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In an era of globalization, technological innovation, and social transformations, universities face the challenge of training students with the competencies needed to meet the demands of the market and to successfully integrate into today’s workforce. This book looks at the university as a dynamic source of essential competencies and explores various skill management models, methodologies and innovations applied by educational institutions around the world.

The demands of today’s society represent a major challenge for universities and their teaching staffs. Professors need to adapt their teaching methods to meet these new challenges. For example, universities need to prepare new generations of students with the ability to select, update and use knowledge, rather than processing facts and formulas. Students need to be capable of learning in different contexts and modalities throughout their professional careers and learn to adapt their knowledge to new situations. In response, a conceptual and methodological change has taken place in the university organizational culture and in student curriculums. This book presents a variety of cases and observations on the competencies developed in the curriculums of universities around the world, with the aim to assure that graduates leave fully prepared to face the challenges of the new economy.​​



Chapter 1. Assessment as Learning and Empowerment: Towards Sustainable Learning in Higher Education

This chapter introduces the concept of assessment as learning and empowerment. This approach is based on three fundamental challenges: (a) student participation in the assessment of their own learning; (b) feedforward, which focuses on the delivery of information about the results of assessment that can be used in a proactive way; and (c) producing high quality assessment tasks. These three challenges can be subdivided into ten separate principles that, when operationalized by university tutors, enable them to introduce innovative practice or procedures that influence the way both staff and students experience assessment.
Through the use of appropriate technology, innovative proposals based on the three challenges mentioned above can be implemented such that they empower the learning process for students within the academic context. At the same time, this technology and consequent empowerment can help students develop the skills and competencies which lead to strategic learning in extra-academic (personal and professional) contexts as well.
Gregorio Rodríguez-Gómez, María Soledad Ibarra-Sáiz

Chapter 2. Is University Students’ Self-Assessment Accurate?

The paper’s main objective is to evaluate the self-assessment accuracy of university students. Specifically, the study analyzes the self-assessment of oral communication skills. It was carried out in a Firm Labor Organization course included in the Labor Relations and Human Resources Degree. The literature on self-assessment in Higher Education does not provide clear evidence about its accuracy, as a number of methodological problems have been detected. To reduce them, we have taken a number of precautions. Thus, a rubric was designed, and students were trained to use it. Several teachers and peers were introduced as referents, and a segmented analysis was conducted based on gender and the students’ level of competence from the teachers’ point of view. Results show that self-assessment accuracy is low. Moreover, regardless of the degree, men’s self-assessments are higher than women’s. Moreover, the findings suggest that the scoring rubric improves self-assessment accuracy when the speaker has good oral communication skills, but not when these skills are poor. These results lead us to propose the development of correction factors that can be adapted to any situation, thus allowing self-assessment to be used for summative purposes.
Alicia Bolívar-Cruz, Domingo Verano-Tacoronte, Sara M. González-Betancor

Chapter 3. Value Co-creation, Collaborative Learning and Competences in Higher Education

Value co-creation is a current topic in the field of marketing. However, little knowledge has been applied to the context of university education to improve students’ skills. Setting out from this research gap, this research’s main objective is to provide the dominant achievements of a project of educational innovation associated with the learning of marketing and developed between the universities of Seville (U.S.) and Málaga (UMA) in the framework of the Andalucía TECH Proyect. 331 students took part, addressing development work in mixed groups through the Open-source learning platform in the Moodle environment. Regarding generic skills related to the European Higher Education Area, the surveys of students who have participated in the project reveal that their taking part in the project has allowed them to mainly improve the following skills: (a) collaborative teamwork; (b) efficient time use; (c) handling new online resources; (d) finding new ideas and solutions. They also showed a high satisfaction with the resources available, the improvement of their competences and, globally, their participation in the value co-creation process.
Antonio Navarro-García, Marta Peris-Ortiz, Carlos Rueda-Armengot

Chapter 4. A Model for Implementing Non-specific Competencies (NSCs) in Degree Studies, Defined Using a Delphi Study in Spanish Universities

