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Competency grid to serve as the basis for continuous development of degree programs

Competencies are here to stay. This concept has also become firmly established at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML). The objectives of its individual degree programs are geared towards the acquisition of competencies. The aim, in a nutshell, is to focus on outcome: what students are supposed to be able to do as a result of having completed a particular degree program. This has so far only been possible to a limited degree because program objectives at the SML build on the Qualifications Framework for the Swiss Higher Education Area, which has caused them to be rather generic.

A project has been launched by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to create competency grids that will record both students’ competency development as well as their actual competencies at the point of graduation. To this end, the Center has been working with heads of degree programs and other stakeholders (employers, among others) to generate a specific structure of objectives that is closely oriented towards the competencies graduates will actually need and to describe these in as much detail as possible.

Continuous Improvement Is the Goal

The competency grids that are being created will form the basis of a sophisticated competency-oriented assessment system which will contribute towards the continuous improvement of degree programs and have a significant impact by guiding all actors concerned. A suitable feedback system will provide heads of programs, instructors, and students with key information to help them tailor and further develop their teaching and learning activities. The project consists of several phases and covers Bachelor’s and Master’s programs as well as continuing education programs and courses. It will clearly define and delineate the individual levels. Since the competency grids are being developed with input from companies, there should be a high degree of legitimation on the part of future employers of SML graduates. This should also have a positive effect on the reputation of the SML in the employment market.