HOW SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT ARE THE GENERIC SKILLS AMONG DIFFERENT AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE? A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS IN THE SPANISH HIGHER EDUCATION
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is an ambitious and complex plan involving 45 European countries which aims to promote European convergence in education. Specifically, it is well-known that this plan introduces a fundamental issue in the field of higher education: the identification and consideration of a broad set of ‘generic’ and ‘specific’ skills that students will need to succeed in the 21st century.
The main goal of this presentation is to carry out a comparative analysis of the relative importance of the so-called ‘generic skills’ within several degrees offered by most public and private Spanish universities. Following the guidelines of the Tuning Project, we will differentiate among three types of generic skills, namely: a) instrumental skills; b) interpersonal skills; and c) systemic skills. On the other hand, the comparative analysis is performed on several degrees that are representative of five main areas of knowledge: 1) Legal and Social Sciences (i.e. Economics and Business Degree, Law Degree and Tourism Degree); 2) Health Sciences (i.e. Medicine Degree, Nursing Degree and Physiotherapy Degree); 3) Engineering (i.e. Industrial Engineering Degree and Architecture Degree); 4) Sciences (i.e. Chemistry Degree, Computing Degree and Mathematics Degree); and 5) Liberal Arts (i.e. Language and Literature Degree, History Degree and Teaching Degree).
We carry out the comparative analysis considering the information contained in White Papers from each of the degrees examined. These White Papers have been developed by expert groups (e.g., managers, professionals and scholars) in each discipline. All of them include quantitative information in detail on generic skills. Lastly, our analysis aims to highlight how similar or different are the different types of generic skills in the degrees of each area of knowledge considered.
Initially, it seems reasonable to assume that there should be more similarities in the need of similar generic skills within the degrees of the same area of knowledge. However, we find that the level of heterogeneity observed in many generic skills of degrees within the same area of knowledge is equal or greater than the level of heterogeneity observed in the degrees of different areas of knowledge. We suggest some explanations for these surprising findings. We also analyze some implications that should be considered by higher education professionals when designing the curricula of each degree.