Assurance of Learning (AoL)
Assurance of Learning (AoL), or outcomes assessment, ensures that our graduates achieve the goals and outcomes we say they will achieve when we advertise our degree programs. AoL is a means of holding ourselves accountable to delivering what we say we will deliver to students and employers, as well as a way of supporting the continuous improvement of our degree programs.
- AACSB: AACSB principles of accountability and continuous improvement support the AoL processes in the Business School. To maintain our AACSB accreditation, the Business School must have AoL processes implemented and run at least twice in all programs by the next maintenance visit in 2014.
- OECD: In January 2010 the OECD embarked on the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) initiative to examine whether graduates can achieve the outcomes promised to them in higher education degree programs.
- Australian government: In 2010 the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) was announced. It will set standards and monitor quality in Australian higher education institutions, with the likely inclusion of assessing learning and teaching outcomes achieved by recent graduates.
- University Strategic Plan 2011-2015: Strategy three is to initiate a University-wide program of curriculum renewal. This is to include articulation of outcomes and standards of degree levels.
- Business School 2011-2014 Learning and Teaching Strategic Goals: The first Business School learning and teaching strategic goal is to 'Introduce an assurance of learning process at program level in all programs'.
What is the Business School doing about AoL?
Associate Professor Michele Scoufis, the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, is overseeing and leading the support of assurance of learning in the Business School. The Associate Deans at each level are accountable for the AoL process their portfolios with the exception of Accounting which, due to its separate accreditation, is responsible for its own AoL process. Each coursework Program Director is responsible for following the AoL process for their degree program and documenting evidence of it.
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The Business School has developed a systematic approach to assurance of learning around ten guiding principles. These principles serve to optimise the benefits for continuous improvement and yet be parsimonious to support other demands on academics' time.:
- Ten assurance of learning guiding principles (September 2012)
The Business AoL Process
Being guided in part by the AACSB International White Paper on Assurance of Learning Standards: An Interpretation (November 2007), the Business School process follows the 'five steps':
- DEFINE student learning goals and outcomes
Program learning goals and program learning outcomes are defined for each program by the Program Director, in collaboration with colleagues, to align with a common set for each suite of programs. The latter include the undergraduate coursework suite (BCom, BComLibSt), specialist postgraduate coursework suite (MCom, MPAcc, MHR&IR, MIB, MIB&L, MLM, MTM, MMktg), pre-experience management postgraduate coursework suite (MMgt, MMgt CEMS), post-experience general management postgraduate coursework suite (EMBA, MBA) and research higher degrees. These are available on the Program Learning Goals and Outcomes webpage. This process may also be followed for majors, but is mandatory in the case of Accounting because of the Business School's unique Australian achievement of Accounting AACSB accreditation.
- ALIGN goals and outcomes with curricula
Program Directors and/or committees align the defined program goals and outcomes with the program curricula, mapping the introduction, practice and assessment of program learning outcomes in units of study throughout the program. This step will need to be recorded in the AoL Documentation folder (template below).
Unit learning outcomes are defined for each unit of study by Unit Coordinators and/or teaching team based on what program learning outcome/s are or could be addressed in their unit of study. This information will be incorporated into unit of study outlines.
- MEASURE student achievement of goals and outcomes
Unit Coordinators/teaching teams and/or Program Directors and/or committees identify instruments and measures to assess learning, specifically in the context of the program learning outcomes. This step will need to be recorded in the AoL Documentation folder (template below).
- ANALYSE outcomes assessment information
Unit Coordinators/teaching teams and/or Program Directors and/or committees collect, analyse and disseminate the outcome assessment information, noting areas of success and those requiring improvement. This step will need to be recorded in the AoL Documentation folder (template below).
- USE outcomes assessment information for continuous improvement
Program Directors and/or committees and/or Unit Coordinators/teaching teams use the outcomes assessment information to inform changes to the degree program and/or unit/s of study. This step will need to be recorded in the AoL Documentation folder (template below).
Documentation and evidence of our assurance of learning process is critical to maintain as it will be needed for audits by one of many possible stakeholders (e.g., AACSB, the Academic Board, AUQA/TEQSA, the G08 etc.).
Program Directors are responsible for creating a folder of program-specific evidence using the below AoL Documentation template as a guide.
- Associate Professor Michele Scoufis, the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, is the point of contact for any questions about AoL from Associate Deans, Program Directors and Unit Coordinators.
- Your relevant Associate Dean or Discipline Chair (in the case of Accounting) will be able to answer questions and provide advice.
- Associate Professor Mark Freeman, Director Accreditation, can provide an overview of how assurance of learning relates to policy making and the Quality & Accreditation Committee.
- Business School AoL Overview
- Business School's assurance of learning ten guiding principles (September 2012)
- Business School 'five steps' diagram: Define, align, measure, analyse, use
- Business School AACSB International Fifth-Year Maintenance Report for Business Accreditation Vol 1 Section V: Program Assessment and Assurance (login required)
- AACSB International White Paper on Assurance of Learning Standards: An Interpretation (November 2007)
- Program Learning Goals and Outcomes
- List of Business School coursework Program Directors