Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Five Years On: What has changed in assurance of learning? (#16)

Romy Lawson 1 , Retha Scheepers 2 , Tracy Taylor 3 , Charmaine Glavas 2
  1. University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia
  2. Faculty of Arts and Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia
  3. UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Education policies measuring quality in teaching and learning processes and associated discussions have escalated over recent years (Krause, Barrie & Scott, 2012). In Australia, under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, higher-education providers are responsible to ensure that “Assessment tasks for the course of study and its units provide opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of the expected student learning outcomes for the course of study” (HESF, 2011:Standard 5.1). This standard aligns with the model of assurance of learning first proposed in the OLT Strategic Priority Project: Hunters and Gatherers: Strategies for Curriculum Mapping and Data Collection for Assurance of Learning (Lawson, Taylor et al, 2014). The empirical basis for the model was a national study of university practices across business schools. Notably, the main challenges for implementation were associated with staff engagement and workload issues; as well as scalability and sustainability of practice. Although mapping of learning outcomes across degrees was reported as common practice, some 60% of respondent institutions had not collected any specific learning outcome data yet.

The OLT Extension Project: Gathering valid data for quality enhancement: assessing, reviewing, benchmarking & closing the loop for assurance of learning in regional universities (Lawson, Scheepers et al, 2015) builds on the earlier ‘Hunters’ findings. The 2015 project investigates supporting assurance of learning by engaging academics and senior faculty managers in valid data collection for quality enhancement. This presentation focuses on a follow up survey on current AOL practice in Australian Universities, targeting Business Schools, and draws on the original project data to enable between project comparisons. Interview data will be analysed using NVIVO to map current trends and good practice, identify ongoing challenges, and compare current practices with the 2010 findings. Key themes will be explored in the session along with the discussion of recommendations for meeting current quality measurement challenges.

Lawson, R. J., Taylor, T., Fallshaw, E., French, E., Hall, C., Kinash, S. & Summers, J., (2014). Hunting and gathering: new imperatives in mapping and collecting student learning data to assure quality outcomes. Higher Education Research and Development

Lawson, R., Scheepers, M., Taylor, T., & Glavas, C. (2015). Gathering valid data for quality enhancement: assessing, reviewing, benchmarking & closing the loop for assurance of learning in regional universities. OLT Extension Grant.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This presentation addresses the assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities sub-theme. It explores the practices that have been adopted by business schools across Australia (a discipline recognised for leading the way in assurance of learning) recognising good practice and challenges. The presentation will address different aspects of assurance of learning: mapping degree level learning outcomes into the curriculum to ensure opportunities for students to develop their abilities; designing assessments to foster relevant learning and to capture valid data; using assurance of learning evidence effectively for continuous improvement including internal and external benchmarking practice; and elements of assurance of learning that directly impact on the student learning experience.