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1. Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 Andrea DETMER (Valencia University of Technology, Spain) 1 José- Ginés MORA (Institute of Education, University of London)2 Developing Qualifications Frameworks at the National and Institutional Level – The Spanish Case Abstract The Spanish Higher Education system is currently modifying its structure, regulations, teaching approaches and overall organisation towards a European Higher Education Area-compatible one. The development of a National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education has recently commenced, having a legal basis to support it. However, further guidelines are required to establish a National Qualifications Framework which is also compatible with the European Qualifications Framework, which considers the specific characteristics of the Spanish system and which allows a coherent integration of the disciplinary-levels’ qualifications frameworks. The Valencia University of Technology (UPV) jointly with the Spanish Ministry for Education and Science3 have developed pilot projects in producing two disciplinary-level qualifications frameworks proposals and dissemination activities as means to involving the academic community in this process. This section contains the description and conclusions drawn from these activities. Abstract in Spanish El sistema español de educación superior se encuentra actualmente modificando su estructura, reglamentos, enfoques de enseñanza y organización general hacia un sistema compatible con el Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior. Recientemente se ha iniciado el desarrollo de un Marco Nacional de Cualificaciones para la Educación Superior, teniendo una base jurídica que lo sustenta. Sin embargo nuevas directrices son necesarias para establecer un marco nacional que también sea compatible con el Marco Europeo de Cualificaciones, que considere las características propias del sistema español y que permita una integración coherente de los marcos de cualificación disciplinares que se generen. La Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV) conjuntamente con el Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia de España ha desarrollado proyectos piloto en la producción de dos propuestas de marcos de cualificación disciplinarios y ha desarrollado actividades de divulgación como medios para involucrar a la comunidad académica en este proceso. Esta sección contiene la descripción y las conclusiones extraídas de estas actividades. Keywords National Qualifications Frameworks, European Qualifications Framework, Spanish Higher Education 1 email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org 2 email@example.com 3 Since the legislature commencing 01/04/2008, Ministry for Science and Innovation. 1
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 1. Spanish Higher Education Context The Spanish Higher Education (HE) system has had considerable changes in the past two years, including various regulative, financial and structural adaptations which set the basic guidelines to drive the system towards a European Higher Education Area (EHEA)-compatible one. The Royal Decree 1393 passed in October 2007 on the Organisation of Higher Education in Spain develops the structure of HE studies in Spain according to the Organic Law of Universities reviewed and approved in April 2007. This Royal Decree is the key national legal instrument currently used in steering the Spanish HE according to the EHEA principles. The main shifts in the national approach to university studies reflected in the mentioned Royal Decree are the following: - From a regulated catalogue-based supply to an open supply of university degrees - From a rigid structure of degrees to a flexible one - From a system with low mobility to one of comparable degrees and more recognition within the EU - From a teaching-based system to a learning-based one - From one with few information to one with more transparency and spreading of results - From degrees which consider professional practices to one oriented to professional practice - From a system focused on academic results to one focused on employability, widening to learning outcomes (knowing, understanding and doing) - From a standardised system of degrees to one supported in quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms, reinforcing the responsibilities of the National Quality Assurance Agency The decree establishes the structure of university degrees organised in three cycles, corresponding to the Bachelor (Grado), Master and Doctorate degrees. All Bachelor degrees will consist of 240 ECTS credits corresponding to the UNESCO ISCED level 5A and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) level 6. Master degrees may have between 60 and 120 ECTS credits corresponding to level 6 in the UNESCO ISCED and level 7 of the EQF. For Doctoral Programmes, the training period may conclude with the production and public defence of research work and its duration in credits will be established by the university (Bernabeu et al 2006). It corresponds to level 6 in the UNESCO ISCED and to the 8th EQF level. In addition, the Royal Decree makes reference to the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (MECES) which will set the minimum required competences for these three degree levels. The document makes explicit references to the Dublin Descriptors learning outcomes, setting the foundation for the national-level Qualifications Framework (QF). Having a national legal basis for the MECES, a national committee with representatives from different sectors has been created to develop it further. The committee is composed by representatives from the University Coordination Council 2
