Innovate or standardize? The challenges of creating educational diversity in a system of homogeneous practice

Ventura-Medina, Esther and Siperstein, Flor; (2022) Innovate or standardize? The challenges of creating educational diversity in a system of homogeneous practice. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

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Standards play an important role in professional, educational and institutional practices. Professional accreditation bodies establish standards to provide a benchmark for the profession across institutions. Currently, Universities prescribe programme structures, management of delivery and assessment of the individual modules; from how to formulate intended learning outcomes to how to assess their attainment. Although a holistic approach as to how to attain these standards is desirable, the reality is that in many cases the quality of education is based on few metrics that in some instances are biased. On the basis of these metrics decisions about the management of the educational business are made whereby uniformity, in teaching and assessment practices, is valued above innovation. The rigidity and uniformity of some practices affect the autonomy of educators as professionals with the potential to hinder their relationships with others in the institutional ecology and in turn the development of creative ideas. Many current educational practices are simply imposing standardization of learning that go against the grain of delivering on the development of graduates that are adaptable and resilient. How is it possible to train graduates to face uncertainty when all modules are delivered in the same manner? How can students learn to face new situations when they are faced with ‘uniform’ educational practices? Within rapid changing professions, how can institutions provide sufficient autonomy to educators while ensuring standards are met? In this work we explore trends for standardizing education and the impact these have on the professional agency of educators.

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