The Quality Assurance Commons is working with 27 programs from 14 higher educational institutions to co-design and pilot a new approach to program-level quality assurance that focuses on developing students’ Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs). These EEQs include:
- People skills such as collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural competence;
- Problem-solving abilities such as inquiry, critical thinking and creativity; and
- Professional strengths such as communication, work ethic and technological agility.
We have several research questions guiding this work, which we are addressing together during the pilot process, including:
- Do the draft criteria reflect the needs of students and employers and support program effectiveness?
- What are the most relevant and useful indicators of success for each criterion?
- What data are publically available, relevant, and useful in identifying program performance and outcomes vis-à-vis the criteria?
- What is the best way to validate and evaluate data provided by an institution or program?
- What are the best ways to connect program outcomes with institutional support services, such as career services, student advising, etc.?
- In what ways will the quality assurance process provide value to institutions and programs while not creating additional reporting burdens?
- How can EEQ Certification communicate program quality and performance successfully to students, employers, community members, and other external stakeholders as well as to the institution and/or program being reviewed?
- How might the certification approach best be aligned with other quality assurance processes, such as program reviews and regional, national, and programmatic accreditation?
We are also exploring the delicate but essential balance between developing a rigorous process so that a certification can be meaningful to employers and students with the reality of programs’ capacity.
What other questions should we try to address as we work with our partner programs to develop this approach? Let us know in the comments below!