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Assurance of Doctoral Learning through Interim and End Goal Assessments: Implementing AACSB International Guidelines within the Professional Doctorate. Dr Sandra Corlett. AACSB International and its Assurance of Learning Standards.

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Dr sandra corlett

Assurance of Doctoral Learning through Interim and End Goal Assessments: Implementing AACSB International Guidelines within the Professional Doctorate

Dr Sandra Corlett


Aacsb international and its assurance of learning standards

AACSB International and its Assurance of Learning Standards

AACSB - a premier and the largest (Rubin and Martell, 2009) international accrediting body

Assurance of Learning (AoL) standards require schools to provide “hard evidence” (Rubin and Martell, 2009) of educational achievement against programme learning goals

a challenge generally to business schools, because of a lack of systems of direct learning measures


The assurance of learning process

The Assurance of Learning Process

  • Define learning goals and objectives

  • Align curriculum with goals

  • Identify instruments and measures to assess learning

  • Collect, analyze, and disseminate assessment information

  • Use assessment information for continuous improvement


Define learning goals and objectives

Define learning goals and objectives

  • Have acquired advanced knowledge in areas of specialization.

    1.1 Create and interpret new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication

    1.2 Demonstrate systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice


Define learning goals and objectives1

Define learning goals (and objectives)

  • Have developed advanced theoretical or practical research skills for the areas of specialization.

  • Have given attention to the role of the specialization areas within managerial and organizational contexts.

  • Be prepared for responsibilities in higher education or professional practice (for those students who expect to enter teaching careers).

  • Have demonstrated personal integration of, and original intellectual contribution to, a field of knowledge (for PhD) or to professional practice (for Professional Doctorates) through a written and oral defence of a dissertation.


Align curriculum with goals

Align curriculum with goals

  • Taught sessions (e.g. DBA Block) and training and development activities

  • Ongoing supervision

  • Preparation for and participation in review events (Assignment/Project Approval, Annual Progression)


Identify instruments and measures to assess learning

Identify instruments and measures to assess learning

Three suggested assessment instruments

  • Selection based upon knowledge or skill acquired through previous educational experience (such as pre-entry qualifications)

  • Module/course-embedded measures (such as assignments)

  • Stand-alone testing or performance (such as end-of-programme thesis) Examiners’ Recommendations at viva


Identify instruments and measures to assess learning1

Identify instruments and measures to assess learning

Three-point scale of student performance:

  • to pass without corrections (A award) is to exceed expectations

  • to pass subject to corrections (B award) is to meet expectations

  • to require a resubmission/fail/be awarded a lower degree (C, D or E award)is to fall below expectations

    The programme ‘standard’ is that 70% and 80% of students at interim and viva stage respectively will achieve A or B award


Collect analyze and disseminate assessment information

Collect, analyze, and disseminate assessment information

15 Doctoral students submitted for examination in 2010-11 (8 DBA, 7 PhD)

Analyzed the assessment data from two ‘stand-alone performance tests’ (AACSB, 2007), at the mid-point progression (MPP) and viva stages

The checklist question and open comment responses were coded, using content analysis (Holsti, 1969), against the programme learning objectives.

The frequency of coding ‘counts’ were analyzed to inform curriculum development


Collect analyze and disseminate assessment information contd

Collect, analyze, and disseminate assessment information (contd)

All students met or exceeded expectations at both stages, but performance improved


Collect analyze and disseminate assessment information contd1

Collect, analyze, and disseminate assessment information (contd)

Frequency of corrections mapped against Learning Objectives


Use assessment information for continuous improvement

Use assessment information for continuous improvement

‘Close the loop’ (Bisoux, 2008, p.22) - Suggestions for improvement relating to examiners’ comments:

Learning Goal 2

  • Throughout the programme, keep title, aims, objectives, research question and boundaries under review and ensure they reflect the work undertaken

    Learning Goal 5 (and particularly objective 5.2)

  • Provide clarity regarding the originality of contribution to practice (DBA) and to knowledge (PhD)

  • Ensure the abstract summarises the entirety of the work

  • Correct typographical and grammatical errors


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