traditional input-focused ways of expressing the curriculum; Have a positive impact on the teaching-learning-assessment relationship and thus benefit the curriculum design (module + course); Aid quality assurance and standards (way to express external reference points); Benefit learners and employers – focus on progression, skills and knowledge; Can (with credits) provide a ‘common currency’ that links vocational education, training and academic education that facilitates integrated lifelong learning educational frameworks; Helps national and international progression, transparency and recognition; Contribute to every aspect of the Bologna reforms.

21 5. FINAL THOUGHTS: LEARNING OUTCOMES - THE CHALLENGES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION: ISSUES: Definition and understanding Spread of application Linkages with credits + Qualifications Frameworks (NQF + EQF + EHEA) Framework compatibility issues + reciprocal recognition (ECTS + ECVET) Developmental issues: staff reluctance, top-down v bottom-up Technical issues and decisions How best to share + spread good practice PROGRESS: HE is making rapid progress (some institutions more than others) HE change is perhaps easier due to institutional academic autonomy and the Bologna imperative Many universities and countries are finding LO difficult + complex They are clearly seen as part of a paradigm change

22 5. FINAL THOUGHTS … We need a: –Better understanding of the new educational Bologna infrastructure – the dynamic + interlocking fit between QA, QF, external reference points, learning outcomes, credits, cycles, qualifications descriptors – all part of a new European educational paradigm (shift from horses to tractors!); –Common understanding and definition of learning outcomes and their multiple applications and how countries are using them (including the technical side of their application as, e.g. written as minimum threshold statements or, what a ‘best’ or ‘average’ student will achieve); –Better understanding of the relationship between the meta-qualifications frameworks and national/local qualifications frameworks; –Clarification of relationships between credits, learning outcomes, levels and cycles, ECVET, ECTS, EQF and FHEA; Learning outcomes are not the universal panacea for all problems facing higher education and they certainly create distinct challenges that should not be underestimated. However, it is arguable that it might not be possible to have a meaningful European Higher Education Area without their widespread and consistent use. We must not forget that learning outcomes, credits and qualifications frameworks are just tools to help us and if we fail to use them correctly we will end up with…

23 Apologies to Man Ray, Daring Gift (Cadeau Audace), 1921/1974. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2006 SOMETHING USELESS + NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!


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