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ࡱ> #` Fbjbj\.\.  >D>D:KNr( @ @ @ d YYY\ZxZ X[([L[[[www;===T8ɉ8$nh֑h%@ wQrwww%@ @ [[:|||wn@ p[@ [;|w;|| @ _[L[ @^blYczl+P0E>{p>4_>@ _ ww|wwwww%%?|dwwwwwww $+6" 6 @ @ @ @ @ @   Implementing Outcomes-based Education in a South African University Sid and Kathy Luckett, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg Introduction In this paper we present as a case study a process of action research in curriculum development undertaken by academic staff of the School of Rural Community Development (SRCD) and facilitated by a staff development practitioner at the University of Natal. The purpose of the case study is to illustrate and reflect on how an outcomes-based approach to curriculum development and student assessment was used to improve a programme for the professional/ vocational education of rural development practitioners. We suggest that whilst many academics may view the requirement to have all qualifications validated by the South African Qualifications Authority and registered on the National Qualifications Framework in an outcomes-based format within the next two years as an encroachment on their academic freedom, that, provided we, in higher education, are allowed to do so in our own terms, that the exercise could prove to be beneficial to students and meaningful for those committed to improving their teaching. The Context The SRCD of the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, was set up in1992 as an initiative by the University to address rural community development needs in Southern Africa through research, education and extension. The aim of its formal education (academic) programmes is to develop professional rural development practitioners at different levels. At present the SRCD offers multiple entry-exit programmes at Certificate, Diploma and Degree levels in Rural Resource Management through the faculties of Agriculture and Social Science. The Certificate is a one year distance education programme for people who are living and working in rural areas. Entrance requirements are the equivalent of a Std. 9 (Grade 11) together with experience with organisations in rural development. The Certificate also functions as an alternative access route into the Diploma which is a normal class-based undergraduate programme which students can complete within two years. . After completing the Diploma students may do an additional year to obtain either a B.Soc.Sci. or a B. Agric. (Rural Resource Management). Both the Diplomas and the Degrees are interdisciplinary programmes with a content mix of agriculture, sociology, organisation management and extension methods. All the modules (courses) are fully semesterised and for the most part students are assessed in the conventional way, i.e., they are required to do assignments or write tests for the required class mark as well as write unseen exams at the end of each semester. However, the core modules, (in Rural Resource Management), throughout the Diploma/Degree programmes have a have a strong focus on experiential learning and it is with two of these modules (Rural Resource Management 330 & 340) that this paper is concerned. Both of these are degree year level modules. Student profile The students in the Certificate are all from black rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal of whom approximately 80% are male. The first cohort of the Diploma - they are now in the Degree year - are predominantly students from rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal who have been out of school for some time. The male-female ratio in this cohort is 65:35. As the Diploma/Degree has become better known, the intake has become more diverse; an increasing number from other provinces, an increasing number of students from metropolitan areas and a greater female participation rate. Generally students on the programme have a strong commitment to rural development. Those students who enter the Diploma programme through the normal Matric route have on average between 22 and 28 Matric points. Curriculum Development: Phase 1 A modular structure for experiential learning. In the RRM 312, 330, and 340 modules we tried to develop alternative teaching/learning activities drawn from experiential learning methods. RRM 312 is run in the first semester as a preparatory (and therefore prerequisite) module. RRM 330 & 340, which are run together as one course in the newly established Winter semester, involve a community placement experience over a period of six weeks. During this placement students are expected to use soft systems and project development tools in collaboration with community-based organisations to enable these organisations develop activities (e.g. projects, organisational change) which will improve their situations. RRM312 prepares students for this community placement through the introduction of: class based exercises in experiential learning; Kolbs learning cycle; techniques for community inquiry; soft systems methods; project planning and development; and, most importantly by, enabling the students to spend a week with their host organisations to begin to familiarise themselves with the issues and problems in these communities. (A timeline showing how this all fits together is given in Appendix 1). The Assessment of Experiential Learning We realised that the traditional three-hour unseen written exam at the end of a semester would not be able to capture the higher order skills and capabilities which we wanted students to develop in real world contexts through experiential learning. So we asked students to collect a variety of documentation during their placements and thereafter to write a report on their community involvement. In addition to this they were expected to give an oral defence of their reports to the examiner. We allowed students to work in groups in the community placements and to produce joint documents for Part 1 of the assessment; Part 2 was an individual report but they were allowed to collaborate in producing these reports; Part 3, the oral defence of their work, was done on an individual basis. (See Appendix 2 for the guidelines on the assessment given to students.) Problems Encountered It was particularly in the area of assessment that the short-comings of our curriculum design became apparent. Whilst the host community organisations were generally positive about student contributions and students themselves were very positive about the value of the placement experience, student performance in the assessment tasks was disappointing overall. The examiners overall impression was that students failed to give weight to detailing the processes in which they were engaged in their work with communities. Instead, they focussed overly on the results, anxious to demonstrate the success of their interventions. For Part 1.1 most students kept a superficial chronological account of daily events; their logbooks were full of descriptions of activities, but they did not manage to capture the processes they used to facilitate those activities. For Part 1.2, where they were required to explain how they identified the situation for improvement with the community, students tended to be too quick to impose tried and tested solutions to obvious problems. There was little evidence of their collaboratively engaging communities in depth about the communities perceptions, knowledge and issues. This was disappointing, given the theory and techniques which we had introduced them to in Rural Resource Management 312. Most students carried out Part 1.3 satisfactorily. In Part 2, the written reports, students again seemed to be locked into the descriptive genre, they reported on the what and tended to focus on the results and success of their community involvement. They generally failed to engage at the meta-level; to explain how they had engaged with their communities and to reflect on how they, as individuals, had learnt from the process. Frustratingly, in Part 3, the oral follow up on their written reports, when questioned on the processes of their engagement, most were able to demonstrate good insights and understandings about the process of decision-making in the communities and, in some cases about their own learning processes. The results of the oral interviews suggested that many of the students did possess meta-level knowledge and skills, but that either the written assessment tasks had failed to cue them to demonstrate these, and/or that they did not possess adequate levels of academic literacy or English language proficiency to write about them. Reflection If students could reflect on process when prompted, then we had to ask ourselves whether it wasnt the course and the assessment procedures which had failed the students. After a post-mortem on the assessment results we came to the following tentative conclusions: The aims of the programme in general and of the placement in particular - its learning outcomes and assessment criteria to test the achievement of those outcomes - had not been made sufficiently explicit to students prior to the learning experience. The capabilities which we intended to develop had not been adequately built up throughout the programme. Students needed more preparation and practice and there needed to be a more coherent and developmental learning process for them built into the programme as a whole. Communication skills should be consciously built into the programme and we should be more explicit about exactly what kind and levels of communication skills are required throughout the programme; these should be rewarded in the assessments. Learning to learn is a competence which also needs to be consciously developed and rewarded throughout the programme if students were to be equipped to deal with ill-defined, complex and uncertain situations in their future careers. Particularly in the light of the non-traditional nature of our assessment procedures, we need to make much clearer to students exactly what it is we are looking for. Curriculum Development: Phase II As a result of our reflections we decided to revise the entire offering (i.e. at all year levels) of the Rural Resource Management modules in order to get clarity on exactly what we wanted to teach, how we were going to teach and how students are to demonstrate that they have achieved these outcomes. We also wanted to build greater coherence and a developmental learning process into the programme as a whole. All staff involved in the teaching of the Rural Resource Management courses (111, 121, 211, 212, 312, 321, 330, 340) together with an external examiner participated in two workshops which were run over a total period of four days during the winter vacation. The following process was followed: Develop a vision for the School; Establish principles under-girding the programme; Agree on desired student capabilities ; Plan curriculum strategies for delivering and assessing these capabilities. For the purposes of this paper we will report only on items 3 and 4. Over-arching/ Critical Capabilities For the over-arching (or critical) outcomes of the programme as a whole, rather than adopt the more narrow connotations of competencies, we chose to use Stephensons term capability which has been widely adopted in the British Enterprise in HE movement. Following Stephenson and Weil (1992), a key feature of the concept capability is that it is integrative; capability integrates a repertoire of skills, useable knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes in professional praxis, in such a way that these are combined and applied appropriately for successful performance in real world contexts. The concept also includes the ability to be adaptable, to learn autonomously, to operate as a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1983) and to act and communicate appropriately in social contexts. The HSRC (1995) has proposed a similar understanding of capability as an integrated construct which enables expert or professional performance. The HSRC links this to a revised notion of competence thus, A person demonstrates competence when he or she integrates a range of capabilities in continuous activity. (1995:44) Through the workshop process, we identified the following six capabilities which we hoped that the programme as a whole would develop in prospective rural development practitioners: communication, autonomous