The DQP and Tuning
The DQP provides an architectural profile for three higher education degrees by spelling out five areas of learning and the proficiencies associated with them regardless of field of study. However, learning takes place most often through courses within fields of study, and faculty members typically evaluate student learning outcomes according to the standards of their fields. Hence, the DQP assumes that proficiencies will be demonstrated in relation to fields of study, whether the learning was developed within or outside a formal academic program.
This comprehensive perspective finds support in an allied initiative, a field-based process called Tuning USA. Inspired by the work of the Tuning Educational Structures in Europe Association, Tuning USA has supported faculty groups organized by state higher education systems and consortia in their development of field-specific reference points that describe a pathway to the student’s credential in the field of study while meeting the markers of the DQP. Tuning reaches such consensus on field-based learning outcomes through consultations with employers, faculty outside the field, and students and former students.5
The DQP encourages individual institutions to define learning outcomes appropriate to the degrees it offers irrespective of discipline. Tuning encourages faculty members in multiple institutions to collaborate with one another within their respective disciplines — and with employers — to define outcomes appropriate to different stages of progress toward degrees in those disciplines. Thus, in a larger sense, Tuning and the DQP are part of the same effort to clarify and benchmark what students should know and do in order to qualify both for degrees in general and for degrees in specific fields of study. Field-specific content provides an important context for the broader proficiencies set forth by the DQP. By clarifying intended learning outcomes and proficiencies within and across particular fields of study, and by encouraging pedagogies that promote active learning, both Tuning and the DQP invite faculty development of assignments that enable students to demonstrate competencies (Tuning) and proficiencies (the DQP).
Tuning brings together the academic communities necessary for finer articulations and acceptance of the DQP. The DQP, in turn, provides orientation points for the fields of study. Just as it is hard to imagine a chemistry, music or nursing program without applied learning, we should not be willing to sanction a business or history or civil engineering program inattentive to civic learning. The emphases and weights of these connections may differ, but they should all be present.