Constructive alignment in internationally delivered dual awards: its role in ensuring standards across institutions

Cobham, David and Jacques, Kevin (2018) Constructive alignment in internationally delivered dual awards: its role in ensuring standards across institutions. In: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 12-14 November, 2018, Seville, Spain.

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Many Universities engage in Transnational Education (TNE) where their programmes are delivered at a branch campus located in an overseas country, or in partnership with a local higher education provider based in another country. There are many drivers for this approach including: the internationalisation of the home curriculum and student experience; the opportunity to promote student mobility through exchange programmes or short study experiences; demographic issues such as diminishing numbers of international students applying to study at the home institution; political factors including changes in immigration laws; financial objectives such as diversification of revenue streams building research or industrial networks; building the University brand overseas.

There are various models for TNE including validated programmes, franchised delivery, joint or dual degrees, dual awards, twinning arrangements.

This paper builds on previous work where one particular model for TNE, namely the dual award, was investigated. In this paper the authors turn their attention to the structural issues in the creation of a dual award. The paper investigates in depth a topic that arose and was touched upon briefly in previous work namely whether a programme of study is more than just the summation of its constituent learning outcomes.

The paper considers a novel implementation of a dual award whereby the curriculum followed by the students is the locally validated programme rather than the curriculum of the home institution. In order to make the award, the international partner curriculum has been mapped closely against that of the home institution. The mapping is carried out at a detailed level in order to establish that both the high level programme outcomes and the lower level module outcomes of the home institution’s programmes are all appropriately addressed by those of the international partner institution's curriculum.

The analytical approach adopted applies the work carried out on Constructive Alignment by John Biggs to evaluate the extent to which the mapping between curricula is sound and robust enough to ensure that standards at both institutions can be established and verified. Using Biggs approach, the authors put a clear focus on module level outcomes as being the locus of interest. From this point the coverage of programme level outcomes can be established and the application of student assessment can be monitored. By using module level outcomes as the key binding element within one programme, the horizontal relationship between module level outcomes in the home institution’s and the partner’s programmes provides the reassurance of comparability (the parity of standards) in the design of the programmes.

The paper concludes that through the application of constructive alignment a relative judgement can be made to satisfy the quality assurance requirements of both institutions and of external auditors. It goes on to pose an interesting follow-up question in that it may be possible to establish equivalence in standards but that there might be significant differences in the quality of the student experience.

Keywords:Constructive alignment, dual award, transnational education
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:Professional services > Vice Chancellors Office
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ID Code:34865
Deposited On:18 Feb 2019 10:34

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