THE GOALKEEPER - A TOOL FOR MONITORING LEARNING OUTCOMES IN PH.D. EDUCATION
Sweden has adopted the framework for Qualification of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA). The Swedish qualification framework and the higher education act, includes a number of requirements and descriptors of learning outcomes, which in the knowledge, skills and competences that should be developed during a Ph.D-education. The question is how learning outcomes could be used in a constructive manner supporting students and teachers and the development of an educational program.
We will present a quality tool used for assessing learning outcomes in post-graduate education. The tool was designed for two purposes:
• Monitoring doctorate student’s progression: As guidance for supervisors and student when discussing different courses, activities and achievement of learning outcomes.
• Evaluating the educational program. Aggregating a number of students’ achievements gives a holistic view of all different outcomes and reveals outcomes with low achievement grade.
The learning outcomes for third cycle education were divided into 19 separate goals belonging to the categories: Knowledge and Understanding, Competence and Proficiency or Judgment and Approach.
Subsequently, we operationalized the content of the doctorate program. The program covers 4 years of full time studies, whereof 1.5 years comprises of courses. For the remaining 2.5 years, we identified 14 different activities, for instance: attending seminars, conferences, peer-review, writing papers and thesis.
Finally, we analyzed each mandatory course and based up on course objective, content and type of instruction, we identified which learning outcomes that were supported by the course and to what extent. For instance, a course in scientific method could give a medium contribution to the learning outcome “demonstrate familiarity with research methodology in general”. Similarilly, each single activity was analyzed and mapped to learning outcomes, for instance could the learning outcome described above, be supported by conferences and seminars. For all the activities we also developed a three-graded scale. For instance, participating together with the supervisor at a smaller national conference may be regarded as grade 1 for the activity “attending conferences”, ´while grade 3 indicates that the student independently attends and is being active at an international conference.
The tool we developed is a matrix. The 19 rows include the learning outcomes. The columns include courses and all the identified activities. The matrix, which in house is called the “goal keeper”, is used for guidance during supervision when progression is being discussed. The matrix is also used for developing the program since the aggregated information from all doctorate students’ matrices gives an overall view of the balance between the learning outcomes and achievement.
Working with the Goalkeeper for a year, we have collected some valuable experiences. Firstly, we have seen the value of collegial harmonization with respect to how the Goalkeeper is used in discussions between Ph.D.-student and supervisors – the students are more motivated if the discussions are characterized more by formative, rather than summative assessment. Furthermore, breaking down the national goals into a set of courses and activities provides a much-needed visualization and transparency regarding what it takes to become an independent and competent researcher.