University of Technology Sydney: Utilising accreditation to inform Assurance of Learning processes (Business School)
AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) requires Business Schools seeking accreditation to have Assurance of Learning processes in place to demonstrate that students achieve learning expectations for the degree programs in which they participate.
Assurance of Learning in the five Business discipline groups at UTS is focused on programs. It involves making expectations for what a student can do on completion of a program explicit, setting criteria and standards and systematically gathering, analysing and interpreting the evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations.
Further details: This is an example of a whole of program approach in which the development and assessment of communication skills (CS) is distributed across the teaching program and takes place through cumulative milestones within the students’ courses. It incorporates development and assessment of CS within disciplinary teaching, delivered in a staged process.
Stage 1: Developing Program Learning Objectives (PLOs) aligning with Graduate Attributes and meeting external standards (AQF, professional body and accreditation). Communication and Interpersonal Skills is the Business School’s Graduate Attribute 3 (of 5): ability to usecommunication skills (reading/writing and listening/speaking) to work with others and be self-reflective.
Stage 2: Mapping core subjects across programs: After the PLOs have been developed, the course team identifies which core subjects are best placed to contribute to achieving each PLO and which subject assessments are the most appropriate to assure the learning. Particular attention is given to ensuring that that the proposed assessment task produces evidence of the knowledge/skills referred to in the PLO. Alignment between the assessment task and the PLO must be explicit. The sequencing of subjects also reflects the sequence of introducing, developing and assuring learning. Assurance of learning takes place in the latter stage of a course.
* Example of Stage 2: PG Master of Management program mapping. PLO 3.1 written, 3.2 oral, 3.3 interpersonal CS (link or screen shot)
Stage 3: Data collection and reporting: Subject coordinators submit grades for each PLO to the Discipline Manager who uses the data to produce a report template for each subject that is assuring a PLO. This then is sent back to the subject coordinator to be completed, including copy of assessment task, rubric and assessment examples for review by Program Directors. A summary of all subject coordinator reports by the Teaching and Learning Manager is submitted to the relevant discipline group Teaching and Learning Committee, including review of identified problems and any PLOs with skewed distribution results.
Stage 4: Closing the loop: responding to the Assurance of Learning data, collating and analysing data to note achievements and document actions. The data produced in Stage 3 allows opportunity to focus on modifications of learning and teaching approaches to improve student performance in identified GAs at subject, course and faculty level. Programme Directors inform the Discipline Group Teaching and Learning Committee of actions proposed to address subject/course specific issues. The Discipline Group Teaching and Learning Committee informs the Faculty Teaching and Learning Committee of Assurance of Learning processes and resulting actions and impact across courses delivered by the Discipline Group. The Faculty T&L Committee uses the reports to revise Assurance of Learning processes and advise Faculty
Board on future teaching and learning strategies within the faculty.
UTS uses Assurance of Learning data to meet some of the standards that are addressed in the Continuous Improvement Review, for reaccreditation of AACSB. External moderation is a requirement of AACSB accreditation.
The Business School’s goal of continuous improvement in all aspects of operation has identified actions in regard to
Redesigning rubric design, moving it from generic to embedded within disciplines that will enable closer work with disciplinary specialists identifying milestones to address professional standards.
This whole of program approach is a scalable and sustainable practice as responsibility for assuring graduates’ threshold standards for communication skills is distributed across the teaching programs in the five Business School Discipline Groups. Teaching and learning practices enabling introduction, development, or assurance of CS are integrated into the designated subjects. The Assurance of Learning process focuses on continuous mapping, using the evidence base of robust data to inform subject and assessment design, and modify teaching and learning approaches to improve student performance in identified GAs at subject, course and faculty level.