The Tuning Process

UZHELTH is part of a worldwide process known as the "Tuning Process". Tuning started in the European Union in 2000. Its objective was to elaborate the methodology and the tools needed in order to pass from teacher-centred to learner-centred Higher Education. In the following years, Tuning has developed a robust methodology to (re-)design, develop, implement and evaluate (learner-centred) study programmes for each cycle (bachelor's, master's and doctoral), and – thanks to the participation of tens of thousands of people - this methodology and its results are widely shared.

Tuning began as a University designed and driven project called "Tuning Educational Structures in Europe", coordinated by the Universities of Deusto, Bilbao, and Groningen. The participants were academics from EU countries who worked - in collaboration with graduates, employers and administrative staff - to understand how universities could prepare students better for their future life as professionals and as citizens.

Tuning first ran in parallel and in connection with the Bologna Process. In the Bologna Process Ministers promised to carry out normative and legal changes in order to facilitate transparency, compatibility and comparability of Higher Education programmes across Europe. As is well known, the Bologna process has continued and has led to the consolidation and expansion of the European Higher Education Area, which now officially includes 48 countries (plus the European Commission), among them Kazakhstan (see www.ehea.info). A number of other countries, including the Kyrgyz Republic, have adapted their Higher Education systems to align them with the EHEA to a greater or lesser extent.

In the meantime, thanks to the moral and financial support of the European Commission and the commitment of the many people who have been involved in it Tuning has developed further,. In Europe it has perfected its methodology and created competence-based Guidelines and Reference Points for a large number of Subject Areas, as well as Sectoral Frameworks for the Social Sciences, the Humanities and the Creative and Performing Disciplines.

Tuning has been taken up by other countries and regions, and developed in ways suited to their needs. Today Tuning has been or is being carried out in Latin America. Georgia. Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Africa, Thailand and USA. Feasibility studies have been completed in Canada and Australia. Plans are being made to 'tune' in Japan and China.

Using Tuning Methodology UZHELTH will implement a structured process of mapping, consultation, restructuring, monitoring and evaluation to assist Uzbek HEIs to reorganize, coordinate, extend and modernize the training offered. This means that UZHELTH can contribute to innovation of the Public Health sector in Higher Education in central Asia and around the world.

Brief Summary of Tuning methodology with reference to UZHELTH (please refer also to the Annex "Description of Action" and to the material on www.uzhelth.org )
The Tuning process is organized in a series of steps, each one of which creates the premises for those that follow it. Its overall purpose is to provide knowledge, insight and tools for transforming Higher Education from an input-based, faculty centred system to an output-based system which places at its centre the needs of the learner. Tuning is carried out by committed groups of academics working together in a transnational context, who also take into account feed-back from students, graduates, employers and other interested parties.

Tuning is developed along 5 "lines", which we summaries as follows:

Line 1. "Generic Competences": according to the definition used in Tuning, competences are everything that the learner knows, understands and is able to do at the end of a process of learning. Attitude and 'mindset' are included in this very broad definition of 'competences'. The purpose of the educational process is to foster the development of the learner's competences. In Tuning, a distinction is made between the competences that are directly connected to the disciplinary or thematic area of study (the "Subject Specific Competences ", line 2) and those that are important in many or all areas of study. These are the "Generic Competences" in Tuning, and are similar to what are sometimes called 'transversal skills' - that is abilities that are useful across many or all subject areas.

The first step in Tuning involves developing an awareness of the importance of the "Generic Competences" in the educational process. Traditionally universities have concentrated on the transfer of knowledge specific to the area of study, and the formation of Generic Competences has been left largely to chance.

In order to develop awareness of the importance of the Generic Competences (GCs), Tuners develop lists of important Generic Competences, and carry out consultations on their relative importance and on the degree to which they are currently developed by universities, The consultations are with employers, students, graduates and academics.