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 (CCU), students, business people, the regional governments, the central government, the National Quality Assurance Agency (ANECA) and experts in qualifications frameworks. At the same time, bottom-up initiatives are taken place at the institutional level, some of which, as the cases presented in this report are indented to be aligned and coordinated with the top-down approaches. Besides the Royal Decree on the Organisation of HE, other structural changes have taken place recently in the Spanish HE arena. After the general elections which took place in the country in March 2008, the structure of public authorities responsible for higher education has changed. The former Ministry for Education and Science has divided its functions into the new Ministry for Education, Social Policy and Sports and the Ministry for Science and Innovation. Higher Education is now responsibility of the latter one. This shift may represent a challenge for the coordination of study programs between secondary and post- secondary education, while at the same time will probably boost the role of universities in fostering innovation. In any case, it should be remarked that the main funding responsibility on education remains on the 17 autonomous regional governments, although the legal framework as well as the funding for competitive research and innovation stays in a central government responsibility. In this article, pilot experiences of developing QF in different levels of action are presented. These were developed jointly with the former Ministry for Education and Science and the Valencia University of Technology. The main results and observations from the overall process are described including the overall approach to coordinate the QF at different levels, two proposals for QF and the main lessons taken out of the pilot experiences. 2. Multi-level Approach for Qualifications Frameworks Qualifications Frameworks (QF), as structures which locate people in different levels according to their acquired and demonstrable learning outcomes, have a wide range of uses for different stakeholders. Embedded in their logic, QF give coherence to the teaching/ learning paradigm shift based on a student-centred approach which serves as foundation for the Bologna process. Besides, QF aims to foster national and international student mobility and the recognition of degrees and training. Furthermore, these instruments intend to inform society, students, regarding the learning requirements of each study level, and employers, concerning the expected competences of their employees. Due to their use by different stakeholders and in different arenas, within one country and internationally, the set of QF affecting a particular system needs to have a great degree of coherence and consistency. Delimiting to the Higher Education (HE) context, coherence and consistency between QF structures are crucial to achieve the objectives for which they are being designed. Coherence and consistency need to be present when designing and implementing QF at different levels; i.e. between national, international and multi-national (e.g. European) QF; between QF for different levels of study (both within the HE system and with the previous educational levels); and between QF for different study areas. Evidently, the success of QF is determined also, by its coordination with other policies, reforms and instruments being implemented in HE systems. 3
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 The development of initial proposals for the MECES and for QF at more specific levels to be used at the Valencia University of Technology have been founded in key European initiatives, namely the Dublin Descriptors developed in the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Qualifications Framework. Other national and international experiences have also been considered. In addition, a multi- variable approach has been taken, in order to promote the consistency between the above-mentioned different dimensions of QF. The Dublin Descriptors (JQIG 2004) have been taken as a basis to shape the Spanish QF key elements. Its five-learning outcomes typology served as basis to structure the QF. Besides, two other variables were considered to shape the Spanish QF: the HE levels existent in the Spanish HE system and the level of disciplinary specificity. The HE levels are the Bachelor, Master and Doctoral levels. The disciplinary specificity has been considered as a variable useful to differentiate between learning outcomes which correspond to all disciplines, to some broad areas of study or to specific study programs. For the purposes of using different terms for each main variable, the different levels of disciplinary specificity have been referred to as strata. As a result, the proposed QF has the following dimensions and elements: • Dimension 1- Categories of Learning Outcomes: 1. Have knowledge and understanding 2. Application of knowledge and understanding 3. Ability to make judgements 4. Communication and social skills 5. Learning skills • Dimension 2- HE levels: 1. Bachelor 2. Master 3. Doctoral • Dimension 3- Disciplinary specificity strata: Broad areas: 1. Arts and Humanities 2. Sciences 3. Health Sciences 4. Social Sciences 5. Engineering and Architecture Disciplines: 1. E.g. Mechanical Engineering 4