learning (or learning to learn), project orientation, systems thinking, participatory methods and facilitation, research. When we compared these to SAQAs 7 critical outcomes and Department of Educations additional 5, (see SAQA Bulletin, 1997:7), we were pleasantly surprised to discover that apart from possibly one, being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts, that from our understanding of our capabilities, we appeared to covered all of these external demands. The next step was to try to describe these capabilities at a number of levels (level descriptors) to facilitate the development of a coherent learning programme. Capability levels and Specific Learning Outcomes We then mapped out seven levels of capability - (i) beginner, (ii) novice, (iii) just competent, (iv) moderately competent, (v) highly competent, (vi) very highly competent, (vii) expert - for each of our six capabilities and decided that we would expect students to reach level (iv) (i.e. moderately competent) in four of the six capabilities before obtaining a degree . The capability levels are set out in the grid in Appendix 3. We used the descriptions of levels (i) - (iv) to enable us to plot what level of capability the different modules of the programme would aim to deliver. From this grid we were able to develop specific learning outcomes for each of the modules on the programme and to ensure that together they build a coherent learning pathway for students. The grid also enabled us to ensure that all capabilities were adequately catered for at each level throughout the programme. We also recognised that each of the capabilities mean different things in the context of different discipline content. Thus we were not concerned if a capability was repeated in the same semester in a different subject context. Nor were we concerned to focus on only one capability in a particular module, in fact, we realised that different content and learning experiences tend to develop bundles of capabilities. What is important is to be able to identify those bundles both to ourselves and to students, but not to separate them out in a discrete and linear manner, which we believe destroys the structure and power of higher order knowledge and skills and defeats the meaning of capability. Curriculum Strategies We compared two models of curriculum structure - an aggregated model and an integrative model, (see Diagram 1 below). In principle we believed that the second would best facilitate the development of the student capabilities we had identified because it would give students time and space to grow these capabilities via a cyclical process which we believe is more in keeping with the constructivist understanding of human learning to which we subscribe.  Diagram  SEQ Diagram \* ARABIC 1: Two Models of Curriculum Structure However, given the constraints of acting within the requirements of the University calendar, examinations system and the National Qualifications Framework, we opted for a feasible curriculum in which we would have a compulsory core-curriculum of Rural Resource Management modules based on the principles of the integrative model, surrounded by other elective, aggregated or discipline-based modules. This should not be understood to imply the Rural Resource Management modules will be entirely experientially and problem-based while the other courses will be entirely propositional and discipline-based, but rather that we will focus on gradually developing the over-arching capabilities of the programme using the strategies of the integrative model throughout the core of Rural Resource Management modules. (These are also the modules in the programme over which we have considerable control). To facilitate registration on the NQF, each module comprises of 150 notional study hours and carries 15 credit points. The model of a core curriculum which is experientially-based and practice-oriented complemented by course components which are propositional and subject-oriented is represented in Diagram 2 : A Feasible Curriculum below. Diagram  SEQ Diagram \* ARABIC 2: A Feasible Curriculum Assessment Strategies From the specific learning outcomes described for each module in the programme we then derived assessment criteria. For the Winter School placement (Rural Resource Management 330 and 340), we took each of the capabilities as described in the grid at level 4 and used these to develop the assessment criteria with which to judge student portfolios and presentations on their performances in their placements. The list of assessment criteria can be found in Appendix 4. Once the assessment criteria were clearly articulated, we decided on how to apply them and how to conduct the assessment process. We adopted an authentic, integrated approach to assessment (see Hager et al, 1994), which means that we expect students to undertake realistic professional tasks in which they have opportunities to demonstrate a range of capabilities simultaneously. Furthermore, their work in the placements includes an understanding of the context in which they are operating and also reflects their individual approaches and qualities, (i.e. appropriate attitudes are not made explicit and assessed separately, but will contribute to the success of the integrated performance. In keeping with our view of the importance of students taking responsibility for their own learning, we decided that the responsibility should lie with the students to provide evidence of their achievement for each of the assessment criteria. The responsibility of the academic staff would be to ensure that the students shared their understanding of the criteria and to provide guidelines as to how they might meet them. The guidelines would be similar to those used in the previous curriculum cycle, but would be more precise (see Appendix 5). We are confident that the assessment strategy presented here will be an improvement on the previous attempt because the shift from asking the students can you do this? to what can you do to demonstrate that you have achieved the specified assessment criteria? leaves scope for student autonomy and creativity, whilst what the assessors are looking for has been made explicit to both parties. The onus will now be on individual students to demonstrate through non-standardised portfolios and interviews that they have developed certain levels of capability in an integrated manner in a real-world context. This more open-ended approach is in keeping with a constructivist theory of learning in which it is understood that meaning is created by individual learners who actively select, accumulate and construct their own knowledge, frames of reference and dispositions through individual and social activity (Biggs, 1996:348). Learning is understood to be a qualitative process which does not easily lend itself to quantitative measurement. But how does one weigh up different individuals personalised experiences and submissions? It is difficult in assessing experiential learning in particular to separate the personal and subjective from the technical (the whole point of experiential learning is to integrate these different ways of knowing). The process we have suggested involves the generation, collection and interpretation of evidence which will then be weighed against the assessment criteria. Assessment is based on the assessors informed professional judgement. Although the emphasis of this assessment strategy is towards criteria-referencing as opposed to norm-referencing, the assessment still needs to be seen to be reliable and equitable as well as valid. Reliability refers to the stability of the assessment; it requires consistency of judgement across different assessors, times, places and students. One way forward will be to ensure that all students and assessors reach agreement beforehand on what the assessment criteria mean. Another check to avoid different subjective responses on the part of the assessors will be to ensure that a range of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives are represented on the interviewing panel. It is vital that in a case such as this, where the meeting of the assessment criteria is open to a variety of student responses, that the assessment process is seen to be fair (equitable) by all concerned. We hope that by careful communication and negotiation about the meaning of the criteria with a range of assessors, that we will be able to treat the students commensurately if not equally. An assessment is valid if it assesses what it is intended to assess. This can be applied at two levels - firstly are we assessing the right things? (content validity) and secondly are we assessing things right? (construct validity). In our case we would need to ask whether our specified capabilities are really what rural development practitioners require to be effective. We will need to be open to revising these with on-going experience. The fact that we will in future be inviting potential employers and possibly representatives of the client communities to help us assess the students presentations will assist us in monitoring the content validity of our assessment. With respect to construct validity, we think that our authentic and integrated approach, in which theory and practice are integrated in realistic professional practice, enhances the validity of our assessment strategy; i.e. it is based on a real world experience which requires the integrated and contextually appropriate use of the capabilities and includes personal reflection and communicative ability. Whether our means of gathering evidence to capture these qualities is sufficient remains to be tested. In future the validity of our assessment strategy may be enhanced by also requiring students to include in their portfolios reports on direct observation of their work in communities by a representative of the client community, a peer and/ or a visiting staff member. Discussion It is too early in the action research curriculum development process to come to any conclusions as to whether Phase II will be an improvement on Phase I. All that we have achieved thus far in Phase II is the planned curriculum, and as any seasoned teacher will know, this should not be equated with the co-created or understood curriculum which follows and which is the acid test for the quality of the curriculum. Furthermore, we believe that curriculum development is an iterative process and that over time we will gain richer insights into the capabilities we are seeking to develop - into how to create better opportunities for students to learn them and better ways to recognise them in student assessment. However, we hope that as a result of the development of capabilities for the programme and assessment criteria for specific modules, that, when the time comes, we will be well-placed to fulfil the criteria required for interim registration of qualifications on the NQF. Of course, whether the relevant NSB approves our formulation of capabilities and assessment criteria remains to be seen! But our concern is not just with the practicalities of registering our qualifications on the NQF. We conclude this paper with a discussion on what this case study suggests about the limitations and possibilities for adapting competency/ outcomes-based education (OBE) to higher education (HE). Universities in South Africa have yet to grapple with the practicalities and implications of registering our qualifications on the NQF. We suggest that this is and will become contested terrain and that HE institutions will need to negotiate their way onto the NQF with SAQA, the relevant NSBs, SGBs, ETQAs and each other. Hopefully we will be able to arrive at satisfactory compromises. In the discussion below we look at potential objections to OBE from an HE perspective and aim to show how these were to some extent addressed in our own practice.  