Line 1 for UZHELTH
UZHELTH will be able to use as a starting point the work done in the Central Asian Tuning project, TuCAHEA, which in spring 2013 defined a list of 30 Generic Competences, and carried out a large scale consultation on them (20463 responses). That list of Generic Competences will be maintained, and will provide the basis for discussing their relative importance in the UZHELTH Subject Areas and how to form them in the Public Health domain.
Line 2. "Subject Specific Competences ":
The second 'line' or step in Tuning is to form transnational Subject Area Groups (SAGS). This means that there should be one academic representing the Subject Area from each participating country. Each SAG, working together, first of all maps the way its Subject Area (disciplinary or thematic) is addressed today in each country. The members reflect on communalities and differences, and formulate a list of competences specific to the Subject Area. These are called the Subject Specific Competences'. The list, as is the case with the Generic Competences, will never be able to include all useful competences, nor will any one student ever develop all the competences in the list. Rather they are a representative list of competences that are significant for the Subject Area.

The Subject Area Groups will also define which are more important in the first, second and third cycles, and to what level they should be developed. In this process, again, the members will consult with other academics, students, graduates and employers to gain perspective on how important the competences are and how well universities form them.

Line 2 for UZHELTH
In UZHELTH, the present situation in Uzbek partner institutions will be mapped; also for Europe, in order to identify communalities and complementarities. Taking into account work already done to 'tune' various health disciplines in other countries, the partnership - divided into Subject Area groups -- will draft Subject Specific competences and level indicators. The Pisa meeting will include Medicine, Veterinary, Agriculture, Environment, Food Safety personnel. The key members will contribute to guiding the Subject Area Groups, foreseen that the SAGs. This means that, if possible, there should be one academic (belonging to a UZHELTH partner university) for each of the above areas, so that in the Plenary meetings (and between meetings, by Internet) they can work together.

Before the Launch meeting, the members from each partner university should be chosen and should be given information, material and time to digest it, so that when the SAGs meet in Pisa they will be able to make productive use of their time. They will want to look at the materials produced for their SAG in other countries and regions, but will create their own competence lists autonomously. The SAGs will be in contact during the months between the Pisa and the Tashkent meetings. The Launch meeting in Tashkent will consist of working sessions in order to finalize the Subject Specific competences for the various Health disciplines, to observe the structures and practices in the Tashkent partner institutions, and the organize close collaboration with the involved Ministries.

Line 3. Measurement of the Volume of Learning (the use of ECTS and Workload Based credit systems): - the third step (or strand) of Tuning regards the volume of learning, and the various ways of measuring and defining it. In the European context, the volume of learning is measured in terms of the time needed for the learner to complete all the activities associated with a piece of learning (contact hours with the teacher, revising, group work, reading, personal study or whatever else is required). This is in accordance with the learner-centred model of higher education, and its careful use allows universities to plan the learning activities effectively. Monitoring systems make it possible to ensure that the credits are allocated properly and the students' time is used effectively.

Line 3 in UZHELTH
In UZHELTH ECTS and other systems and methodologies in use and in development around the world, including the nascent Latin American credit reference system, will be examined and compared with current practice. This step too will contribute to redefining the learning process from the learner's point of view, and developing appropriate planning and evaluation tools for delivering well-organized and effective programmes. This step will be prepared in Pisa and re-considered and elaborated in the working meetings. The UZHELTH SAGs will map current practice in their own Subject Areas and include their findings and recommendations in their Subject Area 'Conceptual Frameworks'.

Line 4. Approaches to Learning, Teaching and Assessment:
Once the key GCs and SSCs for a certain number of SAGs have been established (and it has been accepted that the aim of Higher Education is to form or enhance these competences in the learner) the question then arises: how can this best be accomplished? how to organize a degree programmed so that the learner who completes it will have tHe required and desired competences?

Tuning involves mapping existing or potential ways of developing the learning environment, in order to ensure that the learning and teaching activities actually help to develop the desired competences, and also that the assessment methods are transparent, understood by students and staff and adapted to ascertaining that the competences have been formed.

