An analysis of learning levels within and between a degree and a diploma. New Zealand case study

Pages441-450
Publication Date27 Sep 2011
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/09684881111170113
AuthorSusan Warring
SubjectEducation
An analysis of learning levels
within and between a degree and
a diploma
New Zealand case study
Susan Warring
Faculty of Business and Technology, Whitireia Polytechnic,
Auckland, New Zealand
Abstract
Purpose – This paper aims to analyse how learning levels differ within and between degrees and
diplomas with specific application to the Bachelor of Applied Business Studies degree and the New
Zealand Diploma of Business, which are delivered at a New Zealand polytechnic.
Design/methodology/approach A literature review and content analysis of National
Qualifications Frameworks was conducted to analyse how learning levels differ within and
between degrees and diplomas with specific application to the Bachelor of Applied Business Studies
degree and the New Zealand Diploma of Business which are offered at a New Zealand polytechnic.
Findings – A literature review and content analysis of National Qualifications Frameworks reveals
that learning levels are differentiated by level of complexity, degree of abstraction, depth in a major
subject, research competency, learner autonomy and responsibility, relative demand placed on
students and increasing complexity and unpredictability of operational context. This analysis failed to
find any difference in learning level between Bachelor of Applied Business Studies and New Zealand
Diploma of Business papers nominally at the same level on the New Zealand National Qualifications
Framework. The degree comprises a portion of papers at a higher learning level than the diploma and
it is at this level that the difference is realised.
Research limitations/implications Future research should investigate learning level differences
between disciplines, qualifications and institutions.
Practical implications – This paper provides a framework on which to base course design,
delivery and assessment of the Bachelor of Applied Business Studies degree and the New Zealand
Diploma of Business and credit transfer between them.
Originality/value – This case study addresses the increasingly important issue of the compatibility
of learning levels between different qualifications. As many economies acknowledge the necessity for
increasingly skilled workforces, credit transfer to enable seamless transfer between qualifications is
becoming a focus in seeking to facilitate lifelong learning. There are few studies that focus on National
Qualifications level descriptors and the implications for different qualification types.
Keywords Learning leveldegree, Learning level diploma, National qualificationsframeworks,
Degree versus diploma,Polytechnic versus university,Learning, Further education, Highereducation,
Qualifications,New Zealand
Paper type Case study
Introduction
This paper aims to establish if there is any difference in learning level between a
degree and a diploma offered within a New Zealand polytechnic. A literature review
and content analysis of National Qualifications Frameworks is conducted to analys e
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0968-4883.htm
An analysis of
learning levels
441
Received April 2010
Revised January 2011,
June 2011
Accepted June 2011
Quality Assurance in Education
Vol. 19 No. 4, 2011
pp. 441-450
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0968-4883
DOI 10.1108/09684881111170113

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