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Knowledge, skills and competences

Viden, færdigheder og kompetencer

Expected learning outcomes

The qualifications framework for higher education (see more here) divides student learning outcomes into three main categories: knowledge, skills and competences. The learning outcomes must specify what the students are expected to know or be able to do as a result of a learning process, for example a course, or when they graduate from the degree programme. Therefore, it should be possible to test learning outcomes in the degree programme exams.

Description of knowledge, skills and competences

The description of learning outcomes through knowledge, skills and competences aims to clarify the intention of the courses, as well as clarifying to the students what will be expected of them in the exam. The learning outcomes must also specify to the users of the academic regulations which qualifications the students are expected to have acquired after graduation. The definition of the three categories is delimited and summarised below:

Knowledge

Knowledge

Specifies certain knowledge of a topic, the level of knowledge and the understanding acquired. Knowledge includes:

  • Type of knowledge: For instance knowledge within theory, practice, a subject area, a profession or a method.
  • The complexity of the knowledge: How complex is the knowledge, and in which (unpredictable) situations and contexts is it to be applied?
  • Understanding: The ability to place knowledge in a context.

Examples:

The Bachelor’s degree programme in philosophy (2018), Ethics:

Account for selected positions and theories within the fields of normative ethics and meta-ethics, and assess their strengths and weaknesses.

The Master’s degree programme in archaeology (2019), Archaeological Data Analysis and Presentation:

Critically reflect on the use of formalised methods of analysis in archaeology.

Skills

Skills

Specifies what the students are able to do or carry out: Skills include:

  • Type of skills: For instance practical, theoretical, cognitive, creative or communicative skills.
  • The complexity of the skill: What degree of mastery is expected, and to what type of task performance is the skill to be applied?
  • Communication skills: The ability to communicate or have a discussion, taking into account message complexity, target group type and effects.

Examples:
The Bachelor’s degree programme in English (2018), English Linguistics 1: Levels of language:

Apply linguistic theory and methods when describing and discussing concepts within and approaches to the study of the phonetics, phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax of the English language.

The Master’s degree programme in educational anthropology (2017), Fieldwork and Analysis:

Assess the range and character of the empirical data, as well as how it is determined by the issue, the methods used and the theoretical and methodological choices made.

Competences

Competences

Specifies the ability to use knowledge and skills in a work situation or study context. Competences are about responsibility and independence and include:

  • Type of context: In what types of work and/or study-related contexts are knowledge and skills brought into play?
  • Complexity of competence: To which extent should knowledge and skills be used in these contexts? And how unpredictable and changeable are these contexts?
  • Collaboration and responsibility: The ability to collaborate and take responsibility for own work and the work of others.

Examples:

The Bachelor’s degree programme in dramaturgy (2018):

Critically and constructively assess the importance of one’s own role in and contribution to a creative theatre process.

The Master’s degree in linguistics (2017): Multilingualism and Second Language, Quantitative Approaches:

Clearly structure complex information on multilingual and second-language contexts to make it available to a broader public.

Taxonomies for learning

Taxonomic classification can be used to formulate academic objectives and describe students’ knowledge, skills and competences. Taxonomies for learning can be used to ensure a systematic description of the increasing complexity of the students’ performance and help clarify goals. Depending on what the students need to demonstrate, for example whether the course aims to promote and test the students’ knowledge (cognition), actions (psychomotorics) or attitudes (affection), you can draw inspiration from various taxonomies. Below are the most commonly used taxonomies to describe student learning.

Cognitive objectives

Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy describes the students’ intellectual knowledge, mental skills and processes. The taxonomy can be used to assess the students’ form of knowledge within six levels, ranging from simple knowledge to more complex knowledge.

SOLO taxonomy

The SOLO taxonomy is a model for observed learning outcomes which shows the degree of complexity in the students’ understanding of the topic.    

Psykomotor objectives

Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy

Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy describes the students’ physical skills, and can be used to assess the observations made in students’ actions. The taxonomy has six levels that illustrate the extent to which the students use a skill, from not using it to using it automatically.    

Affective objectives

Krathwohl’s affective taxonomy

Krathwohl’s affective taxonomy describes the students’ development of attitudes and feelings associated with what they are expected to learn. The taxonomy has five levels, ranging from a neutral reaction to a stronger and more personal commitment, which is why the taxonomy can be used in contexts related to attitude where the students’ values and personal value-oriented behaviour is to be tested.dprøves.