Talk:OERu/Planning/OERu credit transfer and course articulation guidelines

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Comments on the Draft Guidelines for Credit Transfer and Course Articulation511:18, 2 October 2015
General discussion and feedback1501:31, 18 December 2014

Comments on the Draft Guidelines for Credit Transfer and Course Articulation

'From Rhiannon Tinsley, University of the Highlands and Islands:

Dear all I have reviewed the draft guidelines, and – as a newcomer to the Standing Committee and its work – I commend the work that has gone into these. I found them clear and well-structured, and the ‘definitions of concepts’ section particularly useful. The draft guidelines present no problems to us in terms of regulatory frameworks, whether at institutional or national level (Scotland and UK – I hope Jo Smedley at University of South Wales will agree with me here!). The guiding principles and code of conduct are both welcome and appropriate, particularly re institutional autonomy, and quality assurance considerations.

The implementation, development of processes and protocols, templates etc will be a key part of the development – but having the guidelines in place will enable this work to be achieved without overly-complicated documentation and bureaucracy.

I look forward to seeing the outcome from the OERu Partners Meeting in Oct.'


Thank you for reviewing the guidelines. I appreciate your careful attention to the details, and I am glad you did not have too much trouble with them. I agree that the implementation and the development of our processes will be challenges that still lie ahead.''

Marcsinger1 (talk)10:18, 19 September 2015

From Phil Ker, Chief Executive, Otago Polytechnic (Copy of email posted with permission.)

I have read through this and it presents as sound in all respects, but it does seem a tad complex eg I am not why we really need the three categories of transfer credit. Phil

Mackiwg (talk)11:29, 21 September 2015

Phil, thanks for your feedback.

Fair comment about the complexity of having 3 categories of credit transfer.

I believe these were introduced to assist with the information design of the model to be used for developing systems to communicate pathways of study on the OERu website. They should also simplify local work flow processes for partners who require individual articulation agreements to recognize transfer credit, fpr example if the credential is an "approved" OERu qualification, then the processes required for mapping and articulating the OERu qualification with the local credential does not need to be repeated each time a course is approved for credit transfer.

To simplify the generic guidelines, the operational detail regarding types of credit could be shifted into guidlines for bi-laterial or mutilateral articulation agreements which is still to be developed?

Mackiwg (talk)11:35, 21 September 2015

Feedback from Registrar at KPU submitted by Diane Purvey

Hi Diane,

I’ve had a chance to review the guidelines and think they’re very comprehensive. The issues that a Registrar’s Office would typically be concerned with have been touched on, with clear language and definitions. It’s clear (and heartening) that the guidelines are modelled after the BCCAT system.

Just a couple of comments to pass along:

  • In the Definitions and Concepts section the definition of a receiving institution states:
Receiving institution is the OERu partner which recognises transfer credit towards an approved credential at the receiving institution.
I realize the idea is to identify courses and credentials for which there is joint recognition and mobility. However, I wonder if it is limiting to include the statement specific to “towards an approved credential”? At KPU for example, we don’t only award transfer credit if it only applies towards a particular program (since students frequently change direction). We award everything for which we can determine a student should receive transfer credit and then how it is applied towards our credentials is a separate matter. I know it’s not like this at all institutions (some only specifically award credit if it applies to a particular credential, however I think KPU’s method provides more flexibility and ensures the transfer assessments are only done once, meaning we’re not touching a student’s record multiple times based on a student changing programs). As the OERu system grows, I wonder if there might be instances in which recognition of credit might be desirable, regardless of whether a specific credential is identified at the time of transfer? Just a thought.
  • Learner centeredness section: Although well intentioned, the first sentence should perhaps follow institutional policies and not be specifically laid out as it has been?

Hope the feedback is useful

Mackiwg (talk)14:26, 27 September 2015

Feedback from Jo Smedeley from University of South Wales posted on email list

I agree with Rhiannon that the draft guidelines present no significant problems. Obviously, there are often some localised aspects to consider with credit transfer but this information is a valuable framework to work within.

To make absolutely certain from an institutional perspective, the information is currently with our Academic Standards and Quality Service (ASAQS). When I receive a response from them, I will provide any further pieces of information which they highlight.

Good to see this progressing.

Any queries at this stage, please let me know.

