Quality Assurance in Education

Published by Emerald
Online ISSN: 0968-4883
Publications
Article
Purpose - This paper seeks to consider whether academic writing should be regarded as knowledge in the making and why all such writing should be continuously challenged. Design/methodology/approach - The approach is that of a reflective discussion which considers academic writing in context, knowledge, reflectiveness and helping others to contest academic writing. Findings - The paper concludes with the view that all academic writing and concept-mongering are properly open to rigorous challenge. Research limitations/implications - The paper is limited by its presentation of one writer's stance or point of view. Some may also consider this a strength. Practical implications - Academic developers and those interested in helping train academic writers especially, but not exclusively, at the postgraduate level should find the ideas presented useful sources for further conversations. Originality/value - The main value of the paper is that it summarizes a view of academic writing not as objective or neutral but as personal stance and counter-stance.
 
Article
Purpose - To illustrate the applicability of kaizen in higher education. Design/methodology/approach - Kaizen process was used for ten courses contained in a part-time executive MS degree program in management. Findings - Kaizen was found to be an effective process for improving graduate business school courses and the value proposition for students. Research limitations/implications - Further opportunity to quantitatively correlate kaizen results with student satisfaction. Practical implications - Kaizen can help higher education institutions compete more effectively against both traditional non-profit and newer for-profit sources of higher education. Originality/value - Presents insights, lessons learned, and critical reflections from the first known application of kaizen in higher education for this purpose.
 
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss recent developments in school developmental supervisory evaluation in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai in the Chinese Mainland. Design/methodology/approach – The main research approach is qualitative, using documentary analysis and interviews of an inspector, principals and teachers from two primary schools. Findings – There were perceived positive and negative impacts of school supervision and evaluation. Originality/value – The paper highlights the implications for fostering a shared school‐government community of school supervision and evaluation, promoting a dynamic approach for addressing contextual differences as well as achieving better coherence among educational reform, supervision and evaluation policies.
 
Article
Purpose - This paper demonstrates how the positioning of self and others affects change in higher education. Design/methodology/approach - The discourse of various educators was collected during various interviews and discussion groups. A positioning theory framework was used to analyse the data and derive conclusions. Findings - It is shown that if individuals are understood in terms of their agendas in relation to the organisational context that they can be better led. Research limitations/implications - The quantity and quality of data available has limited the integrity of conclusions drawn from this paper. Further research is proposed that will provide a more robust understanding. Practical implications - An approach to understand how to deal with various stakeholders is presented for leaders. There is a need to deal with each person as an individual depending on how their personal agendas influence their priorities. Originality/value - This paper introduces a social constructionist perspective to leading academics.
 
Article
Quality has permeated higher education in various guises. Investigates the potential for improving quality in the consumer studies teaching process, through group work, presentation skills and peer/self assessment techniques, culminating in a final questionnaire and group discussion. Students accepted groupwork, while they were less enthusiastic about peer assessment. They consistently overrated and although appearing to recognize good and bad presentations, this was reflected more in their qualitative feedback, rather than in the final marks awarded, perhaps reinforcing the belief that what the technique lacks in terms of precision, it compensates for in learning quality. Final-year students developed their discriminatory abilities but were sceptical of the benefits, while year-two students, although willing, actually marked more generously. Ultimately, there is a need to continue to involve students and to see evaluation in a positive, developmental light, incorporating qualitative feedback to define and assess teaching quality more correctly.
 
Article
Purpose – The paper aims to describe research undertaken in two post-1992 universities into staff perceptions of and reactions to the rhetoric of the national quality agenda in the UK as expressed by bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency and the discourse about quality implicit in that agenda. The research examined how academic staff engaged with the discourse and the extent to which the rhetoric of quality is reflected in the day-to-day realities of post-1992 universities. Design/methodology/approach – The research involved a qualitative investigation of the personal experiences of six academics employed in two post-1992 universities and comprised in-depth interviews around three themes which were undertaken during 2005 and 2006. The data from the interviews are summarised and paraphrased in a way which faithfully and accurately captures the sense and spirit of each of the interviews as validated by the interviewees. Findings – The paper concludes that from the point of view of the academic staff who formed part of this research there is a considerable mismatch between the rhetoric of the official paragons of quality represented by the Quality Assurance Agency and the experience of quality by academic staff embroiled in the quality systems that the two universities involved in this research had developed as a consequence of the requirements of government and government agencies. Originality/value – This paper will be of interest to academics and academic managers with responsibilities for quality assurance not only in universities with mature quality assurance systems but also in those in which such systems are being introduced or developed.
 