1. Epistemological incompatibility: At the level of epistemology we dont think that our curriculum paradigm is compatible with that of the NQF and the outcomes-based approach to education on which it is premised. OBE has a behaviourist legacy, the focus of the educational endeavour is on human performance or behaviour, it is based on an instrumentalist view of knowledge and on a linear, cause-and-effect rationality - an input-output model - in which the intention of the curriculum design may be said to prescribe and control. In Habermasian terms OBE may be said to be conceived within the technical interest. By way of contrast, in our programme, we deliberately try to move away from hard-systems modelling and to introduce students to soft-systems, which is an attempt to capture the complexity of human activity systems (of which education is a prime example). The outcomes approach to course design, in which outcomes and assessment/ performance criteria are pre-specified has a technicist taste which runs counter to our desire to prepare students for the unknown and unpredictable and to allow them to construct their own meanings and learnings. Staff who teach on this programme are committed to developing students who question given power structures and who will engage in social action for change. They are concerned with the ideal of social justice and with the quest for human freedom; they promote a people-centred rather than a economic model of development and are as concerned with the processes of social action as they are with its products. In Habermasian terms this means that the curriculum presented here is largely informed by the emancipatory interest. The question then is how and to what extent can an outcomes-based approach deliver such a curriculum? 2. OBE is a mechanical, linear, technicist approach to curriculum development: Our response to this accusation is yes, but. We suggest that, as illustrated above, if the OB-approach is used primarily at the planning stage of curriculum development, then it can be a most useful planning tool. In our case it forced us to set goals, and to become quite explicit about what we hope our programme will achieve. It helped us to align the aims of the programme with real world development needs in our context. It also forced us to pay attention to detail and to align our learning outcomes/ capabilities with our assessment criteria. The levels of learning which our students achieve can now be more accurately described and judged. We believe that this has improved the transparency and validity of our assessment procedures. However, we have tried to avoid the over-specification of both the capabilities and assessment criteria and we have applied them in an integrated manner. We have also tried to maintain a focus on the processes of learning as well as its products. OBE is too prescriptive and results in closure: As described above, we interpreted the OBE method of course design rather loosely (e.g. we did not bother with precise performance criteria, range statements, and SAQA hasnt yet set level descriptors). These omissions on our part were deliberate. We set our capabilities at a high cognitive level and did not separate out knowledge, skills and attitudes; we attempted rather to integrate knowing what with knowing how and why. With respect to assessment, we felt that the explicit description of the assessment criteria enabled us to be less prescriptive about how the students are to meet the criteria. We hope that the greater clarity of the capabilities and their assessment criteria will give students greater freedom and responsibility in interpreting the meaning of the criteria for themselves and for their work. Our approach to assessment has shifted from asking Can you do this? to asking What can you do to demonstrate that you have achieved these capabilities? In writing the assessment criteria, we tried to capture performances of understanding rather than lists of behaviours; we hope to encourage assessees and assessors to look below the surface of performance, to attend to the processes behind it and to the underlying competence/ capability / disposition. We are not interested so much in judging what students achieved (in their placements), but rather in why they did what they did and how they made meaning from this. In Kitcheners (1983) terms we are trying to push beyond first order cognition, to meta- and epistemic-cognition - (i.e. double-loop learning). We trust that this approach will still enable us to recognise excellence, creativity and originality and to be surprised by our students. OBE fragments and trivialises knowledge and violates its structure: This raises the thorny issue of the unit standards methodology. We do not believe that the registration of higher order knowledge and ways of knowing can be done via discrete, prescriptive and centralised unit standards and we are relieved that SAQA has withdrawn its proposal that all qualifications should be registered in the unit standard format. In our opinion, the imposition of unit standards would mean sacrificing the quality of the education itself for the sake of ensuring the transferability and portability of credit. The case study illustrates these beliefs, and our support of a constructivist theory of learning. For example, the smallest unit of learning in the programme is a semester module which comprises 150 notional study hours worth 15 credits on the NQF. We were not satisfied with a programme that comprised of a collection of aggregated modules based on the assumption that knowledge acquisition is a linear process, and so we deliberately designed an integrated core of RRM modules which runs throughout the programme, thus creating opportunities for students to develop and reinforce the capabilities gradually and in ever-deepening ways. OBE is an encroachment of state power into the heart of the academy, the curriculum: This is where the contestation between universities and the state could come to a head. But we suggest that this need not be the case, provided SAQA confine its role to setting minimum standards and to providing a means of weighing up the equivalence of qualifications. This should not be confused with quality assurance, which we believe should be based on the professionalism of academics themselves, (e.g. via quality assurance processes such as bench-marking, peer review and self-evaluation). As demonstrated in our case study, we suggest that the best means of ensuring high quality programmes is to put responsibility for their design, implementation, assessment and evaluation into the hands of those who teach them. Pedagogical concerns: Both a strength and a weakness of OBE is that it says nothing about pedagogy or content. In prescribing the outcomes of the teaching-learning encounter, it may well encourage a traditional, didactic approach on the part of unreflective practitioners, but it also leaves space for professional educators to be creative. In our case, a commitment to a constructivist theory of learning and to some of the ideas of critical pedagogy has the following implications. Firstly it means that we will have to hold loosely to our interpretation of the learning outcomes construct - the list of capabilities. As students construct their own meanings and ideas, they may well interpret the capabilities in new and creative ways. Staff will need to be committed to constantly re-developing the capabilities and assessment criteria, in consultation with students, community representatives and employers. Staff on the programme may also need to be open to power-sharing and in future allow students and possibly their host communities to play a role as co-assessors. In our loose interpretation of OBE, these processes should be possible, if not enhanced, because now there are curriculum documents about which to negotiate! Of course, all of this is very demanding and time-consuming for the staff concerned. One of the aims of the NQF is to facilitate the transferability of competence from one context to another. We are a little sceptical about assuming that skills are automatically transferable. Our position is that all capabilities and skills are developed in specific contexts and that they configure differently in different disciplines and social contexts, making their transfer difficult and far from automatic. Transfer is facilitated if the learning of skills is done with high levels of meta-cognitive awareness and a knowledge of the abstract principles underlying their use. The emphasis in the RRM programme on learning to learn as a capability in its own right is an attempt to develop this awareness and to get students to reflect on their own learning processes. However, whether transferability of capability is achieved remains to be seen. Conclusion In conclusion we recommend a third way as developed by Ronald Barnett (1994) in his book, The Limits of Competence. Barnett argues for the need to go beyond the theory and practice of competence as practised in both the workplace and the academy. He critiques both the operational competence of training (knowing how) and the academic competence involved in mastering the disciplines (knowing that). Instead he advocates an understanding of competence premised on an epistemology of reflective knowing (knowing why you know that/ how) in which situations are open-ended, meta-level learning and systematic reflection on ones own thinking and action is encouraged and dialogical rather than strategic or disciplinary communication is valued (1994:185). We hope that in the case study presented here we have begun in a rather stumbling fashion to implement some of these ideas. References Barnett, R. (1994) The Limits of Competence: Knowledge, Higher Education and Society SRHE & OUP: Milton Keynes Bawden, R. (1988) Assessing the Capable Agriculturalist in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education XIII (2) Benett, Y (1993) The Validity and Reliability of Assessments and Self-assessments of Work-based Learning in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 18 (2) Biggs, J. (1966) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment Higher Education 32 (347-364) Hager, P., Gonczi, A., Athanasou, J. (1994) General Issues about Assessment of Competence in Assessment & Evaluation 19 (1) Hall, C (1966) Blending Academic Standards with the New Zealand National Qualifications Framework: Lessons for Other Countries in Strydom, A., Lategan, L. & Muller, A. (eds.) Quality assurance in South African Higher Education: National and International Perspectives University of the Orange Free State: Bloemfontein Jansen, J. (1997) Why OBE Will Fail (unpublished paper, Faculty of Education: University of Durban Westville) HSRC (1995) Ways of Seeing the National Qualifications Framework HRSC: Pretoria Kitchener, K.S. (1983) Cognition, metacognition and epistemic cognition. A three level model of cognitive processing. Human Development 26 (222-232) SAQA Bulletin May/June, 1997 1 (1) Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: how professionals think in action Basic Books: New York Stephenson J (1992) Capability and Quality in Higher Education. In Stephenson, J and Weil, S (eds), Quality in Learning: a capability approach to higher education Kogan Page: London Yorke, M. (1995) The Assessment of Transferable Skills in Higher Education: Towards Systemic Implementation (Report of workshop at John Moores University, Liverpool, March, 1995) Appendix 1 RRM 312 lecture sessions1- 9Easter vacation (in community)10 - 15Long week-end (in community)16 - 23date24/2 - 26/3 31/3 - 7/48/4 - 4/51/5 - 4 /55/5 -2/6content/processLearning from experience - a practical demonstration; Kolbs learning cycle; group formation; data gathering methods; rich picturesestablishing relationship with community; initial data gatheringreflections on time with community; data presentations in form of rich pictures identification of issuesopportunity for further data-gathering; check rich pictures & issues Soft-systems theory; Human activity Systems; Provisional development of HAS models for emerging issues; project planning Notes: The lecture sessions were double lectures, i.e., two 45 min lectures back-to-back. Students could either select their own communities (their home communities or others in which they had worked previously) or be allocated communities to work in. In most cases students chose to work in the communities of the Certificate students. RRM 330 & 340 date23/6 - 28/731/7 - 5/811/8 - 13/8content/ processaction - phase with communitywrite-up documents and reportsoral examinations Appendix 2 Rural Resource Management 330 & 340 Documentation for assessment Part I In your placement (as a group or individually) complete the following tasks: While you are on your placement keep a logbook/diary with observations and actions pertaining to the processes you used to get situation improvement