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 The following diagram summarizes the scheme used to plan the QF to be used in the Spanish HE system. The labels of learning outcomes categories, HE levels and disciplinary strata have been used to identify the different QF dimensions. With this scheme a general QF structure has been presented, aiming to develop QF which since their initial design take into account all dimensions and therefore allow consistency and coherence between them. STRATUM 1 STRATUM 2 STRATUM 3 BACHELOR LEVEL MASTER LEVEL DOCTORAL LEVEL BACHELOR LEVEL Description Categories Large Areas Disciplines Categories MASTER LEVEL Have knowledge Categories ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURE Category 1 and learning SOCIAL SCIENCES AND LAW DOCTORAL LEVEL understanding ARTS AND HUMANITIES outcomes HEALTH SCIENCES Application of Category 2 knowledge and SCIENCES understanding Ability to make Category 3 judgements Communication Category 4 and social skills Disciplinary strata Category 5 Learning skills Fig. 1: Scheme of Higher Education Qualifications Frameworks dimensions Of the multiple QF derived from this scheme, within the framework of HE_LeO project, two pilot experiences in developing QF have taken place: at the institutional level, for the broad study area of Engineering and Architecture and at the School level, for the specific discipline of Mechanical Engineering, both for Bachelor degrees and considering a QF based on the 5 categories of learning outcomes employed in the Dublin Descriptors. 3. Qualifications Frameworks Proposals At the UPV, QF proposals were developed at two different levels: institutionally, for the broad disciplinary area of Engineering and Architecture, and at the School level, for Mechanical Engineering. In both cases, the objectives were to initiate discussion on QF and to develop pilot QF which required participation of key actors in the broader curricular reform context. 5
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 The methodology for both case study groups, at the institutional and the school level consisted of: Creation of work group formed by academic staff involved or in charge of different curricular aspects at the corresponding level (different faculties for the institutional case study and different departments and subjects for the school-level case study)4. The creation of these groups has been supported by leaders at each level: the Vice-rector for European Studies and Convergence and Director of School for Design Engineering which deals with Mechanical Engineering studies. a. Agreement of the specific tasks to be developed by each group, timings and number of meetings. b. Bibliographic revision compiling institutional, national and international references covering multi-disciplinary topics related with QF as well as discipline-specific ones.5 c. Creation of a general template to guide the development of the QF. As mentioned above, both QF were based on the structure of the Dublin Descriptors. d. Realization of working meetings where each participant presented her/his view on specific elements of the QF and after discussion, the QF took shape. e. Final review on QF proposals. f. Presentation of the results to the corresponding academic community and to the HE_LeO project team. Both QF proposals were developed at this stage for studies leading to Bachelor degrees. However, as reviewed later, in the process it was noted that a comprehensive approach – including QF for other educational levels, both previous and subsequent ones – is needed. Some specific aspects regarding the development of the QF for the broad area of Engineering and Architecture and for the Mechanical Engineering discipline are presented next. Later, the main lessons and observations from both pilot experiences are discussed altogether given their commonalities. 4 The list of academics involved in the development of QF at the Technical University of Valencia is presented in Annex 1. 5 A list of the main references considered is available in the References section. 6
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 3.1. Qualifications Framework for Engineering and Architecture Engineering and Architecture is one of the five broad disciplinary groups which the former Ministry for Education and Science (MEC) referred to in the Royal Decree which mentions the development of a National QF for Higher Education6. It was chosen as a disciplinary area to develop this QF proposal at the UPV, given the technical approach of the university. A wide range of documentation was reviewed when developing the proposal; however, few documents presented examples of learning outcomes descriptions in the context of QF at more discipline-specific levels. Clearly, the multi-disciplinary level is where most QF documentation referred to; i.e. EQF, QF-EHEA, Dublin Descriptors. Conversely, when referred to Engineering and Architecture, QF examples were rare. What was present though, and in fact utilised in the proposals’ development, were lists of competencies on this topic used for objectives different than describing QF. A useful documentation was the “Criteria for accrediting Engineering Programs” by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The “White Books” published by the ANECA also served as reference but in relation to the competencies expected from graduates of specific disciplines. The structure of the QF based on the five categories of learning outcomes presented in the Dublin Descriptors was debated. It seemed that the first two categories, namely ‘Have knowledge and understanding’ and ‘Application of knowledge and understanding’ were appropriate