Hunting and gathering: new imperatives in mapping and collecting student learning data to assure quality outcomes

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Higher Education Research and Development, 2015, 34 (3), pp. 581 - 595
Issue Date:
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© 2014 HERDSA. Assurance of learning (AOL) is a quality enhancement and quality assurance process used in higher education. It involves a process of determining programme learning outcomes and standards, and systematically gathering evidence to measure students' performance on these. The systematic assessment of whole-of-programme outcomes provides a basis for curriculum development and management, continuous improvement, and accreditation. To better understand how AOL processes operate, a national study of university practices across one discipline area, business and management, was undertaken. To solicit data on AOL practice, interviews were undertaken with a sample of business school representatives (n = 25). Two key processes emerged: (1) mapping of graduate attributes and (2) collection of assurance data. External drivers such as professional accreditation and government legislation were the primary reasons for undertaking AOL outcomes but intrinsic motivators in relation to continuous improvement were also evident. The facilitation of academic commitment was achieved through an embedded approach to AOL by the majority of universities in the study. A sustainable and inclusive process of AOL was seen to support wider stakeholder engagement in the development of higher education learning outcomes.
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