A HOLISTIC OVERHAUL OF TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL
There is a general consensus in education regarding the convenience of establishing longitudinal objectives for learning. As a consequence of this generalised opinion, the new EHEA includes a series of mainstreamed skills designed to educate students in areas other than those strictly academic, but which are extremely relevant considering the graduate´s profile.
These skills include working in groups, using new technologies, learning a second language, etc., for which the university faculty is most likely not completely prepared. For example, commanding a certain language is not the same as teaching a specific knowledge area in this language. Thus, continuous training for faculty and innovation projects are considered key factors, because without these two components, it would be impossible to rise to the challenge of teaching in accordance with modern times.
Introducing new curricular skills requires the modification of learning objectives, and consequently of methodology, planning, activities and assessment as well. In short, it is clear that in order to correctly implement the proposed educational model a transition period is necessary. During this time, students, professors and institutions must make a commitment to this hard work, while also accepting that mishaps are inevitable.
In this context, we understand teaching innovation to be a dynamic process in which not only are new teaching methodologies put into practice; but it is also necessary to supplement this process with constant self-assessment regarding the success of the teaching innovation, to then perfect it through a process of continuous and permanent work.
Another complication arises from the fact that the new skills incorporated into the updated curriculum have not been evaluated during prior educational experiences. Therefore, a significant problem presents itself regarding the homogenisation of university students in other competencies, different from those strictly academic ones according to the traditional point of view, an aspect already stressed by the White Paper on Industrial Engineering.
On the other hand, standardising higher education tends to stipulate objective and quantifiable parameters for the assessment process in order to guarantee the acquisition of the desired competencies. This approach has little viability when it comes to evaluating criteria as subjective as multiculturalism, ethical commitment, and self-confidence.
The professional duties of university professors are increasingly complex, as they are expected to collaborate in projects in different fields while maintaining the same quality of results without a greater amount of resources. This situation significantly complicates the specialisation of teaching staff, as it is rather complicated to master such diverse duties as research, the pedagogical training necessary to foster teaching innovations, and the actual activity of teaching (teaching-learning process and academic management). This problematic situation takes on a special significance nowadays due to the great uncertainty surrounding higher education and its funding.