In document Training Programme and Organisation in the Bologna Process of Hungarian Higher Education: The BaBe Project (Page 61-67)


The preparation of a competency-grid seemed a single and well-defi ned institutional task, although it presented many unanswered questions. Being creators of this framework we were convinced of the need for it, as well as that this work will contribute to the professional foundation of the training.

In retrospect, and consciously re-thinking the history of development, today

we believe that the development process and its effects gained a much wider spectrum than we previously thought. However, it is this systematic retrospective that helped us to realize such aspects that did not become clear to us during the process of development.

The history of the development of the competency-grid cannot be described only as a linear process, since it had many connecting points with the development process of the BaBe research, and its effect-system was also diverse. Today, we can identify four major thematic nodes of the earlier seemingly terminable task of development: the antecedents of the development, the period of situation analysis, preparation of the competency-grid and the phase of integration (Table 1).

Table 1: Periods of the competency-grid development

Periods Activities and their results


Situation analysis

October 2006

• BaBe survey about the expectations of fi rst year students about the training programme in Education (SQ-1.)1

• BaBe’s questionnaire survey about the fi rst teaching experiences along the following themes: literature, defi nitions, tasks, requirements, tools (TQ-1.)1

May-November 2007 Analysis of competencies and their development in Hungarian and international training programmes of teachers and teaching assistants

September 2007 Assignment from the head of the institution for the creation of the competency-grid

October 2007

Teachers’ debate about the principles of the teaching assistants’ competency-grid and its development, based on:

• Teachers’ questionnaire about the scope of activities of the teaching assistants (TQ-3.),

• Creation of a database based on the teachers’ questionnaire about the scope of activities of the teaching assistants

• Employers’ questionnaire about the possible scope of activities of the teaching assistants

The preparation of the competency-grid

May-October 2007

BaBe questionnaire designed for teachers about the planning and teaching experiences of the courses started within the bachelor training programme (TQ-1.). As a result of this:

• Lecture at the NCE (National Conference on Education) symposium about the articulation of requirements (KÁLMÁN, LUKÁCS & RAPOS 2007)

• The presentation of the fi ndings on an institutional level, too (source: BAKÁCS et al. 2007) November 2007 -

February 2008

The developers, who are simultaneously institutional staff and members of the BaBe research, create the fi rst version of the competency-grid.

February 2008 Based on the department-level discussions and on the fi nal conciliations of the teaching assistant competency-grid the competency-grid of the teaching assistant and principles for application is presented (Teacher and student version)

1 For the codes of the research-tools of the research and their more detailed explanation see Chapter 2.

Periods Activities and their results


Spring Semester 2008

• The distribution of the teaching assistant competency-grid to all teachers

• The application of the teaching assistant competency-grid for the creation of some course descriptions (not compulsory)

Providing information and discussion for students about the usage of the competency-grid and portfolio and about optional specializations.

• An experiment carried out within the confi nes of the subjects of education theory to prepare a development portfolio based on the professional competencies and to present it at the comprehensive examination

• Consideration of the output competencies in the creation of the thesis, the formation of the criteria for a portfolio-type thesis

• Consideration of the objectives of the competency-grid in the creation of the cumulative exam.

• An opinion-poll about the teaching assistant’s competencies among students within the BaBe’s complex questionnaire survey of students (SQ-4.)

• Report about the developments taking place based on the competency-grid during the institutional meeting (source: KÁLMÁN 2008)

• Suggestions for the institute for the timing of further assignments connected to the development of the competency-grid (source: KÁLMÁN & RAPOS 2008)

Autumn 2008 – Spring 2009

• The re-thinking of the competency development in apropos of the course descriptions of the education theory subjects

• The preparation of a student’s guide for the usage of the competency-grid and for the creation of a portfolio, testing of it, feedback from students

• Supervision of two portfolio-type thesis

• First meeting with employers (special workshop): presentation about competencies, introduction of specializations.

