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FACE-IT: Fostering Awarenness on program Contents in higher Education using IT tools
Fostering high-quality Higher Education (HE) requires strengthened quality assurance in the design, implementation, execution and evaluation of HE programs (HEPs). This quality assurance process involves multiple stakeholders with different perspectives and conceptualizations:
- PROGRAM BOARDS plan and design curricula mostly in terms of ILOs, PLOs and TLAs

- ADMINISTRATORS evaluate programs and communicate with other stakeholders
- TEACHERS develop, revise and implement courses, mostly based on the taught procedures and concepts (PCs)
- STUDENTS are naturally inclined to see course and program contents through PCs.

Unfortunately, the efficacy of quality assuring HE is currently limited by the heterogeneity of the tools and conceptualizations of the stakeholders. To improve this, we identify the need for tools that: 1) aid executing the HE quality assurance processes; 2) support decision makers in maintaining HEPs; 3) clarify the relations between ILOs, PLOs, and TLAs to all stakeholders; 4) promote awareness about program contents and their relations; 5) establish a common language among stakeholders.

Our main objective is to develop tools that solve these needs, improve the quality of education and increase the employability of our candidates by helping:
- students to understand how the contents of different courses connect and expand on each other - teachers and program boards to improve their awareness of how course contents flow within the program and contribute to the PLOs

- administrators to inspect and assess program quality
- all stakeholders to establish a common language to ease their communication.
To achieve our goals we involve participants from STEM faculties from different backgrounds, geographic areas, and academic cultures.

The consortium includes:
- NTNU, hosting several educational centers whose scope and expertise overlap with the intentions of the Face-IT project, has considerable expertise in the development and quality assurance of HEPs, and hosts Norway's largest academic environment within teacher education and educational research at the Department of Teacher Education;

- Uppsala University (UU), renown for its excellence in research and teaching and its long lasting traditions, with broad research and development activities in pedagogy, teaching, and related topics;

- University of Padova, with broad expertise in innovative teaching and learning in the framework of active learning, in the development and creation of MOOCs, and with a constant strive for improving teaching and learning, involving students’ voices and promoting change at different levels.

- Otto-von-Guericke University, with a broad expertise in fostering multi-cultural, multi-gender and disparate student audiences in its teaching, and with multi-disciplinary programs that combine several aspects of modern knowledge;

- the Universite´ Libre de Bruxelles, with its peculiarity of offering several interfaculty programs shared with other HE realities, such as the Solvay Business School, and a wide range of multi-disciplinary projects.

Towards our goals, we plan to introduce a language that enables teachers and students to describe program contents in the intuitive terms of PCs and investigate how to connect them to the associated PLOs, ILOs, and TLAs. This language will enable representing the students’ learning process as flows of PCs, that will capture graphically how course contents are expected to ladder in time, and thus represent entire programs in an alternative and quantitatively analysable fashion.

The developed methods will be implemented in easily usable and interpretable IT tools that provide actionable information and decision-making support to each stakeholder. The tools will be tested on several course- and program-wide field tests. All results will be disseminated through two multiplier events at NTNU and UU, and through scientific open access publications and a dedicated project website.

The project will thus produce intellectual outputs including methods to: derive ontological descriptions of PCs in HEPs; merge PCs with TLAs, ILOs, and PLOs into knowledge flow graphs; represent and analyse courses and programs in terms of these flows graphs. These outputs will thus support defining program contents in a way that every stakeholder can relate to, promoting thus acceptance and usage.

This project will revolutionize how to develop, assess and manage HEPs and courses by empowering and engaging the stakeholders with a particular attention to students and teachers: students will indeed be more aware of why they study what they study, enabling them to perform self- assessment on their knowledge in relation to upcoming courses. Teachers will be supported in implementing constructive alignment principles and maintain overall program consistency. Our tools will also help executing quality assurance operations, and help universities to share information among them and with society.

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