Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario - A COU Report

The Council of Ontario Universities has just release a report, Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario, explores "how universities define degree level expectations – the intellectual and creative development that students will acquire from a particular degree, and how these expectations are integrated into curriculum and the learning outcomes of specific courses".

The whole concept of defining degree level expectations and learning outcomes in a quality assurance context is a rather brave one. It's all very high-level, and is packaged more like a communications piece than an actual report. But this is surely meant as a piece to initiate thinking and dialogue about the university experience as process and investment. For example, the identified categories of knowledge and skills that students must demonstrate in order to be awarded a degree are:
  • Depth and breadth of knowledge
  • Knowledge of methodologies
  • Research and scholarship
  • Application of knowledge
  • Communications skills
  • Awareness of the limits of knowledge
  • Autonomy and professional capacity
And for each category they associate specific expectations per degree level, e.g. for Autonomy and professional capacity at the Master's dgree level, students must demonstrate:
The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment
requiring the exercise of initiative, personal responsibility and
accountability; decision-making in complex situations; the
intellectual independence required for continuing professional
development; the ethical behavior consistent with academic
integrity and the use of appropriate guidelines and procedures for
responsible conduct of research; and the ability to appreciate the
broader implications of applying knowledge to particular contexts.
Yup, very broad and almost a generic résumé fee; to it.