Part Three (Placement Learning)

Signature of Course Leader

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Signature of Course Leader:
­­ Date

Signature of Chair of Department:
Guidelines for Departments introducing Placement Learning as Part of a Course of Study (or amending existing arrangements)
The following is intended for the general guidance of departments. Departments are encouraged to follow the guidelines below as closely as possible and where a placement contributes to a student’s final degree classification, the guidelines should be seen as a minimum requirement.
1. Placement Partnership Arrangements
(a) It is normally expected that academic placement partnerships will be established with academic institutions or departments whose missions and international standing are comparable to our own. Where placements are provided in other organisations, or in industry, it is expected that the department will undertake appropriate monitoring of the experience.
(b) As well as issues relating to the availability of appropriate modules, mentioned in section 2 below, the home department should carefully consider the support available to students during their placement. In particular it should be considered that the level of tutorial support, staff student liaison arrangements and staff/student ratios may be very different from those in operation at Warwick. Departments should therefore ensure that students are aware of this before they leave and that suitable arrangements for pastoral care are made with contacts in the partner institution or that additional support is provided from Warwick.
(c) Departments should also attempt to assess the academic facilities at the partner institution, including:

  • Library provision

  • Computing provision (including access to e-mail)

  • Academic accommodation and teaching facilities

  • Facilities for students with special needs (departments are encouraged to contact the Disabilities Officer in the Senior Tutor’s Office to discuss the needs of specific students with disabilities seeking to undertake a placement abroad in conjunction with the student concerned)

(d) The department should satisfy itself that if a student receives a low mark or fails a placement, all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that this is not due to deficiencies with any of the above. If any of these areas are felt to be lacking then the placement partnership may not be appropriate. Some weaknesses may be ameliorated by additional support from the Warwick department, for instance e-mail advice or visits from Warwick staff and, if this is the case, formal arrangements should be made so that students know what to expect.

(e) Once established, the placement arrangements should be regularly monitored as staff, module or structural changes in the partner institution may alter the appropriateness of the arrangements for Warwick our students even where an exchange scheme is well established.
2. Selection of Modules
It will probably be the case that only certain of the host’s modules are appropriate for Warwick students. The Warwick department should assess:
(a) The level of modules available, to ensure comparability with the Warwick modules which they replace/complement to ensure that learning takes place at an appropriate level as described in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
(b) The appropriate workload for our students. 60 ECTS credits corresponds to one year of full time study in the European Credit Transfer Scheme making translation of workload from our 120 CATS credits year fairly simple. The position of many non-ECTS institutions may be more complicated and departments should consider, in liaison with their partner, the workload which they consider suitable. Some allowance may be made for working in a foreign language.
(c) The comparability of module content. It will be important that the modules contribute to a coherent course of study and also that students are prepared for modules which they will take when they return to Warwick. Professional accreditation issues may also be relevant here.
3. Assessment Arrangements
(a) In some exchanges the study abroad does not count towards the Warwick degree in any way, in which case assessment arrangements are not an issue.
(b) Many departments take the view that, whilst they wish students’ work abroad to be assessed in some way, the great variety in teaching and examining practices at foreign universities means that the work should be assessed at Warwick and made available to our External Examiners together with other students’ work.
(c) Other departments operate schemes where the work carried out abroad is assessed only by the host institution. In some cases students are required only to pass and the marks do not contribute to degree credit in any way. A small number of departments, however, partly determine final degree classifications on the basis of work carried out and assessed abroad. It is expected that such credit transfer will normally only occur where there are long standing links between institutions and the marking schemes and conventions are well understood or where the work is marked or second marked at Warwick.
(d) If assessment carried out by the host institution is to contribute to the Warwick degree classification, the Warwick department must assess the comparability of the marking. If the assessment carried out abroad counts only as a pass or a fail, some assessment of marking standards should still be carried out. A range of factors can be taken into account to draw up a conversion table of marks from a partner institution:
(i) A period of ‘blind’ dual marking might be undertaken so that each institution understands the expectations of the other.
(ii) The percentage of students falling within each grade band could be compared so that an estimate can be made based on (eg the proportion of students expected to achieve a first class grade).
(iii) Descriptive markings schemes could be compared if they exist (ie a qualitative comparison of the expectations of a student in a particular degree classification at Warwick with that of a student in a particular mark at the partner institution).
(iv) Reports from the students’ tutors overseas and from the student themselves will also normally be taken into account.
As this type of conversion is likely to be subject-, and institution-specific it is unlikely that University or even Faculty-wide conversion tables could be drawn up for particular countries at anything other than the very general level provided by organisations such as NARIC. Instead the conversion should be drawn up by departments after careful consideration and close liaison with the partner. The International Office may be able to provide advice on whether a conversion table already exists within the University for a country within which a department intends to introduce an exchange scheme.
4. Language Competence
Departments should consider carefully the level of written and oral language competence required before a student is permitted to undertake a year abroad. This will clearly vary depending on whether or not modules undertaken overseas will count in any way towards the Warwick degree. Students should be made aware in plenty of time prior to departure of the language requirements for examinations taken abroad, including whether oral examinations will be held.
5. Course Regulations
(a) Departments should ensure that their course regulations and student guidance notes make clear what the expectations are of the year abroad. Course regulations, in particular, must be clear about the outcome for students if the year abroad is failed.
(b) On four year courses with three variants (eg BEng/MEng and BSc/MChem) the course regulations should also specify whether a student passing the third year abroad but subsequently deciding not to continue into the fourth year would be eligible for the award of a degree.
6. Guidance for Students
(a) Students should be provided with detailed guidance before their period of study abroad comprising guidance notes and briefing meetings. Briefing meetings should ideally involve outgoing exchange students from previous years and incoming exchange students from the relevant countries and institutions.

  1. Guidance notes and briefings should cover practical issues relating to travel, insurance, financial and banking arrangements, personal security, health and safety issues, arrangements for medical treatment, accommodation, cost of living, linguistic requirements, and any host country formalities (such as residence permits) or cultural differences which should be heeded. The International Office will be able to provide guidance on some of these matters.

(c) Information provided by Warwick departments to students embarking on placements abroad about the placement provider should include the following; the nature of the institution, contact names, details of their academic calendar, study facilities, induction and registration procedures, pastoral care arrangements, facilities for special needs students, departmental information, degree structure, modules available (and guidance on suitable choices as agreed under 2. above), assessment methods, library and other facilities provision, social and leisure activities.

(d) Detailed information should be given on the number and type of modules taken and the assessment methods (if applicable); how the assessment will count towards the Warwick degree (including any conversion of marks) and the result of failure of modules overseas or the placement in its entirety.
(e) Under the ECTS scheme these details should all be provided by the partner institution (except of course the way in which marks will count at Warwick) as part of the ECTS “Information Pack” which provides a useful model for such guidance documents.
(f) Students should be clear about the lines of communication back to Warwick, however departments should also ensure that students are aware that they will probably need to be more independent and take a more proactive role in arranging their courses and assessments than at Warwick.
7. Learning Agreements
The European Credit Transfer Scheme requires a “Learning Agreement” to be drawn up between both institutions prior to a student’s departure from their home country. This lists the modules which the student has chosen; confirms that the home institution considers these modules to be appropriate and that the placement provider guarantees their availability. This forms a useful safeguard for students and should be seen as a model for placements wherever possible.
8. Electronic Provision of Information
Given the difficulties of communicating with overseas institutions and with students who are studying abroad, e-mail and the World Wide Web provide useful tools. Departmental Guidance Notes or Information Packs for students should be put on the departmental website and a Learning Agreement could be agreed by all parties electronically.

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