Friday, April 25, 2008

Modules, semesters, outcomes & assessment - do they really aid learning?

Modularisation, semesterisation, learning outcomes, qualifications frameworks - all are current issues being faced by higher education institutions in Ireland and across Europe, especially in the context of the Bologna process. Under the HEA's Strategic Innovation Fund, the IUA in association with the NQAI (acronyms galore - but as a problem-based learning task, you can discover what they stand for using your own initiative!) has establised a "Framework Implementation Network" to explore how university courses can adjust to the National Qualifications Framework and the Bologna structures. This week the group launched its own website which has some useful documents and links.

For those who worry about the implications of all of this for the student experience then of course there's plenty of scope to critique the entire system in Galway in June, so save up those questions and sharpen those intellectual scalpels!

One of the worries many people have with modules/semesters is the implications in terms of student assessment loading. This week the Times Higher published an article based on the "Manifesto" of the Weston Manor Group which seriously challenges much of current attitudes towards assessment in HE. The key points are:

  • Put more emphasis "on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning";
  • Move beyond systems focused on marks and grades towards assessment of the achievement of programme outcomes;
  • Recognise that standards may be difficult to articulate explicitly;
  • Develop assessment and feedback processes that engage staff and students in dialogue about standards;
  • Make discussion of standards between staff and students an integral part of course design and the learning process;
  • Establish forums for the development and sharing of standards within and between disciplinary and professional communities.
Thoughts? Join the discussion at THE or here!

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