Article
Reflects on the quality assessment experience from 1993 to 1996. Discusses the issues raised during that period, the historical situation of higher education and the technical and organizational problems of a rigorous quality assessment programme. Concludes that the revised assess-ment method delivers valuable information, and clarifies the process and responsibilities of assessors.
 
Article
Outlines pointers to possible changes in higher education, particularly in the UK, by 2005. Reference is made to indicators from the UK, USA and Australia. Includes a section on possibilities concentrating on the possible size, shape, structure and nature of the British higher education system by 2005. Also considers demand, funding, the use of new technologies, external competition, research assessment and the standards and purposes of higher education. Discusses ten pitfalls, and concludes with seven principles which could guide development.
 
Article
Argues a market-orientation for the ISO 9000 quality assurance standards. Discusses the experiences of the International Management Centres (IMC) in seeking and gaining certification to ISO 9002. Argues that policing educational process delivery - the keeping of promises - would be a more useful activity for governmental policy-makers than the policing of educational content - the nature of the promise. Summarises in brief the clauses of ISO 9002 as they apply to IMC. Concludes with recommendations to educational institution administrators and policy-makers.
 
Article
Argues a market-orientation for the ISO 9000 quality assurance standards. Discusses the experiences of the International Management Centres (IMC) in seeking and gaining certification to ISO 9002. Argues that policing educational process delivery - the keeping of promises - would be a more useful activity for governmental policy-makers than the policing of educational content - the nature of the promise. Summarises in brief the clauses of ISO 9002 as they apply to IMC. Concludes with recommendations to educational institution administrators and policy-makers.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Addresses the question of how ISO 9000, the international standard for quality management systems, may best be applied to higher education. Begins with a concise but systematic description of the requirements of ISO 9000 for industry in terms of a simplified model of a factory. Argues that the product of higher education must be the actual learning of the students and not merely the provision of learning opportunities. Hence shows how the requirements of ISO 9000 for higher education may be interpreted in terms of a simplified model of a university. Highlights the key educational management issues raised and reviews how they are currently being addressed in practice.
 
Article
Presents a framework for the exploration of academic standards at institutional level. Identifies five areas for special attention. Formulates a set of expectations for each, on which it is expected there will be a large measure of agreement. The primary task is then seen to convert these expectations into calibrated standards (for output, process and inputs) which may be expressed as quantitative (e.g. statistical indicators) or qualitative (e.g. narrative descriptors) measures. The final task is to benchmark the standards within and between institutions.
 
Article
Presents the general thesis that absolute academic quality is something which must be sought after but, by its nature, can never be fully attained. Describes the quality-assurance and quality-control systems which operate within The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and shows how these have recently been supplemented by the establishment of an internal quality audit team within the university, charged with the task of monitoring the quality of these existing quality systems. Describes the team's first three audits – evaluating the university's course appraisal system, evaluating its validation and review procedures, and evaluating the quality of its teaching. Then outlines the team's future programme as currently envisaged, showing how this is designed to help the university to prepare for its first HEQC Audit, which is expected to take place around 1995-1996. Finally, evaluates the success of RGU's Internal Quality Audit Team, and argues that other higher education establishments might find it useful to establish similar “meta-quality” systems.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Quality Assurance in Education, published by and copyright Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Seeks to identify issues that impact on the motivation of academic staff in higher education. Argues that the rational-economic model, the social model, the self-actualizing model and the complex models of motivation provide a basis for analysing staff motivation as a central issue in evolving quality cultures. Discusses environmental factors that impact on motivation including: approaches to financial rewards, the culture of teaching and higher education, the diversity of staff experience and roles, personal autonomy, and organizational structure.
 
