NextGen: HN - Evaluation Activity for Pilot Centres

The Next Generation Higher National (NextGen: HN) project is taking an agile approach to development. This approach favours iterative approaches to design, that can accommodate the input of a wide range of stakeholders. The iterative design process is revisited and reflected upon regularly to improve and refine various design aspects, ensuring they meet the needs of the final user. In addition, it allows the project to adapt and evolve as it progresses, opposed to constraining it within a rigid method.

The changes made will be small and manageable as it will not be possible to action every aspect, insight, and perspective when testing and evaluating. However, as NextGen: HN developments progress it is essential that we learn from previous iteration(s). Therefore, as we progress through each phase change is likely to become more significant, building on the learning that has taken place.

Process for Evaluation

As part of the evaluation process, we have developed a specific strand for the pilot NextGen: HN qualifications.

Pre-launch Evaluation workshop

The pre-launch evaluation workshop is designed to review the Award prior to delivery. These workshops will provide an opportunity to discuss and review the qualifications against the original aims and ethos of the NextGen: HN program. External stakeholders will be invited to encourage robust discussion, allowing us to determine potential obstacles, gauge responses from employers, and gather views on the potential requirement for further support or exemplification.

Practitioner focus groups

We hold two workshops with the pilot delivery centres once delivery is live. Discussion guides are developed by the policy and evaluation strand with contributions sought from all strand leads across NextGen: HN. This is to ensure all aspects of the program are included in discussions at the most appropriate point. In addition, aspects of the development which were identified during the pre-launch workshops are included. Contributions from centres include those directly involved in delivery, or staff who support aspects of the qualification such as articulation and progression. The discussions focus on aspects such as:

We continue building evaluation activity and points for reflection throughout pilot delivery. This provides ample opportunity to address any emerging issues identified and allows us to make necessary modifications based on feedback.

Learner evaluation

It is vital that learners are central to NextGen: HN developments, to ensure the new qualifications equip them with the skills to succeed and adapt to the demands of a changing workplace.

Meaningful and effective consultation with learners has been an important part of the evaluation of the qualifications as they are piloted across Scotland.

We have been keen to get feedback from learners not only on the unique features of NextGen: HN qualifications – such as the role of meta-skills, learning for sustainability and the new approach to grading – but also the process of qualification development itself.

We have carried out two rounds of learner evaluation activity so far – consisting of a total of 70 focus groups with every cohort of NextGen: HN learners.

The first round took place in November 2022 – you can read more about this on our blog.

The second round was carried out in April and May 2023, and provided further information on learners’ experiences. This provided insight into innovative approaches to delivery being adopted by pilot centres and highlighted both consistency and variety in the NextGen: HN experience for learners.

As well as demonstrating areas of good practice, this ongoing engagement with learners is helping us shape the ongoing development of the qualifications, and highlight how we can provide further support to pilot centres to enhance the learner experience.