This work discusses the difficulties currently being faced by Spanish universities in adapting their education system to the development of the competency-based curriculum introduced by the EHEA, especially with regard to the introduction of non-specific competencies (NSCs).
Using the Delphi technique, we performed an exploratory study to collate opinions and proposed actions to facilitate implementation or advancement of these competencies in university degree studies. The panel of experts consisted of university lecturers with different profiles identified in Spanish public universities.
The study’s primary contribution is to establish an implementation model, consisting of a sequential process in three phases: (a) concept design; (b) organisational design; (c) launch and monitoring. The tasks involved in the planning, organization and development of the process are intended to facilitate the coordinated and gradual implementation of NSCs—by all teaching staff involved–in university degree studies.
The utility of the model lies in the fact is that it resolves many of the problems currently restricting progress in the universities’ social commitment to the comprehensive education of new graduates, and does so within the area of action of university management and teaching staff, providing solutions related to organisation and coordination.
Gloria Aparicio, Maite Ruiz-Roqueñi, Elena Catalán

Chapter 5. Linking the Development of Teamwork and Communication Skills in Higher Education

The development of generic skills and competencies in higher education is paramount, according to the new educational philosophy fostered by the Bologna process. These competencies, abilities and skills include teamwork, oral and written communication, problem solving, analysis, critical evaluation, information literacy, and information analysis. They are developed throughout all courses and subjects, and are usually taught and evaluated independently, and lack any clear structure or coordination. In some cases, generic competencies are acquired gradually, from beginner to advanced level, on an ad hoc basis.
The present study was conducted under the premises that the development of generic competencies in higher education must have a progressive, linear approach, and that the level reached in certain abilities and skills influences the development of other high-level competencies. Specifically, this work explores the relationship between communication skills and the effectiveness of teamwork. The study was carried out among first- and third-year students of the Industrial Organization Engineering degree at the Universitat Politècnica de València. Results show that teamwork effectiveness depends strongly on members’ communication skills, and that focusing on teamwork in the first year may be ineffective if communication skills are not developed beforehand.
Carlos Devece, Marta Peris-Ortiz, José M. Merigó, Vicenta Fuster

Chapter 6. First Contact with the Word of Work: The Competence Built in the Teaching Practices

This document describes a study, performed with students during the teaching practice in the course of preschool education. It analyses the competences that they believe to have built through the contact with the professional context. Data is acquired from their portfolios, since they protrude the competences built during the practice activities and the most interesting aspects to analyse. The study puts in evidence that teaching practice enhances professional competences construction, although the outlines of this construction vary according to the educational action model and the supervision model.
It is clear that the action of the kindergarten teacher is complex and that they develop within the confluence of knowledge of different nature. The centrality of the teacher-child interactions sets up as the defining frame of professional competences construction.
Teaching practice is the moment of socialization that allows future kindergarten teachers contact with the values, language and body of the profession specific knowledge, facilitating a more realistic view over the world of work.
Cristina Mesquita, Rui Pedro Lopes, José Álvarez García, María de la Cruz del Río Rama

Chapter 7. Leadership Development Through Experiential Learning in University Studies at Florida Universitària

The development of complex skills such as leadership requires experiential learning. The educational model at Florida Universitària develops social competences through Interdisciplinary Projects undertaken in teams during each academic course. The leadership skill is developed in the fourth year in all of its university degree courses using an experiential approach. Each fourth year student assumes the role of team leader of an Interdisciplinary Project team of first year students. In this way the fourth year student develops leadership through experience. This process is accompanied by specialised training in leadership, individual coaching and by a multidisciplinary teaching team which monitors the whole process. During the academic year 2013–2014, 45 students were involved in this experience as leaders.
Bernardo Ortín, Mª Dolores Soto, Francisco Rodrigo, Sandra Molines, Elvira Asensi, Victoria Gómez

Chapter 8. Simulation Games and the Development of Competences. Empirical Evidence in Marketing