Example of the application case relating to cultural literacy
Article
Purpose – This paper aims to focus on the successful efforts made at a university business school in the Gulf region to develop an assessment tool to evaluate the communication skills of undergraduate students as part of satisfying the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation requirements. We do not consider the validity of establishing learning outcomes or meeting these according to AACSB criteria. Rather, we address ourselves solely to the design of a testing instrument that can measure the degree of student learning within the parameters of university-established learning outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – The testing of communication skills, as opposed to language, is notoriously complex, and we describe our identification of constituent items that make up the corpus of knowledge that business students need to attain. We discuss our development of a testing instrument which reflects the learning process of knowledge, comprehension and application. Findings – Our work acted as a valid indicator of the effectiveness of teaching and learning as well as a component of accreditation requirements. Originality/value – The challenge to obtain accreditation, supported by appropriate assessment procedures, is now a high priority for more and more universities in emerging, as well as in developed, economies. For business schools, the accreditation provided by AACSB remains perhaps the most sought after global quality assurance program, and our work illustrates how the required plotting and assessment of learning objectives can be accomplished.
 
Article
Purpose - The paper presents a new paradigm for implementing action learning in a key subject area in a program. Design/methodology/approach - An action research-based course evaluation methodology was linked to course design and development at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Involving students via effective communication provided a sense of connection and greater understanding for instructors in terms of engagement through direct insight into relevant issues of student learning and knowledge management. Findings - The use of this and a wide variety of other relevant information via the application of action research provided an innovative platform that embedded the desire to innovate and improve the learning outcomes by combining course evaluation with a continuous course design process. This has been shown to be a far more effective method than the narrow measurement process of student course evaluation questionnaires. Research limitations/implications - As with all action research this is a continually evolving process and the data provided are from early iterations of the cycle. Practical implications - The research provides a platform for ongoing investigation of learning while improving and assuring outcomes for those involved in the process. Originality/value - The study presents a new paradigm in action via a case study set within core management and human resource management courses. The new evaluation methodology, together with its implementation, has proved beneficial in terms of innovation through the action research cycle.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. In higher education, translating institutional objectives into meaningful action is a challenging task, particularly given the currency attached to analogies such as the view that managing academics is akin to herding cats, or that teaching in HE is one of the last cottage industries. Yet alignment is becoming increasingly important, as the reports of national inquiries and commissions (e.g. Dearing, West, Boyer) and the pronouncements and plans of governments indicate. The paper examines one illustration of steps that an institution has taken to translate objectives into action.
 
Article
Purpose – The United Kingdom (UK) has recently published secondary education value added measures. This paper examines whether the approach used could also offer a possible method for measuring value added in higher education (HE). Design/methodology/approach – Previous attempts to measure HE value added in the UK, such as comparative value added (CVA), met with criticism relating to their estimation of the “expected” degree class (DegCL). This paper examines whether the recent experiences in secondary education give any insights into solving this problem. Findings – The paper identifies that the techniques applied in secondary education are remarkably similar to those used by CVA, and it argues that they appear to suffer from similar pitfalls. It is shown, through a statistical analysis, that in practice a whole range of factors have a significant influence on degree performance. Research limitations/implications – The data set used in the statistical analysis of HE performance is relatively old. Future research could repeat this study with recent data. Practical implications – The development of an accurate measure of value added in HE will need to apply measuring techniques that are significantly more sophisticated than those used for UK secondary education. Originality/value – The value of this paper is that it identifies key issues that will need to be addressed before a credible measure of value added can be developed for HE.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Worldwide, higher education is undergoing major changes in its organisation. In this context, the concept of quality assurance control has emerged as a primary instrument for evaluating performance and accountability in higher education systems. South Africa is the latest candidate for a nationally imported system of quality assurance in the wake of several policy and legal initiatives to transform higher education after the demise of apartheid. Several contemporary developments, notably the South African Higher Education Bill and the Education White Paper 3 (Higher Education) are part of the government's commitment to transform higher education. This paper will briefly discuss the origins and nature of quality assurance in South Africa. The article also critically reviews a number of conceptual frameworks about quality in higher education in order to develop a better and shared understanding of, and appropriate responses to quality assurance.
 