Mackiwg (talk)11:33, 28 September 2015

Feedback from University of Wollongong Academic Quality and Policy unit

I’ve had a read through the proposed guidelines and don’t see any reasons why the guidelines could not work harmoniously with our institutional Credit Policy. The guidelines explicitly states that two of the guiding principle is Institutional Autonomy (specifically “OERu partners retain decision-making autonomy regarding all aspects of credit transfer, summative assessment practices and local pricing for assessment services”) and Institutional policy takes precedence (specifically, “OERu partners operate within the parameters of existing institutional policies but seek to promote common linkages, practices and articulation among partners to promote mobility of credentials for OERu learners within the network. This means that the OERu transfer system operates within local institutional residency requirements and/or any prerequisites for transfer credit.”)

While the terminology they use is quite different to how we describe things at UOW, the definitions do explain how they are intending the terms to be understood.

We should note that in addition to the requirements in the guidelines UOW requires the following:

Formal Credit Arrangements with Other Institutions

  1. "The University’s formal credit transfer arrangements with other institutions are listed on the University website.
  2. All of the University’s formal credit transfer arrangements with other institutions are approved and reviewed as part of the course approval and review cycle and in accordance with the Credit for Prior Learning Procedures.
  3. Types of Formal Credit Arrangements:
    1. Articulation arrangements enable students to progress from a completed qualification at a partner institution to UOW with credit and/or admission in a defined qualification pathway.
    2. Credit transfer arrangements provide students from a partner institution with agreed and consistent credit outcomes for components of a qualification based on identified equivalence in content and learning outcomes between matched qualifications.
  4. Articulation and credit transfer agreements within the provisions of this policy are approved by the relevant Executive Dean on the advice of the relevant Associate Dean, Head of School or Head of Students where appropriate.
  5. All such agreements with non-Australian education providers must be reported to the Transnational Education Strategic Alliances (TESA) Committee and the Director of Student Services and will be added to a central register of articulation agreements.
  6. All such agreements with Australian providers must be reported to the Director of Student Services and will be added to a central register of articulation agreements." (With attribution to the University of Wollongong - cited here under the provisions of fair dealing.)
Mackiwg (talk)11:18, 2 October 2015

General discussion and feedback

We invite feedback on the alpha release of the proposed OERu credit transfer system.

Mackiwg (talk)18:20, 1 November 2014

Under the "Code of Conduct," we have the following: "Staff or contractors used to provide summative assessment services for OERu learners for transcript credit at the sending institution have appropriate qualifications or expertise in the subject matter in accordance with the institution's policies for local teaching staff." I am not sure why it's policies specifically for local teaching staff that would dictate the acceptability of qualifications for those performing summative assessment services. I suppose that if we're talking narrowly about subject-matter experts involved with providing summative assessment services, that might be OK, but in some cases assessors need to comply with additional requirements (for example, experience with assessment, or experience teaching the specific course within the past year) not required of local teaching staff, and in other cases assessors might not have to comply with policies for local teaching staff, for example working on-site at least 60% of the time. The intent of this piece of the code is good--we want to make sure that assessment people are qualified, and we want to allow institutions to set their own requirements. It's just that I don't think we should dictate that local teaching staff policies should provide the standard for those requirements. How about "in accordance with the institution's policies on assessment"??

Mikahoffman (talk)07:01, 4 November 2014

Thanks Mika,

Thanks for the feedback. That is an important point.

The qualifications for teaching and assessment staff may be specified in different policies across the network (eg HR policy, Teaching and Learning Policy or Assessment Policy.)

I've revised and simplified the draft to read:

"Staff or contractors used to provide summative assessment services for OERu learners for transcript credit at the sending institution have appropriate qualifications or expertise in the subject matter and assessment in accordance with local institutional policy."

Mackiwg (talk)23:10, 5 November 2014

Very important observiations, Mika. The use of external assessors (even the acceptance of CLEP exams) has emerged recently as an issue in TRU's Faculty of Arts. In addition to the question of academic oversight, there may be union issues involved -- external assessors taking work away from faculty members.