activities going in the community. Explain how you identified the situation for improvement with the community. Provide evidence of plans for these situation improvement activities (e.g., a human activity system model, project plan, constitution) Part II As an individual, write a report in which you evaluate the processes and results of your involvement with your community. Give an evaluation of what you think the community learnt and gained from your involvement and also what you yourself learnt. The report should be clearly structured, neatly presented and documentation from Part I should be included as appendices. Part III You will be expected to give an oral defence of your report to the examiners. This will take 20-30 mins. Appendix 3 The ability to:CommunicationLearningProject OrientationSystems ThinkingParticipatory Methods & FacilitationResearch 4.Communicate technical knowledge in appropriate form to rural communities communicate effectively to a range of audiences in both oral and written formtranslate the process of learning into an effective personal development methodology. Develop high levels of meta-cognitive & some epistemic awareness collaborate with an organised group of rural people in the initiation and/ or conduct of a development projectchoose and appropriately use systems tools in an ill-defined and presented situation critically evaluate contextual knowledge select and use appropriate participatory methods for developing a project in the client communitycritically reflect on research methods use one research method by collecting meaningful data and then analysing it 3.communicate and illustrate concepts in use, in both written and oral formbe self-directed critically reflect on own strengths and weaknesses, and take steps to improve theseidentify and conduct a project of interest for selfuse soft systems tools to make meaning out of a given situationparticipate effectively in community groups & learn from themplan a research process, gather the information and analyse the results2.clarify meaning e.g. relevance of concepts in actioncritically reflect on & make meaning from outcomes of the Kolb learning cyclebe able to find resources appropriate to a given task and complete the taskuse hard systems tool to analyse a given objective system participate through reflecting on own participation in group processcollect relevant hard data and analyse its relevance1.transmit descriptive information listen read and understand concepts articulate own opinionsIdentify and reflect on learning processes using the Kolb learning cyclecomplete a task with the resources provided express a sense of connectednessparticipate in processes (e.g. learning, group activities)conduct a task as a research process  Appendix 4 Project orientation: The student provides evidence which demonstrates that a project has been initiated in collaboration with a client community. The student provides evidence in which the process used to identify the needs or issues in the community is made clear. Systemic Thinking: The student can demonstrate that a human activity system model was developed and presented to the client community for discussion and decision-making, leading to appropriate action. Or The student shows that a hard systems approach has been used in which a systems model is used to analyse and present an agricultural production system to the community for decision-making, leading to appropriate action. Learning: The student shows that he/she has reflected on and can articulate his/ her own learning styles and processes developed and used during the course of the placement, using the Kolb learning cycle. The student also demonstrates an awareness about what he/she still needs to know for further situation improvement. Communication: The student compiles a well-structured written report in clear English, with appropriate appendices, using a word-processor. The student is able to conduct an oral presentation using visual aids appropriately. The student provides evidence in the written report that technical knowledge has been meaningfully communicated to meet the needs of the client community. Either Research: The student demonstrates that he/she has selected a suitable research method and applied it in the collection and interpretation of data for the situation improvement project. Or Participatory Methods: The student provides evidence of how a participatory method was used in defining and initiating a project with the client community. Appendix 5 Rural Resource Management 330 & 340 Documentation for assessment For your assessment for these modules (your placement with rural communities), the onus is on you to demonstrate to the examiners that you have gained competence in the each of the capabilities which we have formulated for this module (see attachment). (Please note that the first four capabilities are compulsory - i.e. project orientation, systemic thinking, learning and communication; you can then choose to focus on either research or participatory methods). Below are some guidelines to help you do this: We suggest that while you are on your placement you (individually or collectively) collect the following documentation: a logbook of all the activities, meetings etc. which you engaged in with the community, a personal diary where you note your own feelings and reflections on the process of your community involvement, paying special attention to your own learning any public documents which are produced as a result of your involvement, e.g. minutes of meetings, letters, constitutions, human activity system models, project proposals. On returning from your placements, on agreed upon dates, you will be expected to submit a portfolio worth 55% (20% for each of the 5 capabilities), and one week later to give a presentation on your portfolio which will be worth 45%. Your presentation will be followed by a brief interview by the panel of examiners during which they will question you about your presentation and portfolio. Below are some guidelines for preparing your portfolio and presentation. Please note that these are only guidelines, if you have other creative ideas about how you would like to present your work and demonstrate your capabilities, please speak to the course co-ordinator about this: Portfolio: Your portfolio should have 2 sections. Section 1 should include a report on your community placement in which you describe: how you prepared yourself for your placement, how you established credibility in your community, how you negotiated a process to enable the community to identify issues for improvement, how you worked with the community to initiate action for situation improvement, what you think you achieved through your placement and what still needs to be done. Section 2 should include your own reflections on your experience. What did you learn from the experience, what did it reveal to you about the way you learn? What did you learn about your own strengths and weaknesses? What do you still need to learn in order to become a capable development practitioner? You should include any relevant documentation from your community involvement in appendices attached to the portfolio, these should be referred to and explained in the context of your report and reflection. The portfolio including appendices should be 20 - 40 typed pages long, it should be well-structured, neatly presented and bound and include a table of contents and a list of references. When compiling your portfolio, remember that you are aiming to demonstrate your achievement of the capabilities, so refer to them, explain what you understand by them and show how you met their requirements through your placement. Your portfolio will be marked by the course co-ordinator and the external examiner Presentation Your presentation should capture the essence of your portfolio, giving attention to both sections. In preparing your presentation, note the following: Good communication is one of the capabilities which the examiners will be looking for, so give attention to speaking clearly, to the point and to listening carefully to the questions. You may make use of visual aids - overhead transparencies, photographs, diagrams etc. if you wish. Your presentation should take at most 20 minutes, with 10 -15 minutes thereafter for discussion. The interview panel will consist of the course co-ordinator, one other academic who teaches on the programme, a potential employer (e.g. some one from an NGO, a government department or industry) and possibly a community representative. So, take note of your audience and remember that they will be using the list of capabilities to judge your performance. Both your portfolio and your presentation will be graded using the following scale: Merit: The student has demonstrated high levels of understanding and competence in all of the required capabilities and has shown that these have been well integrated in the completion of the tasks. The student has shown that s/he is capable of thinking reflexively and systemically and theoretical concepts have been applied appropriately. S/he can accurately self-assess and formulate ways of self-improvement. Pass: The student has demonstrated adequate levels of competence in all required capabilities, but has not always been able to integrate these into a holistic understanding of the issues. Concepts are known but are not always applied or transferred appropriately. The student has shown that s/he is capable of self-reflection, but her judgements are sometimes misplaced or confused. Unsatisfactory: (Students in this category may negotiate to improve their work and re-submit). The student has demonstrated adequate levels of competence in at least two of the core capabilities but further work is required in others. The student has failed to prove that s/he fully understands some of the capabilities and can appropriately apply theoretical concepts to a real-world situation. Self-reflection is not carried out an a sustained and meaningful manner. Fail: (Students in this category are not permitted to re-submit, and are advised to repeat the module). The student has failed to demonstrate adequate levels of competence in at least two of the core capabilities. The student has not tackled the tasks appropriately, s/he does not appear to understand the meaning of the capabilities as applied to a community development context and s/e has shown fundamental misunderstandings in the application of theory. S/he has failed to demonstrate reflexive or systemic thinking.  Assistance in the construction of the curriculum was also provided by Elwin Turnbull and Roger Roberts of the School of Agriculture and Rural Development, University of Western Sydney (Hawkesbury)  Workshop participants were Noel Oettle, Thembi Ngcobo, Les Lax, Mphoya Thobela, (all of the Farmers Support Group, which is part of the SRCD); Raymond Ngcobo, Christine MacDonald, (of the Department of Sociology); Sid Luckett, (School of Rural Community Development) and Monique Salomon, (University of Zululand - external examiner). The workshops were facilitated by Kathy Luckett and Prof. Richard Bawden of the University of Western Sydney who was at the time at the University of Natal as part of an institutional links programme.  The programme was conceived from the beginning in terms of educating graduates to be employable and to be equipped to contribute to the reconstruction and development of rural South Africa. In this sense it is a vocational/ professional degree which no doubt makes it easier to conform to the SAQA requirements than may be the case for a more academic, disciplined-based qualification.  It would have been helpful to have had the SAQA level descriptors to guide us at this stage. It is not yet clear what levels of competence/ capability are expected at each of the NQF levels 5 - 8.  None of this means that we are opposed to the aims of the NQF, we fully support it as a means of widening access, of legitimising and controlling the quality of all educational providers and sectors, of giving equivalent weighting to education and training and of facilitating the vertical and horizontal portability of credit.  We suggest that the HE sector should only expected to register whole programmes on the NQF and to specify learning outcomes not smaller than the over-arching/ critical outcomes for the whole programme.     