Interview with Ms. Catherine Vandermark, Branch Manager of the Higher Education Quality Branch in the Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations.
Why is your country interested in AHELO?
The Australian higher education sector and the Australian Government are very interested in the assessment of learning outcomes as an important shift towards focusing on outcomes for students, rather than inputs. The OECD study could provide a useful complement to other higher education ranking systems that are based mainly on research and/or reputation.
What specific challenges does AHELO present to higher education in your country?
Australia is well placed to participate in the feasibility study, particularly in the field of engineering, where there is a relatively high degree of professional agreement about expected learning outcomes.
Do you think some institutions in your country are worried over a new assessment tool such as AHELO? What would you tell them?
In preliminary teleconferences and meetings Australian universities have been very positive about the project.
What could be the benefit of AHELO for your country, the institutions, the students and the employers?
The potential benefits of AHELO for Australia include:
a contribution to institutional quality assurance and improved educational offerings;
better information for students, employers and parents on a range of matters from institutional choice to broad quality assessments; and
confirmation of Australia’s reputation as a provider of quality higher education.
What experience does your country bring to the assessment of HE learning outcomes?
Australia has an established track record in the development and application of educational assessment instruments including:
testing for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) administered through the OECD;
the Australian Graduate Skills Assessment (GSA) test;
the Australian Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ);
the Graduate Destination Survey (GDS).
Each of these is currently in use in Australia and is used to provide information to improve the quality of teaching and learning and inform policy and program development.
Countries participating in the AHELO feasibility study