When mapping curriculum, reviewing and revising learning outcomes statements, and undertaking career and job skills profile development, it is important to involve students in the process and to explain to them the educational outcomes and benefits of their degree programs. Providing venues for students to reflect upon and articulate what they have learned and can do also gives them practice explaining to prospective employers the knowledge and skills they can use in the workplace. In addition, drawing on the results of mapping and gap analysis, some institutions are developing alternative forms of transcripts that feature instructive information around students’ various educational activities—inside or outside of the classroom. Such transcripts may include a focus on learning outcomes or proficiencies, but they may also include means for identifying additional avenues through which students have met degree requirements.
Another possibility is a diploma supplement, an element of Tuning, but one that could be easily linked to DQP and Tuning efforts in the United States. Cliff Adelman suggested in a 2014 Tuning Advisory Board meeting that a diploma supplement—in an easy-to-read, one-page format—can provide a means for degree programs and degrees themselves to identify the meaning and coherence of the degree and students’ educational experiences. His suggestion is that the institution would select the six major proficiencies for the degree, for instance, a bachelor of arts degree, and then the program would select six major proficiencies that are discipline specific to the student’s particular degree. By selecting only six, institutions would be able to showcase the unique elements as well as the institution’s mission and focus, alerting employers to the skill set of the particular graduate. Further, a three-to-four sentence description of the senior project, written by the student and certified by a dean, would highlight the student’s particular areas of interest. Finally, the student would select two contributions to the community or the institution that further highlight the proficiencies. This document, signed by various leaders across the institution, would succinctly incorporate both DQP and Tuning foci.
Aligning academic programs
As part of a seven-college effort to develop an associate of arts degree in Hawaiian Studies, Kapi’olani College took up the DQP to investigate revisions of general education (GE) outcomes and its impact on course-level outcomes. To begin that work, cross-disciplinary faculty teams mapped existing GE outcomes to the DQP in a process that involved refining existing GE outcomes to better align them to the proficiencies in the DQP. That process yielded statements that “clarified the college’s more general outcomes, making them (potentially) more easily assessable.” Additionally, Kapi’olani discovered through the process that the outcomes in several areas were rigorous and “robust” (indicating that the DQP may also serve as a document against which to test existing outcomes).
The college then asked faculty in the Hawaiian studies program to map their course-level outcomes to the DQP outcomes. By doing so, the faculty accomplished several goals. First, they aligned course assignments and outcomes to the general proficiencies of the DQP; second, they assured that those general proficiencies became integral components of the courses in the Hawaiian studies AA program; and, finally, the faculty identified outcomes statements that needed to be refined. As a result, courses in the program are well positioned to better align assignments to course outcomes, and, therefore, the DQP-influenced general education outcomes.
DePauw University used the DQP in its project to inventory co-curricular activities. While student participation in co-curricular programs is important to attain the university-stated learning outcomes, faculty and staff were unable to determine the degree to which students engaged in them or the accrued educational benefit. After developing a system for describing co-curricular activities at three distinct levels (activity, offering, and individual student), the university turned to the DQP to determine how activities contributed to student learning.
DePauw faculty and staff began a process of mapping the co-curricular activities to the proficiencies in the DQP. Although there was some anxiety about “stretching things to associate participation in a co-curricular activity with a DQP outcome,” they realized that even when an activity did not itself enable students to achieve a desired outcome it did prepare them to do so. One winter-term service project with a medical focus, for example, found clear connections to the DQP’s Civic Learning, Broad Integrative Knowledge, and Intellectual Skills areas. The students were invited to develop arguments to support their chosen service-oriented activity. Faculty and staff involved in the project, thereby, were able to make clear connections between the co-curricular program and the learning outcomes in the DQP. The result is a larger project to rewrite activity descriptions aligned to the DQP’s proficiencies. Moreover, students participating in these programs are now equipped to integrate their co-curricular and academic experiences.