What is Quality Assurance?

What is quality assurance in education?

Quality assurance in education can be defined as the maintenance of a desired level of quality in teaching and assessment, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of education. It is a part of educational quality management, focused on providing confidence in that educational quality requirements will be fulfilled. In the EEMCS department, we use the PDCA-cycle to systematically and ongoing assure and improve the quality of our education.

Pdca-cycle

Education Quality EEMCS offers support to EEMCS study programmes and teachers for closing the PDCA-cycles (plan-do-check-act) on respectively programme and study unit (module or course) levels. In general we distinguish three three PDCA-cycli that are interlinked: a PDCA-cycle on institution level, a PDCA-cycle on programme level and a PDCA-cycle on study unit level. The institution level PDCA-cycle serves as input for the programme level PDCA-cycle and vice versa, and the programme level PDCA-cycle serves as input for the study unit level PDCA-cycle and vice versa. Connecting links are frameworks and guidelines. Bottom-up information flows serve as input for control (Source: CELT). The phases of the PDCA-cycle do not necessarily run consecutively, they often overlap.

  • The PDCA-cycle of a Degree Programme

    Plan-phase

    What are our students learning towards? The plan-phase is all about determining goals and describing view, short-term and longer-term. Documents in which a programme typically describes its plans are the programme specific appendix of the Education & Examination Regulations (EER) and the Programme Assessment Manual, which is an appendix of the Assessment Policy EEMCS in which the programme describes its philosophy of education and assessment. The plan-fase of the PDCA-cylce on programme level is directed and influenced by many regulations, guidelines and framework from higher-level stakeholders. Below a list of rules and guidelines, and stakeholders:

    International level

    • Rules and guidelines
      • International reference frameworks, containing generic and domain specific criteria for academic bachelor and master degrees from the academic and industries.
      • The 'Dublin' Descriptors
    • Stakeholders
      • Industries

    National level

    • Rules and guidelines
      • Higher Education and Research act (WHW - Dutch)
    • Stakeholders

    Institutional level

    • Rules and guidelines
    • Stakeholders
      • Executive Board UT
      • University Council UT
      • Faculty Board EEMCS
      • Faculty Council EEMCS
      • Examination Board EEMCS

    Programme level

    • Stakeholders
      • Students
      • Teachers
      • Alumni
      • Study Association
      • Alumni Association
      • Programme Committee
      • Programme specific subcommittee Examination Board EEMCS
      • Advisory Board with representatives of local and national industries

    Do-phase

    How do learning goals and views translate to actual learning? The do-fase concerns the design and planning of a study programme according to the plan-fase's set goals and views, making sure all learning elements of the curriculum (Curricular spiderweb - Van den Akker, 2003) are alligned. Activities that are part of this phase are:

    • Learning content & goals: knowledge and skills that need to be mastered at the end of a study programme (final qualifications)
    • Learning activities:┬áthe development of learning lines
    • Teacher roles: ?
    • Resources and materials: ?
    • Group types: making sure there is a healthy balance grouping types accross the study units, matching what is stated in the final qualificiations
    • Timing: sequencing of topics and skills to be mastered accross the course of the study programme.
    • Assessment: making sure there is sufficient diversity in types of assessment, matching whith knowledge and skills stated in the final qualifications

    Check-phase

    Are our students actually learning what we want them to learn? Activities that are part of this phase are:

    • Gather bare statistics: intake, drop-out and graduation rates, average time to graduation, number of hours contact time with teachers, percentage of teachers with UTQ and SUTQ, student-teacher ratio.
    • Gather stakeholder opinions: Feedback programme committees, Exit surveys under graduates, National Student Survey (NSE), National Alumni Survey (NAS), feedback from programme advisory boards, recommendations from accreditation panels.
    • Monitoring of construction and consistency of the curriculum and assessment, possibly with the help of an online tool (Act-E).
    • Monitoring of the quality of assessment by the Examination Board EEMCS.

    Act-phase

    Do we need to improve the path for students to achieving our goals according to our view, or change our goals and views itself? Activities that are part of this phase are:

    • Anlyse statistics, outcomes surveys and evaluations, and recommendations
    • Write a programme improvement plan on an annual basis
    • Recalibrate next-years' EER programme specific appendix
    • Recalibrate the Programme Assessment Manual on an annual basis
  • The PDCA-cycle of a Study Unit

    Plan-phase

    • Educational View UT (TOM 2.0)
    • Educational principles EEMCS (Assessment Policy EEMCS)
    • Educational regulations (EER and Regulations Examination Board)
    • Philosophy of education and assessment on programme level (the programme assessment manual)

    The design and planning of a study unit (module or course) haa PDCA-cycle on its own. Curricular spiderweb (Van den Akker, 2003).

    • Learning content: knowledge and skills that need to be mastered at the end of a study unit
    • Learning goals: the minimal level at which the knowledge and skills should be mastered
    • Learning activities: how do they master the required skills and knowledge?
    • Teacher roles: tutor, expert, assessor, etc.
    • Resources and materials: need for and availability of lecture rooms, labs, software, hardware, online resources, study books, etc.
    • Group types: learning individually, in pairs, in project groups, all together in a lecture room.
    • Timing: scheduling of learning activities and assessments (rostering)
    • Assessment: activities to evaluate the level of mastery of the required learning goals - writing an exam, writing a paper,

    Do-phase

    During the do-phase the design of the study unit is implemented. The scheduled learning activities are put in a roster, students receive guidance, lectures are given, exams are taken, results are registered, etc.

    Check-phase

    Are our students actually learning what we want them to learn? Activities that are part of this phase are:

    • Gather and analyse bare statistics: test analysis, passing rates, grade analysis
    • Gather and analyse stakeholder opinions: Student Evaluation Questionnaire (SEQ), Panel Discussions, polls during lectures, feedback Programme Comitte, input programme management, module team meetings, feedback from TAs, feedback Examination Board EEMCS.

    Act-phase

    • Bachelor: Write module report, reflecting on results, module process and gathered feedback, and providing improvement plan for next edition.
    • Master: fill out M-SEQ reflection form.