22 SES 07 C, Paper Session
The author will use a policy analysis and evaluation approach (Schouwstra, Ellman, 2006) for analyzing the Estonian HE policy. Formally, Estonia follows the Bologna process. Sometimes, politicians use impression management techniques and badly-defined performance indicators (Jans, 2007). How much do the Estonian policymakers adhere to the European conceptual and institutional framework? Is the Estonian quality model (EKKA 2020) inherent to the European one (ESG 2015)? Does it require the implementation of new curriculum theories and studies like the ESG 2015? The paper will illuminate this. The results of the critical review of the EKKA 2020 and the alternative curriculum theory will be forwarded to relevant politicians (EKKA). If they are willing to improve then they would start collaboration. This process would be conducted in accordance with the action research model.
A short review of educational history and management research reveals that quality improvement has not been the main goal. If it were the main objective then the education system should implement relevant theories, including a new curriculum framework. HE management has been and remained under-researched in CEE countries (Teichler et al., 2019, 24). In Estonia, the same has been true (James et al., 2013). There have been conducted a few studies (Tomusk, 1997, and 2004, Haav, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2021, OECD, 2007, Saar, Roosalu, 2018, Heidmets et al., 2018). The critical conclusion concerns, especially, the administration of curricula (Haav, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021, Koit, 2016, Kumpas-Lenk, 2019). There have been also conducted some national (Seema et al., 2017) and international (Manatos & Huisman, 2020) reviews of the quality assessment system in Estonia.
As in the advanced countries, there was a massification of higher education in Estonia. In the period 1993 to 2003, the number of students increased from 26 to 63 thousand or 2,5 times. Since 2000, the number of educational administrators increased rapidly on both the national and university levels. They introduced neoliberal steering models with their quantitative performance indicators. All this, alas, rewards the quantity rather than the quality of teaching and research. In 2006-2015, Estonia took part in the European higher education reform. As a result, Estonian HEIs also reformulated all curricula as outcome-oriented in 2010 (Biggs, Tang, 2007, Haav, 2015). It should have put students into the centre of education. Unfortunately, this has not yet happened (Kumpas-Lenk, 2019). Maria J. Manatos and Jeroen Huisman (2020) have uncovered that HEIs in some countries like Croatia, Estonia, Finland and Portugal have deviated from the ESG. In particular, they noticed that Estonian guidelines use terms that deviate from ESG terms.
I took part in this campaign at TUT in 2010-2011. I followed the guidelines and theories (Biggs, Tang 2007) and complemented them with a social theoreticalframework (Haav, 2012, 2015, 2021). All this was implemented in some social science curricula. The results were positive. Next, I was willing to set up a centre for the development, monitoring and research of curricula at the university, but I didn’t receive any relevant support.
I have taken part in the higher education system and forward proposals for its quality improvement for more than 15 years. The paper will review the alternative curriculum framework. In the last 15 years, there have been many large educational campaigns (outcome-oriented curricula in HE in 2006-2015, a national curriculum in 2008-2014, reformulation of curricula in 2016-2021 and manipulations with the national educational strategy for years 2021-2035 (in 2018-2020). The paper also reviews how these campaigns have reacted to the new curriculum theory. These reactions enable us to draw some conclusions about higher education, its administration and quality assurance systems.
In principle, this is a national case study. It combines many methods like literature review, theory development, participant-observation, analysis of normative documents, models for policy analysis and evaluation, action research, and social experiments. Review of the conceptual system for the development of students and curricula (Haav, 2012, and 2015). It relies on dichotomist concepts of social actors and structures (norms and laws) that enable the description of hierarchical relations between owners, managers, and employees in power organizations. These hierarchical structures introduce social inequality between the main social actors. This inequality enables social injustice. The main actors have different interests, value orientations (individual success and well-being or social well-being and solidarity), political ideologies (neo-liberal or social-democratic), and scientific paradigms (like one-dimensional functionalist harmony or multi-dimensional different interests). Description of the Estonian higher education quality assurance agency (EKKA), its main normative documents (assessment concepts), and external reviews (EKKA, 2014, 2017, 2020). Critical analysis of some social science study programs in higher education. Are the curricula social scientifically relevant? Do they refer to the new system of social scientific concepts? Do they enable teaching and learning social and citizenship competencies? How did the external experts assess the same study programs (EKKA, 2014)? Comparison of the qualitative case studies with the results of the international evaluations. Review of other studies on HE curricula (Kumpas-Lenk, 2019.) In 2010, I took part in the introduction of outcome-oriented curricula in HEIs. I used methods of participant observation and action research. Field experiments. How do the main actors react to the new framework for quality improvement in education? I have observed and recorded this for many years. Interviews with some Agency officials, university scholars, and school teachers.
