Approach to Learning & Academic Work

East Africa University Approach to Learning and Academic Work

 

1.      Applying Learning Outcomes to Design Courses and Assess Learning

 

It is known that HE learning comprises complex mixtures of knowledge, understanding, skills and broader capabilities that can be demonstrated and assessed. It also embodies values, attitudes and behaviour that are part of the student’s academic performance.

 

East Africa University encouraged an HE approach which is explicit about the nature of the learning that programmes intended to promote. The university implements a learning outcomes approach in order to promote a positive learning environment.

 

In a HE learning environment, instructors are expected to be able to show how:

 

  1. The educational outcomes for a programme and learning in a course that are achieved;
  2. The appropriate assessment methods that are used to test the achievement of the intended outcomes;
  3. The criteria used to judge achievement are aligned to the intended learning outcomes.

 

2.1  Learning Outcomes

 

From the students’ perspective, the outcomes approach communicates what they are expected to be able to do and the criteria that will be used to assess them:

 

  1. An outcome is a result or consequence of an action or process.
  2. A learning outcome is what results from a learning process.
  3. Intended learning outcomes are statements that predict what the learners will have gained as a result of learning.

 

2.2  Vocabulary of Course Design

 

Learning outcomes are the actual results of learning.

 

  1. Goal: Broad purposes or goals which generally are achievable goals at the level of the courses.
  2. Objectives: The specific steps which lead towards the goals.
  3. Intended learning outcomes: What students will know and be able to do as a result of engaging in the learning process.

 

3.      The Outcomes Approach to Learning

 

The outcomes model is predicated on a system where teaching and learning are aligned in a way to connect the following three components.

 

  1. The explicit statement of learning intent: The intended learning outcome expressed in a form that permits their achievement to be demonstrated and measured.

 

  1. The process and resources: Resource used to enable the outcomes to be achieved and demonstrated (e.g. Curriculum, teaching, learning methods and materials, assessment and support and guidance methods);
  2. The criteria for assessing: The means which have been used to assess the achievement of intended outcomes.

 

4.      Learning outcomes and the theory of constructive alignment

The constructive alignment (Biggs 1999) approach to learning helps define, design, promote and assess students’ learning. The approach connects the abstract idea of a learning outcome to the things the instructor do to help students learn, and the things that students do to actually learn.

 

The outcomes approach requires to pose and answer the questions (Biggs, 1999):

 

  • What the instructor intend students to learn (what learning outcomes do the instructor want to achieve)?
  • What teaching methods and curriculum design will the instructor use to encourage students to behave in ways that are likely to achieve these outcomes?
  • What assessment tasks and criteria tells the instructor that students have achieved the intended outcomes?

 

4.1 Types of learning

 

Learning outcomes are often presented in terms of different types or categories of learning. They include the following categories (Biggs, 1999):

 

  • Knowledge
  • Understanding
  • Skills: variously described as:
    • Cognitive skills
    • Subject specific skills (including practical/professional skills)
    • Transferable skills
    • Employability skills
  • Capabilities
  • Values (others often link values with attitudes)
  • Personal development
  • Progression to employment and/or further study

5.      Creating a ‘Culture of Engagement,’ to Promote Learning

 

The University promotes a learning assessment to promote a ‘culture of engagement’. By promoting learning, EAU believes emphatically in the importance of learning.

 

There is clear evidence to show that the student to achieve academic success, he/she must be engaged fully and providing with the resources and instructional support materials to help achieve success.

 

EAU works at the forefront of engaging students in quality assurance and enhancement as we believe that by engaging the student, we can play a positive role in ensuring that students get the best possible educational experience

Standards for teaching and learners are the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective learning practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results. As standards focus on professional learning, they also help the principle of professional learning to develop the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions which are meant to help students perform at higher levels.

 

The professional learning that occurs when these standards are fully implemented make educators as active partners in determining the content of their teaching, how their teaching occurs, and how they evaluate its effectiveness.

 

6.      Standards of Teaching and Learning

 

The standards give educators the information they need to take leadership roles as promoters and facilitators of effective professional learning and the conditions required for success learning environment.

 

There are a number of advantages using institutionally derived or teacher derived materials for a course:

 

  1. Relevance: Materials can be shaped to be relevant to students’ and institutional needs.
  2. Develop expertise: Developing materials can help create knowledge for educators by giving them a better understanding of the characteristics of effective materials.
  3. Reputation: The materials may boost the reputation of the institution by showing its commitment in producing materials adapted for the student.
  4. Flexibility: Materials produced within the institution can be revised or adapted as needed, giving greater flexibility for future improvement.