Article
This paper looks at developments in the use of learning technologies in UK higher education, particularly in recent years. It examines the agenda items for learning and teaching associated with the use of new technologies that have emerged in the context of the current agenda for quality assessment and assurance. The paper considers the ways in which the two agendas work in a complementary manner, and the ways in which they create tensions. Finally, it considers the likely path of future developments and considers a way forward in which existing tensions may be reconciled.
 
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to discuss Portuguese academics’ views on quality assessment and the elements that are important for a better understanding of what ascribes meaning to “quality cultures” in Portuguese higher education. Design/methodology/approach – The discussion was based on the results of a survey run in 2010 among Portuguese academics on quality assessment objectives and purposes. Descriptive statistics was used to investigate academics’ support to what quality assessment was supposed to guarantee (its purposes) and which should be its objectives. Furthermore, a factorial analysis using Promax rotation (oblique) was performed to investigate if the different purposes could be grouped according to the different areas they address in terms of quality assessment, helping to uncover a rationale that could explain the answers obtained. Theoretically, the results have been analysed in the light of the “quality culture” concept. Findings – Perceptions of Portuguese academics that support internal processes of quality assurance correspond either to the responsive quality culture or the regenerative quality culture. The viable form of ideal cultures is analytically limited, and the perceptions gathered encourage “quality cultures” biased by stronger group control. Originality/value – The paper offers new insights into academics’ perceptions on quality assessment, a theme that so far has been relatively absent from higher education quality assurance studies. Furthermore, the results obtained could be useful to policymakers and quality assurance agencies when setting up evaluation and accreditation systems capable of balancing improvement associated with the group dimension and accountability coupled with the grid dimension.
 
Media Rater  
Course Modeller  
the Media Selector  
Article
“Toolkits” are decision-making frameworks based on expert models. This paper outlines one toolkit, which provides support for practitioners involved in the process of embedding Learning Technology into their courses. Although the toolkit was created as a design tool, feedback from evaluations identified its value as a means of assessing Quality. This paper outlines the background of the creation and scope of the toolkit, examines how it can be used to assess and enhance the quality of courses and concludes by summarising how toolkits can be used as part of Quality procedures in other areas.
 
Article
Discusses the different forms of external enquiry into the operations of HEIs that constitute existing quality control, assurance and assessment processes and procedures. Proposes that external scrutiny of operations should adopt an approach that ensures accountability, enhances quality, is practical, efficient, effective and offers a degree of autonomy. Asserts that putting continuous quality improvement into practice in higher education requires the implementation of key principles of procedure and practical team approaches which are currently far from endemic across institutions. Describes and explains how the identification of specific roles and responsibilities within academic teams can provide one way of successfully establishing the link between quality control, assurance and assessment and the process of continuous quality improvement in the provision of higher education.
 
Article
Presents a personal view of the assessment process, covering the various experiences of a specialist assessor from initial training through to what happens in real assessment visits. Includes an indication of the workload required of assessors, the author’s experiences of the interaction between the assessors and the staff being assessed, and views of the kind of interaction which operates within the assessment team, the way this impacts on the main work of an assessment visit, and an impression of how the assessment process impacts on higher education in a developmental way. Outlines some of the problems (some trivial, some more serious) which occur either because of the way assessments are conducted or because of the fundamental assessment design, and offers suggestions for some possible solutions.
 
