England needs meaningful modularity | Times Higher Education (THE)

After I was learning on the Open College (OU) within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, the dominant studying mannequin there was true modularity. You can put collectively a BA (Hons) from varied topics, and it was thrilling not understanding precisely which route your research would possibly take subsequent.

Subsequently, whereas working at this excellent establishment across the flip of the century, I noticed a normal motion in direction of a extra programmatic examine. This transfer made sense because it was pushed by pupil demand. However I checked out it with some remorse.

Now all UK universities have modules. Nonetheless, they haven’t any significant modularity as a result of they’ve none methods that enable learners to reap the benefits of its potential advantages. For a lot of causes, together with conventional “course-only” funding and the necessities {of professional}, authorized, and regulatory our bodies, most prescribed diploma applications are supplied to college students. In actual fact, we fairly skillfully created a sector wherein solely the disadvantages of modules – their self-isolation from one another – allowed to shine by.

In that respect I welcome them Government Response to Augar Review of post-18 funding in England, which was launched earlier this 12 months. The funding of smaller chunks of studying by a Lifelong Studying (LLE) entitlement, coupled with a better appreciation of partial {qualifications} at ranges 4 and 5, ought to push universities additional into precise modularity.

If the final response from universities is to easily revalidate their applications with 30 credit score modules, little will change in follow. However in the very best world, LLE will see the previous OU mannequin being embedded into normal larger training to enrich present diploma applications.

Too usually at English universities we cope with the limitation of prospects. Too usually we collide with the query “What do I’ve to do to go these exams?”. mannequin of “studying”. I might respect it if we additionally supplied the extra complete “I can not resolve which of those thrilling topics to check subsequent” mannequin To study. It goes with out saying that employability and employer relevance are drivers of the route of journey, however that does not imply that scientists cannot step in on the subject of determining the way it’s presupposed to work.

A significant problem would be the implications of an industry-wide drive for unitary equivalence in tier 4 and tier 5 assessments. It could be bitterly ironic if the pursuit of better provide flexibility had the unintended consequence of manufacturing extra homogenized (much less versatile) evaluation necessities. Homogenization means redundancy. There’s already numerous that, and we do not need extra. For instance, how usually is a social sciences pupil examined on their capability to reference their work throughout a three-year diploma?

When applications management their very own studying and educating methods, they stand a superb likelihood of curbing a few of the worst excesses of over-assessment and duplication. They will make sense of a suitably different evaluation food plan by way of a pupil’s profession all through a course. However when a module evaluation is designed as a standalone factor, it is tempting to make the duty safer and generic.

The sector urgently must cease complicated ‘evaluation’ with ‘follow’ and ‘studying’ in order that evaluation duties are seen as mandatory drivers of studying and a way for college kids to follow. If solely we might acknowledge that college students ought to study first, then follow and solely then be assessed, we might already be in a significantly better place to cope with the adjustments to come back. Briefly, we should pay greater than lip service to notions of genuine evaluation.

Elevated structural flexibility in training after 18 years is to be welcomed. Studying and educating will probably be enriched by the function universities might should play in a extra various, leveled discipline. However we have to think twice about the right way to get the most effective of each worlds: the programmatic and the modular. Moderately than simply rearranging the lounge chairs once more, that would imply making them utterly completely different.

Andy Grayson is an affiliate professor of psychology Nottingham Trent University.

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