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ECTS as a Tool for Recognition in Higher Education: How to make it work! Seminar for Bologna and Higher Education reform Experts, 7 -9 June 2010 Vera Stastna Charles University, Prague Vera. [email protected] cuni. cz
EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA > Bologna Process ● started at Sorbonne University (1998) and in Bologna (1999) ● aims at more competitive and attractive higher education system in Europe – – Common principles Harmonised architecture Commonly defined and used instruments Shift in paradigm (student centred learning and lifelong learning concept) > European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was launched at the Budapest – Vienna ministerial conference on 11 -12 March 2010
´Fair´recognition - one of the key attributes of the EHEA > Sorbonne Declaration, 1998 • „Our governments, nevertheless, continue to have a significant role to play to these ends, by encouraging ways in which acquired knowledge can be validated and respective degrees can be better recognised. … Progressive harmonisation of the overall framework of our degrees and cycles can be achieved through strengthening of already existing experience, joint diplomas, pilot initiatives, and dialogue with all concerned. We hereby commit ourselves to encouraging a common frame of reference, aimed at improving external recognition and facilitating student mobility as well as employability. “ > Budapest – Vienna Declaration, 2010 • „While much has been achieved in implementing the Bologna reforms, the reports also illustrate that EHEA action lines such as degree and curriculum reform, quality assurance, recognition, mobility and the social dimension are implemented to varying degrees. Recent protests in some countries, partly directed against developments and measures not related to the Bologna Process, have reminded us that some of the Bologna aims and reforms have not been properly implemented and explained. “
Existing (transparency) tools to improve Recognition > > Learning outcomes ECTS Quality Assurance Qualification Frameworks ● Meta frameworks at European level – ECTS is key element for 1 st and 2 nd cycle; 3 rd cycle discussion ● National level qualification framework – can contain more detailed national credit arrangements > Diploma Supplement > Mutually interlinked > Lisbon Recognition Convention
ECTS – brief history > originally designed in 1989 as a pilot scheme (100 HEIs) in the Erasmus programme with the aim to facilitate international mobility of students > Wider use in Erasmus 1989 – 1999 > Bologna Process – 1999 onwards ● 2002 EUA Zurich Conference – official Bologna conference (transfer & accumulation; workload & learning outcomes) ● many countries include ECTS into legislation ● 2004 Key features and ECTS Users´ Guide - workload connected to courses, modules, … ● 2009 Key features & ECTS Users´ Guide – - studentcenteredness & lifelong learning conceptnew approach & challenge: workload connected to learning outcomes > further slides based on 2009 ECTS Key Features & ECTS Users’ Guide.
ECTS Key Features & Users´ Guide 2009 > ECTS system now turned to a learner-centred system for credit accumulation and transfer > Based on the transparency of learning outcomes and learning processes > Widely used in formal higher education and can be applied to any mode of delivery (full-time, part-time or distant) > An instrument to facilitate planning, delivery, evaluation, recognition and validation of prior qualifications (learning) and their parts (e. g. modules, course components, work placements, dissertation or diploma thesis work, …) & learner mobility > This approach opens possibilities to use the ECTS credit system for other activities as well (lifelong learning, i. e. prior learning – non-formal education and/or informal learning)
Learning Outcomes (LOs) > LOs are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand be able to do after successful completion of a process of learning. They relate to level descriptors in national and European qualification frameworks > LOs are explicit statements about the outcomes of learning, i. e. the results of learning – two possible definitions ● Threshold information (minimum) ● Reference points (expected) > LOs exemplify a particular methodological approach for the expression and description of the curriculum (modules, units and qualifications) and levels, cycles, subject benchmark statements and the ‘new style’ qualifications frameworks. > LOs are defined before credit allocation; ECTS credits are allocated on the basis of “the workload students need to achieve expected learning outcomes”
Quality Assurance > ECTS credits are in line with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance > ECTS should be part of the quality assurance of programmes and awards at institutional & national level > It is expected to include ● explicit LOs (to all educational components) – must be clear which definition is used, ● curriculum and programme design and content ● methods of delivery and assessment > Regularly publish up-to-dates quantitative and qualitative; > ECTS quality assured (at all levels, incl. feedback from students)
For recognition it means > Qualification as well as their educational components are expressed in terms of appropriate learning outcomes and clear information is available concerning their level, credits, delivery and assessment > Credit transfer processes are included in monitoring, review and validation procedures (in the internal regulations of the HEI) > Trained staff with understanding of transfer of ECTS credits and recognition principles (‘fair ’ recognition and not 1 -1 equivalence) > Clear Learning Agreements, any changes should be approved; > Mobile students take learning activities from the Course Catalogue; follow the regime of home students > Detailed transcript should be provided > Recognition given to all credits awarded for fulfilled learning activities agreed in Learning Agreement
Qualification Frameworks > ECTS credits are part of the qualification frameworks > Meta frameworks at European level ● Overarching Qualification Framework for European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA) ● ECTS credits associated with ─ 1 st cycle (usually called Bachelor): 180 – 240 ECTS; (according to national context „short cycle“ within the 1 st cycle – 120 ECTS) ─ 2 nd cycle (usually called Master): 90 -120 ECTS, minimum 60 ECTS gained at Master's level > National level qualification framework – can contain more detailed national credit arrangements > High potential for recognition of prior learning; lifelong learning concept
Diploma Supplement > Adapted to involve all important information about the qualification: level, LOs, ECTS credits, …. ? ? ?
