Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Second meeting of the Qualification Review Team

As I noted previously, Computing is one of four subjects that has received funding to improve articulation between college and university. The Qualification Review Team (QRT), which will take this forward, met for the second time this morning. The Team consists of representatives of Scottish colleges and universities. As convenor of the QRT, I was particularly pleased to welcome Duncan Smeed, of the University of Strathclyde, to his first meeting.

At the previous meeting members brainstormed a number of possible ideas that could be taken forward. Today we focused on two specific areas: (1) assessment; and (2) additional units. Interestingly, Duncan confirmed what we thought: that college students often have problems with "academic skills" and examinations at university.

Regarding assessment, members liked the idea of creating larger, integrative assessments that better match those used at university. For example, an examination in the second year of the HND programme could cover the knowledge and understanding contained within a number of units. It was also proposed that we could do something similar in first year (the HNC year) for practical skills. These alternative assessments would not replace the existing stand-alone assessments but could be optionally used for students who plan to progress to university.

We discussed how best to incorporate "academic skills" such as referencing, research skills, and critical thinking. There was a lively debate about the pros and cons of a separate unit to cover these skills against embedding them into existing units. The "embedders" won the debate. But this would be evidenced by some kind of formal profiling to ensure learners had actually acquired these skills.

We also discussed the maths skills needed for progression to university but concluded that the existing frameworks had sufficient options to cover this.

Once we have firmed up on our ideas we will be inviting all colleges to become involved in the pilot, which will run from August 2013 to June 2015, and try out the new approaches. It should be noted that only pilot centres will be able to offer the alternative assessments.

The next stage is to create the alternative assessments and skills profiles. We will be taking this forward (via this group) in the coming months.

Contact me if you want to know more about the work of the QRT for Computing.

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