Situational factors affecting QA 
Process-oriented lifecycle model for QA in e-learning 
QA checklist example: course module content review
QA information system environment 
Article
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to propose a process-oriented lifecycle model for ensuring quality in e-learning development and delivery. As a dynamic and iterative process, quality assurance (QA) is intertwined with the e-learning development process. Design/methodology/approach: After reviewing the existing literature, particularly focusing on QA frameworks, procedures, and methodology, a process-oriented model structured around three sequential non-linear phases is presented: before: planning and analysis; during: design, prototype and production; and after: post-production and delivery. This model is supported by an advanced information system used to organize, track, collect, and generate reports regarding QA changes and needed updates. Findings: Following a process-oriented lifecycle approach, the paper emphasises that QA requires a supportive environment that explicitly recognizes quality as a work value and as an enabler for reaching organizational goals. Practical implications: The paper proposes a practical QA model which follows e-learning development phases. For each development phase, practical steps, including sample checklists, are recommended. Originality/value: The proposed model has the potential to transform QA from a static, after-the-fact state to a more iterative and dynamic state, thus promoting a culture of ongoing self-improvement, rather than of circumstantial compliance, within the e-learning community. (Contains 4 figures and 2 notes.)
 
Article
Proposes a model which lecturers in higher education can adopt to evaluate their current state of professional standing and stimulate their developmental growth. Currently, there is greater awareness in many professional groups, especially those in higher education, of the need to engage in critical self‐reflection, quality assurance and the enhancement of educational services. Many are concerned about the threat of deprofessionalization. Introduces the continuous professional development model and describes the significant contributions it can make to staff development programmes, as well as in sensitizing and educating an educational institute’s clients to appreciate fully the services they receive.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Quality Assurance in Education, published by and copyright Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Suggests that an essential prerequisite to the design of instruments for measuring quality in higher education is an appreciation of the complexities associated with the nature of quality measurement and enhancement in higher education. The central role of perceptions and expectations and the complexity of the contributions of the different types of customer are crucial. Explores the following issues: what quality is, which quality is important, and the ownership of quality. Identifies aspects of the educational experience that differentiate education from other service experiences as including exclusivity of access; the role of the customer in the process and the longitudinal nature of the educational experience. Proposes the concept of a service contract, to be established in the first instance with students, as one approach to managing expectations and perceptions in order to generate more positive quality judgements.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Describes work done to research Russian needs in quality management education and to begin the process of creating an infrastructure to meet them. Needs were determined through a questionnaire, interviews and feedback from key actors at specially organised seminars. Knowledge of quality management ideas and the provision of education and training in the quality field were found to be low. Syllabuses and course structures for quality management were devised consistent with EU norms but harmonised as far as possible with existing practice and traditions. A Centre of Excellence to deliver quality management education was founded called the European Quality Centre. It received its first students in September 1998 and it will be the first node in a regional network of such institutions. The creation of an educational infrastructure will facilitate the building of a cadre of trained quality professionals, ultimately enabling Russian quality management practice to rise to world levels.
 
Article
Purpose – Foundation degrees, the new proposal for sub‐degree vocational education in the UK, are characterised by innovation both in their design (curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment) and in the marketplace for which they are designed. This article argues that the development and delivery of foundation degrees carry a high level of risk, and encourages reflection on the nature and impact of those risks. Design/methodology/approach – The article discusses the sources of the risks associated with the development of foundation degrees, as a platform for the development of strategies for the management of risk, and positive quality management. The discussion is developed under the following headings: working in partnership, validation processes, curriculum and learning issues, marketplace and admission issues, staffing and organisational issues, and the student experience. Findings – There are a number of sources of support and advice to assist in mitigation of the risks, but ultimately the responsibility for the management of the risks rests with employers, educational institutions, their staff and students. Originality/value – The article surfaces a range of issues relating to risks and their management in the context of foundation degrees. It should inform curriculum development, and the development of quality management systems for the management of foundation degrees.
 
Article
Explores the concept of quality from the perspective of the learner as part of the learning process. Focuses on the centrality of the learner in identifying and working towards building-in quality to the education and training process. Proposes that, rather than the retrospective approaches to evaluating quality, approaches should be developed which follow the life cycle of the learner. Sees recent curriculum innovations, including the development of modular schemes and proposed funding arrangements in further education, as means of facilitating this approach.
 
Article
Higher education is still very much in demand throughout the world, but is increasingly financially squeezed because of budget constraints. The UK has responded by encouraging “diversity of mission” and setting performance targets. In practice, however, this has often resulted in sameness rather than diversity. This also raises the question of quality and standards. As a result of these developments the traditional idea of a “university” in the UK is itself being challenged. Discusses the major elements of change in higher education. Concludes that the twenty-first century university will be unlikely to succeed unless it can manage change effectively.
 