 

7.      Benchmarking

 

In terms of approach, EAU applied benchmarking methodology which compares its educational approach to the higher educational institutions in the following area:

  1. International: UK and United States.
  2. Middle East: Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc.
  3. Regional: Somaliland

 

Benchmarks are reference points or measurements used for comparison, usually with a ‘good’ standard against which comparison can be made. It is a process of finding good practice and of learning from others.

 

The type of benchmark EAU uses process benchmarking which seeks to use the metric benchmarking output as a basis for understanding the apparent performance gap. This involves focusing on the examination and comparison processes and will often be undertaken on a collaborative basis between functional units within the university or with another university with the aim of identifying best practice.

 

A benchmark is a process through which practices are analysed to provide a standard measurement of effective performance within the university. It also used to compare performance with other institutions.

 

Based upon the key principles of credential evaluation, the first stage of benchmarking involves a review of qualification aims, entry requirements, duration, structure and content, learning outcomes, modes of learning and assessment, and associated outcomes.

 

7.1 Benchmarking types

 

  1. Metric benchmarking: Provide the information to categorise those areas where there is an apparent performance gap. Metric benchmarking regularly needs additional inquiry in order to understand the results. It is often done independently by comparing one’s own performance statistics with similar statistics for other functional units or organisations derived from a data set.
  2. Process benchmarking: Seeks to use the metric benchmarking output as a basis for understanding the apparent performance gap. This involves focusing on the examination and comparison processes and will often be undertaken on a collaborative basis between functional units within the university or with another university with the aim of identifying best practice.

 

8.      Undertaking Research, Innovation and Academic Freedom

 

In EAU, academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can participate in the intellectual debate and task without fear of censorship or retaliation.

 

Academic freedom determines faculty members’ rights to maintain a pedagogical philosophy and intellectual commitments. It sustains the intellectual integrity of the educational system.

 

Academic freedom comes in may forms:

 

  1. Research: Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to do research on the topics they choose, and to draw what conclusions they find consistent with their research,
  2. Teaching: Academic freedom in teaching means that both faculty members and students can make judge subjects taught and any field of human knowledge or period of history.
  3. Expressing view: Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to express their views without fear of sanction

 

We believe that researchers should share the responsibility for and become proactive to be engaged in their own personal and career development and lifelong learning. The University is committed to supporting them within the context of our institutional strategic plan.

 

To protect academic freedom, EAU oppose efforts to block dissemination of research findings. Academic freedom can affect many things. Some of these are:

 

Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to express their views — in speech, writing, and through electronic communication, both on and off campus — without fear of sanction, unless the manner of expression substantially impairs the rights of others or, in the case of faculty members, those views demonstrate that they are professionally ignorant, incompetent, or dishonest with regard to their discipline or fields of expertise.

 

  1. Study: Academic freedom gives both students right to study and do research on the topics they choose, and to draw what conclusions they find consistent with their research. Nevertheless, others are not prevented judging work.
  2. Freedom from harassment: Academic freedom means that the political, religious and other public members cannot restrict the researcher’ work.
  3. Thinking: Academic freedom protects faculty members and students from reprisals for disagreeing with administrative policies or proposals.
  4. Challenges: Academic freedom gives faculty members and students the right to challenge one another’s views, but not to penalise them for holding them.

 

9.      EAU Recognition of the Value of Researchers

 

EAU recognises the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research and teaching.  We value researchers as an essential part of our human resources and a key component of our overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.

 

We aim and researchers who are equipped with diverse, research environment. We believe the importance of researchers’ development, and lifelong learning can promote our values and educational reputation.

 

EAU promotes diversity and equality must in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers.

 

10.  EAU Policy on Publications and Peer Review

 

EAU encourages its researchers to use peer review as the process is subjected professional scrutiny their field.

 

Peer review is seen as a process of subjecting a researcher’s academic work to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.

 

Despite that peer review is seen with some perceived bias by some editors and/or reviewers, we believe it is the best way to produce good quality research works.

 

Within the scientific community, peer review has become an essential component of the academic writing process as it to ensure that papers published in scientific journals answer meaningful research questions and draw conclusions based on professionally executed experimentation.

 

One major reason to go through the peer review process  is that peer-reviewed articles provide a trusted form of scientific communication.

 

It is commonly known that scientific knowledge is a cumulative work which on itself by creating trust.

 

Last modified: December 2016.