Constructive alignment of NQF level descriptors and professional competencies

The proposed RPL evaluation model constructively aligns professional competence developed though prior learning with the respective NQF exitlevel learning outcomes of formal qualification. This matching of competence to NQF level descriptors underpins the RPL assessment methodology. Each category of professional designation registered with SAQA is deemed to have met the complexity of learning required at its respective NQF level. The SAQA Level Descriptors for the South African National Qualifications Framework (2012) defines the respective level descriptors that provide a broad basis for the determination of learning outcomes at each NQF level. The NQF level descriptors defined in the SAQA Level Descriptors for the South African National Qualifications Framework (2012) are classified under 10 broad categories, namely the following:

Scope of knowledge Knowledge literacy

  • • Method and procedure
  • • Problem-solving
  • • Ethics and professional practice
  • • Accessing, processing and managing information
  • • Producing and communicating of information
  • • Context and systems
  • • Management of learning
  • • Accountability

Each of these descriptor categories is correlated to the scopes of professional practice at the respective NQF level, thereby forming a sound basis for the quality assurance of professional competence. It is necessary' to reiterate that the South African architectural profession is defined by four-categories of professional designation based on the level of qualification and experience which accordingly identifies the scope of practice of each respective category. The four categories in ascending order of competence are Professional Architectural Draughtsperson (NQF Level 5), Professional Architectural Technologist (NQF Level 6), Professional Senior Architectural Technologist (NQF Level 7) and Professional Architect (NQF Level 9). In the context of architectural education, the graduate attributes at NQF Level 7 therefore cannot be as broad as that of an NQF Level 9.

Table 8.1, extracted from the RPL evaluation model, compares the architectural design competency of a Professional Senior Architectural Technologist (NQF Level 7) with that of a Professional Architect (NQF Level 9). Note that architectural design has been selected as it is the core subject area of architectural learning and practice, which synthesises knowledge, skills and competencies from support subject areas.

Table 8.1 illustrates an example of how NQF-aligned scopes of practice can be related to the core competency, architectural design. This tabulated example explains how NQF exit-level descriptors can be aligned to the professional competencies of two different categories of professional designation to assure the quality evaluation of outcomes at each level.

Table 8.1 demonstrates how the NQF level descriptors defined in the SAQA Level Descriptors for the South African National Qualifications Framework (2012) can be constructively aligned to scopes of practice related to professional competencies for different categories of professional designation. An analysis of the defined scopes of practice would inevitably reveal a difference in the level of thinking and practice between professional designations.

The need for RPL partly stems from the reality that many professionals could be registered in a category of professional designation below their actual level of practice competence. For example, a technologist (NQF Level 6) who demonstrates evidence of practice competence at the level

Table 8.1 Architectural Design competency, aligned to NQF Levels 9 and 7 exit-level descriptors

NOF Exit-Level

Descriptors

NOF Level 9

Professional Architect (PrArch)

Learning Outcomes Related to Scope of Practice for the Architectural Design Competency’

Scope of

Knowledge

Knowledge

Literacy

Method and

Procedure

Problem-Solving

Able to critically analyse primary and secondary sources through advanced research methods. Be able to advance the practice of architecture through design innovation.

Demonstrates the ability to identify and evaluate knowledge and discourse in architecture and across the allied disciples through a process of critical inquiry to inform the principles of architectural design.

Ability to clearly define the design problem. Tire ability to formulate an appropriate methodology related to the design problem. Demonstrate a high level of creative skill in selecting the appropriate theoretical and conceptual processes and the appropriate technologies to support the design response to complex situated design problems.

Able to design fonmilate propose methods of enquiry to address complex architectural problems and to understand the consequences thereof.

NOF Level 7

Professional Senior Architectural Technologist (PrSArchT)

Able to integrate primary and secondary in design through the evaluation of key concepts, theories and principles informing architecture. Apply specialised ar eas of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary knowledge in architectural design.

Demonstrates the ability to explain knowledge and discourse in architecture and across the allied disciples to select and apply the appropriate theories and concepts in architectural design.

Ability to select appropriate theories and concepts and clearly illustrate how these are implemented in the design process. Ability to select appropriate technologies to resolve design problems in moderately complex situated contexts.

Able to identify theories/principles/concepts, evaluate and apply such in the form of evidence-based solutions to address moderately complex architectural problems.

All RPL evaluation model

Accessing, Processing and Managing Information

Producing and Communicating Information

Context and Systems

Management of Learning

Ethics and Professional Practice

Accountability

Able to formulate and implement a strategy for the collection and critical analysis of relevant primary and secondary data. Able to synthesise information to formulate a responsive design strategy.

Design presentation clearly illustrates the process of synthesis of research data in the development of the design concept and development.

Ability to evaluate a context as a complex system of interdependent variables and to propose the appropriate interventions through a responsive design strategy.

Able to demonstrate continuous/lifelong learning independently, through a process of critical inquiry in the process of design. Able to formulate and adhere to project tune frames.

Able to demonstrate a high level of ethical practice in design, technology and production. Able to advance ethical practice through the design process.

Able to take responsibility and be accountable for all decisions in the scope of architectural practice. Able to demonstrate the ability to martage resources to ensure sustainable busmess practice. Able to demonstrate a high level of governance practices.

Able to identify and implement appropriate methods of information gathering in relation to the problem. Able to independently evaluate and apply such information in the process of architectural design.

Design presentation clearly illustrates the process of synthesis of research data in the development of the design concept and development.

Ability to apply the process of analysis of different variables in various contexts. Able to demonstrate an understanding of context as a complex system that informs responsive design.

Able to demonstrate continuous/lifelong learning independently through a process of self-directed and collaborative learning in the process of design.

Able to formulate and adhere to project timeframes.

Able to demonstrate a high level of ethical practice in design, technology and production.

Able to take responsibility and be accountable for all decisions in the scope of architectural practice. Able to demonstr ate the ability to manage resources to ensure sustainable business practice. Able to demonstrate a high level of governance practices.

of a senior technologist (NQF Level 7) will most likely have been registered in a designation lower than his or her professional competence as a result of the recognition formal leaming/qualification as the only pathway to a quality-assured professional registration. It is therefore necessary that the NQF level descriptors be explicitly defined at each category of professional designation to determine the fundamentals for the constructive alignment of professional competence with the respective exit-level learning outcomes.

While the general matching of professional competency to NQF exitlevel outcomes forms the broad basis of evaluation, the level and intensity of intellectual competence related to each core competency define the specific outcomes to be achieved. This necessitates a system of evaluation of the different orders of thinking that tr anslate into practice to determine whether the respective levels of knowledge and skills have been achieved and, importantly, where gaps in learning may be evident. The proposed model utilises taxonomy of intellectual complexity to determine the respective orders of thinking and practice related to specific outcomes.

 
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