for this second level of disciplinary specificity. However, the learning outcomes related to the next three; i.e. “Ability to make judgements”, “Communication” and “Learning skills”, were more controversial since many of them seemed common to most disciplines and therefore would be mentioned in the national level QF (for all disciplines). Although this debate was relevant on this working group, it was manifested strongly in the Mechanical Engineering one. Additionally, the initial “communication” category was expanded to “communication and social aptitudes”. The fact that Engineering was considered in this broad area together with Architecture presented some challenges to find common points in the learning outcomes, which led to a set of learning outcomes with some tendency to learning outcomes which may be closer to those applicable to all disciplines than those applicable only to Engineering. In addition, the consideration of Architecture in this proposal stressed issues on learning outcomes related to aesthetics, creativity and socio-cultural knowledge, which probably, would have less importance in the selection of learning outcomes if Architecture would not have been considered. The full QF proposal for Engineering and Architecture resulting from nine working meetings is presented next. 6 http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2005/01/25/pdfs/A02846-02851.pdf 7
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 Qualifications Framework for Engineering and Architecture at the UPV at Bachelor Level7 CATEGORY 1:: HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 1: HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 1 HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING SUMMARY: Knowledge of the humanities, science and technology basis of engineering and architecture at advanced levels and, in some cases, at the forefront of knowledge. CATEGORY HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATA 2: 1. Acquisition of a historical- social culture and aesthetic sensitivity. 2. Basic scientific knowledge. 3. Acquisition of graphics and manual dexterity and spatial vision. 4. Capacity for mathematical modelling of complex systems and processes in the fields of engineering or architecture. 5. Ability to identify, formulate and resolve basic engineering or architecture problems. 6. Ability to use the tools and instruments needed to properly observe the systems which are object of study. 7. Advanced knowledge of information and communication technologies. 8. Knowledge of economic and financial aspects and costs- control capacity of projects and other areas of activity. 9. Adequate knowledge of the businesses, organizations, regulations and procedures necessary for the implementation of projects and other activities. CATEGORY 2:: APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 2: APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 2 APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING SUMMARY: Ability to design, plan, organize and control systems, processes or components that meet the needs demanded by society within the actual conditions of the environment. Ability to develop projects for the continuous improvement, experimentation and innovation, and for the use of the tools for solving problems in their field. CATEGORY APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING FOR STRATA 2: 1. Capacity for the design of systems, processes or components that meet the needs demanded by society within the actual conditions of the environment as a whole. 2. Capacity for planning, organizing, directing and controlling systems and processes in a framework that ensures enterprise competitiveness, protection and preservation of the environment and sustainable development in the corresponding area. 3. Ability to apply analytical and numerical methods for the analysis of problems in the fields of engineering or architecture. 4. Ability to efficiently implement tools for solving problems in engineering and architecture. 5. Capacity for the development, management and implementation of projects that meet the aesthetic, technical and safety requirements. 6. Capacity for innovation in the development of new lines, processes, projects and products. 7. Capacity to implement quality criteria and procedures for continuous improvement in productive, technological and service systems. 8. Ability to design and manage experimentation processes in the corresponding field. 7 This QF has been proposed by the working group for the Qualifications Framework proposal for Engineering and Architecture in December 2007 (see for working group members Annex 1). 8
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 CATEGORY 3:: ABILITY TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS CATEGORY 3: ABILITY TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS CATEGORY 3 ABILITY TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS SUMMARY: Ability for problem-solving with initiative, decision-making, creativity and critical thinking. CATEGORY ABILITY TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS FOR STRATA 2: 1. Critical and analytical capacity in the area of expertise. 2. Creative capacity and development of imagination in the field of engineering and architecture. 3. Capacity for evaluation, optimization and comparison of criteria for decision making. 4. Capacity for drafting, representation, analysis and interpretation of technical documentation and relevant data in the field of engineering and architecture. 5. Capacity for reporting and elaborating surveys based on the critical analysis of the reality in the field of engineering and architecture. 