Article
Describes the operation of a scheme to appraise teaching quality through classroom observation at Bournemouth University during 1993. Outlines the principles, design and evaluation of the scheme.
 
Article
This paper addresses the issue of service quality evaluation within the higher education sector and stresses the need to develop measures that are both psychometrically and practically sound. The paper argues that recent debate surrounding the development of such measures has been too strongly geared toward their psychometric performance, with little regard for their practical value. While the paper supports the need to develop valid, reliable and replicable measures of service quality, it is suggested that educators must not lose sight of the original purpose for which these measures were designed, i.e. their practical value in informing continuous quality improvement efforts. It critiques the use of disconfirmation models and reports on a study of students' perceptions of quality using importance-performance analysis (IPA). The technique allows specific failings in the quality of support issues to be identified and their importance to a quality improvement programme assessed. (Contains 3 tables and 1 figure.)
 
Article
Argues that there is no place for parochialism in distance learning institutions and that their survival in the face of fierce competition will depend on their ability to understand and manage change, make bold and intelligent choices regarding the best strategy to follow to become learning organizations and master the ever-changing technological revolution in order to serve fully the needs of customers in an expanding marketplace. Lists the desired characteristics of an effective distance-learning organization, provides a current profile of Distance Education and Training Council member institutions and offers practical suggestions for distance learning programme design.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Distance learning is becoming more popular in the traditional university setting. The term "traditional" is used to denote the main full-time approach to educational provision that has been evident in higher education. In this paper, we argue for the need to approach such flexible-learning developments with a business-planning approach. This is illustrated in two case-studies where business planning was and was not used. Such a considered approach to full-cost course development will ensure that a course delivered by distance-learning mode is not seen by academic managers as a "cheap option".
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. The article examines the implications of programme specification for the distinctive multidisciplinary curricular environment of the Open University. It concludes that, for multidisciplinary programmes, specification is likely to focus on generic outcomes that relate to institutional level descriptors aligned to descriptors in the national qualification framework. These will be connected to more detailed course specifications that describe the curriculum building-blocks. Generic outcome statements will need to reflect concepts of level, progression, diversity, balance, flexibility, integrity and coherence through an individualised programme that is constructed by the student. It concludes that the adoption of a framework of key skills outcomes benchmarked against the national standards can provide the basis for institutional descriptors against which multidisciplinary programmes can be benchmarked.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Quality Assurance in Education, published by and copyright Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Evaluates a methodology which was developed to measure student satisfaction with significant components of the service experience delivered to students at Edge Hill University College. Uses a questionnaire-based survey to collect information on student satisfaction. The methodology has two unique features: the Student Charter informed the survey design; and student responses were collected electronically through on-screen questionnaires accessible over an intranet. Outcomes suggest that there remains some resistance to the completion of an electronic questionnaire and both paper and electronic versions are likely to continue to be necessary in order to achieve optimum response rates. The methodology has identified specific aspects of the service experience where there was either an absence of student satisfaction or the level of student satisfaction was variable. These aspects have been further explored with focus groups and fed into the quality plan for the college. A “negative quality” model is proposed which may offer a framework for response to different types of feedback from students.
 
Article
Quality has always been a central concern in education. The existent debate of educational quality has, however, shifted. The current discourse about educational quality is replete with slogans like “standards”, “quality control”, “total quality management”, “consumer rights” and “appraisal”. Furthermore, the present debate about educational quality leaves many of the assumptions that underpin the utilization of the concept, quality, unexamined. In addition, recent discussions about educational quality presume, implicitly or explicitly, certain understandings of the practice of education. More importantly, the current discourse of educational quality is largely technicist. Argues that the current debate concerning educational quality is underpinned by technicist assumptions with respect to the practice of education. Moreover, further argues that the prevalent discourse of educational quality suppresses the argument regarding educational equality.
 
