IMPROVING LEARNING QUALITY THROUGH OUTCOME-BASED COURSE EVALUATION: A STEP TOWARDS STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING
Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (ESTONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Even though recent reforms according to Bologna process in Estonian higher education have mainly focused on enhancing student-centered learning, none of the existing measuring instruments implemented so far have been appropriate for assessing the nature of that phenomenon in relation to learning outcomes. The purpose of this study is to analyze the results of the process of implementing a new outcome based course evaluation instrument adapted from the Curtin University in Australia. In this mixed method research 285 students from 20 different courses had to evaluate and describe what helped them to learn; how well they have obtained learning outcomes; what are the aspects that help or hinder them to achieve learning outcomes; what were their level of motivation and engagement during the course and their overall satisfaction with the course.
Student-centered learning has become one of the key elements for improving the sustainable quality of today’s higher education. In the Leuven Communiqué of Bologna process the Ministers identified that one of the missions of higher education is improving the quality of learning and teaching by prioritizing student-centered learning (Eurydice, 2010). Therefore an outcome-based approach that focuses on student-centered learning in education is influencing the way how learning is viewed and feedback asked. While most of the earlier course evaluation feedback forms have focused on teacher and teaching (Marsh, 2007; McKeachie, 2007), outcome based approach challenges this view by offering a learning based approach on evaluation of teaching (Oliver, Tucker, Gupta & Yeo, 2008). For measuring how much the students learn and what is their level of understanding, teachers may need to contribute to the learning of their students and focus on the process of learning, rather than the transfer of information (Blackie, Case & Jawitz, 2010). According to Bologna process the changes in higher education need to be consistent. Therefore the feedback asked also needs to imply to the content of student-centered education.
Recent research in Estonia shows that nor are students or teachers fully satisfied with the feedback gathered from course evaluations so far. Some of the teachers even state that the input based feedback does not help them to improve their courses, because they do not have enough information on what needs to be improved (Kumpas, Õunapuu, 2010). Learning is a complex process. There are different factors that help or hinder students to learn and achieve the outcomes like learning environment, learning resources, support services and teaching that are needed to taken in account while analyzing learning as a whole process (Ramsden, Entwistle, 1981). The research literature suggests that students’ feedback provides useful information for evaluating the processes of learning and the quality of higher education (Berk, 2005; Harvey, Kamvounias, 2008; Richardson, 2005).
The aim of this study is to analyze the results of the outcome-based course evaluation by answering the following research questions: Firstly, how students evaluated their learning process through the achievement of learning outcomes and secondly whether there is correlation between the evaluations of learning outcomes and the aspects of student-centered learning. The results might help teachers to understand the factors in learning and how to make overall learning process more effective through supporting student-centered learning.
Keywords: Course evaluation feedback, learning outcomes, learning quality, teaching quality.