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Seventh Quality in Higher Education Seminar. Transforming Quality 30–31 October 2002 Melbourne. Transforming quality. Deliberate ambiguity: can quality transform or do we need to transform quality?. Themes. Is quality in higher education about transforming students?

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seventh quality in higher education seminar
Seventh Quality in Higher Education Seminar

Transforming Quality

30–31 October 2002

Melbourne

transforming quality
Transforming quality

Deliberate ambiguity:

can quality transform or do we need to transform quality?

themes
Themes
  • Is quality in higher education about transforming students?
  • How might (external) quality monitoring be transformed to help improve the quality of the student experience and of the learning?
  • What has been the transformative impact of external quality monitoring?
slide4
Theme 1

Is quality in higher education about transforming students?

quality learning
Quality learning
  • What constitutes a high quality learning process and outcomes?
  • To what extent is there a need to reconceptualise how higher education engages with the key issues of
    • access
    • employability
    • funding?
object
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

accreditation

provider

governanace & regulation

accountability

medium of delivery

curriculum design, admin

control

audit

output

learning experience

compliance

assessment

learner

qualification

improvement

standards monitoring

national

regional

international

object1
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

accreditation

provider

governanace & regulation

accountability

medium of delivery

curriculum design, admin

control

audit

output

learning experience

compliance

assessment

learner

qualification

improvement

standards monitoring

national

regional

international

interlinked elements
Interlinked elements

funding

learning

quality

access

employability

interlinked elements1
Interlinked elements

funding

value for money

transformation

learning

quality

fitness for purpose

excellence

access

employability

interlinked elements2
Interlinked elements

funding

value for money

transformation

institutions

learning

quality

academic staff

students

employers

fitness for purpose

excellence

access

employability

slide11
Theme 2

How might (external) quality monitoring be transformed to help improve the quality of the student experience and of the learning?

object2
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

accrediting, assessing and checking

provider

and what is provided

static elements:

regulation, curriculum, outputs

accountability and conformance

learner

learning experience

improvement

improvement audit

object3
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

accrediting, assessing and checking

provider

and what is provided

static elements:

regulation, curriculum, outputs

accountability and conformance

learner

learning experience

improvement

improvement audit

object4
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

accrediting, assessing and checking

provider

and what is provided

static elements:

regulation, curriculum, outputs

accountability and conformance

learner

learning experience

improvement

improvement audit

object5
External evaluationObject

Rationale

Approach

Focus

transformation of the learner

learner

learning experience

improvement

improvement audit

transformative learning
Transformative learning
  • A continuous process of assimilation, reflection, synthesis and critique.
  • Questioning absolutes, preconceptions and taken-for granteds —others and ones own.
  • Deconstructing knowledge and building alternative understandings.
transformative learning1
Transformative learning

Accepting

Engaging/

Questioning

Rote

Understanding

Transformative

learning

Reconceptualising

transformative learning2
Transformative learning

Enhancing students’ abilities and knowledge

Empowering students to be active learners

enhancing learners
Enhancing learners

Enhancing students as transformative learners means:

  • providing students with access to a body of knowledge;
  • enabling students to develop a range of intellectual and other attributes through which they can engage and develop knowledge.
attributes
Attributes

intellect

knowledge

analysis, synthesis, critique

willingness to continue learning

ability to find things out

communication

team working

interpersonal skills

self skills

risk taking

flexibility and adaptability

empowering learners
Empowering learners
  • Empowering students as transformative learners means:
  • treating students as intellectual performers rather than as passive recipients of teaching;
  • encouraging critical engagement with a body of knowledge.
quality monitoring
Quality monitoring?

To what extent can external quality processes assure transformative learning.

Approaches to date are not strong on learning at all —tend to conservatism.

quality monitoring1
Quality monitoring?

External processes are not the primary mechanism by which transformative quality improvement in higher education is assured.

Day-to-day quality assurance is through internal academic processes.

External processes should articulate with, and augment, internal procedures.

slide24
Theme 3

What has been the transformative impact of external quality monitoring?

impact
Impact
  • What impact has EQM had and on what?
  • Does it go beyond the level of rhetoric?
  • Does it lead to short-term response or does it lead to permanent cultural changes?
  • If so, does this permeate all levels of the institution or is it a management preoccupation?
external quality monitoring
External quality monitoring

leads to bureaucratisation and inflexibility

is amateurish, burdensome and inefficient

is concerned with accountability not improvement

leads to ‘game playing’ and ‘performance’

short-term response not cultural changes

has no real impact on student learning

bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
  • Any form of EQM would involve some level of ‘bureaucracy’.
  • Key issue is not the existence of a bureaucracy or of bureaucratic processes but the nature of the bureaucracy and its processes.
  • Bureaucracy must meets needs of external and internal stakeholders, not be self-perpetuating.
quality bureaucracies
Quality bureaucracies

Three main roles:

  • ensure integrity of HE
  • act as a catalyst for improvement
  • act as a conduit for useful information
amateurism
Amateurism
  • Dominant approach —self-assessment, peer review, statistical data — not necessarily seen as the best approach.
  • Burdensome.
  • Most benefit to the peer assessors not the assessed.
efficiency
Efficiency
  • Doubts about the efficiency of most EQM.
  • Cost (of agency and and to the institution) outweighs the value gained.
  • Periodic ‘events’ do not help inform change management.
  • EQM inhibits innovation through its conservative or rigid evaluation criteria.
improvement
Improvement
  • Temporary impact.
  • EQM must interact with internal quality systems — often not the case.
  • Changes in culture
    • slow
    • commitment.
  • Event or continuous process: performance and game playing.
performance game playing
Performance & game playing
  • Engagement mediated by the perceived, short-term affect.
  • ‘Game playing’ and compliance.
  • ‘Performance’ to ensure maximum return.
  • Obscures the reality.
  • No surprise: ‘natural’ outcome of accountability-oriented processes.
  • Game playing taking up resources for very little real return.
self assessment
Self-assessment
  • Main value of EQM is the internal self-reflection.
  • But ‘two sets of books’.
  • Fear of revealing weaknesses.
longevity of process
Longevity of process
  • Improvement potential decreases as process becomes more elaborate and routine?
  • Emphasis shifts to procedural elements rather than innovative process.
  • Need for constant reflection on and change in EQM, more trust and collaboration.
  • Periodic change in purposes and in the agencies themselves.
longevity
Longevity

Without periodic change, there is the danger of ending up with a British-style, QAA-type, system: a rolling ‘juggernaut’, that is not sure what it is looking for, but which ensures compliance and minimizes innovation and risk-taking. British institutions continue to comply, even if the return on the investment is derisory, because of the fear of loss of income.

impact on learning
Impact on learning
  • Extreme sceptical that EQM had any impact on programme quality or student learning.
  • No evidence of clear impact on learning
    • available research suggests that other factors outweigh the impact of EQM.
  • Structure and organisation of EQM is not compatible with empowering staff and students to enhance the learning situation.
impact on learning1
Impact on learning?

I still haven’t seen a study that directly links external evaluation to improved student learning. (NOR)

impact on learning2
Impact on learning?

We still know almost nothing about the outcome of this concern for quality in terms of improvements in student learning. (SWE)

impact on learning3
Impact on learning?

I can detect no improvement in the learning situation of students — perhaps, in fact, even the opposite. Because we spend so much time trying to lay ‘paper trails’ for audit, and trying to ensure good RAE ratings, time to devote to students (certainly for informal interaction with them) is at a premium. (UK)

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