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ࡱ> #` Fbjbj\.\.  >D>D:KNr( @ @ @ d YYY\ZxZ X[([L[[[www;===T8ɉ8$nh֑h%@ wQrwww%@ @ [[:|||wn@ p[@ [;|w;|| @ _[L[ @^blYczl+P0E>{p>4_>@ _ ww|wwwww%%?|dwwwwwww $+6" 6 @ @ @ @ @ @   Implementing Outcomes-based Education in a South African University Sid and Kathy Luckett, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg Introduction In this paper we present as a case study a process of action research in curriculum development undertaken by academic staff of the School of Rural Community Development (SRCD) and facilitated by a staff development practitioner at the University of Natal. The purpose of the case study is to illustrate and reflect on how an outcomes-based approach to curriculum development and student assessment was used to improve a programme for the professional/ vocational education of rural development practitioners. We suggest that whilst many academics may view the requirement to have all qualifications validated by the South African Qualifications Authority and registered on the National Qualifications Framework in an outcomes-based format within the next two years as an encroachment on their academic freedom, that, provided we, in higher education, are allowed to do so in our own terms, that the exercise could prove to be beneficial to students and meaningful for those committed to improving their teaching. The Context The SRCD of the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, was set up in1992 as an initiative by the University to address rural community development needs in Southern Africa through research, education and extension. The aim of its formal education (academic) programmes is to develop professional rural development practitioners at different levels. At present the SRCD offers multiple entry-exit programmes at Certificate, Diploma and Degree levels in Rural Resource Management through the faculties of Agriculture and Social Science. The Certificate is a one year distance education programme for people who are living and working in rural areas. Entrance requirements are the equivalent of a Std. 9 (Grade 11) together with experience with organisations in rural development. The Certificate also functions as an alternative access route into the Diploma which is a normal class-based undergraduate programme which students can complete within two years. . After completing the Diploma students may do an additional year to obtain either a B.Soc.Sci. or a B. Agric. (Rural Resource Management). Both the Diplomas and the Degrees are interdisciplinary programmes with a content mix of agriculture, sociology, organisation management and extension methods. All the modules (courses) are fully semesterised and for the most part students are assessed in the conventional way, i.e., they are required to do assignments or write tests for the required class mark as well as write unseen exams at the end of each semester. However, the core modules, (in Rural Resource Management), throughout the Diploma/Degree programmes have a have a strong focus on experiential learning and it is with two of these modules (Rural Resource Management 330 & 340) that this paper is concerned. Both of these are degree year level modules. Student profile The students in the Certificate are all from black rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal of whom approximately 80% are male. The first cohort of the Diploma - they are now in the Degree year - are predominantly students from rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal who have been out of school for some time. The male-female ratio in this cohort is 65:35. As the Diploma/Degree has become better known, the intake has become more diverse; an increasing number from other provinces, an increasing number of students from metropolitan areas and a greater female participation rate. Generally students on the programme have a strong commitment to rural development. Those students who enter the Diploma programme through the normal Matric route have on average between 22 and 28 Matric points. Curriculum Development: Phase 1 A modular structure for experiential learning. In the RRM 312, 330, and 340 modules we tried to develop alternative teaching/learning activities drawn from experiential learning methods. RRM 312 is run in the first semester as a preparatory (and therefore prerequisite) module. RRM 330 & 340, which are run together as one course in the newly established Winter semester, involve a community placement experience over a period of six weeks. During this placement students are expected to use soft systems and project development tools in collaboration with community-based organisations to enable these organisations develop activities (e.g. projects, organisational change) which will improve their situations. RRM312 prepares students for this community placement through the introduction of: class based exercises in experiential learning; Kolbs learning cycle; techniques for community inquiry; soft systems methods; project planning and development; and, most importantly by, enabling the students to spend a week with their host organisations to begin to familiarise themselves with the issues and problems in these communities. (A timeline showing how this all fits together is given in Appendix 1). The Assessment of Experiential Learning We realised that the traditional three-hour unseen written exam at the end of a semester would not be able to capture the higher order skills and capabilities which we wanted students to develop in real world contexts through experiential learning. So we asked students to collect a variety of documentation during their placements and thereafter to write a report on their community involvement. In addition to this they were expected to give an oral defence of their reports to the examiner. We allowed students to work in groups in the community placements and to produce joint documents for Part 1 of the assessment; Part 2 was an individual report but they were allowed to collaborate in producing these reports; Part 3, the oral defence of their work, was done on an individual basis. (See Appendix 2 for the guidelines on the assessment given to students.) Problems Encountered It was particularly in the area of assessment that the short-comings of our curriculum design became apparent. Whilst the host community organisations were generally positive about student contributions and students themselves were very positive about the value of the placement experience, student performance in the assessment tasks was disappointing overall. The examiners overall impression was that students failed to give weight to detailing the processes in which they were engaged in their work with communities. Instead, they focussed overly on the results, anxious to demonstrate the success of their interventions. For Part 1.1 most students kept a superficial chronological account of daily events; their logbooks were full of descriptions of activities, but they did not manage to capture the processes they used to facilitate those activities. For Part 1.2, where they were required to explain how they identified the situation for improvement with the community, students tended to be too quick to impose tried and tested solutions to obvious problems. There was little evidence of their collaboratively engaging communities in depth about the communities perceptions, knowledge and issues. This was disappointing, given the theory and techniques which we had introduced them to in Rural Resource Management 312. Most students carried out Part 1.3 satisfactorily. In Part 2, the written reports, students again seemed to be locked into the descriptive genre, they reported on the what and tended to focus on the results and success of their community involvement. They generally failed to engage at the meta-level; to explain how they had engaged with their communities and to reflect on how they, as individuals, had learnt from the process. Frustratingly, in Part 3, the oral follow up on their written reports, when questioned on the processes of their engagement, most were able to demonstrate good insights and understandings about the process of decision-making in the communities and, in some cases about their own learning processes. The results of the oral interviews suggested that many of the students did possess meta-level knowledge and skills, but that either the written assessment tasks had failed to cue them to demonstrate these, and/or that they did not possess adequate levels of academic literacy or English language proficiency to write about them. Reflection If students could reflect on process when prompted, then we had to ask ourselves whether it wasnt the course and the assessment procedures which had failed the students. After a post-mortem on the assessment results we came to the following tentative conclusions: The aims of the programme in general and of the placement in particular - its learning outcomes and assessment criteria to test the achievement of those outcomes - had not been made sufficiently explicit to students prior to the learning experience. The capabilities which we intended to develop had not been adequately built up throughout the programme. Students needed more preparation and practice and there needed to be a more coherent and developmental learning process for them built into the programme as a whole. Communication skills should be consciously built into the programme and we should be more explicit about exactly what kind and levels of communication skills are required throughout the programme; these should be rewarded in the assessments. Learning to learn is a competence which also needs to be consciously developed and rewarded throughout the programme if students were to be equipped to deal with ill-defined, complex and uncertain situations in their future careers. Particularly in the light of the non-traditional nature of our assessment procedures, we need to make much clearer to students exactly what it is we are looking for. Curriculum Development: Phase II As a result of our reflections we decided to revise the entire offering (i.e. at all year levels) of the Rural Resource Management modules in order to get clarity on exactly what we wanted to teach, how we were going to teach and how students are to demonstrate that they have achieved these outcomes. We also wanted to build greater coherence and a developmental learning process into the programme as a whole. All staff involved in the teaching of the Rural Resource Management courses (111, 121, 211, 212, 312, 321, 330, 340) together with an external examiner participated in two workshops which were run over a total period of four days during the winter vacation. The following process was followed: Develop a vision for the School; Establish principles under-girding the programme; Agree on desired student capabilities ; Plan curriculum strategies for delivering and assessing these capabilities. For the purposes of this paper we will report only on items 3 and 4. Over-arching/ Critical Capabilities For the over-arching (or critical) outcomes of the programme as a whole, rather than adopt the more narrow connotations of competencies, we chose to use Stephensons term capability which has been widely adopted in the British Enterprise in HE movement. Following Stephenson and Weil (1992), a key feature of the concept capability is that it is integrative; capability integrates a repertoire of skills, useable knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes in professional praxis, in such a way that these are combined and applied appropriately for successful performance in real world contexts. The concept also includes the ability to be adaptable, to learn autonomously, to operate as a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1983) and to act and communicate appropriately in social contexts. The HSRC (1995) has proposed a similar understanding of capability as an integrated construct which enables expert or professional performance. The HSRC links this to a revised notion of competence thus, A person demonstrates competence when he or she integrates a range of capabilities in continuous activity. (1995:44) Through the workshop process, we identified the following six capabilities which we hoped that the programme as a whole would develop in prospective rural development practitioners: communication, autonomous learning (or learning