Supporting Quality Teaching in Higher Education - Phase 1 - Methodology

 

The methodology chosen during the first phase of the project included five main tools:

 

 

Review of literature

The literature review highlights the main debates on the topic and is organized in three parts which address three major questions:

1 - What is Quality Teaching and why is it important in higher education?

2 - How can teaching concretely be enhanced?

3 - How can one make sure Quality Teaching initiatives are effective?

 

The literature review highlights factors influencing quality teaching such as the national context, institutional structure, student profile, teacher training, the use of information technology. It points out the problem of reaching a clear definition of quality teaching, noting that quality can be regarded as an outcome or as a property or even as a process, and that conceptions of quality teaching are stakeholder relative. The term quality teaching appears indefinable a priori because it is unstable and dependent on the national context. Moreover the sources cited in the review are mainly from the English speaking world origins, limiting the scope for applying the findings in other cultural contexts.

As a consequence of these constraints the study has focused on the different meaning and significance given by each participating institution to the concept of quality teaching.

 

Online questionnaire

A standardized online questionnaire was used to elicit descriptions of the quality teaching initiatives and the level of engagement at each institution. The answers to the questionnaire provide a set of “institutional illustrations” comprising an individual document for each participating institution, which is made publicly available on the IMHE website, if the institution agrees (see the completed questionnaires). “Institutional illustrations” reflect the situation from the standpoint of the institution. They were not required to be judgmental even though the respondent was free to deliver his/her thoughts on the quality teaching approach. They constitute the essential information on which the cross-analysis has been built.

 

The questionnaire is composed of 69 questions focusing on two main areas:

1. The profile and context of the institution: The introductory section of the questionnaire aims to present the profile and the local and national quality assurance context of the institution in order to build understanding of the legal environment in which the institution operates. It addresses the issues of accreditation, evaluation and the level of autonomy on teaching matters.

2. The quality teaching initiatives: The second part of the questionnaire includes specific sections which address the origin, functioning, coverage and sustainability, progress monitoring and the synergies of each quality teaching initiative within the institution.

Institutions were invited to attach supporting documents that would clarify responses.

The responses were collected between March and September 2008. Institutions were free to decide who should provide their responses. The three main groups of responders were Rectors or heads of academic affairs; Deans and heads of academic departments; and heads of quality units and professional development.

 

To see the original version of the online questionnaire click here.

To see the completed questionnaire for each university click here.

 

 

The conference on Quality Teaching

On the basis of the questionnaire responses, the complementary interviews and the attached documents, a detailed report regarding the initial results has been set up and presented to the participating institutions in occasion of a conference held at the Open University of Catalonia in December 2008:

 

Seminar on Quality Teaching, Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, 15 December 2008

 

All the institutions have been invited to comment on the report afterwards and to update the quotations of their quality teaching initiatives featured in the report.

 

Click here to see a presentation of the conference contents.