This event is held once a year since then.

Spring 2010

The revision of the bachelor training programme in Education in connection with the review of the bachelor degree on a university and faculty level (RBA-taskforce):

• The analysis of the training material of the bachelor training programme in Education in terms of content and form

• Compilation of a new training and course structure

• Actualisation of course descriptions in consideration of the competency-grid.

1.1. Development antecedents

1.1.1. Focus search

It is diffi cult to trace back the history of development, and even harder to connect it with specifi c activities. The era of antecedents can rather be interpreted as a kind of data accumulation, which led to the articulation of needs by the participants of the research: it would be necessary to defi ne a coherent, professionally supported system of output requirements. Thus, the formulation of the competency-grid was not articulated as a clear aim at the start of the BaBe research. The focus was on the research of the training itself, we consciously wanted to follow the development, achievements and problems of the teaching of the new programme from the fi rst academic year of the bachelor training programme in Education. Although the research carried out between the autumn of 2006 and spring of 2007 were given an

important role in diagnostic work of the competency-grid later on, but they were not carried out with this aim.

This accumulation of information and data were grounded on two BaBe investigations primarily: the fi rst student queries (SQ-1.), aimed at identifying expectations of students about the Education training programme, and the fi rst teacher questionnaire (TQ-1.), where we tried to form a clearer picture of the initiated training along the themes of literature, concepts, tasks, requirements. Based on these studies, the impression was reinforced in the research group that the development and introduction of an accreditation material took place in such short notice that there was not enough time to lay the foundations of a coherent and objective set of criteria and to interpret the new training output of the teaching assistant. As a result, the teacher colleagues in the initial training struggled with serious uncertainty, and had very different interpretations of the training output. Although it is a natural

consequence of the researches, that the research and development process holds some uncertainty and openness to changes in itself, it has been amplifi ed in our case by the fact that the research subject itself, the Education BA’s output requirements presented countless unanswered questions.

1.1.2. Institutional embedding

The success of a development is fundamentally infl uenced by the work-ing environment it is started in. The formal start of the creation of the competency-grid can be connected to the moment when the team was able to articulate the defi ciencies and problems of the training require-ments, and communicated the data of the teachers’ uncertainty connected to these problems towards the institutional management. The assignment from the head of institute for the development of a competency-grid even pointed out this development among the many activities of the BaBe re-search, since it has grown into the fi rst concrete task that was started out as an ‘offi cial’ development within the organization based on the data of researchers. The assignment was given to three colleagues, who each represented a department of the institution, thus ensuring that the de-velopment started would be connected to the whole organization as fully as possible. Today, however, we believe that the core diffi culties of the integration of the competency-grid lie in this initial period:

• The BaBe research group and its fi ndings were not fully integrated into the operation of the institution, the preparation of the competency-grid was most fully approved by the research team itself;

• the numerous newly started training programme and development tasks (Education BA, pedagogy MA and the teacher master training, etc.) demanded the very diverse attention of the colleagues, the completion of the urgent tasks distracted them from the strategic objectives;

• The unsettled social and professional disputes related to the Bologna process, eminently the teacher training slowed down developments connected to the new training braches, because the uncertainties arising (for example, what is the teaching assistant qualifi cation good for?) appeared rather as a counter-argument against development, than as a professional diffi culty to be solved.

The development was started in such professional environment, in a some-what isolated way and this isolation was further intensifi ed by the fact that the development team, ultimately shrinking to the size of two, spent the next semester away from the everyday life of the Institute.

1.2. Situation analysis

The situation analysis period is not a uniform, well-defi ned time period, but its content can be still defi ned as the phase of collection, conscious assortment and processing of data. At this stage, we had three main activities:

• The re-interpretation of previous data from the viewpoint of the formation of the competency-grid. This approach shed new light on existing data, and partly highlighted that a more focused data collection is required for the development.

• The collection of new information particularly focusing on the contents and tasks of activities of the teaching assistant.