6. Ability to define, develop and elaborate regulations on the area of expertise. 7. Capacity for conducting environmental impact studies and life cycle analysis as planned. CATEGORY 4:: COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS CATEGORY 4: COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS CATEGORY 4 COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS SUMMARY: Capacity for communication and transmission of knowledge in expert and non- expert environments and in other languages. Capacity for team working and managing human resources. CATEGORY COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS FOR STRATA 2: 1. Communication capacity in at least one foreign language. 2. Capacity to communicate in formal, graphic and symbolic languages. 3. Capacity for the use of the most suitable manual and computer representation techniques and for the use of advanced communications technologies. 4. Submission of engineering or architecture projects to experts and non-experts and disclosure of specific knowledge of the area. 5. Capacity to manage and coordinate human resources for the execution of projects. 6. Capacity for advice and consultancy activities in the field of engineering and architecture. 7. Ability to work in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams. 8. Social, ethical and environmental commitment for the development of engineering or architectural consistent-solutions, which are sustainable and continuously tune with the reality of the human and natural environment. 9. Capacity for the transmission of general specialist information and for its adaptation to different communication channels, means and profiles to avoid social risks arising from misunderstood or unknown technologies. CATEGORY 5:: LEARNING SKILLS CATEGORY 5: LEARNING SKILLS CATEGORY 5 LEARNING SKILLS SUMMARY: Ability to update the knowledge autonomously and willingness to do so permanently. CATEGORY LEARNING SKILLS FOR STRATA 2: 1. Ability to update the knowledge in the field of engineering and architecture. 2. Ability to adapt to evolving usual tools in the field of engineering and architecture. 3. Capacity to consolidate, expand and integrate fundamental knowledge of engineering and architecture. 4. Provision of independent techniques and learning routines, as well as conviction for continuous learning throughout life, which allows the autonomous progression and access to education at higher levels. 5. Disposal of methodologies and self-learning skills for efficient adaptation and updating of new knowledge and scientific advances, as well as of changing needs, to take an aptitude for innovation and creativity in the exercise of the profession of engineer or architect. 6. Ability to initiate research activities. 9
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 3.2. Qualifications Framework for Mechanical Engineering Regarding the disciplinary-level QF, Mechanical Engineering was chosen within the various disciplines offered at the UPV due to its staff involvement in curricular reforms and due to current discussions at the national level on common aspects for competency- based curricula for this Bachelor degree. Three academics from different Mechanical Engineering subjects together with researchers from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management discussed, analysed and proposed the QF. In the case of Mechanical Engineering the discussion on QF was less documented than for Engineering and Architecture. Besides the general documents, the White Book for the degree of Mechanical Engineering published by the ANECA and an international case in this discipline developed by a HE_LeO partner university, the Graz University of Technology8, were considered when analysing the set of learning outcomes. Similarly to the case of the Engineering and Architecture QF, the structure of the QF based on the five categories of learning outcomes presented in the Dublin Descriptors was questioned. While the two knowledge-related learning outcomes seemed suitable for this discipline-specific level, the other three, i.e. “Ability to make judgements”, “Communication” and “Learning skills”, seemed to have few aspects specifics to Mechanical Engineering. Rather, the expected learning outcomes in these aspects were common to other Engineering subjects or even, to other broad disciplinary areas. For example, the ‘capacity to express judgements and to contribute to problems’ discussions and solutions in groups’ was raised as a learning outcome expected from Mechanical Engineering graduates. However, it would be probably also expected from other Engineering graduates and furthermore, from those graduating in other disciplinary fields. Consequently, although the initial proposal had some few learning outcomes on these three categories, the presented QF finally had only two learning outcomes categories: ‘Have knowledge and understanding’ and ‘Application of knowledge and understanding’. The issue of what types of learning outcomes should be included in the different disciplinary stratum is debatable and crucial to determine suitable learning outcomes limits between disciplinary specific strata and HE levels. Further raised issues in the development of the proposal, which were common to those presented in the development of Engineering and Architecture QF, are discussed next. The QF proposal for Mechanical Engineering is presented below. 8 For more details on this case see the chapter “Curricula Development based on Learning Outcomes – An Austrian Case”. 10
