Presentation on theme: "REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORKS IN THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA Belgrade, 1-2 November 2007 Learning outcomes in national qualifications."— Presentation transcript:
REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORKS IN THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA Belgrade, 1-2 November 2007 Learning outcomes in national qualifications frameworks Stephen Adam, University of Westminster, UK Bologna promoter
Learning outcomes, credits and qualifications frameworks are just tools to improve our educational systems!
FOCUS: 1.What are learning outcomes? 2.Learning outcomes as the basic building blocks of the Bologna Process 3.Why use learning outcomes? 4.How can learning outcomes aid educational reform? 5.Levels of application: learning outcomes have profound implications … 6.Towards a typology of learning outcomes and their multiple applications 7.National qualifications frameworks and learning outcomes 8.Old versus new qualifications 9.Student-centred learning 10.An improved curriculum development process using learning outcomes 11.The EHEA represents a coherent approach to higher education - and involves new ‘educational infrastructure’ using learning outcomes 12.Learning outcomes and qualifications frameworks – many challenges 13.Final thought …
1. What are learning outcomes? Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate at the end of a period of learning. They are explicit statements about the outcomes of learning – the results of learning. They are usually defined in terms of a mixture of knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and understanding that an individual will attain as a result of his or her successful engagement in a particular set of higher education experiences. In reality, they represent much more than this. They exemplify a particular methodological approach for the expression and description of the curriculum (modules, units and qualifications) and levels, cycles, subject/sectoral statements and the ‘new style’ Bologna qualifications frameworks.
Multiple definitions exist but all are fairly similar … ‘Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and be able to demonstrate at the end of a learning experience.’ They can be highly complex or very simple!
2.Learning outcomes are the basic building blocks of the Bologna education reform Provide a clear focus on what students achieve Lead to better qualifications and an improved student experience
London Communiqué (18 May 2007) 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.’
Embody a common desire for more precision + skills and competences Focus on achievements and not teachers’ ‘aims’ or hopes Can be written for the module or programme of learning (flexible) Employ active verbs (see Bloom’s taxonomy) Improves the teaching-learning-assessment relationship 3. Why use learning outcomes? Learning outcomes are often expressed thus: ‘On the successful completion of this module/qualification/lecture students will be able to…’
4. How can learning outcomes aid 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; Provide (with credits) a ‘common currency’ that links vocational education, training and academic education and facilitates integrated lifelong learning frameworks; Help national and international progression, transparency and recognition; Link to all Bologna Action Lines.
Institutional/local level: For the module, the curriculum, the qualification + teaching, learning and assessment. National: For the expression of national qualifications frameworks (NQF), levels, qualifications descriptors and quality assurance purposes (external reference points). International: For developing the EHEA + EQF + tools used to express them - cycles and level descriptors. For a massive increase in transparency, mobility and recognition. 5. Levels of application: learning outcomes have profound implications …
6. Towards a typology of learning outcomes and their multiple applications
7. National qualifications frameworks and learning outcomes ‘New style’ National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF) and the overarching Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) are committed to employing learning outcomes (see the London Communiqué) Qualifications frameworks use learning outcomes to express levels and cycles and qualifications descriptors. Learning outcomes are an essential part of ‘new style’ qualifications frameworks and contribute to all the Bologna objectives. Learning outcomes and credits are not the universal panacea for all educational 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.
8. Old versus new qualifications Problems with traditional qualifications (see the ‘Trends’ reports): –long first study cycles + high dropout rates –little flexibility + not fit for purpose in 21 st century –lack of recognition –failing to lead to employment –Professor-centred not student-centred (input not output focused) Advantages of ‘Bologna’ degrees based on learning outcomes: –flexible, promoting mobility –allow more interaction with working life + transferable skills –help satisfy the labour market’s need for more higher education graduates –Share common standards + are more precise and measurable –facilitate better recognition + attractiveness of European higher education –Student-centred, output/outcome focused (paradigm shift)
9. Student-centred learning Teacher centred: Teachers serve as the centre of epistemological knowledge, directing the learning process and controlling students' access to information Students are viewed as 'empty vessels’ and learning is viewed as an additive process Instruction is geared for the 'average' student and everyone is forced to progress at the same rate Student centred: Students are not passive. They come with their own perceptual frameworks (Erikson, 1984) Students learn in different ways (Briggs-Myers, 1980; Kolb, 1984) Learning is an active, dynamic process (Cross, 1991) Students construct their own meaning by talking, listening, writing, reading, and reflecting on content, ideas, issues and concerns (Meyers and Jones, 1993) (Source: University of Bath)
Be quiet and write down everything I say! An extreme teacher-centred approach!
However… Both teacher and student-centred learning have a role. Student-centred learning (SCL) puts the focus of learning activity on the learner and: –the role of a teacher is to manage the learning; –recognises that much learning takes place outside the classroom; –students should be actively involved in the planning and management of their own learning + take more responsibility for this. The move towards more student-centred learning leads to a focus on the relationship between teaching, learning and assessment. Learning outcomes are the first logical step in moving towards student centred-learning and impact at module/pathway/course/national/international levels.
10. An improved curriculum development process using learning outcomes NEW QUALIFICATION National Qualifications Framework (levels) (Ministry) Qualifications Descriptors (QA body) Past experience + Student feedback National + International Professional Bodies Employer + other Stakeholder input Framework for Qualifications of the EHEA (Dublin) Colleagues + Subject peers at other HEI National & International Benchmarks (Tuning) Bologna – requires the use of internal and external reference points
11.The EHEA represents a coherent approach to HE - and involves new ‘educational infrastructure’ using learning outcomes Common methodological approach + structural framework External reference points + curricular reform Transparent academic standards and processes Emphasis on quality enhancement Increased transparency and significance of quality assurance systems – as a basis for trust and recognition Transparency tools: Diploma Supplement, QF, clear standards, etc Increased institutional autonomy and devolved responsibility + new role for ‘authorities’ Application of learning outcomes for: modules, assessment & grading criteria; individual qualification descriptors; generic qualifications descriptors; subject benchmark/sectoral statements; level descriptors; cycle descriptors Student-centred approaches Closer links between qualifications and employability + business and universities
12. Learning outcomes and qualifications frameworks – many challenges: How to divide teaching curriculum content between Bachelor and Master levels, balance general subjects versus specialised subjects and theory vs. practical experience? Whether to have a binary divide + vocational/academic split or have a genuine framework for lifelong learning? Decide the implications of adopting a 3/4 years first cycle and 1/2 years second cycle? How to use credits and levels in the process of curricular reform? How to ensure learning outcomes are developed and implemented (staff development?) How to prevent curricula becoming too rigid and compressed with less space for creativity and innovation - too many units of former longer degrees crammed into first-cycle programmes? How to involve employers + all stakeholders in curriculum and qualifications frameworks developments (what learning outcomes do they value?) How to ensure all first cycle programmes address all four main purposes of higher education (+ include appropriate learning outcomes for them)? How to overcome academic resistance, inertia and lack of resources? How to ensure real ‘bottom up’ academic reforms take place and old qualifications are not just repackaged
13. FINAL THOUGHT… Academic reform is a slow and difficult process!