• All these activities were accompanied by the processing of professional literature, which served to discover the experiences and particularities inherent in the regulations in practice in Hungary and in other countries.

1.2.1. Refl ective re-analysis – Data from a new perspective The initial development could rely on two completed research materials:

the survey questionnaire (SQ-1.) investigating the students’ motivations and expectations about the training, and by that time twice-recorded teachers’

questionnaires that processed the experiences connected to the readings, concepts, tasks, requirements and tools of courses (TQ-1.). The primarily available analyses were connected to a particular person responsible for the topic in all cases, thus the knowledge of data and results of one specifi c topic were not equally known within the research group despite the professional consultations.

In retrospect, we believe that despite the re-interpretation, the analysis of the students’ expectations only determined peripherally the development of the competency-grid. It was mostly two of our previously existing general impressions which were justifi ed by the data from this study. On the one hand, that the career and programme choices and motives of the incoming fi rst students at the autumn of 2006 also affi rm the lack of informedness regarding the content and perspective of the programme (see Chapter 6). On the other hand, that the problems related to the requirements are common in the student opinions (individual work 27%; no clear expectations 7%;

high requirements 4%; a total of 38% of responses). The analysis of the teachers’ questionnaires showed a much more direct connection with the development of the competency-grid. Even during the processing of the fi rst data collection we came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to develop a competency-grid


• it would be necessary to compile a programme competency-list, and

• to harmonize the competencies for development and the requirements more tensely.

(Source: KÁLMÁN & RAPOS, TQ-1. analysis, 2006)

Among the causes of these suggestions were arguments that during the fi rst semester the colleagues set a wide variety of developmental objectives for their courses, but these were not really organised, pointing in one direction, and the articulated requirements were not competency-like. The analysis of the second data collection coincided with the period of re-interpretation, so it was much more focused on capturing the change.

The requirements articulated in the second semester turned particularly competence-like, that is why their structural examination could take place […]

Although quantifi cation is not the best guideline to analyse requirements, but is it still worth noting the structural and content elements our attention was drawn to:

• We predominantly concentrated on the development of reading and writing techniques among the development of skills in the second semester.

• Still, we paid most attention to the delimitation of content knowledge and by its content elements; the image of a socially sensitive, collaborative, general intellectual type is shaped.

• So we are principally thinking in terms of this content knowledge, and at least in terms of views/attitudes.

• Our way of thinking was defi ned by the competency-list of the teachers, but it is the shortcomings that are worth looking at (because this is where the programme-specifi cs may be found). The need for the Education programme’s competency-grid can be sensed at the same time.

(In: KÁLMÁN, LUKÁCS & RAPOS, NCE presentation, 2007)

The defi nition of a teaching assistant’s scope of duties, and the examination of the requirements supporting the preparation for it were in our analyses’

foci back then. As a result of this conscious process-interpretation we could already see that the articulation of requirements is knowledge centred, the content of the competencies does not outline an accurate picture about the fi eld, and that the content elements of the teachers’ competencies radiate on this programme. This lack of content focus and the disproportionate approach of the components of learning outcomes confi rmed that new surveys were also needed. We believed back then that with the help of the old and new results it would be possible to determine, on the one hand, what it means to become a teaching assistant. On the other hand, we assumed that a well-defi ned competency-grid makes the need for the development of knowledge, skill and attitude elements more balanced.

In retrospect, apart from the above, the reason for the greater effect of the analysis of teacher questionnaires on the formation of the competency-grid all along is because it was more in the centre of interest within the research

group, too. The main reason for that was the team’s unconcealed intention during this period, partly based on these questionnaires, to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation among teachers.

1.2.2. Involvement of stakeholders

Even during the period of situation analysis we were aware how important it was to involve as many participants into the process of development as possible. The main direction of the new data collection was to determine the profession and scope of duties of the teaching assistant in terms of content;

the strongest effort was made to involve teachers.

