DEVELOPING COMPETENCES FOR A BASIC SUBJECT: THE PROGRAM GUIDE
ETSIA - UCLM (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Transformations undergone by the university in the last 25 years plus recent social changes require adaptation in Higher Education. Among other modifications, traditional educational models which centre on teaching are changing to models based on both learning and on previous knowledge.
Other aspects, such as lifelong learning and professional orientation, make it necessary to modify teaching and learning strategies and to search for new formulae to rethink commitments that clearly incide in a professor’s work, obligating him/her to constantly review performance strategies .
The idea of competences is referred to in the Framework Document on the Integration of the Spanish University into the European Space for Higher Education (MEC, 2003), where it indicates that “official GRADE programs should integrate different levels of competences in order to facilitate the integration of degrees into the job market.”
This study presents a Student Guide which incorporates aspects related to the European Convergence Process. The competences have been formulated by level and the general and specific objectives for the subject have then been based on these competences. It should be pointed out that we are dealing with a basic subject (Plant Physiology) that is part of the Superior 5-year Degree (the subject corresponds to the 4th year of university studies, and all students possess a 3-year Agricultural Engineering Degree). This circumstance is important when adjusting the programme to the real needs of students, who have already studied more basic concepts related to this material in the first year (Plant Biology). To avoid unnecessary repetition, we have looked for a new, more practical focus, relating these contents with other subject matter from the same and more advanced courses.
The objectives in previous programming models were limited to indicating the different levels of learning based on the knowledge that a student should acquire. If objectives have been set out correctly, it will be easy to find criteria for evaluation and, as the process develops, mechanisms for review and reformulation can be activated. It is necessary to carry out programme planning, followed by a report and evaluation. Any programming which intends to bring about a significant change in the educational model should contemplate a feedback mechanism capable of revising the model initially designed.
The incorporation of competences into our Student Guide constitutes an improvement since it integrates the subject into a formative overall plan for future professionals who must demonstrate abilities and skills, while at the same time being able to decide when and how to apply knowledge and how to evaluate the consequences of their actions. The competences should be understood as an integration of personal development, acquisition of abilities and knowledge.
The correct identification of competences followed by the formulation of objectives allows us to select procedures to develop the programme and establish appropriate mechanisms for evaluation and feedback. In our Student Guide, the information is completed with the theory-practice programme, the description of activities to be carried out with reference to the resources and associated methodologies and the information on the evaluation system. According to final results, we should be able to judge if students have achieved the competences laid out at the beginning of the programme.
Keywords: competences, student guide, innovation, active learning.