17 November 2016 | EQAF Paper

Quality hazards in the learning outcome model

Martin G. Erikson, Malgorzata Erikson


Core academic principles and purposes of higher education can be expressed in such terms as students’ personal development or academic identity. These are important in the Bologna process, for example in relation to life-long learning. At the same time, policies about learning outcomes regulate much of the teachers’ everyday practice. The paper analyse the extent to which this combination of perspectives can be a quality hazard, and it is argued that two particular areas can be problematic.

The first is that desirable effects of higher education that cannot be expressed as learning outcomes are at risk of being neglected. The second is that learning outcomes can become a roof, restricting students’ ambitions and their entire outlook on what higher education is supposed to be. How these risks can be taken into account when formulating quality criteria is discussed in relation to the responsibilities of students, teachers and institutional management.


This paper was presented at EQAF and reflects the views of the named authors only.

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