The study has used a model for policy analysis and evaluation (Schouwstra & Ellman 2006) and uncovered some deficiencies in Estonian education policy. If they would be fixed then Estonia would become an education nation (https://www.educationnation.ee/ ). The EKKA concept (2020) partly repeats the European normative standards (ESG 2015), but partly neglects some of them. It doesn’t take curriculum development as the main factor of quality improvement. It ignores the need for using all new studies and theories for the relevant curricula. Estonian HEIs should not take into account either critical analyses of their curriculum practice or scientific concepts and frameworks for the development of both students and curricula. Some HEIs have taken advantage of this Concept 2020 and neglected ESG 2015. Some social science curricula ignore the new curriculum framework. EKKA has reviewed assessments in 2011-2016 (2020, 22). They confess only problems with teaching staff, with curriculum administrators, their educational competencies, and political will. The author has recommended his new framework (Haav 2015 etc.) to the Ministry of Education and Research (MER) and the main centers of teacher education in Estonia. It was forwarded also to some huge political campaigns for re-formulation of the national curricula in 2016-2021 and for the formulation of the new education strategy for the years 2021-2035. The typical reaction has been ignorance. All these campaigns have neglected the scientific curriculum theory without any justifications according to the new EKKA concept 2020. It is a violation of both the ESG 2015 and the Ministerial curriculum policy. The Estonian educational authorities use the policy implementation models inadequately. The role of academic and administrative arbitrariness in curriculum policy is still too big. The Estonian authorities and HEIs ignore the new curriculum theory and, consequently, violate the ESG 2015.
Biggs, J., Tang, C. (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. SRHE, Open University Press. EKKA (2014) Tallinn University. Institutional Accreditation. Assessment Report. [http://ekka.archimedes.ee/en/universities/institutional-accreditation/assessment-decisions-reports/ ] EKKA (2017) Self-Evaluation Report. External Review of Estonian Quality Agency. Tallinn: EKKA, Archimedes. http://ekka.archimedes.ee/wp-content/uploads/EKKA_Self-Evaluation_Report_2017.pdf EKKA (2020) Conceptual Plan for Quality Assessment in Higher Education. http://ekka.archimedes.ee/wp-content/uploads/HE_Assessment_Concept_2020.pdf ESG (2015) Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. Brussels. https://www.esu-online.org/?publication=standards-guidelines-quality-assurance-european-higher-education-area-esg-2015 Haav, K. (2012) History of curricula and development of sociological curriculum theory in Estonia. - Journal Sociology of Science and Technology, St. Petersburg, (3) 3: 54-73. http://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/history-of-curricula-and-development-of-sociological-curriculum-theory-in-estonia Haav, K. (2015) [Development of social science curriculum theory and critical analysis of the curriculum reform in Estonia in 2006-2010]. In Est. - Riigikogu Toimetised 32, 119-132. http://rito.riigikogu.ee/eelmised-numbrid/nr-32/ Haav, K. (2018) Implementation of curriculum theory in formation of specialists in higher education. – J. Valsiner (ed.), Sustainable Futures for Higher Education. Springer, 305-311. Haav, K. (2021) A Rational Theory for Development of Curricula and Students. – Accepted for publication. Heidmets, M., Udam, M., Vanari, K., Vilgats, B. (2018) Good university and excellent professor: competing quality perspectives. – J. Valsiner et al. (eds.). Springer, 123-140. James, D., De Corte, E., Harford, J., Zgaga, P. (2013) Educational Research in Estonia 2007-2011. Evaluation Report 2. Tallinn: Estonian Research Council. https://www.etag.ee/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Evaluation_report2013_1.pdf Koit, K. (2016) [Approaches to internal quality insurance in Estonia’s universities and their concordance with the ESG.] In Est. Tartu: University of Tartu. Kumpas-Lenk, K. (2019) [Implementation of Outcome-Based Education in Estonian Higher Education: The Design of Learning Outcomes Matters]. Tallinn: TLÜ. www.etera.ee Manatos, M. J. & Huisman, J. (2020) The use of the European Standards and Guidelines by national accreditation agencies and local review panels. - Quality in Higher Education. MER (2020) Estonia’s educational strategy for years 2021-2035. https://www.hm.ee/en/activities/strategic-planning-2021-2035 [Mikk, J., Veisson, M., Luik, P. (2008) Reforms and Innovations in Estonian Education. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.] OECD (2007) OECD Reviews of Tertiary Education. Estonia. https://www.oecd.org/estonia/39261460.pdf Seema, R., Udam, M., Mattisen, H., Lauri, L. (2017). The perceived impact of external evaluation: the system, organization, and individual levels. Estonian case. - Higher Education, 73 (1), 79−95. Teichler, U., Zgaga, P., Schuetze, H. Andrä, W. (2019) Higher education reform: looking back - looking forward. Peter Lang. [https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333089023_Higher_education_reform_looking_back_-_looking_forward ] Tomusk, V. (2004) 13 years of higher education reforms in Estonia: perfect chaos. – V. Tomusk (ed.). [The Open World and Closed Societies.] New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
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