Article
Reports on discussions that took place at a series of specialist seminars and workshops on research degree examining organised by the UK Council for Graduate Education during 2000/2001 at various venues in the UK. Debates the processes and procedures of research degree examination in the UK in terms of variations in practice that exist along with principles that signal a common identity. Takes account of the effects of developments in, for example, professional doctorates and the PhD by published work and on perceptions of the “traditional” examination. Issues addressed include: the composition of PhD examining panels and the roles of individual examiners; the training and qualification of examiners; the purpose and nature of the oral examination; the tension between examination of the process of training and that of the “finished product” (which the thesis may be seen to represent). Argues for the need for more transparency about examination processes, for challenge to common assumptions and for a refocusing on research degree examination as a process of assessment.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in Quality Assurance in Education, published by and copyright Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. This article reviews the literature on student feedback questionnaires (SFQs), with a view to proposing some guidelines for the design of SFQs, and the processes associated with data collection, analysis and use. Despite a long and established tradition of use, practice in this area remains diverse, and research generates debate. This article first reviews the literature and surfaces the concerns about current work in this area, and then discusses the following questions that need to be considered in the research design for the collection of student feedback: What are the objectives of the evaluation process? Can standard questionnaires be developed to serve a range of purposes? What issues should be covered by the questions included on the questionnaire? How should data be collected, analysed and used? Answers to these questions should influence the exact design that is undertaken in different circumstances.
 
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline an innovative method of delivering staff development in an higher education (HE) setting. The paper evaluates the processes behind the “Focus on Inspiring Teaching” week and outlines its initial impact on staff. Design/methodology/approach – This is a descriptive case study which highlights how an immersive staff development event can be used to enable HE teaching practitioners to utilise more inspiring approaches to teaching and learning. The paper draws on questionnaire evaluations ( n = 43). Findings – The paper highlights how staff development events can be used to foster communities of practice for teaching staff. For this to be successful, staff needs to be committed to reflecting on their own practice and be sufficiently engaged to partake actively of staff development events. By establishing these communities, inspiring practice in teaching can be developed with successful outcomes. The paper outlines a model for staff development which could be established in other HE settings. Practical implications – Immersive staff development events are effective in achieving sustainable impact. To achieve success effective leadership and a team of committed teaching staff are needed. Success was also fostered by not making sessions compulsory whereby the staff could opt in for sessions to fit around teaching schedules. Originality/value – This paper will be of interest to those working in staff development and training and academic managers. It indicates how immersive staff development can have a positive impact on staff practice to bring about improvements to the student experience.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Making sure that a higher education distance learning course meets student expectations is critical to ensuring the quality of the student experience. Judging whether a course delivers to its promise is a particular challenge when the course is delivered by distance learning and there is no regular face-to-face contact with students, the more so when courses are faced with alternative conceptions, and external audits, of quality. The paper identifies the contested nature of quality, examines models of evaluation, relates them to existing forms of evaluation facing education courses, and offers an alternative constructivist approach based on the notion of a service template.
 
Article
Purpose - This paper aims to explain the nature, and identify the quality criteria of a doctoral thesis by explication for professional management development. Design/methodology/approach - A working definition of a professional doctoral explication thesis (DET) is proposed and substantiated by five experts. The paper takes a practical, educational approach to senior executive development through action learning and explication writing; and it briefly explains the philosophical assumptions underpinning the practice of explication writing, including grounded theory, personal construct theory, critical theory, and systems theory. Findings - The paper identifies the main principles affecting the quality of a thesis, the main characteristics of a DET, the differences between a DET and a PhD thesis, and the differences between "researching" and "writing" an explication. Research limitations/implications - Length of a journal article severely restricts capacity to explain in detail how to write, supervise and examine a DET. With these limitations, this paper presents a rationale for, and new conceptual models of, both knowledge creation and a thesis by explication. Practical implications - The paper offers a practical checklist for candidates, supervisors and examiners for evaluating the quality of a DET, the published works supporting it, and the oral examination. Originality/value - The contributions relate to first, conceptual models of knowledge creation, explication research activities and explication writing; and second, a practical checklist mentioned above.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. Discusses the Indonesian government's strategy to upgrade higher education in the country through various development programs, the Engineering Education Development Project (EEDP) being one of them. Underlying all these, Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement in all aspects of higher education are paramount. This article also identifies a number of fundamental changes to the education system that need to happen in order to successfully implement these various programs.
 
