Tag: reform

Guest blogger: Higher Education Learning Outcomes – do they matter?

Kvilhaugsvik_Hanne

Hanne Kvilhaugsvik (University of Bergen)

Hanne Kvilhaugsvik is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen. Her research interests are organizational change in universities, governmental steering of higher education, and university governance. Her PhD project explores how learning outcomes and criteria of relevance for the labor market are used to evaluate and steer higher education in Norway and Denmark. This blog post is based on material from her master’s thesis in Administration and Organization Theory from 2015.

By the end of 2012, Norwegian higher education institutions were required to introduce written descriptions of the intended learning outcomes for each and every course unit and study program, in every discipline. Learning outcomes are connected with qualifications frameworks, the Bologna process, and the OECD, and have therefore been introduced throughout Europe during the last couple of years. So, what happens to higher education institutions when learning outcomes are introduced? Do they improve the quality of education and provide transparency, or are they simply formal requirements?

What are learning outcomes?

Learning outcomes can be defined as: “[…] written statement[s] of what the successful student/learner is expected to be able to do at the end of the module/course unit, or qualification.” (Adam, 2004: 5). In pedagogy, learning outcomes have been connected to a paradigm-shift “from teaching to learning” or “from input to output”. The recommendation is to use expected learning outcomes as a starting point for planning course units and study programs (Biggs and Tang, 2011). This is described in contrast to planning based on traditional input factors, such as reading list and content descriptions.

Learning outcomes can be understood as administrative tools or formalities. However, they have increasingly been described and promoted as instruments for reform and change (Lassnigg, 2012; Bjørnåvold and Coles, 2007). There is no shortage of goals for using learning outcomes: To improve the quality of education, provide transparency, ensure relevant qualifications for the labor market, and provide better opportunities to steer education. Learning outcomes can therefore be understood in connection with New Public Management ideas, and especially with ideas of reforming higher education towards more ‘complete organizations’ (Brunsson and Sahlin-Anderson, 2000). While learning outcomes have been studied much within pedagogy, there has been less research on learning outcomes as political instruments or policy tools (Souto-Otero, 2012). It is therefore interesting to study how learning outcomes are introduced and defined as instruments in higher education.

A case study on learning outcomes in higher education 




Call for papers: 11th International Workshop on Higher Education Reform

HER2014The 11th International Workshop on Higher Education Reform will be held between August 25 to 27, 2014, at the Memorial University, St. John’s, in Newfoundland (Canada). This year, the key theme is focused on students. The key theme for the workshop is outlined as following:

Presentations are invited, and discussions will primarily focus, on themes related to reforms and innovations regarding accessibility and affordability of post-secondary studies, conditions and modes of learning, the transition from study to work, and, for adult students, the integration of higher education with other aspects of their professional, personal and civic life. As the relationship between HE and labor markets and employment systems is changing and the borders of HE expanding, there are many new institutional innovations, programs, forms of learning, and transition mechanisms and routes both into HE, from HE to the world of work, as well as from employment and domestic and civic duties back into HE.

Download the Call for Papers here (pdf) with extended information about the conference theme.

Papers and panels that address the above-mentioned and related themes are invited. Proposals for individual papers should not exceed 400 words, those for panels not 800 words in length.

  • Proposals should be submitted to the Organizing Committee before or on May 2nd, 2014.
  • Submissions can be made to HER2014@mi.mun.ca.
  • Details concerning communication, registration, accommodation, and the program can be found at the workshop website.

Wonder how the workshop is like? Read a review about the previous workshop in Ljubljana




New research reports on higher education systems in the Balkans

western balkansHigher education in the Western Balkans was for a long period a relatively under-researcher region in Europe, but has in recent years gained more attention and an number of interesting research projects are underway.

As part of the project “European Integration of Higher Education and Research in the Western Balkans,” (read more about the project here) the project team has produced the series of reports entitled “Overview of Higher Education and Research Systems in the Western Balkanswhich are now available for download on the project website. The reports cover seven higher education systems in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and each of the reports represents a comprehensive overview of the higher education and research systems in the region, covering topics such as policy, governance arrangements, funding, institutional landscape, and quality, while focusing on the major reforms and trends in the recent years.

Another project that examines the region is titled “Differentiation, Equity, Productivity: The Social and Economic Consequences of Expanded and Differentiated Higher Education Systems – Internationalisation Aspects“, led by University of Ljubljana, where the research team is led by prof. Pavel Zgaga from Centre of Educational Policy Studies (CEPS). In a recent report they have published the results of a survey at seventeen higher education institutions from eight countries of the Western Balkans. You can download the report here. 




Call for papers: workshop on higher education reforms

WHER10th International Workshop on Higher Education Reform (WHER) will be held between October 2–4, 2013 at the Faculty of Education in University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The event is themed “Higher Education Reforms: Looking Back – Looking Forward“.

The key theme of the event:  The 2013 Workshop theme gives an opportunity to look at the larger picture of these changes, the drivers of change, and their effects. At the same time, the theme invites contributions about the likely futures of HE over the next generation, suggesting (or speculating on) developments that will further change HE. 

The factors highlighted include marketization and privatization of HE, rankings and excellence focus, changing governance, consumerism and tuition fees, as well as new initiatives such as MOOCs and online learning trends and their impact on traditional academic values and institutional autonomy. Read more about the theme, proposal requirements and application procedure here.

Deadline:  June 1, 2013.

More information on event website.




New working paper published on developments in Swedish higher education

The research group working on higher education at the  Faculty of Education in University of Oslo (HEIK) has recently published a new working paper that is freely available for download.

The paper is by professor Berit Askling from Göteborg University, and it is titled “Integration and/or Diversification: The role of structure in meeting expectations on higher education“.

The paper puts focus on the long term developments of higher education systems, using Sweden as a case. It highlights the evolution of Swedish higher education system from a 50 year perspective and further reflects on the changing nature of higher education in the modern society. A core question in the paper is to what extent markets can be seen as a threat to universities as autonomous institutions, of whether we witnessing a change in the societal pact.

You can read the abstract and download the paper at HEIK website.