to learn), project orientation, systems thinking, participatory methods and facilitation, research. When we compared these to SAQAs 7 critical outcomes and Department of Educations additional 5, (see SAQA Bulletin, 1997:7), we were pleasantly surprised to discover that apart from possibly one, being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts, that from our understanding of our capabilities, we appeared to covered all of these external demands. The next step was to try to describe these capabilities at a number of levels (level descriptors) to facilitate the development of a coherent learning programme. Capability levels and Specific Learning Outcomes We then mapped out seven levels of capability - (i) beginner, (ii) novice, (iii) just competent, (iv) moderately competent, (v) highly competent, (vi) very highly competent, (vii) expert - for each of our six capabilities and decided that we would expect students to reach level (iv) (i.e. moderately competent) in four of the six capabilities before obtaining a degree . The capability levels are set out in the grid in Appendix 3. We used the descriptions of levels (i) - (iv) to enable us to plot what level of capability the different modules of the programme would aim to deliver. From this grid we were able to develop specific learning outcomes for each of the modules on the programme and to ensure that together they build a coherent learning pathway for students. The grid also enabled us to ensure that all capabilities were adequately catered for at each level throughout the programme. We also recognised that each of the capabilities mean different things in the context of different discipline content. Thus we were not concerned if a capability was repeated in the same semester in a different subject context. Nor were we concerned to focus on only one capability in a particular module, in fact, we realised that different content and learning experiences tend to develop bundles of capabilities. What is important is to be able to identify those bundles both to ourselves and to students, but not to separate them out in a discrete and linear manner, which we believe destroys the structure and power of higher order knowledge and skills and defeats the meaning of capability. Curriculum Strategies We compared two models of curriculum structure - an aggregated model and an integrative model, (see Diagram 1 below). In principle we believed that the second would best facilitate the development of the student capabilities we had identified because it would give students time and space to grow these capabilities via a cyclical process which we believe is more in keeping with the constructivist understanding of human learning to which we subscribe.  Diagram  SEQ Diagram \* ARABIC 1: Two Models of Curriculum Structure However, given the constraints of acting within the requirements of the University calendar, examinations system and the National Qualifications Framework, we opted for a feasible curriculum in which we would have a compulsory core-curriculum of Rural Resource Management modules based on the principles of the integrative model, surrounded by other elective, aggregated or discipline-based modules. This should not be understood to imply the Rural Resource Management modules will be entirely experientially and problem-based while the other courses will be entirely propositional and discipline-based, but rather that we will focus on gradually developing the over-arching capabilities of the programme using the strategies of the integrative model throughout the core of Rural Resource Management modules. (These are also the modules in the programme over which we have considerable control). To facilitate registration on the NQF, each module comprises of 150 notional study hours and carries 15 credit points. The model of a core curriculum which is experientially-based and practice-oriented complemented by course components which are propositional and subject-oriented is represented in Diagram 2 : A Feasible Curriculum below. Diagram  SEQ Diagram \* ARABIC 2: A Feasible Curriculum Assessment Strategies From the specific learning outcomes described for each module in the programme we then derived assessment criteria. For the Winter School placement (Rural Resource Management 330 and 340), we took each of the capabilities as described in the grid at level 4 and used these to develop the assessment criteria with which to judge student portfolios and presentations on their performances in their placements. The list of assessment criteria can be found in Appendix 4. Once the assessment criteria were clearly articulated, we decided on how to apply them and how to conduct the assessment process. We adopted an authentic, integrated approach to assessment (see Hager et al, 1994), which means that we expect students to undertake realistic professional tasks in which they have opportunities to demonstrate a range of capabilities simultaneously. Furthermore, their work in the placements includes an understanding of the context in which they are operating and also reflects their individual approaches and qualities, (i.e. appropriate attitudes are not made explicit and assessed separately, but will contribute to the success of the integrated performance. In keeping with our view of the importance of students taking responsibility for their own learning, we decided that the responsibility should lie with the students to provide evidence of their achievement for each of the assessment criteria. The responsibility of the academic staff would be to ensure that the students shared their understanding of the criteria and to provide guidelines as to how they might meet them. The guidelines would be similar to those used in the previous curriculum cycle, but would be more precise (see Appendix 5). We are confident that the assessment strategy presented here will be an improvement on the previous attempt because the shift from asking the students can you do this? to what can you do to demonstrate that you have achieved the specified assessment criteria? leaves scope for student autonomy and creativity, whilst what the assessors are looking for has been made explicit to both parties. The onus will now be on individual students to demonstrate through non-standardised portfolios and interviews that they have developed certain levels of capability in an integrated manner in a real-world context. This more open-ended approach is in keeping with a constructivist theory of learning in which it is understood that meaning is created by individual learners who actively select, accumulate and construct their own knowledge, frames of reference and dispositions through individual and social activity (Biggs, 1996:348). Learning is understood to be a qualitative process which does not easily lend itself to quantitative measurement. But how does one weigh up different individuals personalised experiences and submissions? It is difficult in assessing experiential learning in particular to separate the personal and subjective from the technical (the whole point of experiential learning is to integrate these different ways of knowing). The process we have suggested involves the generation, collection and interpretation of evidence which will then be weighed against the assessment criteria. Assessment is based on the assessors informed professional judgement. Although the emphasis of this assessment strategy is towards criteria-referencing as opposed to norm-referencing, the assessment still needs to be seen to be reliable and equitable as well as valid. Reliability refers to the stability of the assessment; it requires consistency of judgement across different assessors, times, places and students. One way forward will be to ensure that all students and assessors reach agreement beforehand on what the assessment criteria mean. Another check to avoid different subjective responses on the part of the assessors will be to ensure that a range of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives are represented on the interviewing panel. It is vital that in a case such as this, where the meeting of the assessment criteria is open to a variety of student responses, that the assessment process is seen to be fair (equitable) by all concerned. We hope that by careful communication and negotiation about the meaning of the criteria with a range of assessors, that we will be able to treat the students commensurately if not equally. An assessment is valid if it assesses what it is intended to assess. This can be applied at two levels - firstly are we assessing the right things? (content validity) and secondly are we assessing things right? (construct validity). In our case we would need to ask whether our specified capabilities are really what rural development practitioners require to be effective. We will need to be open to revising these with on-going experience. The fact that we will in future be inviting potential employers and possibly representatives of the client communities to help us assess the students presentations will assist us in monitoring the content validity of our assessment. With respect to construct validity, we think that our authentic and integrated approach, in which theory and practice are integrated in realistic professional practice, enhances the validity of our assessment strategy; i.e. it is based on a real world experience which requires the integrated and contextually appropriate use of the capabilities and includes personal reflection and communicative ability. Whether our means of gathering evidence to capture these qualities is sufficient remains to be tested. In future the validity of our assessment strategy may be enhanced by also requiring students to include in their portfolios reports on direct observation of their work in communities by a representative of the client community, a peer and/ or a visiting staff member. Discussion It is too early in the action research curriculum development process to come to any conclusions as to whether Phase II will be an improvement on Phase I. All that we have achieved thus far in Phase II is the planned curriculum, and as any seasoned teacher will know, this should not be equated with the co-created or understood curriculum which follows and which is the acid test for the quality of the curriculum. Furthermore, we believe that curriculum development is an iterative process and that over time we will gain richer insights into the capabilities we are seeking to develop - into how to create better opportunities for students to learn them and better ways to recognise them in student assessment. However, we hope that as a result of the development of capabilities for the programme and assessment criteria for specific modules, that, when the time comes, we will be well-placed to fulfil the criteria required for interim registration of qualifications on the NQF. Of course, whether the relevant NSB approves our formulation of capabilities and assessment criteria remains to be seen! But our concern is not just with the practicalities of registering our qualifications on the NQF. We conclude this paper with a discussion on what this case study suggests about the limitations and possibilities for adapting competency/ outcomes-based education (OBE) to higher education (HE). Universities in South Africa have yet to grapple with the practicalities and implications of registering our qualifications on the NQF. We suggest that this is and will become contested terrain and that HE institutions will need to negotiate their way onto the NQF with SAQA, the relevant NSBs, SGBs, ETQAs and each other. Hopefully we will be able to arrive at satisfactory compromises. In the discussion below we look at potential objections to OBE from an HE perspective and aim to show how these were to some extent addressed in our own practice.  