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Mary Catharine Lennon

This chapter presents survey findings from a broader study of international quality assurance agencies’ activities in learning outcomes. The survey collected information on the state of learning outcomes policies from 74 international agencies and uncovered policy goals, activities and policy evaluations/research that had occurred. Analysis of the survey data exposed differences between the intended goals for learning outcomes policies, the perceived impact of the policies, and (for those who had conducted research) the actual impact of the policies for both quality assurance agencies and the institutions they manage. The results demonstrate significant differences in the goals, guesses and gains attributed to the policies, suggesting that there is widespread misunderstanding of what a learning outcomes policy is able to achieve. Given the considerable attention, political and financial support devoted to competency-based education and learning outcomes, making evidence-based policy decisions is critical.

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Mary Catharine Lennon, Satoko Fukahori and Daniel Edwards

In the modern higher education landscape, programs differ by country in the types of credential offerings, nomenclature, length and even institutional types. In this ‘jungle of credentials’, recognition is vital for an individual to successfully migrate and integrate into another labour market. Learning outcomes (statements of what students know and are able to do) have the potential to support recognition through the integration and coordination of national systems. This chapter explores a feasibility study funded by the OECD that tackled this issue from both a theoretical and practical perspective by developing assessments of learning outcomes designed for application across languages and national contexts. The authors reflect on the outcomes from this study from a perspective of being participants in its implementation. The discussion draws on experience from three different countries and offers important insights with the aim of ensuring that the lessons learnt from this large-scale project are incorporated into future work in the assessment of learning outcomes in higher education.