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 Qualifications Framework for Mechanical Engineering at the UPV at the Bachelor Level9 CATEGORY 1:: HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 1: HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 1 HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING Graduates of Mechanical Engineering have demonstrated: 1. Advanced knowledge on: Elements of machines, fluids machines and industrial buildings, enabling them to be at the forefront of Mechanical Engineering. 2. Understanding of the concepts, principles and theories relevant on: machines mechanics, fluids mechanics, materials behaviour, thermal engineering and manufacturing processes to support and complement the expertise mentioned in the first section. 3. Knowledge in core subjects (Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, Physics and Chemistry) and instrumental subjects (Computing, Representation Techniques, Communication Technologies) required for the acquisition of knowledge referred to in sections 1 and 2. 4. Complementary knowledge (economic, ethical, environmental, social, methodological and project organisation, etc.) to improve their professional skills. CATEGORY 2::APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 2:A PPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING CATEGORY 2 APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING Graduates of Mechanical Engineering are able to apply the insights gained to the: 1. Analysis and problem-solving in Mechanical Engineering in a comprehensive manner, using professional judgments, considering risks, costs, benefits, safety, reliability, aesthetics and environmental impact. 2. Design, calculation, construction, reform, repair, maintenance, assembly and exploitation of equipment, machinery and facilities of Mechanical Engineering, taking into account the effects on the environment and society. 3. Development and application of tools and procedures to improve the practice of Mechanical Engineering. 4. Preparation and interpretation of the technical documentation of Mechanical Engineering (plans, reports, technical presentations, regulations, etc.). 3.3. Observations and lessons learned During the Engineering and Architecture, and Mechanical Engineering working meetings a number of questions and concerns were discussed. These referred to the development of a QF, its applicability, its potential impact, the coherence between a particular QF and those used for related subjects or HE levels, and the coherence between a set of QF and other curricula-related instruments. The main issues were the following: • Learning outcomes limits between HE levels and disciplinary specificity strata A clear delimitation of what learning outcomes correspond to one particular level or another (e.g. Bachelor, Master or Doctoral) and to one stratum of disciplinary specificity or to another (e.g. all disciplines versus Engineering and Architecture study area) is crucial. In order to determine that delimitation, QF for different HE levels and different disciplinary strata need to be thought jointly. Therefore, if they are developed separately (in terms of time or approaches taken), some learning outcomes may be overlapped, 9 This QF has been proposed by the working group for the Qualifications Framework Proposal for Mechanical Engineering in October 2007 (see for working group members Annex 1). 11
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 while others may be left outside. This was the case when discussing for example communications skills and ethical competencies. In this case, the question was in which disciplinary strata should they be in (for all disciplines equally or differentiating and therefore, specifying the learning outcomes at more detailed levels). Differently, with other learning outcomes, the question was whether they should be part of the QF of studies leading to Bachelor degrees or more advanced ones (and in some cases, previous ones). This was the case of basic research skills and knowledge of basic subjects. Clearly, the lesson was that coordination among QF developers for different levels is crucial since the very beginning. Delimitation of learning outcomes in different QF is related to a series of other key questions: • Coherence between QF and other instruments, namely curricula, study programs and teaching/ learning methodologies Similarly to the need for coordinating a QF design with those on other levels, issues were strongly raised regarding the consistency of QF with other curricular elements. In order for a QF to be applicable, what and how is taught and learnt needs to be consistent with what is expected in the QF. In contexts where contents and learning structures are changing, but not always implemented as declared in formal documents, special attention needs to be paid to the real coherence between instruments. In a country as Spain where only since 2007 universities are allowed to define their own curricula, this is especially challenging. QF at the main multi-disciplinary level will probably have a legal basis being mandatory for all programs offered by universities. While this promotes coherence in the system and may lead towards quality improvements, it may also be considered as a regulation fulfilled formally but not deeply implemented. Therefore, it is crucial to involve university stakeholders in the discussion and to promote sustainable and applicable policies on QF. • Evaluation of learning outcomes as stated in QF An essential element of QF is that qualifications are awarded to students who have