Quality assurance in education
|Learning and Teaching in Practice|
|Module 3: Teaching context and learning design|
|Quality assurance||Introduction | Tertiary education in NZ | The qualifications framework | Quality assurance approaches | Quality assurance in education | Summary|
- 1 Design, development and approval
- 2 Case Study: Emilia
- 3 Case Study: Emilia
- 4 Case Study: Brett
- 5 Activity
Design, development and approval
- Establishing a need
- Design and development of a new programme or course generally starts with a perception that there is a need for it. This need may arise because of a new industry, a shortage in the workforce, or interest expressed by potential students. Market research may be carried out to confirm that such a need really exists.
- Delivery modes
- This is a key decision to be made early in the development process, since it may have a major impact on course design. Some kind of blended learning or eLearning may be desirable to reach the target group.
- Consultation with stakeholders
- NZQA expects the organisation to show evidence that stakeholders (e.g. a professional body or industry) support the course or programme. Consultation takes place at every stage of the development process: not just in establishing a need, but in confirming that the course outcomes, content, resources and assessment are appropriate and relevant.
- Internal approval
- Most institutions require formal approval to be given to the new course or programme at key stages. For example, the Quality Enhancement Centre at Otago Polytechnic provides templates based on NZQA quality standards for programmes and courses. They assist staff to fill them out thus producing a comprehensive document for each new programme or course. These documents are then checked and scrutinized by staff on the Academic Approvals Committee. Once modifications are made, the documentation is submitted to Academic Board for final approval. This ensures that the institute's internal quality standards are met. The Graduate Diploma of Tertiary Education programme document is available on the NZQA website (scroll down to access the pdf).
- Ongoing review and monitoring
- Most institutions provide for regular comprehensive reviews of programmes (e.g. annually at Otago Polytechnic), as well as ongoing monitoring through their audit office and professional bodies. For example, the School of Social Services has a PEAC (Permanent External Advisory Committee) made up of external stakeholders, and members of Otago Polytechnic staff and Council. This committee is an important component of quality assurance as it represents the community voice with regard to the "quality, relevance, scope and currency of ... courses".
- Internal moderation: Statistics on enrollments, retention and completion rates must be reported to the Ministry of Education, as these determine the level of funding provided to an institution. Additionally, staff may report to a faculty committee on assessment results, issues and problems, etc. Several departments at Otago Polytechnic operate Assessment committees. This internal moderation process is important to ensure that "internal assessment is accurate, consistent, and to the national standard". For more information, please look at the NZQA guidelines for Internal moderation.
- Evaluation of delivery and resources
- Institutions have polices for gathering feedback from students on the quality and effectiveness of the course's delivery - e.g. the teaching approach and the online resources and activities.
- Programme review
- In addition to ongoing review and evaluation, most institutions require programmes to undergo a major review every 5 years. Such a process of review involves internal moderation and external moderation. For the latter, experts in the field are asked to review material, and in particular the assessments.
- External moderation also helps to ensure that the assessment standards are consistent with the standards used nationally (or even internationally) by other providers. External moderation may be carried out by a staff member from another institution or by a national moderator appointed by NZQA.
Assessment and moderation
So how is moderation used when designing and developing assessments? The quality of assessment documents and processes is assured through moderation. Moderation incorporates two key stages:
- Pre-assessment moderation
- Carried out prior to the assessment process to ensure the quality of assessment materials.
- Post-assessment moderation
- Carried out after the assessment process to ensure the quality of assessment decisions- i.e. is the marking consistent and in line with accepted benchmarks and criteria (validity)? Do different markers get similar results (reliability)?
Most organisations will have assessment and moderation policies.
All the quality assurance processes outlined above take place within the overall quality assurance of the organisation. 'Big-picture' quality assurance generally takes place through:
- Self-assessment by the organisation
- Since NZQA introduced an Evaluative approach to quality assurance, self-assessment is encouraged as an ongoing process instead of just being an annual event. This process is outlined in the Annual reviews of programmes do still occur, and generally involve a small team of staff members who review the organisation's overall effectiveness in meeting its goals as well as the effective functioning of its quality assurance processes.
- External evaluation and review
- Normally takes places less frequently, and involves a small team of external reviewers appointed by NZQA. The team reviews the organisation's overall effectiveness in meeting its goals as well as the effective functioning of its quality assurance processes (including the self-assessment).
Professional development of teachers
Quality assurance for teaching and learning is also linked to annual performance appraisal processes for teaching staff, and staff development policies. For example, teachers may be expected to gather feedback from students on the effectiveness of their teaching as one of the sources of data for the appraisal process. They may also be required to complete a teaching qualification or attend professional development events.