Session Three: Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

Brigitte Forster Vosicki, Université de Lausanne

Strategies for innovation in higher education language teaching and learning Freie Universität Berlin, 10-11 October 2008

Relevant learning outcomes

What are relevant learning outcomes for higher education language studies, given: - new socio-economic needs and - the quality criteria of the Bologna process both of which introduce major changes in the European higher education sector

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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

Structure
Reference points for learning outcomes :
I. European educational policy issues: quality criteria of the Bologna process and the option taken in general European educational policy in response to socio-political and economic transformations

II. Theoretical foundations determining the constitutive elements of plurilingual et pluricultural competence III. Specific language use activities of students and graduates in relevant domains (academic, professional, social) IV. Characteristics of a local situation

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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

Reference points in relation to I. European educational policies

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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

I. European educational policies

First underlying principle : Plurilingualism

The specification of plurilingual and pluricultural competence has to be considered the founding principle of all university language studies

Why? What has changed?
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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

I. European educational policies

Pluriligualism and internationalisation • Bologna process
An answer to new needs related to socio-political and economic changes and internationalisation processes at different levels (European integration, economic globalisation on the European and international labour market, new communication technologies, internationalisation of education and research)

• As a result of these changes there is increasing interaction in multilingual and multicultural environments Need for mutual comprehension in a context of diversity
Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

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I. European educational policies

Plurilingualism and political options • Need for new qualifications to solve current problems: new key competencies • An adequate plurilingual competence is considered necessary to achieve political objectives
– Lisbon Strategy: employability, competitivity in a knowledgebased society – European integration: fairness, inclusion, participation, personal development in a constantly changing environment, etc.

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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

I. European educational policies

Pluriligualism as a resource • Responsibility of universities
To develop this key competence in relation to the specific needs of students and graduates and in the perspective of lifelong learning, in order to be able to adapt rapidly to changing needs and a more and more interconnected and complex economy and society

An appropriate plurilingual and pluricultural competence is a necessary resource for students and graduates:
• To study, live and work throughout multilingual and multicultural Europe • To manage a diversity of multilingual and multicultural situations in the academic, professional and social world

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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

I. European educational policies

Second underlying principle : action-oriented approach • From input to output – away from the transmission of knowledge and towards the development of competencies, reflected in the definition of learning outcomes • Learning outcomes: statements in terms of skills and competencies of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to do at the end of a period of learning (Framework of qualifications for the EHEA 2005:29)
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Definition of learning outcomes for higher education practical language study

I. European educational policies

An action-oriented approach • From the point of view of the user as a social agent – tasks to accomplish in a specific environment and given circumstances – includes also cognitive, emotional, interpersonal competencies, attitudes and ability to learn • Students and graduates must be able to act effectively in multilingual and multicultural situations

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I. European educational Policies

Third underlying principle : transnational readability and comparability • Learning outcomes – have to be described in a transnational manner using transparency tools such as competence descriptors related to common European reference levels – Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEFRL • The non specialist understands what a student is able to do and how well he can do it

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Reference points in relation to II. Theoretical foundations

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II. Theoretical foundations

Definition Plurilingual competence means: being competent, at different levels, in more than two languages
• It includes all languages, also the mother tongue • Languages are not separated from each other but are in a complex interrelationship - plurilingual repertory – which in its entirety represents a resource in order to be able to act in diverse use situations • It is always used and constructed by and inside social interaction • It is composed of a dynamic and complex ensemble of constantly evolving components
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II. Theoretical foundations

Components of plurilingual competence • All components have to be developed consciously: especially intercultural competence and the capacity to learn in order to develop lifelong learning competences • Or there must be awareness that they are partial skills • What is missing : still monolingual approach, nowadays often not monolingual situations but plurilingual: more than one language is used at the same time in the communicative process
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II. Theoretical foundations

Translingual competences A plurilingual approach has to integrate more visibly translingual competences and multiliteracy. Learning outcomes in this direction could be:
• To make use of the different languages in one's own repertory in order to understand a priori unknown oral or written texts • To treat in oral and written form in one's own language or another language of the plurilingual repertory information from different oral or written sources in different languages • To make use of the lexical elements of other languages of the repertory to resolve communication problems • To transfer learning experiences of one or more languages to the learning of a new language

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II. Theoretical foundations

Consequences • Abandon monolingual approaches and the research of a homogeneous level in only one language (construction of plurilingual competence) • Collaboration between languages – take into account the learning process of the links between languages, interactive, student-centred approaches • Includes the need for a wide choice of languages – responding to political, economic, social, cultural, criteria