1. Epistemological incompatibility: At the level of epistemology we dont think that our curriculum paradigm is compatible with that of the NQF and the outcomes-based approach to education on which it is premised. OBE has a behaviourist legacy, the focus of the educational endeavour is on human performance or behaviour, it is based on an instrumentalist view of knowledge and on a linear, cause-and-effect rationality - an input-output model - in which the intention of the curriculum design may be said to prescribe and control. In Habermasian terms OBE may be said to be conceived within the technical interest. By way of contrast, in our programme, we deliberately try to move away from hard-systems modelling and to introduce students to soft-systems, which is an attempt to capture the complexity of human activity systems (of which education is a prime example). The outcomes approach to course design, in which outcomes and assessment/ performance criteria are pre-specified has a technicist taste which runs counter to our desire to prepare students for the unknown and unpredictable and to allow them to construct their own meanings and learnings. Staff who teach on this programme are committed to developing students who question given power structures and who will engage in social action for change. They are concerned with the ideal of social justice and with the quest for human freedom; they promote a people-centred rather than a economic model of development and are as concerned with the processes of social action as they are with its products. In Habermasian terms this means that the curriculum presented here is largely informed by the emancipatory interest. The question then is how and to what extent can an outcomes-based approach deliver such a curriculum? 2. OBE is a mechanical, linear, technicist approach to curriculum development: Our response to this accusation is yes, but. We suggest that, as illustrated above, if the OB-approach is used primarily at the planning stage of curriculum development, then it can be a most useful planning tool. In our case it forced us to set goals, and to become quite explicit about what we hope our programme will achieve. It helped us to align the aims of the programme with real world development needs in our context. It also forced us to pay attention to detail and to align our learning outcomes/ capabilities with our assessment criteria. The levels of learning which our students achieve can now be more accurately described and judged. We believe that this has improved the transparency and validity of our assessment procedures. However, we have tried to avoid the over-specification of both the capabilities and assessment criteria and we have applied them in an integrated manner. We have also tried to maintain a focus on the processes of learning as well as its products. OBE is too prescriptive and results in closure: As described above, we interpreted the OBE method of course design rather loosely (e.g. we did not bother with precise performance criteria, range statements, and SAQA hasnt yet set level descriptors). These omissions on our part were deliberate. We set our capabilities at a high cognitive level and did not separate out knowledge, skills and attitudes; we attempted rather to integrate knowing what with knowing how and why. With respect to assessment, we felt that the explicit description of the assessment criteria enabled us to be less prescriptive about how the students are to meet the criteria. We hope that the greater clarity of the capabilities and their assessment criteria will give students greater freedom and responsibility in interpreting the meaning of the criteria for themselves and for their work. Our approach to assessment has shifted from asking Can you do this? to asking What can you do to demonstrate that you have achieved these capabilities? In writing the assessment criteria, we tried to capture performances of understanding rather than lists of behaviours; we hope to encourage assessees and assessors to look below the surface of performance, to attend to the processes behind it and to the underlying competence/ capability / disposition. We are not interested so much in judging what students achieved (in their placements), but rather in why they did what they did and how they made meaning from this. In Kitcheners (1983) terms we are trying to push beyond first order cognition, to meta- and epistemic-cognition - (i.e. double-loop learning). We trust that this approach will still enable us to recognise excellence, creativity and originality and to be surprised by our students. OBE fragments and trivialises knowledge and violates its structure: This raises the thorny issue of the unit standards methodology. We do not believe that the registration of higher order knowledge and ways of knowing can be done via discrete, prescriptive and centralised unit standards and we are relieved that SAQA has withdrawn its proposal that all qualifications should be registered in the unit standard format. In our opinion, the imposition of unit standards would mean sacrificing the quality of the education itself for the sake of ensuring the transferability and portability of credit. The case study illustrates these beliefs, and our support of a constructivist theory of learning. For example, the smallest unit of learning in the programme is a semester module which comprises 150 notional study hours worth 15 credits on the NQF. We were not satisfied with a programme that comprised of a collection of aggregated modules based on the assumption that knowledge acquisition is a linear process, and so we deliberately designed an integrated core of RRM modules which runs throughout the programme, thus creating opportunities for students to develop and reinforce the capabilities gradually and in ever-deepening ways. OBE is an encroachment of state power into the heart of the academy, the curriculum: This is where the contestation between universities and the state could come to a head. But we suggest that this need not be the case, provided SAQA confine its role to setting minimum standards and to providing a means of weighing up the equivalence of qualifications. This should not be confused with quality assurance, which we believe should be based on the professionalism of academics themselves, (e.g. via quality assurance processes such as bench-marking, peer review and self-evaluation). As demonstrated in our case study, we suggest that the best means of ensuring high quality programmes is to put responsibility for their design, implementation, assessment and evaluation into the hands of those who teach them. Pedagogical concerns: Both a strength and a weakness of OBE is that it says nothing about pedagogy or content. In prescribing the outcomes of the teaching-learning encounter, it may well encourage a traditional, didactic approach on the part of unreflective practitioners, but it also leaves space for professional educators to be creative. In our case, a commitment to a constructivist theory of learning and to some of the ideas of critical pedagogy has the following implications. Firstly it means that we will have to hold loosely to our interpretation of the learning outcomes construct - the list of capabilities. As students construct their own meanings and ideas, they may well interpret the capabilities in new and creative ways. Staff will need to be committed to constantly re-developing the capabilities and assessment criteria, in consultation with students, community representatives and employers. Staff on the programme may also need to be open to power-sharing and in future allow students and possibly their host communities to play a role as co-assessors. In our loose interpretation of OBE, these processes should be possible, if not enhanced, because now there are curriculum documents about which to negotiate! Of course, all of this is very demanding and time-consuming for the staff concerned. One of the aims of the NQF is to facilitate the transferability of competence from one context to another. We are a little sceptical about assuming that skills are automatically transferable. Our position is that all capabilities and skills are developed in specific contexts and that they configure differently in different disciplines and social contexts, making their transfer difficult and far from automatic. Transfer is facilitated if the learning of skills is done with high levels of meta-cognitive awareness and a knowledge of the abstract principles underlying their use. The emphasis in the RRM programme on learning to learn as a capability in its own right is an attempt to develop this awareness and to get students to reflect on their own learning processes. However, whether transferability of capability is achieved remains to be seen. Conclusion In conclusion we recommend a third way as developed by Ronald Barnett (1994) in his book, The Limits of Competence. Barnett argues for the need to go beyond the theory and practice of competence as practised in both the workplace and the academy. He critiques both the operational competence of training (knowing how) and the academic competence involved in mastering the disciplines (knowing that). Instead he advocates an understanding of competence premised on an epistemology of reflective knowing (knowing why you know that/ how) in which situations are open-ended, meta-level learning and systematic reflection on ones own thinking and action is encouraged and dialogical rather than strategic or disciplinary communication is valued (1994:185). We hope that in the case study presented here we have begun in a rather stumbling fashion to implement some of these ideas. References Barnett, R. (1994) The Limits of Competence: Knowledge, Higher Education and Society SRHE & OUP: Milton Keynes Bawden, R. (1988) Assessing the Capable Agriculturalist in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education XIII (2) Benett, Y (1993) The Validity and Reliability of Assessments and Self-assessments of Work-based Learning in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 18 (2) Biggs, J. (1966) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment Higher Education 32 (347-364) Hager, P., Gonczi, A., Athanasou, J. (1994) General Issues about Assessment of Competence in Assessment & Evaluation 19 (1) Hall, C (1966) Blending Academic Standards with the New Zealand National Qualifications Framework: Lessons for Other Countries in Strydom, A., Lategan, L. & Muller, A. (eds.) Quality assurance in South African Higher Education: National and International Perspectives University of the Orange Free State: Bloemfontein Jansen, J. (1997) Why OBE Will Fail (unpublished paper, Faculty of Education: University of Durban Westville) HSRC (1995) Ways of Seeing the National Qualifications Framework HRSC: Pretoria Kitchener, K.S. (1983) Cognition, metacognition and epistemic cognition. A three level model of cognitive processing. Human Development 26 (222-232) SAQA Bulletin May/June, 1997 1 (1) Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: how professionals think in action Basic Books: New York Stephenson J (1992) Capability and Quality in Higher Education. In Stephenson, J and Weil, S (eds), Quality in Learning: a capability approach to higher education Kogan Page: London Yorke, M. (1995) The Assessment of Transferable Skills in Higher Education: Towards Systemic Implementation (Report of workshop at John Moores University, Liverpool, March, 1995) Appendix 1 RRM 312 lecture sessions1- 9Easter vacation (in community)10 - 15Long week-end (in community)16 - 23date24/2 - 26/3 31/3 - 7/48/4 - 4/51/5 - 4 /55/5 -2/6content/processLearning from experience - a practical demonstration; Kolbs learning cycle; group formation; data gathering methods; rich picturesestablishing relationship with community; initial data gatheringreflections on time with community; data presentations in form of rich pictures identification of issuesopportunity for further data-gathering; check rich pictures & issues Soft-systems theory; Human activity Systems; Provisional development of HAS models for emerging issues; project planning Notes: The lecture sessions were double lectures, i.e., two 45 min lectures back-to-back. Students could either select their own communities (their home communities or others in which they had worked previously) or be allocated communities to work in. In most cases students chose to work in the communities of the Certificate students. RRM 330 & 340 date23/6 - 28/731/7 - 5/811/8 - 13/8content/ processaction - phase with communitywrite-up documents and reportsoral examinations Appendix 2 Rural Resource Management 330 & 340 Documentation for assessment Part I In your placement (as a group or individually) complete the following tasks: While you are on your placement keep a logbook/diary with observations and actions pertaining to the processes you used to get situation improvement activities going in the