OERucwihak (talk)13:34, 6 November 2014

Regarding the section Forms of summative assessment and design considerations: It is not completely clear what the intended distinction is between "proctored challenge examinations" and "automated testing." On one level, it seems to be a distinction between face-to-face and computer-based tests, but then some of the language also suggests a distinction between exams created ad hoc for a particular occasion and those created as part of an ongoing program. For the purposes of this document, I would suggest changing "proctored challenge examination" to "ad hoc proctored challenge examination" and emphasize the aspect of being designed locally for particular occasions; then rather than "automated tests" I'd say something like "standing exam programs," indicating that these exams are routinely available and not necessarily built for the specific purpose of challenging a specific course. Does that make sense?

Mikahoffman (talk)07:10, 4 November 2014

Hi Mika,

The original intention was to distinguish between computer assessed versus face-to-face "standing exam programmes" but your point is well made. Do we need three categories for challenge for credit examinations, for example:

  • Proctored standing exam programmes / challenge exams
  • Ad hoc proctored challenge exams and
  • Automated testing?

If so , do you have any suggestions or design implications for the ad hoc proctored challenge exams?

Mackiwg (talk)23:15, 5 November 2014

Hi Wayne--I think for our purposes there are four types of summative assessments: 1. Ad hoc exams 2. Standing exam programs 3. Assignments 4. RPL

Types 3 and 4 are essentially as we have them already in the chart. I would add to the "considerations" column for each of them, though, that care needs to be taken to write a transparent rating rubric. I would not want to see something as loose as "just write a paper and our faculty will grade it according to whatever individual standards they have"--the criteria on which the assignment is rated need to be clearly and transparently stated. Same goes for other forms of RPL.

Back to 1 and 2: echoing Marc's comment about proctoring, I'm assuming any exam would have to be proctored, whether on-line or face-to-face. The major distinction between 1 and 2 is that in ad hoc exams, the exams are typically written by faculty just for the one specific purpose, and it's important to ensure that the learning outcomes of the ad hoc exam are clearly stated. The issue for exams in standing exam programs is that the learning outcomes (which typically are pretty clearly stated) will need to be aligned with the outcomes of the course, since the type 2 exams aren't always written with the particular course exactly in mind.

Regarding face-to-face proctoring and testing centers, I think that's an overarching issue that can certainly be discussed, but isn't necessarily specific to any one type of exam.

Hope that helps, Mika

Mikahoffman (talk)05:25, 6 November 2014

Hello all--I admire the goals and governing principles of this document concerning credit transfer and articulation. I think they are not only appropriate but also ones that we can all aspire to. I particularly like the focus on learner-centeredness and the emphasis on institutional autonomy. I think both are the cornerstones of our future success, and of our ability to craft a transfer and articulation policy. However, I have two concerns beyond those raised by Mika (and I strongly second her concern about the distinction between proctored and automated assessments, considering the widespread availability of online proctoring):

1. In the US, we are simply not permitted to accept in transfer a transcripted credit from a non-US institution. All such transcripts (even from Canada now!) must be evaluated by an organization such as World Education Systems equipped to handle such evaluations, whether in English or not. Thus, we would not request articulation from another institution; instead, we would evaluate the course content ourselves to determine whether it aligns with our own course or program requirements. We could, of course, accept in transfer such OERu courses that are completed at one of the US partner institutions. But this is something we would already do.

2. The idea of notional learning hours is one that we in the US are moving away from, and a number fo institutions are already doing so via a competency-based approach. All of OERu's US partners are working on this. In this system, the basis for credentialing a student is the actual mastery of the learning outcomes identified in the course or program, and not the number fo hours it took for someone to complete the course. Such a measure, as far as we are concerned, tells you essentially nothing about a student's knowledge. To introduce this notion into the governing document here would be a step backward for us. The idea of RPL or PLA, for example, is antithetical to this measure of student learning.

I am confident that these concerns are easily addressed during our meeting tomorrow. Marc

Marcsinger1 (talk)11:26, 5 November 2014

Thanks Marc,

Exactly the kind of feedback and input we need. I'm not an expert in the US systems for accreditation and value your feedback to design an operational set of guidelines that will work across our six geographic regions and +20 countries.