There must be 'alignment' between the desired competences, the learning/teaching approach and the assessment method. For example, if it is recognised that 'ability to work in a team' is an important competence, there will not be a course on teamwork, but rather the degree programme offer in such a way that learners are asked in some course units to cany out certain tasks in groups. A part of the assessment of the learner's performance will be based on how well he or she worked in the team. Indicators for levels of competence can be taken from the Competence-based learning book.

To give another example, a competence desired might be "ability to apply knowledge in practice".What approach to learning and teaching would be useful? a course unit might have a task-based component in which the task consists of deploying academic or theoretical knowledge in a practical situation. The learner might perform a placement in which he or she gains experience in using theoretical knowledge in practice. The assessment method would need to be designed to ascertain whether the learner was successful.

Although in many countries even today there is often a single method for assessment (an essay, a written or oral test, for example), it is necessary to develop diversified methods for assessing the degree of achievement of various competences.

Line 4 in UZHELTH:
In order to develop knowledge of how approaches to Learning, teaching and assessment (L/T/A) can be optimised, the UZHELTH 'Tuners' will look at how, in their country or their institution, or even in abstract, the most significant Subject Specific and Generic competences are or could be developed, and to what level.

In the case of Generic Competences, for example, normally there will not be specific courses to 'teach' the competences. The process of ensuring that the students achieve the desired results will mean first defining the competences to be formed in a specific degree programme; then the staff will organise the approaches to learning and teaching to be used in the various course unit in order to ensure that all the key competences are covered.
UZHELTH Tuners will reflect together on how to form each competence, and they will also dedicate time to developing appropriate ways to assess it.

Line 5. Quality
In the consolidated Tuning methodology, the final line or step includes putting into practice all the insights and tools developed, particularly with a view to developing the knowledge of how to ensure quality and hence of a non-prescriptive but real 'quality culture' in the higher education institutions themselves. Creating a 'quality culture' means that everyone concerned shares in building 'quality', in monitoring results and in improving the quality of our students' learning experience and its relevance to their future professional and personal lives.

Tuning has in recent years developed new important tools such as a model for elaborating Degree Programme Profiles, overarching definitions of competence levels to be achieved in single Subject Areas (Meta-profiles), and Sectoral Qualifications Frameworks for large domains (such as the Social Sciences, or the Human Sciences).

Line 5 in UZHELTH
As the project develops, it is foreseen that the Subject Area Groups will develop such tools for the Public Health Higher Education Area.

The third phase of the project includes reflection on the results of the consultation and further elaboration, leading to finalization, of the "Conceptual Framework" or Guidelines and Reference Points for each of the relevant disciplines. This work is to be carried on during a 'Training Visit' to Porto and Ghent, where demonstrations of relevant current good practice particularly in the fields of Medicine, Nursing and Family Medicine will take place. There will be a general meeting of the partnership in Ghent to finalize the Subject Area work and to plan the next phase.

The fourth phase centers around the elaboration of the Sectoral Qualifications Framework. During this phase 10 advanced Uzbek students will experience a brief study period in the EU partner institutions, where they will interact with the L/T context and bring their experience back to their home institutions. Their reports will also feed into the work of a meeting of the partnership to be held in Bukhara-Nukus, during which the SQF will be drafted in as final form as feasible. In the meantime new L/T/A approaches will be tested in existing courses.

The fifth phase foresees the finalization of the SQF and its publication; the planning, in accordance with the Subject Area Reference Points and the finalized SQF, modules for the Learning and Teaching of Public Health in the various contexts. This will be accomplished in the course of a "training visit" of the Uzbek partners to Pisa and to Nitra, where Veterinary Science, Animal Production, Environment and Food Safety will be emphasized. There will also be a partnership meeting in Nitra, in which agreement on selection and recognition procedures will be reached.