Coherent, Intentional Pathways

The DQP and Tuning reflect the general shift in the focus of higher education from teaching to learning (Barr & Tagg, 1995). This means that what students know and can do is central and that the role of faculty is to design learning experiences to help students acquire and demonstrate the intended proficiencies. Creating coherent pathways involves discussion across levels to craft curriculum and learning experiences so that they hold together over time and so that students who attend multiple institutions and accumulate learning across different learning environments are able to combine their varied experiences into a coherent whole. Institutions that participated in the DQP project of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS) found that the work generated a holistic view of the curriculum, leading to an “awareness of the importance of the core program of General Education to the success of degree program offerings” (Reed, 2013, p. 13). Elsewhere, institutions in the Higher Learning Commission’s DQP pilot project reported a renewed institutional self-awareness of academic values and the importance of backwards-designing an intentional educational curriculum from the proficiency statements. Institutions in the Indiana Tuning group stated that they were extremely deliberate and intentional in building associate’s degree competencies as a foundation for bachelor’s degree competencies through considering the bridges between these levels. Faculty claimed that their discussions across campuses led to awareness of the linkages between the levels, leading to discussions of how they fit together and how to outline clear pathways for students between degree levels. Developing clear, intentional pathways toward transparent desired learning outcomes not only allows students to better navigate the educational experience but also helps them to understand the relevance and importance of various elements of that experience.