demonstrated certain learning outcomes. Therefore their evaluation is a key aspect of QF implementation. This presents a number of questions regarding who, how, when and with what regulatory framework will assess the learning outcomes achievement. Furthermore, the type of linkages between the QF at the national level and quality assurance procedures is an additional issue to be discussed. • Regulatory framework In Spain, there are ‘regulated’ study programs which are deemed to affect society more critically such as Medicine and some Engineering studies. For these, there are additional mandatory regulations on the study program contents. Furthermore, the role of Professional Schools is considerable in some areas, adding complexity to the set of regulations affecting some disciplines in Spain. In the design of QF awareness of these elements is crucial. • Involvement of relevant actors Different stakeholders have been involved in the process of proposing a QF for the Spanish HE system as well as to be used at the UPV. Besides the main aim of proposing a QF, a key objective in this process – both for the Ministry for Education and Science and for the UPV, has been informing and allowing debate on QF. Given that even in contexts where the Bologna process is relatively advanced (which is not the 12
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 case in the Spanish HE system) QF have not been at the core of HE-reforms policies, the need to inform on QF was evident. What they are, what they are meant for, how are they defined and how they are used were – and are – basic questions requiring orientation. Furthermore, discussion, exchange of ideas and the possibility to give feedback was – and is now even more – crucial, not only to disseminate information, but rather to allow the main stakeholders (and future implementers of QF) to be part of the process. This involvement and active participation will possibly allow a smoother and more successful functioning of the QF in Spain when its official establishment takes place. At the national level, within the curricular reform process steered by the MEC, and at the institutional level, within the actions taken in the framework of the HE_LeO project at the UPV, key actors from universities were involved in the design and analysis of QF proposals for the HE system. The development of the QF proposal for Engineering and Architecture was summoned by the Vice-rectory for European Convergence of the UPV; representatives in the working group included the Vice-rector for ICT, Department Directors and responsible persons for curricula design from the main Engineering and Architecture departments. Together with the researchers from this project the working group was composed by 10 professionals. In the case of the Mechanical Engineering QF proposal, a similar approach was taken in the interest of covering representatives from the main subjects of this discipline. Three representatives from different departments formulated the QF proposal. After developing both proposals, a national conference for Vice-rectors for European Convergence from all Spanish universities was organized. The aim of this conference – taking place in February 200810 – was to inform about the national developments on QF, present the main results of the pilot QF experiences and promote national debate on QF and its integration in the broader curricular reform context. These objectives were achieved through presentations of representatives from the MEC who updated on the policy and legal situation of QF and related issues at the national level; presentations by HE experts who explained the origins, different approaches, aims and current developments of QF at the international level; presentation by one of the study groups members who presented the results of both case studies; and through five parallel workshops organised by disciplinary area. In these workshops the audience had the opportunity to review the QF proposals and to brainstorm and discuss on the key elements of the QF in their respective disciplinary groups. 80 high-level representatives from 47 universities, the MEC and the National Quality Assurance Agency (ANECA) attended the conference. 3.4. Conclusion Overall, the pilot experiences of proposing QF at two levels, institutional for the broad disciplinary area of Engineering and Architecture and at the school level for Mechanical Engineering, has been useful in terms of: 10 The conference website, www.cfp.upv.es/meces/, offers relevant documentation and the conference presentations (in Spanish). 13
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 • increasing awareness of the challenges faced when designing a QF in a particular context; • developing expertise in the development of QF; • involving and informing a relevant academic community; and promoting discussion and interaction among the main group of QF policy stakeholders. In terms of lessons learned, the most outstanding one is the awareness of the challenge that developing QF presents, taking into account • all dimensions (i.e. HE levels, disciplinary specificity, categories of learning outcomes) • their interactions, as well as • relevant variables (e.g. regulations) of the environments in which they are meant to be applied: that is, national, regional and institutional higher education systems. In terms of experiences, besides the QF proposals, a valuable output has been a more informed academic staff regarding the objectives, structures, uses and implications of QF. This collaboration between Spanish universities and the Central administration may set