Translating the Programme-Specific Competencies (Learning Outcomes) into the Curriculum
Points to Consider for Individual Lecturers and Study Programmes:
A first point to consider when monitoring a study programme is whether or not the course sheets have been correctly completed. This Education Tip contains tips on how to complete a course sheet. In addition, it is recommended to take the following items into consideration:
- The content of the course sheet is binding.
- The course sheet must be available in Dutch and in English.
- Course sheets are updated annually by the lecturer(s)-in-charge, which is compulsory according to the Education and Examination Code. Lecturers must do so via http://oasis.ugent.be
- Revisions of the course sheets are approved annually by the Study Programme Committee.
In considering the programme’s coherence, the competence matrix proves to be an important tool. Using this matrix visualizes which course units contribute to which programme-specific competencies (learning outcomes) and how (i.e. with which teaching and assessment methods).
This matrix requires:
- decent programme-specific competencies (learning outcomes);
- correctly completed teaching and assessment methods for all course units (in line with the glossaries of work and assessment methods found at the back of the Education and Examination Code);
- clear learning outcomes for every course unit (relevant tips can be found in the guideline for course sheets)
The lecturers-in-charge complete the competence contribitions for their course units via the Oasis website for lecturers, which means that every lecturer-in-charge selects the programme-specific competencies which they emphasize in their course unit. Subsequently, the lecturer indicates the didactic methods that are used, which assessment methods are used to assess (part of) the programme-specific competencies, and which final competencies are specifically suitable for this course unit. This is an exercise which all lecturers-in-charge must complete via http://oasis.ugent.be.
The Programme Committee Chair and/or a staff member of the Educational Quality Control Unit ensure(s) that the revisions and the competence matrix as a whole are discussed annually within the Study Programme Committee.
A well-structured curriculum contains e.g. learning paths (or sometimes "blocks"). Tips for designing new learning paths or optimizing existing learning paths can be found in this Education Tip.
Designing and Updating the Competency Matrix by the Study Programme Committee
At the level of the study programme, the Study Programme Committee is responsible for designing the curriculum. When translating the programme-specific competencies into the curriculum by use of the competency matrix, the Study Programme Committee must take into consideration a number of aspects:
Below are a number of important reflection questions on the competency matrix that could be used within a Study Programme Committee:
- Are the programme-specific competencies still up-to-date? (do they take into account new tendencies? Are there matters of profiling to consider? Are there upcoming curricular revisions? ... )
- Are the programme-specific competencies sufficiently covered by the whole of final competencies of the different course units? (Are all final competencies formulated sufficiently clearly to be able to make this conclusion? Or is additional information/harmonization needed?)
- What programme-specific competencies are emphasized to a greater/lesser extent? (Is this how we expect it to be?)
- Is every programme-specific competency throughout the study programme covered by multiple course units?
- Is every programme-specific competence assessed in at least 2 course units throughout the study programme? (cfr. assessment principles)
- Are the assessment methods suitable for the intended programme-specific competencies?
- Are the assessment methods sufficiently varied to validly assess the intended programmed-specific competencies?
In case of a (too) heavy task load, the competency contributions of a specific (elective/minor/major) course unit may be excluded from the matrix if this can be additionally motivated. In such cases, a number of matrices containing the specific choices of an individual student may offer a good alternative to verify whether full coverage is guaranteed (if so, via OASIS ‘competence matrix of the student’)
An annual approval of all revisions made to the course sheets by the Programme Committee is necessary to maintain a global overview (via the matrix) of the impact on the curriculum. However, it is not necessary to discuss all of the indicative questions of the competence matrix established by the Education Department within the Study Programme Committee. It is often more useful to monitor the global overview and discuss well-selected specific topics.
Bear in mind that the competence matrix has a mirror function: Is the study programme satisfied with what the matrix reveals? It is much better to have an honest matrix with "salmon pink" highlights that are being followed up on when necessary, than to have a matrix that looks perfect at first sight but that is never used in discussions about (elements from) the curriculum. There are also exceptions to the ‘rule’ that every competence should be assessed in at least 2 course units, provided there is a good motivation for this.
It is of utmost importance for the curriculum that the different course units form a coherent whole and that lecturers regularly discuss horizontal (within a standard learning track year) as well as vertical coherence. Therefore, most study programmes use learning pathways (sometimes also "blocks"). It is recommended to visualize this in the curriculum using a simple and attractive representation. Examples of a number of well-designed learning pathways, each with their own strengths, can be found in this Education Tip.
Usually, as a student progresses through the study programme, the focus shifts from pure knowledge transfer to skills, attitudes and application: this way, students achieve competencies at a higher and more integrated level. A Study Programme Committee, however, must also monitor that the Bachelor's programmes contain sufficient active teaching methods such as practicals, seminars, group work, guided self-study, etc... .
In order to avoid a (too) heavy burden on lecturers, but also to be able to present students with assignments that are always relevant, it is recommended to collaborate across course units.
Make use of programme-specific and course-specific competencies at times when students are expected to reflect on their own learning process (in classes, assignments, feedback, evaluations, etc...).
In many study programmes, alignment is usually achieved via informal communication amongst lecturers. Yet it is also recommended to schedule regular formal meetings within the study programme (e.g. term meetings, learning pathway meetings). Including the students' or third parties' point of view may also provide useful information.