What does teaching enhancement have to do with reputation management?

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jun 6, 2018 12:00:00 AM

Recently on Wonkhe, we learned about half a century of teaching enhancement initiatives, how they’ve been funded and the state we find ourselves in. My colleague David Kernohan made an impassioned argument for the reinstatement of grant schemes to stimulate innovative practice as both incentive and reward for enhancement. But we should also ask ourselves whether the methods of the past – stimulating enhancement through supporting individuals or small groups piecemeal – is the best way to proceed in the future. The past is a different country, after all.

The pressures on universities are huge: there’s consumer pressure from students, and anyone else funding students such as parents, carers or employers. Then there’s pressure from government in the form of metrics, assessments and frameworks. On the one hand, the rhetoric of “the market will decide”, and on the other an increasingly controlling state expecting institutions to jump through some very specific hoops. And not all of those hoops are logically consistent: is that too much to ask?

In this context, how can an individual, group or institutions manage their reputation? How is is that they tell their story about practice and do so in a way which responds to both consumer wants and the regulatory environment?

Data for good

There’s a serious risk that measurement of teaching become a race to the bottom where a “rate my professor” third-party could be the dominant source of information about teaching. Non-verified, non-trusted sources of information can get traction with applicants, students and colleagues in the absence of better quality information and a stronger narrative about what teaching quality is.

At the centre of the data collection world is Achievability, which runs module evaluations for dozens of universities under its EvaSys banner. Eric Bohms, UK managing director has an interesting take on the sector’s approach to data and enhancement as he sees a wide variety of practice on his travels across the country. While his systems are supplying the data, what universities choose to do with it is up to them, whether that’s for more rigid metrics-based management or in pursuit of enhancement through identifying and sharing good practice.

Looking ahead, Bohms sees opportunity in the aggregation of data sources, qualitative and qualitative, to present a rich picture of students’ experiences. “Ultimately, the pressure from students and exercises like TEF isn’t going away,” Bohms says “the challenge is about getting the right combination and quality of data, and then the most appropriate management responses.” Bohms already works with Advance HE (and its predecessor HEA) and sees further opportunities there to combine diagnostic information with support and encouragement, moving away from conceptions of “remedial” interventions. Bohms has a vision for Achievability that it can become a kay part of managing “academic reputations” at individual, programme and institutional levels: “in order to be on the front foot in telling your narrative about teaching excellence, you need to know your data and have confidence that you can target improvements where necessary.”

Seeds of change

One European start-up is threatening to challenge the existing norms in academic development. Faculty Fruit, brainchild of Mariska Knol, will be both a repository of online tools to support teaching and a source of feedback for personal development. The ideas came out of Knol’s master’s thesis, then developed in her doctorate and further into a coaching practice. She’s planning to use the skills she’s honed in face-to-face development to build the online platform which could make waves across higher education globally. Unlocking behaviour change isn’t easy, but it is achievable says Knol: “it requires a level of vulnerability on the part of the individual to be able to access and learn new ways of activating learning in their students.”

If you were to conceive of teaching enhancement as both the improvement on the ground – in the classroom, lab or lecture theatre – and in the celebration of excellence, then there needs to be serious work on the communication of it. Managing an institution’s reputation for teaching can’t be passive. To use one example, if you were to design career pathways with a view that progression – recognition of excellence – could be deemed equivalent across teaching, research and combined roles, then it’s probably better not to use a hierarchical naming system. The projection made by a name like “pathway 3” for teaching and scholarship roles is one which immediately devalues staff in an easily avoidable way.

What’s next?

Enhancement might be about pots of money for individuals, but equally useful in the discussion is the use the can be made of new – and increasingly sophisticated – data sources. Then there’s the prospect for online collaborative tools to spread the best practice from around the world; there’s no reason for enhancement to have hard borders. And it’s also about the comms. For the individual academic, in their programmes, groups or departments – and at institutional level – there should be a serious look at how teaching quality is explained, measured and celebrated. Teaching enhancement shouldn’t be marginal – or a special, “other” activity – but embedded across practice and in organisational culture.

 

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Tags: process improvement

Qualitative and Quantitative research study designs used in improvement of benchmarking and ratings

Posted by Eric Bohms on Feb 2, 2018 1:36:33 PM

From finance to healthcare to education, every business has at least one thing in common: they are all looking for ways to improve their processes and serve their customers more effectively. Therein lies the value of embracing ratings and benchmarking in your business enterprise. By recognising the power of these types of data, you can measure your brand against other businesses or organisations in your industry. These measurements tell you whether your brand is doing well, but more importantly, what it could be doing better. Identifying areas for improvement in this fashion can pave the way for the next chapter of your enterprise.

