The QA Commons is mindful of the dramatic and transformational impact COVID-19 is having on all institutions of higher education. As an organization, we are adapting our services to support preparing graduates for the workplace that is now changing more precipitously than ever.
The EEQ Pilot officially launched on September 14-15, 2017. One of the items we requested feedback on from our 27 pilot programs (and guest attendees) was the draft Criteria for Certification. Table groups used an initial self-assessment and review of the draft criteria to discuss and compile an initial set of guidance. Here are the themes that emerged from this feedback, and The QA Commons’ responses.
THEMES FROM FEEDBACK ON THE DRAFT CRITERIA FOR CERTIFICATION
Theme 1 Rigor – The group’s feedback indicated concerns about what was reasonable to ask programs to do and be responsible for. We recognize that what we are asking for in the criteria may in fact depend on program or institutional changes that may not be feasible at this time. (Example: Moving from a transcript to a more compressive student record system or ePortfolio.) We also believe that if this process and a resulting certification are to “change the conversation” and some of higher ed’s practices in support of students, and if a certification is to have value and meaning to employers and students, the criteria and review process need to be rigorous. We will continue to partner with our pilot programs to identify how we can best balance rigor and reality. (The next step to test this will be to analyze the findings from the Inventories of Practice & Evidence that pilot programs will submit later this fall.)
Theme 2 Requirements – Some of the criteria (the EEQs specifically) likely would require curricular or co-curricular re-designs that might conflict with, or add to, other existing program or institutional requirements for students. We understand this may be the case and we want to work with our pilot programs to explore ways we can prevent programs from “just adding more.” We do not want programs to just “add more” in order to be certifiable; we believe there are other ways that employability development can be accomplished, which may very well require some changes in practice.
Theme 3 Equity – As the participants noted, many of the criteria call for “all students” and “ensuring each student…” and this is by design. Along the same lines as rigor, we think that all students should in fact graduate with all of the EEQs (just as there are other graduation requirements that programs and institutions have). We also don’t want to establish criteria that inadvertently put some students at a disadvantage. During the pilot, we will rely on the assistance of the pilot programs to make sure we have not done so.
Theme 4 The EEQs (Graduate Profile) – The QA Commons team is still reflecting on the initial feedback provided to us on the EEQ Graduate Profile. For example, we still need to explore disciplinary perspectives and “levels” of learning, and we also need to work through employers’ feedback that we’re in the process of collecting. These qualities will eventually be refined, revised, and improved; for the purposes of completing the Inventory this fall, pilots will use the list as is — a general list of graduate attributes — with everyone’s acknowledgment that this is only Version 1 and we likely have several more to go.
Theme 5 Resources – The great feedback our pilots shared with us pointed us to the need to develop and disseminate resources to support some of these criteria, such as how to best engage with and collect meaningful data from alumni; models or good practices for employer partnerships; guidance for student engagement; and even example program designs. We hope to partner with many of the pilot programs — and others — to help develop these resources. For now, we have a very initial list of resources on our website – HERE. Please feel free to send any additional resources to add.
The QA Commons’ team would like to express our gratitude to our 27 pilot programs for their great ideas and critical perspectives on this project.
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