The compilation of the teacher questionnaire already had the primary purpose to prepare the competency-grid, and the respondents themselves were well aware of this goal (TQ-3.)3. Still, it was diffi cult to decide based on the responses whether the teachers connect the teaching assistant’s scope of duties to the new tasks in public education or rather identify it with a permanent helper/assistant scope of activities. The respondents consid-ered each function identifi ed in the questionnaire as important, which sug-gested that they could still hardly defi ne the specifi c content of the fi eld.

The interpretation of the three specializations of the bachelor training pro-gramme in Education, however, showed some differences. The employees of the institution were able to specify the scope of activities of the educational research assistants most accurately, in which the decisive elements were the administrative, preparatory / teacher-supporting pedagogical activities in the background (poster preparation, equipment preparation, etc.). The teach-ing assistant’s functions were more clearly linked to school activities (tutor-ing, test correction, preparation of work sheets, etc.), while the teaching as-sistant’s activities were vague, with an addition of extra-curricular activities, thus it became the least identifi able specialization.

Despite the fact that all teachers have completed the questionnaire, the results did not become part of the organizational knowledge. Today we believe its main causes to be the lack of any other organised framework than the web interface on the one hand, which could help to insert the knowledge about the content of the teaching assistant training in the explicit institutional-level knowledge, yet we were satisfi ed with only publishing them on the online interface, and on the other hand, the interpretation of the role competencies played in the training. Discussions of topics like these also remained rather informal in nature. All this could have been the result of a narrow interpretation of tasks by the developers, and perhaps by the

3 The questionnaire was fi lled by all the teachers (N=53). The activities related to the specialization tiers (education, teaching and research assistant) had to be assessed along closed-ended questions.

principals, which only meant the preparation of the competency-grid, and not the elaboration of learning outcomes and output requirements of one of the major training programmes of the institution.

One of the most obvious aims and benefi ts of the Bologna process is to approximate higher education and the world of work. This aim also came up during the preparation of the competency-grid, so we made attempts to visit the employers’ side as well. Despite the small sample, the main lesson of the analysis of the employers’ survey was that they found it diffi cult to separate the bachelor training programme in Education from the one of the teachers, even if it basically covers assistant functions. The failure of this study, however, is due largely to the fact that the higher education system, especially programmes which are not directly market-oriented, have no real, operating contact networks with the professional environment: their operation, their developments are not known to employers. This study could not break through these barriers, either, thus the outreach to this group was not very successful either.

During this phase of the development data collection has become the most determinative, and the involvement of various players was not successful at this point. The most visible evidence of it was that a survey for the students was included neither in the planning, nor in the examinations.

1.3. The preparation of the competency-grid

The development of the grid itself and the coordination of the cooperation linked to it can be considered as the next pillar of the development process, the second great period. The defi ning input of this work was gained through the analysis of domestic and international experiences and literature. We considered the analysis of the existing regulatory environment to be relevant within the international experiences, such as the Dublin descriptors (Dublin Descriptors, 2002) inserted into the European Qualifi cations Framework, the special education competencies known by the Tuning project by then (Education Sciences - Tuning Project, n.d.). Furthermore, we reviewed the overall experience of such national developments where the competency-based training of the fi eld had more signifi cant experience:

The development of the grid itself and the coordination of the cooperation linked to it can be considered as the next pillar of the development process, the second great period. The defi ning input of this work was gained through the analysis of domestic and international experiences and literature. We considered the analysis of the existing regulatory environment to be relevant within the international experiences, such as the Dublin descriptors (Dublin Descriptors, 2002) inserted into the European Qualifi cations Framework, the special education competencies known by the Tuning project by then (Education Sciences - Tuning Project, n.d.). Furthermore, we reviewed the overall experience of such national developments where the competency-based training of the fi eld had more signifi cant experience:

In document Training Programme and Organisation in the Bologna Process of Hungarian Higher Education: The BaBe Project (Page 61-67)

Related documents