The use of simulation games in education is a growing tendency in Spanish universities. This has been spurred on by their need to renovate their teaching methodologies to adopt them to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). These simulators are used in teaching to develop the students’ capacities and skills related to, for example, encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, teamwork and competitiveness among peers. On the other hand, as they allow the students to adopt a business role and apply their acquired knowledge, they contribute to narrowing the gap between theory and practice. Nonetheless, the usefulness of this valuation depends on the users’ involvement and active participation. This is conditioned by their global assessment of the simulators. This is why, knowledge of the factors which affect this assessment is considered to be a key addition to the success of the simulator-based didactic methods. This study means to contribute by presenting the results of an experience in teaching innovation founded on the use of the Quantum marketing simulator, which was developed by investigators in the Carlos III University, Madrid. From a questionnaire given to 138 students, the global valuation of the Quantum experience is analyzed, as well as its relationship with motivational aspects and the acquiring of capacities and competences. The results suggest a positive global valuation conditioned by prior motivation and the student’s perception of the simulator’s impact on the acquiring of capacities and skills.
Francisco J. Cossío-Silva, Manuela Vega-Vázquez, Mª Ángeles Revilla-Camacho

Chapter 9. Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning: How Feedback Can Contribute to Increase Students’ Autonomy as Learners

Feedback is a scaffolding process that facilitates continuity of student learning, without which assessment becomes a firewall that separates the effort to learn from the reward of learning. Without feedback, no formative assessment is possible and students’ chances of improving their learning are considerably reduced. Research and projects in this field have provided an increasingly accurate picture of feedback, rendering it possible to identify with ever-greater precision the aims, foci, agents, types, means and timing of feedback offered to students. Considerable advances have been made in the last 10 years as regards the theoretical foundations underpinning feedback; a set of principles has been identified to guide its implementation, and new concepts have been introduced, such as sustainable feedback or feedforward, which question the theoretical premises on which feedback is based. Student participation in the feedback process has opened up new areas to explore, such as self-assessment and peer assessment. Furthermore, technology is redefining the way in which feedback is conceived and managed, enabling students, classmates and teachers to employ new channels of communication for real-time or deferred dialogue that are capable of improving or enhancing learning. In short, it is possible at the moment to speak of a revival of interest in the role played by feedback and in the link between feedback and self-regulated learning, in a scenario in which present-day society is moving forward not on the back of certainty but on the basis of conflict resolution, and higher education must meet training needs in an increasingly uncertain professional framework.
Eduardo García-Jiménez, Beatriz Gallego-Noche, Miguel Ángel Gómez-Ruíz

Chapter 10. Measuring Competencies in Higher Education. The Case of Innovation Competence

Within the context of permanent change, innovation has become a vital value for the survival and development of the organisations. The development of this increasingly important value will help students to gain access to the labour market and to adapt to their future jobs in accordance with these characteristics. Competency describes what training participants should be able to do at the end of such training. Competency is acquired through the various learning objectives to be achieved. Innovation competency is closely related to Self-assessment and the learning methods, Ability to work in interactive communication situations, Ability to create and maintain connections work, Ability to cooperate in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment and Ability to communicate and interact in an international environment, etc. In this chapter, we develop a method for measuring the innovation competencies in higher education by introducing different levels of mastery.
Llanos Cuenca, Marta Fernández-Diego, MariLuz Gordo, Leonor Ruiz, M. M. E. Alemany, Angel Ortiz

Chapter 11. Three-Dimensionality in Competencies: The Inclusion of Ethics in the Generic Competency of Teamwork and Leadership

The context of the European Higher Education Area requires the alignment of teaching degrees and research projects on offer at university level with social and labor market needs. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a sufficient base upon which scoring rubrics on teamwork and leadership can be established and/or expanded. Such rubrics will guide and assess not only what to do but also how must it be done. This approach will be built on both the classical Greek foundation of what constitutes action—praxis and poiesis—and on two areas of knowledge—management and ethics.
Alexis J. Bañón-Gomis, Mónica Clemente-Císcar, Natalia Lajara-Camilleri, Andrés Rovira

Chapter 12. Student Opinion on the Application of Active Methodologies

The newly established European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has prompted a reformulation of teaching methodologies, placing greater focus on student-centred learning. Integration of theory and practice together with development of academic skills have become important educational objectives.
The purpose of this research is to determine student perceptions of the application of active teaching methodologies, including collaborative learning and case studies for the development of generic skills. The research was conducted following protocol for designing learning activity as defined by the Institute for Science Education (ICE) at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
Teresa Barbera-Ribera, Sofia Estelles-Miguel, Carlos M. Dema-Perez


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