Workload > “Workload indicates the time students typically need to complete all learning activities (such as lectures, seminars, projects, practical work, self-study and examinations) required to achieve the expected learning outcomes. ” > Learning outcomes be defined first (profile and LOs for the qualification as well as for educational components) – we do not look for LOs to previously subscribed ECTS credits > Estimation of workload must not be based on contact hours only ● Includes all learning activities (to achieve LOs): contact hours, independent studies, practical placement, preparation for assessment, mobility, practical placements, … ● Re-fined through practical experience, ● Should include feedback from students > 60 ECTS credits per an academic year ● 30 per a semester ● 20 per a trimester
ECTS credit allocation - ECTS Users’ Guide, 2009 > The allocation of credits to single educational components is performed as part of curriculum design > With reference to national qualifications frameworks, level descriptors and qualifications descriptors– (sectoral descriptors) > Responsibility of higher education institutions and academic staff > Prior to allocating credits to individual components, an agreement should be reached on the ‘profile’ of the specific study programme and the associated learning outcomes -its main features and its specific aims > This profile is defined after consultation with relevant stakeholders (good practice) > On the basis of the qualification profile, the academic staff design the curriculum by defining the learning outcomes and allocating credits to the programme components. > Credit allocation to educational components is based on their weight in terms of the workload needed for students to achieve the learning outcomes in a formal context
ECTS credit allocation - ECTS Users’ Guide - 2009 Possibility 1 > The teaching staff define LOs of each programme component, describe the learning activities and estimate the workload typically needed > All the teaching staff are involved - discussion and defining of priorities (60 for each year divided). This procedure may result in different numbers of credits being attributed to single components (e. g. 3, 5, 8) Possibility 2 > The higher education institution or the faculty decide from the start to standardise the size of educational components, giving each one the same number of ECTS credits (e. g. 5) or multiples of it (e. g. 5, 10, 15). In this case, the course units are often called ‘modules’
ECTS Implementation, Eurydice 2008/09 75 % + using ECTS based on learning outcomes and student workload 75 % + using ECTS based on contact hours, or contact hours & student workload 75 % or less using ECTS with variety of credit definitions National credit systems in parallel. ECTS mainly used for transfer Source: Eurydice
There is still a lot to do in EHEA > Eurydice ● 13 countries linkage of ECTS credits with learning outcomes – ECTS is used for transfer and accumulation and the concept of learning outcomes and workload is operational and has replaced the previous approaches ; ● 7 countries based ECTS on student workload, they use ECTS for transfer and accumulation but learning outcomes approach has not been introduced yet ● 7 countries still confusion concerning workload and contact hours; ECTS credits are allocated on the basis of contact hours to particular courses/modules or a combination of this approach with student workload > Students´ presentation at Budapest-Vienna conference ● „only 12 national systems (i. e. only slightly more than one quarter of all countries) use both student workload and learning outcomes as the basis for the allocation of credits. ” ● “the ECTS accumulation and transfer function is not fully used” which leads to consequences with overloading the degree programmes with negative impacts on mobility as well.
Some thoughts at the end > Main end product of the Bologna reforms is better qualifications based on learning outcomes and certainly not just new educational structures (ECTS, QF, etc. ); > One of the main goals of Bologna Process is free movement; necessary (pre)condition is fair and smooth recognition! > Not to interchange goals and tools! > Existing tools Learning outcomes, ECTS, Quality Assurance, Qualification Frameworks, Diploma Supplement are mutually interlinked; have to be implemented in one system; > Bottom-up reform (academics are responsible for creating and maintaining qualifications) requiring fundamental changes of attitude at the institutional level; > Stakeholder involvement (incl. students and employers)necessary for better qualifications as well as for recognition outside academia > Implementation needs understanding, commitment and time.
References > European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS): http: //ec. europa. eu/education/lifelong-learningpolicy/doc 48_en. htm; > ECTS Key Features, 2009: http: //ec. europa. eu/education/lifelong-learningpolicy/doc/ects/key_en. pdf ; > ECTS Users´Guide, 2009: http: //ec. europa. eu/education/lifelong-learningpolicy/doc/ects/guide_en. pdf; > Official Bologna web page: http: //www. ond. vlaanderen. be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/; Thank you for attention