How should teaching quality in higher education be defined and assessed?

Thursday, 17 November, 2016

A newly-released literature review, commissioned by the HEA, has found that there is little agreement on how to define teaching quality and little evidence of the rigorous evaluation of the methods used to deliver it.

The review project sought to map the key concepts, trends and demonstrable impacts emerging from literature since 2012. It placed particular focus on identifying 'what works' - how teaching quality is demonstrated or operationalised through the student experience, teacher performance and institutional approaches. Finally, the review examined how ‘teaching quality’ is currently measured. 

It found that the literature reviewed was dominated by opinion pieces based on secondary documentary analysis rather than empirical evidence.

Geoff Stoakes HEA, Head of Special Projects said:
“This review is a very timely reminder that the notion of ‘quality teaching’ requires further cooperation from across the higher education sector to establish an agreed definition. It also indicates there is an urgent need for rigorous evaluation of the methods of assessing it. The Learning Gain projects being sponsored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England are aimed at producing just, but there is considerable interest also in the potential for student engagement surveys such as the UK Engagement Survey and for Learning Analytics to work as robust proxies for teaching quality. These issues are key to the improvement of the student learning experience and student outcomes.”  

With importance of 'high quality' education increasingly emphasised both in the UK and abroad, excellence in teaching has become the focus of higher education policy and educational strategies of academic institutions - and is increasingly linked to the performance and assessment of these institutions. Finding agreement in the debates on 'quality', 'excellence' and 'impact' in relation to teaching will be key to demonstrating value for money to students and governments who invest heavily in higher education.

Julie Belanger, part of the research team from research institute RAND Europe, will discuss the review and findings in more detail during a live webinar today (18 November 2016).

Book your place on the webinar which will take place today (18 November) at 12:30pm GMT.

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