THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The information for the case study was collected during two interviews with Dr. Laura Muresan, the project coordinator.
EDU-RES was initiated by the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (BUES) management and the Department of Business English, as a follow-up to a Teacher Development programme and it is the first of its kind in Romania. It was set up as an interdisciplinary professional development programme, at master's level, designed to improve English language communication and inter-cultural competencies, critical and creative thinking. At the same time it is a forum for cross-disciplinary networking, and it builds on the added value of informal learning.
Intended especially for teachers and researchers of various specialisations, the project's main goal consists in initiating a cascading process. It encourages participants to transfer all relevant aspects from the "EDU-RES" setting to their own teaching and research practice, thus contributing both to personal professional growth and to institutional quality assurance.
Key-components include: interdisciplinary team projects, international conferences and seminars, inspiration from and adaptation of international expertise, thematic field work, observation and investigation of processes.
The main objective is to contribute to the development of integrated competencies in the following areas:
• communication in English for academic purposes and for a variety of international professional settings, integrating language and culture
• research practice, with a focus on project design, methodological aspects and related communication skills for presenting and publishing research outcomes internationally
• teaching and evaluation practice, so as to facilitate student learning, with special reference (but not limited) to Higher Education for business and economics
The project was set out to support learning and skills development through a variety of methods, with input coming both from course leaders and the participants, as a basis for group work and exploratory activities. Themes, ideas and issues arising from the project modules provided the basis for practice-oriented research, thus helping the participants to gain an integrated understanding of complex issues and a well-rounded experience.
Evaluation of progress was carried out in various forms (e.g. analysis of individual work, evaluation of group assignments and presentations, followed by personalised/group feedback). This was complemented by self-evaluation and peer-review, to illustrate student-centred approaches and to provide inspiration for the participants' own assessment practice.
The programme facilitated the sharing of ideas and professional expertise. Learning groups were a central element of the programme, used to support and encourage learning, at an individual and a group level.
Interdisciplinary project work was encouraged, as well as experiential learning, piloting new approaches, consulting and cooperating with peers and course tutors in a variety of forms.
Self-evaluation and reflective practice included:
• reflection on one's own academic/professional context and activity, with a focus on skills improvement and prioritising self-development objectives
• self-assessment of communication skills, on the basis of the Council of Europe Scale of Reference Levels and the European Language Portfolio, both in relation to one's own targets and in relation to programme requirements (as this is an English-medium programme)
• reflection on institutional processes through team-exercises, aimed at improving evaluative competencies
• interdisciplinary project work and assignments, encouraging reflective practice
• observation of processes, including class observation and peer-review, a.s.o.
Reading weeks were set aside to allow extra time for autonomous study, to explore topics in more detail and identify new areas of interest. They also provided ample opportunities to organise mutual class observations or group meetings on specific themes.
Reading lists and a selection of background reading as a starting point for exploration were provided and autonomous study was encouraged. The project offered the participants the flexibility to tailor their own assignments to their own professional background and research interests.
The project results include:
The project website: www. edures.ase.ro
The volume Synergy nr.2/2008 (hard copy and online http://www.synergy.ase.ro; http://www.synergy.ase.ro/archive.html), which includes the articles of the participants to the project.
Research in the participants’ main area of interest and papers written by each participant to conclude the programme.
Presentations at international conferences, articles published in educational journals, to present the project and its research studies, as an example of correlating professional development with quality assurance within the Romanian academic context. Moreover, many of the research articles written by the project participants can also be considered "project outcomes". Textbooks in English which apply the the methodlogy proposed in the project, for example Raluca Ion, Learning Common Agricultural Policy, Bucharest, BUES Publishing House, 2008
The impact of the project is shown by the introduction of courses in masters’ programmes in BUES such as
• Course in research methodology
• "Critical and Creative Thinking Development"
Project impact evaluation was made from many perspectives, such as (a) by the project coordinators (b) by the project participants (c) the inclusion of the EDU-RES project in a POS DRU project (ASIGMA – Quality Assurance of Internationalised Masters’ Programmes).
The application for the ELL was made envisaging the visibility it could give to the project and it was made believing in the sustainability of the project and its value for the Romanian academic and adult education system with awareness of international benchmarks and of the comparability of the project approach and outcomes vis-à-vis European quality standards.
Following the ELL award, its logo was included on the project site and on the certificates offered to the programme participants. There was increased visibility through social media (LinkedIn and Facebook).
Obtaining the ELL offered the EDU-RES project more institutional visibility, and recognition in the larger academic world, internally and internationally. Also it contributed to an increase in the motivation of project participants, and it recognised the European dimension imbedded in the project. It contributed to its success and perspectives for follow-up.
• to have the vision of what they want to achieve and what is relevant for the stakeholders, including partners
• to have sound underlying principles, knowledge of the benchmarks and of standards
• to be genuinely interested in the project
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The NELLIP Network selected the "Research and Teacher Education for Business and Economics (EDU-RES) – the added value of lifelong learning and interdisciplinary networking" project because of its consistency with the political priorities of the European Commission in the field of language learning. In particular, the "Research and Teacher Education for Business and Economics (EDU-RES) – the added value of lifelong learning and interdisciplinary networking" project has been chosen because of its contribution to the development of quality in language teaching at international standards in an academic context. Also the project emphasises the inter-cultural competencies, critical and creative thinking, as well as cross-disciplinary interaction and team working methodologies.
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