Monday, December 14, 2009

The Importance of Creating Standards to Evaluate Master’s Programs in International Education - NAFSA Collegial Conversation

I'm posting the following with permission of Yating Chang, Network Leader of the NAFSA International Education Leader Development Network, as I think several IHEC Blog readers may find this upcoming conversation to be of interest:

International Education is a wonderful career field to be in! Are you thinking of attaining a Master's degree? What are some of the available programs in the country? What about quality of these programs?

Join IELD network's online discussion session
December 17, 2009
4-5pm EST
Be online and conduct LIVE conversation with David Urias, School of Education, Drexel University.
Be free to ask questions and provide your thoughts about this topic.

NAFSA Collegial Conversation: The Importance of Creating Standards to Evaluate Master’s Programs in International Education

By David Urias, Ph.D., Drexel University

Everything depends on the quality of the experience which is had.
~ John Dewey

Over the past two decades, programmatic guidelines for undergraduate international education at U.S. colleges and universities have been presented by several national associations and several academic disciplines. However, none of these groups has ventured into the area of suggesting comparable guidelines at the graduate level. It should be noted that in the past, senior level leaders in international education came up through the ranks of faculty and now the trend is toward a more professionalized administrative corps, i.e., a greater professionalization and specialized graduate degree is needed. Professionals in international education - whether from a more theoretical or practical orientation - need to be concerned about the quality and availability of what is being taught at the graduate level. Graduates of these programs are most likely to enter either the academic or practitioner side of the profession. They are our colleagues of the future.

It is both exciting and unsettling that new educational models and means of delivering educational programs and services are evolving at all levels of higher education. One of the myriad of complex challenges facing American higher education is to develop standards and benchmarks for newly emerging professions, including global, international, and comparative education, which have arisen in an era of transition and globalization. Standards provide policymakers, educators, parents, students, and the public with the means to monitor, measure, and continuously improve student achievement and college/university program quality.

A major value of graduate standards is that they provide criteria by which an academic program can judge its educational effectiveness. Whether used for accreditation or program development purposes, standards provide faculty, staff, administrators, and students alike a tool to measure a program’s characteristics against a set of well-conceived criteria designed to ensure educational quality and efficacy. Knowing exactly what a program is expected to do makes it more likely stakeholders will mobilize their energies to meet those expectations and provide the means for potential students to make appropriate decisions concerning their future study objectives. The standards/benchmark criteria do not have to constitute a precise set of indicators to be applied rigidly in assessing all such programs. Rather, they are the dimensions that should be considered in reviewing and guiding existing and planned international education programmatic activities.
Photo credit: austinevan

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