Article
Quality, Deming reminds us, is made in the board‐room, or, in the educational context, in Senate or Council. The quality of the decisions made by the incumbents of these offices will be conditional on the information which is available and accessible to them. People and information will be the focus of advances in strategic management systems – in both educational and commercial/industrial circumstances. Accurate, germane and timely data are a prerequisite, though not a guarantee, of quality decisions. Describes a quality framework applicable to higher education, with specific reference to personnel and human resource management. Follows with an examination and consideration of the factors governing the acquisition, storage and retrieval of data pertinent to a human resource information system (HRIS). Concludes with the generation of a set of criteria which should be applied to the choice or development of such a system.
 
Article
Incl. abstract, bibl. The reformers of the UK higher education system hoped that radical reform would simultaneously result in: improvements in the quality of education provided, increases in cost efficiency and a significant expansion in student numbers. This paper takes a close look at the reforms by undertaking both a time-series and a cross-section econometric analysis of the data to examine the relationships between quality, quantity and efficiency. Claims that the evidence shows that there have been genuine efficiency improvements and that these can be explained by the mechanics of the principal-agent relationship which exists between the taxpayer and the higher education sector. However, it is also found that educational quality is costly, for example it is likely to cost the taxpayer £1,200 per academic per year to gain one percentage point in the production of first-class graduates.
 
Article
Examines the applicability of total quality management (TQM) to education and summarizes its underlying theory and principles. Discusses the relationship between quality assurance and total quality management with reference to ISO 9000. Aligns educational institutions with a service organization model and outlines the resultant implications for the development of a TQM initiative. These issues include the expansion of the internal supplier/customer concept, a greater focus on the marketplace, the identification of customers, the pursuit of continuous improvement and the strengthening of feedback linkages from the environment. Mentions potential problems with the adoption of such service sector models in the context of scholarship, individuality and the team ethos, and the commercial quality terminology of “zero defects” and “right first time” thinking. Concludes that educational institutions are likely to reap significant benefits from an appropriate implementation of TQM, provided that there is considerable planning, management commitment, culture change and a long-term perspective which goes beyond the next AGM.
 
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Incl. abstract, bibl.
 
Normalized pairwise comparison matrix 
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The purpose of this paper is to measure the performance of commercial virtual learning environment (VLE) systems, which helps the decision makers to select the appropriate system for their institutions. This paper develops an integrated multiple criteria decision making approach, which combines the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and quality function deployment (QFD), to evaluate and select the best system. The evaluating criteria are derived from the requirements of those who use the system. A case study is provided to demonstrate how the integrated approach works. The major advantage of the integrated approach is that the evaluating criteria are of interest to the stakeholders. This ensures that the selected system will achieve the requirements and satisfy the stakeholders most. Another advantage is that the approach can guarantee the benchmarking to be consistent and reliable. From the case study, it is proved that the performance of a VLE system being used at the university is the best. Therefore, the university should continue to run the system in order to support and facilitate both teaching and learning. It is believed that there is no study that measures the performance of VLE systems, and thus decision makers may have difficulties in system evaluation and selection for their institutions.
 
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Incl. abstract, bibl. Reports on and analyses the attitudes towards standards in higher education of a random sample of senior managers, senior administrators and senior academics in a range of different types of higher education institutions. In order to construct an analytical framework for the empirical research, there is a synthesis of the current debate on standards. The research data were collected in two phases; first, by means of 21 in-depth interviews in seven higher education institutions and, second, through the questionnaire responses of a larger number of senior staff in a greater number of institutions. Generally, the research results indicate that senior academics are more concerned about falling standards than their senior manager and senior administrator colleagues. This concern over standards appears to be more pronounced in older universities.
 
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Jacqueline Douglas
  • Liverpool John Moores University
Jennifer Rowley
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
Alex Douglas
  • Management University of Africa
Steve Baron
  • University of Liverpool
Martin A. O’Neill