22 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Exhibition
General Poster Session during Lunch
Measuring competencies in higher education has largely been neglected in international empirical education research, despite the increasing importance of tertiary education to society. To model and to measure academic competencies as well as their preconditions and effects in a valid and reliable way sets a high threshold for research methodology (see contributions in Blömeke, Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, Kuhn & Fege, in press). The existing research deficit is thus partially caused by the high complexity that defines academic competencies of graduate and PhD students owing to the inter- and intra-national diversity of study models, education structures, and teaching performances in the tertiary sector. Another challenge is the question of a suitable or appropriate criterion (i.e. future job requirements) that assists evaluation of the acquisition of competencies. Potential job areas and requirements of academics change constantly.
An analysis of the international state of research (cf. Kuhn & Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, 2011), however, shows that approaches to a structural stabilization of empirical higher education research do exist (cf. Tremblay, in press, on OECD’s feasibility study “Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes” (AHELO)). At the same time these studies reveal the challenges of higher education research that relies on competence measurements being met.
In order to close the research even further, experts from different disciplines will work together and network nationally as well as internationally on a joint multi- and interdisciplinary research program while integrating different methods. In 2010, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the funding initiative “Modeling and measuring competencies in higher education (KoKoHs)” in order to contribute to the development of high-quality research on higher education. It provides incentives to focus on basic competence research by testing student and PhD achievement in the tertiary education sector.
The three main goals of the funding initiative are
- to maintain the performance of the German tertiary education system in the face of growing international competition
- to contribute to international competence research in higher education, and
- to create a framework for an evaluation of higher education effectiveness so that evidence-based policy decisions and institutional measures can be taken.
An understanding of “competencies” as the latent cognitive and affective-motivational underpinning of performance, as defined by Weinert (2001), represents the theoretical framework of the newly initiated research program KoKoHs. Competencies in this context include cognitive dispositions, that is, academically gained knowledge, as well as motivational, volitional and social dispositions to apply the gained knowledge flexibly in different situations. Another conceptual trademark of KoKoHs is its focus on domain-specific and generic competencies.
In order to connect the funding activities to international research activities and to use synergies purposefully, KoKoHs covers important university subjects or domains. A quantitative selection criterion in this context was the total number of students enrolled. With this in mind, individual projects in the following subjects or study areas are funded: Engineering; Teacher education in STEM subjects; sociology and economy; teacher education in social science subjects; educational science and psychology; academically taught generic competencies (e.g. analytical thinking).
Blömeke, S., Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Kuhn, C., & Fege, J. (Eds.) (in press). Modeling and measuring competencies in higher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Kuhn, C., & Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O. (2011). Assessment of competencies among university students and graduates – Analyzing the state of research and perspectives. Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Arbeitspapiere Wirtschaftspädagogik [working paper: business education], 59. Tremblay, K. (in press). OECD Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO): Rationale, challenges and initial insights from the feasibility study. In S. Blömeke, O. Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, C. Kuhn, & J. Fege (Eds.), Modeling and measuring competencies in higher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Weinert, F. E. (2001). Concept of competence: A conceptual clarification. In D. S. Rychen & L. H. Salganik (Eds.), Defining and selecting key competencies (pp. 45–65). Seattle, WA: Hogrefe & Huber.
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