ERG SES H 04, Efficacy and Success in Education
Conceptualising educational quality has been characterised by two major traditions: an economist that mostly judges quality based on financial returns, cost-efficiency of programs with the use of indicators; and a humanist/progressive one that focuses more on the role of education in overcoming inequalities and establishing social well-being. Many authors suggest (e.g. Barrett et al., 2006; Tikly, 2011) that the dominance of the economist approach, with few exceptions, has made the western episteme of understanding quality in education prevail, which impedes grasping the complexity of outcomes in unique educational programs that do not fit neatly in either of the two approaches. Learning Communities, a school transformation model based on a large-scale longitudinal research project (INCLUD-ED: Strategies for Inclusion and Social Cohesion in Europe from Education 2006-2011), is one of these programs. It has been evidenced that inclusion and utilisation of the cultural knowledge of parents, community members and social workers in classrooms and school matters not only improve students academic performance, solidarity and equality in general, but also lead to a more efficient school operation and the socio-economic development of the surrounding community.
The main obejctive of the paper was to find out how educational quality is defined in Learning Communities when characteristics of the economist and humanist/progressive traditions are equally discernible. The following two research questions were identified. What are the underlying quality-related assumptions in research papers discussing Learning Communities? How consistent the quality concept of Learning Communities is with the major approaches to educational quality?
The theoretical framework is based on a five-component model that is proposed as a tool to analyse education quality. It includes effectiveness, efficiency, equality, relevance and sustainability. The model is argued to be independent from any tradition of quality concept, as they were identified by a literature review that involved both economist and humanist/progressive accounts. This framework was intentionally chosen to allow for a more objective approach in analysing the quality concept.
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