22 SES 06 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Increased internationalization of higher education, independence of universities and global competition has resulted in greater emphasis on quality assurance. Usually quality assurance consists of 1) internal evaluation carried out by the institutions themselves (often by standardized criteria) and 2) external evaluation where external experts evaluate the institution on the basis of their internal evaluation.
The aim of external evaluation is either improvement oriented towards helping institutions to improve their activities or it can be judgement/control oriented, referring to the overall effectiveness of university activities or university programs (Patton, 1997; Danø and Stensaker, 2007). Accreditation/audits of HE institutions are often related to control. In the Nordic countries, the evaluation of universities was mostly improvement oriented but leaned more towards control with the implementation of the Bologna declaration (Danö and Stensaker, 2007 Thune, 1998, Liuhanen, 2008). In the evaluation process the concept utilization is important and refers to actors’ (individual or an organization) conscious use of knowledge or experience (Liuhanen, 2008).
There has not been much research on the usefulness of internal and external evaluation for the institution and it´s staff. Some studies indicate, however, that academic staff finds evaluation aiming at improvement more useful than control oriented evaluation. It has also been found that the meaning attached to the evaluation process is of importance in regards to utilization, i.e. the degree the organization and its staff can use the evaluation process for own purposes (Van der Meer, 2007, Liuhanen, 2008). Furthermore it has been found that the university staff must find the experts in the external panel trustworthy and credible (Haapakorpi, Geirsdóttir and Jóhanndóttir 2013). It has been argued that In order to enhance utilization the universities need to be active participants during the whole evaluation process; have something to say about when the evaluation takes place and be able to suggest and reject experts in the external panel (Liuhanen, 2008, Happakorpiet al,2013 )
Most countries have established quality assurance agencies that are responsible for the evaluation of university activities. The evaluation of Icelandic universities was, until recently, in the hands of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Analyses of the development of Icelandic quality assurance of HE institutions show that until 2006 the aim of external evaluation was improvement oriented but became more control oriented in 2006. This change was connected to stipulated accreditation of Icelandic universities in accordance to the Bologna declaration (Happakorpi, Geirsdóttir and Jóhanndóttir 2013).
In 2010 a special Quality Board for Icelandic HE was established, consisting of foreign experts in quality assurance. The task of the Board was to develop an Icelandic Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) in close cooperation with the educational authorities and universities. This solution was seen to combine close connection with the Icelandic higher education context and international expertise to the forefront of international quality standards. The Quality Enhancement Framework and Handbook is based on ENQUA criteria and standards but emphasises active participation of academic staff and students and a degree of autonomy in the evaluation process (Rannís, 2010).
Litterture Danø, T. and Stensaker, B.(2007), ‘Still Balancing Improvement and Accountability? Developments in external Quality Assurance in the Nordic Countries 1996–2006’, Quality in Higher Education, 13(1), 81–93. Happakorpi, A. Geirsdóttir, G. and Jóhanndóttir, G.; (2013) How useful is quality assurance for university management and academic staff? A case study of Finland and Iceland European Journal of Higher Education, accepted for publication. Liuhanen, A.-M., (2008), How are University evaluations used? The perspectives of two Finnish universities, University of Tampere, Academic Dissertation. Retrieved September 12th 2012 at http://acta.uta.fi/pdf/978-951-44-7207-7.pdf Meer van der, F.-B., (2007), ‘The Public management and evaluation’, in C. Pollitt & S. van Thiel and V. Holmburg (Eds.)The Public management in Europe. Adaptation and Alternatives. Palgrave: Macmillan. Patton, M. (1997). Utilization-Focused Evaluation. The New Century Text.. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE . Rannís, 2010. Retrieved 28th of January 2013 at http://rannis.is/english/qef/ Thune, C. (1996). The alliance of accountability and improvement: The Danish experience, Quality in Higher Education, 2, 21−32.
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