What's the status on the Programme Standards?
In the autumn, the programme boards submitted Development Plans. The plans were then analysed by the Educational Advice and Quality Assurance (O&K) team. This analysis shows that the programme boards have taken a serious look at their curriculums. The study programme Religious Studies offers a glimpse into its plan. Several programme boards have already received substantive feedback; the other boards can expect to receive them in the coming period. In the Faculty Council of Wednesday 17 February, the progress regarding the Programme Standards was discussed as well.
The Programme Standards, what are they again?
The Programme Standards contain guidelines on how to structure the teaching offered at the Faculty of Humanities. The aim is to distribute the teaching effort in a transparent and fair manner. At the moment, the institutes still use their own 'lecturer task load model'. As a result, lecturers within the same study programme who are from different institutes are not always given the same number of hours of preparation for their teaching. It is not desirable to have such differences within one faculty. In addition, we want to structure the study programmes in such a way that the best possible education is offered in an efficient manner, so that we get the most out of our (limited) resources. The 'curriculum model', which was felt to be restrictive, has since been replaced by 'curriculum guideline', to better express that it is not a straitjacket but a guideline. A guideline that contributes to the dialogue about the way a study programme is structured.
Output from the Development Plans per study programme
The received Development Plans show that programme boards seriously got to work. The boards have provided substantiated information on the extent to which and the way in which the curriculums could be better aligned with the curriculum guideline. So far, the exercise has already yielded valuable information and new insights into the structure of teaching and the teaching workload within our faculty.
No short-term reduction of workload through Programme Standards
The Development Plans also show that a faculty-wide reduction of thirty to fifty courses can be achieved. This is too small a course reduction to achieve, in the short term, the intended 15% reduction in the time commitment required of lecturers and more equality in study programmes for students, as previously intended by the Faculty Board. The Faculty Council asked questions about this. The Faculty Board expects that in the long term, through efficiency resulting from the curriculum guideline and the fair distribution of teaching effort in accordance with the lecturer-education-time model, more workload reduction can be achieved.
Push for innovation at Religious Studies
One of the study programmes that has proposed a number of adjustments to its study programme is Religious Studies. This BA-programme has removed a course and placed its content in other courses where this content fits better. In addition, two courses of 5 ECTS have been merged into one course of 10 ECTS. 'The Programme Standards are not the only motivation, but they provide a useful framework for innovations in the programme that we were not quite able to resolve before,' says Religious Studies programme director Corey Williams. 'We had our assessment in 2019 and we already got started on some of that feedback. We also wanted to use aspects of our experiences with online teaching and flipping the classroom to innovate the study programme.
When these elements and the Programme Standards came together, we came up with a Development Plan which involves the removal of one course and the merging of two 5 ECTS courses into one 10 ECTS course. This will be a more project-based course in the third year of the BA-programme, in which students learn to work in a project-based way and in which they can go more in depth than in one 5 ECTS course. Our biggest concern when introducing the Programme Standards was a loss of quality, but with the proposed adjustments we can guarantee quality and achieve the desired innovation of the programme. It was a difficult task, however, especially considering the many educational challenges in times of Covid and the issue that we, as a programme board, could not discuss the options and consequences in an awayday. Talking face to face is much easier when it comes to these kinds of developments.'
Read more about the Programme Standards here if you want to learn more about previous developments.