the base for further joint initiatives and the development of a more participatory Qualification framework. References Bernabeu, G. et al. (2006): Bologna Process, National Report Spain 2005 – 2007. Boletín Oficial del Estado (2007): REAL DECRETO 1393/2007, de 29 de octubre, por el que se establece la ordenación de las enseñanzas universitarias oficiales. Joint Quality Initiative informal group (2004): Shared ‘Dublin’ descriptors for Short Cycles, First Cycle, Second Cycle and Third Cycle Awards, October 18th, Dublin. Online in the Internet: http://www.jointquality.nl/content/descriptors/CompletesetDublinDescriptors.doc [last accessed: 07.07.2008]. Main references on Qualifications Frameworks considered in the proposals for Engineering and Architecture and Mechanical Engineering ANECA: White Books (Libros Blanco) (various degrees, various years). Boletín Oficial del Estado (2005): REAL DECRETO 55/2005, de 21 de enero, por el que se establece la estructura de las enseñanzas universitarias y se regulan los estudios universitarios oficiales de Grado. Online in the Internet: http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2005/01/25/pdfs/A02842- 02846.pdf [last accessed: 07.07.2008]. BFUG Working Group on Qualifications Frameworks (2007): National Qualifications Frameworks, Development and Certification. May. Online in the Internet: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/londonbologna/uploads/documents/WGQF-report-final2.pdf [last accessed: 07.07.2008]. European Commission, Education and Culture DG (2008): The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European CommunitiesOnline in the Internet: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/publ/pdf/eqf/broch_en.pdf [last accessed: 07.07.2008]. List of Abbreviations ABET – Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ANECA – National Quality Assurance Agency 14
Implementing Competence Orientation and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education Edited by Eva Cendon, Katharina Prager, Eva Schacherbauer, Edith Winkler, © Krems, July 2008 CCU – University Coordination Council CEGES – Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management MECES – Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education UPV – Valencia University of Technology Annex Academics involved in the pilot projects of developing Qualifications Frameworks at the Valencia University of Technology Working group for the Qualifications Framework Proposal for Engineering and Architecture Enrique Ballester, Director Technical School for Design Engineering Ignacio Bosch Reig, Faculty of Architecture Vicent Josep De Esteban Chapapría, Vice Rector for European Convergence Fernando Fargueta Cerdá, Director, Institute of Educational Sciences Nemesio Fernández Martínez, Technical School of Agronomy Engineering Miguel Ferrando Bataller, Vice Rector for Information and Communication Technologies José Luis Martínez, Department of Electronic Engineering Working group for the Qualifications Framework Proposal for Mechanical Engineering Jesús Benajes, Department of Thermal Machines and Engines Manuel Gasch, Department for Continuum Mechanics and Theory of Structures Vicente Mata, Department of Mechanic and Material Engineering Authors Andrea Detmer is researcher at the Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management (CEGES) at the Valencia University of Technology. She has experience in the development and evaluation of policies and management of higher education, having worked for the Ministry of Education of Chile, the School of Engineering at the Catholic University of Chile and the British Institution Workers Educational Association. She has done research and project management in a variety of higher education topics including competency- based curricula, life-long learning promotion, funding schemes and student aid, monitoring and use of indicators, and information systems development. She is Civil Industrial Engineer and holds a Master degree in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development from the Institute of Education, University of London. José-Ginés Mora is Visiting Professor in the Centre of Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education, University of London and former Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management (CEGES) at the Valencia University of Technology. He has a doctorate in Economics and a degree in Physics. He is external advisor to the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation, Deputy-Chair of the Governing Board of the Institutional Higher Education Programme (IMHE) of the OECD, member of the Governing Board of ESMU (European Centre for Strategic Management of Universities), member of the Bologna Follow-Up Group, former President of the EAIR (the European Higher education Society), and ex-member of the Steering Committee of ENQA. He was member of the Spanish Committee for Quality Assessment from 1992 to 2003. He is associate editor of Tertiary Education and Management and member of the Editorial Boards of Higher Education Policy, Higher Education in Europe and Higher Education Management and Policy, and ex-Joint Editor of the European Journal of Education. His research is focused on Higher Education (labour market, management, policies and quality assurance). He is author of two hundred and ten publications on these subjects and he has delivered three hundred and twenty speeches in thirty six countries. He has worked as advisor for higher education matters for several governments and international agencies (European Commission, World Bank, OECD). 15