Your Align Learning Outcomes Thought for the Week – Happy New Week, January 27th, 2014.
And for those of you who like words – here are some other thoughts:
Learning Outcomes, Qualifications Frameworks and Quality Assurance
“It is almost a truism to say that the absorption and application of the concept of learning outcomes is the most recognisable feature of the recent Europe-wide growth in qualifications frameworks. The notion of what a qualification now represents has been fundamentally reoriented in this process – the EQF Recommendation, for example, defines a qualification as the ‘formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards’. The architecture of qualification frameworks (level descriptors, individual qualifications descriptors etc.), at the national and European levels, are also invariably constructed as generic or specific statements of learning outcomes (knowledge, skill and competence).
And yet learning outcomes are not the preserve of qualifications frameworks alone. The use of learning outcomes to define the expectations of learners and workers predates the recent growth in European NQFs by many years; In the context of the development of the Bologna Process, it is noteworthy that it was a group of quality assurance agencies, known collectively as the Joint Quality Initiative, who undertook much of the groundwork in specifying learning outcomes for higher education qualifications. The group’s key output, the so-called ‘Dublin Descriptors’ – generic learning outcomes descriptors for Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral Qualifications – would eventually become the centrepiece of the QF-EHEA.
In tandem with this work, quality assurance agencies also played a key role, through the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education’s (ENQA) development of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), which provided for the development, publication and assessment of explicit intended learning outcomes, as a key element of the internal quality assurance of higher education institutions.
Since the adoption of the ESG and QF-EHEA some countries, including for example, Denmark and Sweden, have introduced formal implementation systems for their higher education qualification frameworks, in which national quality assurance agencies play a central role in evaluating and assessing the outcomes of study programmes. Reflecting a growing awareness of the increasing role of quality agencies as key contributors to NQF implementation, ENQA has also taken the step of organising a number of seminars on the theme of qualifications frameworks and their relationship to quality assurance. These points are well made in Referencing National Qualifications Levels to the EQF - European Qualifications Framework Series Note 3 (2nd edn., forthcoming 2013).” (Murray, J. 2013)
Quality Assurance in Qualifications Frameworks An issues paper to support the Dublin Conference, organised by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), on behalf of the Irish Presidency of the European Council, with the support of the European Commission Authored by Dr Jim Murray (Ireland) March 2013