16 January, 2013

Transparency through a grading table

Through a white, white landscape I travelled by train to the Nuffic in the Hague to learn about an instrument that can solve the issue of disputes about the interpretation of grades received here in the Netherlands and abroad. Most people familiar with international student mobility know that grading varies considerably from one country to another. Students returning from a study abroad experience hand over a transcript of records or a list with credits gained at another university and expect to see these credits registered. It is at this point that difficulties arise: what is the exact equivalent of a particular grade in the home country? what is a fair conversion of grades gained in another institution abroad ?
And that's where the grading table comes in. With each country and each higher education institution having different approaches to assessment and applying different grading scales, it is vital to become transparent and produce a grade distribution table at the degree programme level (and/or the faculty level) and demonstrate what percentage of students received e.g. grade 6 out of 10, grade 7 out of 10 etc. This enables partner universities to interpret the grades awarded in your specific context. And then the next step is to compare the grading tables of the home and host university and identify the corresponding grades.
This procedure not only indicates the academic performance of a student with reference to the group, but also provides transparent data on how grades are actually applied in a specific context. The result: a fair interpretation of grades, the advantage: this is widely applicable across Europe and the globe.
A crucial issue in this process is identifying the reference group for which the grade distribution table is calculated. Another is collecting all the grades of the identified reference group over a period of time of at least three years. The resulting grading table can then be stated on all transcripts of records and diploma supplements for easy reference. For this workshop a number of Bologna experts were invited as speakers, both from the Netherlands and from Flanders.
The message was abundantly clear: to bring about transparency in higher education grading tables are a must and prove to be an invaluable tool.
(And yes, once again we heard how "economical" the grading culture in the Netherlands is. Remember the old adage: on a scale of 10, 9 is for the teacher, 10 is for God, so 8 is really good. Not easy to explain to your international contacts.)

13 January, 2013

Most Popular USA Study Areas

Want to know what the most popular majors in the USA are?  
Here's your answer:

Based on the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (from 2009 - 2010), this recent infographic demonstrates how men and women keep making different choices when it comes to university studies. No real surprise that among female students social studies, health and education are still most popular, just like here in Rotterdam. Just walk around at our location and you'll see ;) 
Similarly, more women than men graduate in the USA, at the undergraduate as well as at the graduate level (which turns out to be an even higher percentage).