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Tags: qualitative vs quantitative research, process improvement

Achievability Opens New Office in Edinburgh

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jan 31, 2018 4:37:32 PM

 

Edinburgh, 26 Jan 18: Achievability is pleased to announce the opening of new premises in Edinburgh on 29 Jan 2018. The office will be used primarily for sales and marketing operations. Three staff members will work from here on a full-time basis. The new site will also be the home base for Eric Bohms, Achievability’s Managing Director, and Student Experience Advocate.

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Tags: News, HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, Featured

Cross-analysis of paper and online surveys to achieve HE quality in University of Roehampton

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jan 24, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Should student surveys be conducted across an entire university student body, or should they be used for individual departments or modules? Do online surveys foster better student engagement, or are paper evaluations preferable? These questions and others were on the minds of administrators at the University of Roehampton. They found a solution for these and other pain points in Achievability’s EvaSys survey software.

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, student feedback, paper-based surveys, Evasys

Find out how Newcastle University benefits uses specialist survey software, Evasys for collecting and evaluating student feedback

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jan 19, 2018 7:07:08 AM

Most educational institutions seek feedback from their students in some form. Some do it with course or instructor evaluations. Others do it with more general surveys. Especially for big universities, it can be a challenge to implement survey processes that spur both high response rates and usable data. That challenge was the hurdle Newcastle University was facing when it decided to adopt Achievability’s EvaSys survey software for HEI’s.

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, student feedback

Abertay University | How can HEIs collect and analyse student feedback in an effective fashion?

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jan 15, 2018 8:59:00 AM

In higher education, the voice of the student can sometimes get drowned out. Many higher education institutions (HEIs) have thousands upon thousands of students, making it difficult for individual pupils to feel like they are being heard. By finding ways to listen to students, HEIs can learn important things about effective teaching, strong learning structures, and overall student experience. Enhancing these facets of the education experience can boost enrolment rates, increase graduation rates, and improve overall institution reputation. How can HEIs collect and analyse student feedback in an effective fashion?

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, response rate, student feedback

Improving quality and standards in Higher Education-addressing the needs of course evaluation

Posted by Eric Bohms on Jan 12, 2018 12:00:00 PM

 

 “Students at the heart of the system” insisted the HE White Paper released earlier this year.  Sounds like a simple concept doesn’t it? But much like “eat five fruit and veg a day” or “love thy neighbour” – turning the concept into reality involves a lot of hard work and discipline.

How can we start to place students at the heart of the system?  The white paper outlined that universities will be more accountable to students on matters of teaching quality, and many in the academy had embraced this concept and are forging new two-way communication with their students to allow them to become stakeholders in the future of teaching. However this best practice is by no means uniform across the sector, and if we are being honest with ourselves some are still struggling with the nuances of closing the feedback loop.

Electric Paper gathered the opinions of senior academics and student representatives on improving course evaluation practices in universities. This report offered unique insight into “the needs” of the sector in order to improve course evaluation.

 

 

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, response rate, student feedback

The ‘student’ as an empowered highly interested stakeholder

Posted by Eric Bohms on Nov 27, 2017 4:10:34 PM

The student as a consumer? The next steps for student experience and quality assurance in universities

Many lecturers – quite rightly proud of the standard of teaching offered by their institution – may baulk at the idea that obtaining a degree can be reduced to a mere business transaction. The label of ‘consumer’ is uncomfortable close to that of ‘customer’, and no-one wants higher education denigrated to the level of booking a holiday or choosing a phone contract. However, the inescapable truth is that – with the introduction and upcoming hike in tuition fees – students themselves are more conscious than ever before about the value of their degree.

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, student feedback

6 Key Things to Consider When Managing Paper Based Course Evaluations

Posted by Eric Bohms on Nov 21, 2017 2:41:00 PM

Many higher and further education organisations are unable to provide computers in every class or provide online surveys in computer labs for logistical reasons. For that reason paper based ‘in-class’ surveys are the best option in driving response rates. For organisations choosing paper surveys there are some key points to consider.

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, paper data collection, paper surveys

5 Key Claims to Watch Out For When Selecting a Survey Product for Automating Course Evaluations

Posted by Eric Bohms on Nov 13, 2017 1:53:59 PM

Many organisations struggle in choosing the best methodology for running course evaluations and other survey projects necessary in driving quality enhancement and strategic planning efforts. In fact there is no easy answer or quick fix. Many organisations choose to go with paper or online methodologies based upon the recommendation of another institution or influential claims by a vendor.  In fact there is no one size fits all method; rather the decision should be based upon the specific circumstances unique to each institution. Claims by manufacturers can be especially dubious as they are heavily influenced by their particular product focus and market experience.  Vendor claims to watch out for can be broken into five main categories.

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Tags: HEI, Online course evaluation software, Achievability, survey product