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II. Theoretical foundations

A real plurilingual approach

To develop consciously truly plurilngual and pluricultural competences is the real challenge for future language studies in universities

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Reference points in relation to III. Specific contribution of the HE sector to the plurilingual repertoire

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III. Specific contribution to the plurilingual repertoire

Core competences as reference points • Learning outcomes should take into account core descriptors relevant to competences needed by students and graduates:
– in the European and international labour market – in the academic domain – for social integration in relation with mobility

• Should be elaborated in cooperation with the stakeholders (employers, graduates, students, discipline teachers, etc) in order to ensure social relevance

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III. Specific contribution to the plurilingual repertoire

Core competences for the European labour market
TNP3/2 : Main skills and competences needed in a professional context • Participating in, and leading, meetings/negotiations • Understanding and interacting in job-related communication situations (e.g. hosting a visitor, telephoning, travelling, talking about your job, giving presentations, etc.) • Networking and collaborating in face-to-face and virtual environments • Communicating in order to manage international relations and customer contacts • Reading and writing e-mails and short factual texts • Understanding and interacting in important multicultural contexts (i.e. with an awareness of intercultural differences in communication) Real workplace communication
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III. Specific contribution to the plurilingual repertoire

Competences for plurilingual education

• Plurilingual and pluricultural competence overarching generic competence for all disciplines and all cycles as a mediator in the construction, the critical management and the communication of knowledge and the development of academic, discipline-specific and professional expertise • The expected outcomes have to take into account the objectives of the Bologna cycle descriptors

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III. Specific contribution to the plurilingual repertoire

Competences for plurilingual education Plurilingual competence in order to:
• Access and critically manage information and scientific knowledge • Interact in the context of discipline-specific programmes in order to understand, react, clarify, resolve problems in common • Be able to communicate knowledge and results in a structured manner within the framework of academic studies or in addressing a larger scientific community (publications, conference skills) • Act in multicultural contexts, treat and interpret information in a specific academic culture, develop plurilingual strategies) • Develop the capacity to learn
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III. Specific contribution to the plurilingual repertoire

Generic academic or discipline-specific ?

Should competences be specific to a given discipline (specific communicative activities, specific kinds of texts pertaining to a discipline, etc.) or more generic academic skills? Growing interdisciplinarity and changing professional profiles more generic academic skills

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Reference points in relation to IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

Factors • Specific geopolitical needs • National framework of qualifications • Institutional aims and strategies • Objectives of a given faculty • Prior knowledge and skills of the students • Preferences of the students

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

Which plurilingual and pluricultural profile? Define learning outcomes in universities and faculties • What profile should students and graduates have at the end of the learning period/cycle in a given discipline and why? • Faculties have to ask themselves (with the help of the European reference points) a series of questions in order to determine profiles relevant both to their specific situation and to the Bologna objectives

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to employability and professional integration • What are the typical career prospects and professional profiles of graduates, and what specific plurilingual and pluricultural skills and competences do they need in these professions in order to act and communicate in an appropriate manner and have maximum chances to succeed? • What competences do they need to develop in order to be able to update their professional expertise on a lifelong learning basis? • Are needs analyses allowing informed choices in use?
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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to academic skills and competences • What kind of plurilingual and pluricultural repertoire do students need in order to have optimal chances of success in their study and research projects in a multilingual and multicultural context? • What activities, texts and tasks in the context of their study programme are students confronted with?

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to mobility and social integration and local internationalisation • What kind of plurilingual repertory and intercultural competence do students and graduates need in order to participate actively in social life and pursue personal and cultural aspirations?
– Every day situations – Administrative situation at the university and in social life – Social life

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to lifelong learning skills

• What kind of generic learning competences do students and graduates have to develop in order to continue language learning effectively? • What kind of cognitive, metacognitive and strategic skills do they need to develop?

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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to entry and exit levels

• Are individually different plurilingual profiles possible as a resource for students and graduates responding to their personal aspirations and for society which needs a variety of language combinations (different individuals with different and competences in different languages)? • Is the attribution of ECTS appropriate in relation to expected outcomes?
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IV. Specific local situation and European reference points

In relation to the cycle

• What kind of profile is most appropriate for a specific cycle (BA, MA, Doctorate)?

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Update

Learning outcomes have to be constantly updated in order to integrate new research findings and the changing needs of the economy and society

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Thank you for your attention.

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practical language study

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