22 SES 11 B, Prospects for Transitions: Equity and Differentiation in Marketised HE Systems
This paper has three aims. First, it explores the growth and predominance of national and international performance indicators of teaching quality; second, it provides a critical interrogation of the concept of ‘teaching quality’; and third, it explores the relationships (real and assumed) between the measurement of teaching quality and students’ experiences of teaching. The context for the paper is the unprecedented level of attention paid to quantitative performance indicators by Higher Education Institutions across Europe, the USA and Australia. In the UK, for example, many Institutions now consider the National Student Survey as the de facto indicator for the quality of teaching and the student experience, despite some significant criticisms of its validity and reliability as a measurement instrument. Drawing its empirical base from the literature around teaching excellence, institutional quality enhancement initiatives, and qualitative student engagement research projects, the paper explores how students’ learning experiences and perception of teaching quality are both more complex and contested than either national performance indicators or the discourse on teaching excellence suggests. Situated theoretically in relation to the broader discourses of marketisation, differentiation and equity, the paper argues that the complex configuration of factors makes any easy link between performance indicators and teaching quality problematic, and puts forward the view that teaching and learning is dependent on socially variable and institutionally-contextual conditions which make it difficult to ‘measure’ institutional and sector-wide ‘improvements’ with any accuracy. The paper has its basis in a range of different perspectives within one institution – an institutional manager, an educational developer, and a lecturer and researcher. These perspectives open up some key debates about the measurement, enhancement and meaning of ‘quality’ teaching, and whether improvements in performance do in fact represent a genuine improvement in the taught experience of students.
Ashwin, P. (2012) On developing positive alternatives to the consumerist visions of higher education in recent policy documents. In: the SRHE Student Experience Network seminar, 23 February 2012. Buckley, A. (2012) Making It Count: Reflecting on the National Student Survey in the Process of Enhancement. York: Higher Education Academy. Gibbs, G. (2012) Implications of 'Dimensions of Quality' in a market environment. Higher Education Academy Research Series, 2012. Taylor, C. and McCaig, C. (2014) Evaluating the impact of number controls, choice and competition: an analysis of the student profile and the student learning environment in the new higher education landscape, Higher Education Academy, York, August 2014. Trowler, V. (2010) Student engagement literature review. York: HEA.
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