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2. Learning outcomes
3. Study programmes
4. Admission and recognition
5. Learning, teaching and assessment
6. Student support
8. Transparency and documentation
9. Quality assurance
Learning, teaching and assessment
European Approach distinguishes between two related requirements: Learning and teaching methods to achieve the intended learning outcomes and consistent application of the assessment regulation. Both requirements are based on the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG 1.3 Student-centred learning, teaching and assessment). For Joint Study Programmes with students and teachers from different countries, the European Approach focuses in this standard on taking into account the diversity of students with different cultural backgrounds and applying the assessment regulations consistently.
5.1 Learning, teaching
5.1: The programme should be designed to correspond with the intended learning outcomes, and the learning and teaching approaches applied should be adequate to achieve those. The diversity of students and their needs should be respected and attended to, especially in view of potential different cultural backgrounds of the students.
This standard aims to assure the constructive alignment between learning outcome, learning and teaching activities and the assessment procedures in the programme. Each programme is obviously different, however there is common logic in approach to its design, to make sure that this standard is met:
- Programme’s learning and teaching approaches should enable to achieve key learning goals
- Curriculum and its learning and teaching methods should aim to achieve the programme’s intended learning outcomes
- Pedagogical methods should correspond to the learning outcome of the modules
- The course manuals should explain overall objective, context and themes of the course, include the intended learning outcome and are made available to students
- Each higher education institution participating in the joint programme should be able to demonstrate that the educational goals are achieved
- The programme consortium should regularly evaluate and adjust the pedagogical methods and modes of delivery
Student-centred learning, teaching and assessment also means that the programme consortium must demonstrate how they take the diversity and different needs of students. Consider the diversity of students not only based on different linguistic or cultural backgrounds, but also with regard to diverse disciplines and academic traditions. All joint programmes should make special efforts to design and organise the first semester (e.g. introductory weeks). The first semester in a Joint programme not only aims to balance the differences in knowledge, to build the necessary competencies to attend the modules in the next semesters but also to promote social interaction of the students. When analysing the programme’s fulfilment of this standard the following factors should also be taken into account:
- In which way does the programme allow flexible learning paths? Are there opportunities for a flexible organisation of learning and assessment?
- How does the programme support peer-to-peer-learning, inter-cohort-exchange or connection with alumni?
- What support does the Joint Programme provide for students with children and other special needs (e.g. caring responsibilities, disabilities)?
- What are the procedures for handling student complaints?
5.2: The examination regulations and the assessment of the achieved learning outcomes should correspond with the intended learning outcomes. They should be applied consistently among partner institutions.
This part of the Standard 5 aims to ensure that the assessment of the achieved learning outcomes follows the idea of constructive alignment and is consistently and fairly applied to all students and carried out in all partner institutions in accordance with the stated procedure. In international joint programmes, transparency in grading (and grading differences) is crucial due to different assessment and grading cultures. In order to assure the compliance with this Standard the joint programme might consider the following:
- assessment methods used should correspond with the learning tasks
- examination regulations and the grading criteria should be published and easily accessible
- examinations passed at one of the consortium partners as part of the joint programme should be fully and automatically recognised by the other partners
- different national and/or institutional grading systems should be harmonised and the support in “translation” of grades should be in place
- the joint programme need to ensure transparency, fairness, consistency and equity in the assessment procedures
- assistance for students with care responsibilities or special support needs should be clearly regulated
- the consortium should have transparent procedure in place to handle student complaints about grading or other issues regarding the assessment process
Contrary to dual degree programmes, joint programmes require joint admission and examination regulations – not least to address and negotiate all the national, institutional and linguistic differences in these fields. Therefore, joint regulations are an important task for the development process.
The goal is not a complete standardization of learning and grading cultures, but as much transparency and reliability as possible. There are number of ways to achieve that aim. One of the examples could be a regular exchange between consortium partners about criteria and standards and regular joint grading. Such good practice has been established within the EMMIR joint programme offered by University of Oldenburg and their partners. Joint programmes also often do the examination of the final thesis jointly, which is another good example of ensuring that goal.
Implement both a grade conversion table and grading grid (for all semester work and for the final thesis). This way all teachers have a tool to compare their standards and criteria. Also, teachers may submit the grade according to the local scheme and for the transcript it is converted easily according to the grade conversion table. Some HEIs have developed a common online gradebook to upload and download marks, so that local coordinators can follow the progress of each student remotely.
In the report, the panel will give a brief overview of the evidence found in the self-evaluation report, annexes, evaluation forms, the examples of the final theses, the interviews with students and teachers during the site visit, and then assess whether this standard is fulfilled. The panel will pay particular attention to whether all partners consistently apply the examination regulations and the assessment of the learning outcomes. The reports will evaluate whether e.g.:
- joint transcripts of records and joint diploma supplement are in use;
- general examination regulations are described as well as specific assessment methods are further explained;
- there is evidence for shared standards across the partner universities for assessment criteria to ensure reliability for students;
- there is a regular exchange of partners about criteria and standards and regular joint grading (e.g. joint examination of the thesis);
- there is a range of assessment methods that correspond with the learning tasks;
- there is evidence for constructive alignment between learning outcomes, learning and teaching activities and the assessment procedures;
- grade conversion tables and grading grids are used;
- the HEIs have described a formal procedure for student appeals.