November 28, 2011
Implementation of Queen’s new Quality Assurance Processes (QUQAPs) is well underway as part of a province-wide transition aimed at enhancing the quality and improving the consistency of all undergraduate and graduate programs offered by Ontario universities.
At the heart of Ontario’s new quality assurance processes is an explicit requirement to articulate degree level expectations (DLEs). They are intended to define the discipline-specific knowledge and generic skills that students should possess to earn their degrees.
Developing and reviewing graduate and undergraduate DLEs will be an ongoing process and not only take place during the cyclical reviews of existing programs and the development of a new program.
“We encourage all instructors, faculty members and academic administrators to familiarize themselves with the degree level expectations appended to QUQAPs and to consider how the learning expectations and outcomes of their specific courses and programs currently help students develop and acquire the knowledge and skills they need to meet these expectations,” says Deputy Provost Susan Cole. “They can also think about ways DLEs can be more explicitly articulated and integrated into curriculum, and how they can be improved and kept current.”
DLEs are often first described in general high-level terms so that they represent the widest range of degree programs and degree levels (as they are found in our QUQAPs document). Thus, DLEs are required to address (as a minimum):
• Depth and breadth of knowledge;
• Knowledge of methodologies;
• Research and scholarship (graduate programs only);
• Application of knowledge;
• Communication skills;
• Awareness of limits of knowledge;
• Autonomy and professional capacity.
DLEs need also to be articulated in a program-specific or course-specific way so they are fully integrated into the curriculum. Instructors often intuitively know what they want their students to be able to do and to know by the time they complete their program. Developing a set of DLEs provides an opportunity to more explicitly articulate and define these expectations and outcomes, and help ensure they’re met.
Well-defined DLEs act as a guide to faculty and administrators as they develop or modify programs, courses and curriculum. They also provide a means for instructors to see how their individual courses fit with the larger aims of a degree program. There is no “one size fits all” way to achieve these aims - different teaching methods and approaches can be, and are expected to be, used. Equally as important, DLEs help students better understand the knowledge and skills they can expect to acquire in a specific degree program, which they can then articulate more easily to prospective employers.