community. Explain how you identified the situation for improvement with the community. Provide evidence of plans for these situation improvement activities (e.g., a human activity system model, project plan, constitution) Part II As an individual, write a report in which you evaluate the processes and results of your involvement with your community. Give an evaluation of what you think the community learnt and gained from your involvement and also what you yourself learnt. The report should be clearly structured, neatly presented and documentation from Part I should be included as appendices. Part III You will be expected to give an oral defence of your report to the examiners. This will take 20-30 mins. Appendix 3 The ability to:CommunicationLearningProject OrientationSystems ThinkingParticipatory Methods & FacilitationResearch 4.Communicate technical knowledge in appropriate form to rural communities communicate effectively to a range of audiences in both oral and written formtranslate the process of learning into an effective personal development methodology. Develop high levels of meta-cognitive & some epistemic awareness collaborate with an organised group of rural people in the initiation and/ or conduct of a development projectchoose and appropriately use systems tools in an ill-defined and presented situation critically evaluate contextual knowledge select and use appropriate participatory methods for developing a project in the client communitycritically reflect on research methods use one research method by collecting meaningful data and then analysing it 3.communicate and illustrate concepts in use, in both written and oral formbe self-directed critically reflect on own strengths and weaknesses, and take steps to improve theseidentify and conduct a project of interest for selfuse soft systems tools to make meaning out of a given situationparticipate effectively in community groups & learn from themplan a research process, gather the information and analyse the results2.clarify meaning e.g. relevance of concepts in actioncritically reflect on & make meaning from outcomes of the Kolb learning cyclebe able to find resources appropriate to a given task and complete the taskuse hard systems tool to analyse a given objective system participate through reflecting on own participation in group processcollect relevant hard data and analyse its relevance1.transmit descriptive information listen read and understand concepts articulate own opinionsIdentify and reflect on learning processes using the Kolb learning cyclecomplete a task with the resources provided express a sense of connectednessparticipate in processes (e.g. learning, group activities)conduct a task as a research process  Appendix 4 Project orientation: The student provides evidence which demonstrates that a project has been initiated in collaboration with a client community. The student provides evidence in which the process used to identify the needs or issues in the community is made clear. Systemic Thinking: The student can demonstrate that a human activity system model was developed and presented to the client community for discussion and decision-making, leading to appropriate action. Or The student shows that a hard systems approach has been used in which a systems model is used to analyse and present an agricultural production system to the community for decision-making, leading to appropriate action. Learning: The student shows that he/she has reflected on and can articulate his/ her own learning styles and processes developed and used during the course of the placement, using the Kolb learning cycle. The student also demonstrates an awareness about what he/she still needs to know for further situation improvement. Communication: The student compiles a well-structured written report in clear English, with appropriate appendices, using a word-processor. The student is able to conduct an oral presentation using visual aids appropriately. The student provides evidence in the written report that technical knowledge has been meaningfully communicated to meet the needs of the client community. Either Research: The student demonstrates that he/she has selected a suitable research method and applied it in the collection and interpretation of data for the situation improvement project. Or Participatory Methods: The student provides evidence of how a participatory method was used in defining and initiating a project with the client community. Appendix 5 Rural Resource Management 330 & 340 Documentation for assessment For your assessment for these modules (your placement with rural communities), the onus is on you to demonstrate to the examiners that you have gained competence in the each of the capabilities which we have formulated for this module (see attachment). (Please note that the first four capabilities are compulsory - i.e. project orientation, systemic thinking, learning and communication; you can then choose to focus on either research or participatory methods). Below are some guidelines to help you do this: We suggest that while you are on your placement you (individually or collectively) collect the following documentation: a logbook of all the activities, meetings etc. which you engaged in with the community, a personal diary where you note your own feelings and reflections on the process of your community involvement, paying special attention to your own learning any public documents which are produced as a result of your involvement, e.g. minutes of meetings, letters, constitutions, human activity system models, project proposals. On returning from your placements, on agreed upon dates, you will be expected to submit a portfolio worth 55% (20% for each of the 5 capabilities), and one week later to give a presentation on your portfolio which will be worth 45%. Your presentation will be followed by a brief interview by the panel of examiners during which they will question you about your presentation and portfolio. Below are some guidelines for preparing your portfolio and presentation. Please note that these are only guidelines, if you have other creative ideas about how you would like to present your work and demonstrate your capabilities, please speak to the course co-ordinator about this: Portfolio: Your portfolio should have 2 sections. Section 1 should include a report on your community placement in which you describe: how you prepared yourself for your placement, how you established credibility in your community, how you negotiated a process to enable the community to identify issues for improvement, how you worked with the community to initiate action for situation improvement, what you think you achieved through your placement and what still needs to be done. Section 2 should include your own reflections on your experience. What did you learn from the experience, what did it reveal to you about the way you learn? What did you learn about your own strengths and weaknesses? What do you still need to learn in order to become a capable development practitioner? You should include any relevant documentation from your community involvement in appendices attached to the portfolio, these should be referred to and explained in the context of your report and reflection. The portfolio including appendices should be 20 - 40 typed pages long, it should be well-structured, neatly presented and bound and include a table of contents and a list of references. When compiling your portfolio, remember that you are aiming to demonstrate your achievement of the capabilities, so refer to them, explain what you understand by them and show how you met their requirements through your placement. Your portfolio will be marked by the course co-ordinator and the external examiner Presentation Your presentation should capture the essence of your portfolio, giving attention to both sections. In preparing your presentation, note the following: Good communication is one of the capabilities which the examiners will be looking for, so give attention to speaking clearly, to the point and to listening carefully to the questions. You may make use of visual aids - overhead transparencies, photographs, diagrams etc. if you wish. Your presentation should take at most 20 minutes, with 10 -15 minutes thereafter for discussion. The interview panel will consist of the course co-ordinator, one other academic who teaches on the programme, a potential employer (e.g. some one from an NGO, a government department or industry) and possibly a community representative. So, take note of your audience and remember that they will be using the list of capabilities to judge your performance. Both your portfolio and your presentation will be graded using the following scale: Merit: The student has demonstrated high levels of understanding and competence in all of the required capabilities and has shown that these have been well integrated in the completion of the tasks. The student has shown that s/he is capable of thinking reflexively and systemically and theoretical concepts have been applied appropriately. S/he can accurately self-assess and formulate ways of self-improvement. Pass: The student has demonstrated adequate levels of competence in all required capabilities, but has not always been able to integrate these into a holistic understanding of the issues. Concepts are known but are not always applied or transferred appropriately. The student has shown that s/he is capable of self-reflection, but her judgements are sometimes misplaced or confused. Unsatisfactory: (Students in this category may negotiate to improve their work and re-submit). The student has demonstrated adequate levels of competence in at least two of the core capabilities but further work is required in others. The student has failed to prove that s/he fully understands some of the capabilities and can appropriately apply theoretical concepts to a real-world situation. Self-reflection is not carried out an a sustained and meaningful manner. Fail: (Students in this category are not permitted to re-submit, and are advised to repeat the module). The student has failed to demonstrate adequate levels of competence in at least two of the core capabilities. The student has not tackled the tasks appropriately, s/he does not appear to understand the meaning of the capabilities as applied to a community development context and s/e has shown fundamental misunderstandings in the application of theory. S/he has failed to demonstrate reflexive or systemic thinking.  Assistance in the construction of the curriculum was also provided by Elwin Turnbull and Roger Roberts of the School of Agriculture and Rural Development, University of Western Sydney (Hawkesbury)  Workshop participants were Noel Oettle, Thembi Ngcobo, Les Lax, Mphoya Thobela, (all of the Farmers Support Group, which is part of the SRCD); Raymond Ngcobo, Christine MacDonald, (of the Department of Sociology); Sid Luckett, (School of Rural Community Development) and Monique Salomon, (University of Zululand - external examiner). The workshops were facilitated by Kathy Luckett and Prof. Richard Bawden of the University of Western Sydney who was at the time at the University of Natal as part of an institutional links programme.  The programme was conceived from the beginning in terms of educating graduates to be employable and to be equipped to contribute to the reconstruction and development of rural South Africa. In this sense it is a vocational/ professional degree which no doubt makes it easier to conform to the SAQA requirements than may be the case for a more academic, disciplined-based qualification.  It would have been helpful to have had the SAQA level descriptors to guide us at this stage. It is not yet clear what levels of competence/ capability are expected at each of the NQF levels 5 - 8.  None of this means that we are opposed to the aims of the NQF, we fully support it as a means of widening access, of legitimising and controlling the quality of all educational providers and sectors, of giving equivalent weighting to education and training and of facilitating the vertical and horizontal portability of credit.  We suggest that the HE sector should only expected to register whole programmes on the NQF and to specify learning outcomes not smaller than the over-arching/ critical outcomes for the whole programme.     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