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The Observatory for Education in the Arts –or ODAS– is a workgroup of the University of Barcelona (Faculty of Fine Arts) that was formally constituted following the inclusion of the research project HUM2005-00245 in the National Plan for R&D (2004-2007) created by the Spanish Ministry for Science and Education. The project was funded by the Ministry for Science and Education and co-funded by the ERDF. Since that time, other research and innovative teaching projects, as well as other subsidiary actions, have been incorporated, all publicly funded. The Observatory for Education in the Arts is a consolidated research group recognized by the Generalitat of Catalonia, and a consolidated teaching innovation group of the University of Barcelona. Nowadays, ODAS works in the project with public funds Resources for analysing the information quality of the course syllabuses in arts teaching at university.

ODAS aims to contribute to the collective project of the continuous improvement of teaching and learning in the university arts studies. ODAS carries out its activities in two major areas of work that, being complementary, represent a change of scale and perspective regarding the subject of study and scope. In the first one, actions are developed in the classroom and focus on the most appropiate learning environments for subjects and disciplines; in the second, actions are already at the level of degree and Faculty, and directed towards the curriculum improvement and the implementation of a system of internal quality assurance at the center.

1. Innovation and research in teaching of the arts

Since 2005, ODAS has been working on the reflection, implementation, dissemination and promotion, of innovative educational initiatives together with the research projects that involve critical monitoring and accountability for results. The following lines of action have been gradually developed:
  • Implementation of Problem Based Learning and Project Based Learning.
  • Promotion of social commitment in arts education via service-learning projects.
  • Organization of continuous assessment within the authentic and sustainable assessment paradigm.
  • Student participation in evaluation via self-assessment and peer assessment.
  • Promotion of informal learning environments in higher education and development of peer learning programmes.
  • The incorporation of ICTs as real teaching-learning resources.
  • Cooperation with other external entities which aim improving higher education in the field of arts and humanities.
2. The quality of teaching and learning in the university arts studies

The second line of work aims curriculum evaluation and developing the system of internal quality assurance of university arts studies. And this, from three main assumptions. First, appeal to a cooperative effort of all parties involved in the process, within and outside the education community, each according to their powers and responsibilities. Second, the need to replace a product-based perspective with other that focuses on the process. Third, stakeholders should determine the commitments, procedures, criteria and indicators that illustrate the continuing improvement of the educational system, and develop the techniques and the most appropriate instruments.

The seven goals of the project are the following:
  • Studying collective representations of teaching and research staff in the monitoring and review of teaching and learning.
  • The involvement of the students in following up and improving the quality of education.
  • The incorporation of external stakeholders in following up the quality of education.
  • The follow-up of the integration processes in education.
  • The follow-up of innovation and research in arts teaching.
  • The implementation of instruments and procedures for curriculum evaluation developed by teachers and students.
  • The dissemination of results and cooperation with other external entities which aim improving higher education in the field of arts and humanities.