  1. The OERu proposed articulation process will need to cater for US-based institutions where an OERu course is evaluated against the outcomes of your own course / programme requirements. If I understand this correctly, US partners will only be able to transfer credit if the assessment was conducted by a US partner institution? If so, not a problem - we would just advertise to learners that they could only apply the credit for credentials at US-based receiving institutions if the assessment was conducted by a US OERu partner institution. This of course would generate a unique opportunity for US partners to design assessment only services for OERu courses which map to local courses. Should be easy enough to adapt the guidelines to meeting this requirement.
  1. Indeed, many countries and national qualification frameworks are moving towards a competency-based approach. However, this is not true of all national qualification systems in the network. I envisage a system which can accommodate the needs of all our respective accreditation jurisdictions. The OERu network could agree that all partners are required to specify competencies / learning outcomes in the course design documentation for individual courses. The competencies / graduate profile for agreed credentials /programmes like the BGS should be developed and mapped to the COL Transnational Qualification's Framework which provides a mapping system for translating between systems based on notional learning hours and those which use competencies. So I think we have a pragmatic solution to address these differences - for example systems which don't require competencies, would be able to map to the notional learning hour "equivalent" for the programme. The reality is that we have international differences in the "course size" in terms of the "number" / "depth" of competencies included in the standard national "course size" and we need a common framework / language to interpret these differences. Again, I think the international qualifications framework developed by COL is a wheel we don't need to reinvent.

Yep - our meeting will provide a pathway for solutions.

Mackiwg (talk)23:44, 5 November 2014

HI, Mark -- Would you be able to use a PLA process to evaluate OERu learning, without going through one of the Foreign Qualifications evaluation bodies?

OERucwihak (talk)13:37, 6 November 2014

Oh, yes, of course. But this is exactly the problem--we would have to evaluate the learning itself in all cases, rather than the source of the learning. In this sense, we are not accepting the credit in transfer, as much as our institution would like to do.

Marcsinger1 (talk)14:02, 6 November 2014

I'm impressed by the work that has been done on developing the credit recognition and transfer process and guidelines. To facilitate cross national and institutional usability may be useful to develop acompaniing glossary of terms and definitions. For example - substantive changes to a course may be interperted differently by different quality assurance frameworks so will be good to define. I'm sure has been alredy considered and will be developed :)

Vasi Doncheva (talk)21:49, 5 November 2014

Hi Vasi,

Yes-- good point and I agree, we need a definition of substantive change.

Within the New Zealand context and qualification framework, how would you define a substantive change? Would you like to propose a tentative definition for discussion?

Mackiwg (talk)23:46, 5 November 2014

Hi Wayne, i'm only familiar with NZQA rules and definitions and this is how they define minor - Type 1 and substantive - Type 2 changes. “Type 1 change” means one or more changes to components of an approved programme which do not impact on the programme as a whole: “Type 2 change” means one or more changes to components of an approved programme which do have an impact on the programme as a whole: More deteal can be found here; [ NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules]

Vasi Doncheva (talk)09:53, 6 November 2014

The aim of my comment is to increase the transparency (one of the principles) by making communications more transparent. I imagine students and parents (who are major stakeholders in the process) reading this. For a good example, I am looking at Creative Commons licenses: there is a very human description and then there is the legal description. (Human) [1] (Lawyer) [2]

This part is a summary, for example:

The OERu credit transfer system provides an efficient framework to support virtual mobility of OERu learners among partner institutions towards credible credentials. The system is found on the principles of transparency, trust, fairness and predictability underscored by institutional autonomy. The system is designed to:

  1. Promote transfer credit for equivalent learning which OERu learners can apply to fulfil credential requirements at OERu partner institutions.
  2. Promote equitable treatment of OERu learners atartner institutions
  3. Ensure that transfer credit within the network is based on a rigorous articulation process maintaining academic integrity and quality standards.

A more accessible version could be:

The OERu credit transfer system helps students mix and match courses from partner institutions. This means you can freely assemble credible credentials by taking courses at any participating university or college. The system has three main goals:

  1. Transfer credit into partner institutions, where it fulfils credential requirements.
  2. OERu students are treated as well as other learners of partner institutions.
  3. Uphold the rigor, integrity, and other academic standards of graduation, as partner institutions do.
MariaDroujkova (talk)04:34, 1 December 2014

Hi Maria

I think it's great that you are working on a plain-language version of this text. One very minor suggestion - I would change no. 2 ('OERu students are treated as well as other learners of partner institutions') to 'OERu learners are treated the same as...' just to avoid the ambiguity in the phrase 'as well as'! I also think of OERu learners as learners rather than students, which implies a more formal relationship with the institutions.

Gabi Witthaus

Witthaus (talk)01:31, 18 December 2014