Working paper: What do the CAP data say about conditions for teaching in universities?

Research Professor Per Olaf Aamodt (NIFU)
Research Professor Per Olaf Aamodt (NIFU)

NIFU researcher Pr Olaf Aamodt has re-analyzed some of the data collected in the CAP study, with specific focus on conditions for teaching. Data collection for the CAP (the Changing Academic Profession) project was done in 2007-2008, thus Aamodt cautions that it is possible that there have also been changes in the last 8 years. At the same time, the data can provide valuable inputs to current debates on educational quality.

A key conclusion from the empirical data is that Norwegian professors in average work about 50 hours a week, with about equal share of time on education and research. While these patterns are rather similar to other countries, the data also shows disciplinary differences. The data also shows that there is also great variety in how many students academic staff teaches. Staff report high levels of satisfaction with technical and administrative facilities, but there is general dissatisfaction with lack of basic administrative support (i.e. assistants/secretary).

Educational practices are largely evaluated by students, in a sense rather natural as student feedback on teaching is mandatory. However, there is little evidence of peer feedback on teaching, and Aamodt questions whether such feedback could also contribute to increased quality in educational practices?

Download the working paper here (pdf, in Norwegian).

Need for more appropriate quality indicators in higher education

As a part of Project A in this study, project researchers have examined some of the existing indicators and data on higher education quality in Norway.

They have analysed existing data that is compiled by Statistics Norway (SSB) and Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH). The working paper examines some of the challenges of using these data sources as basis for indicators about quality in higher education.

Clipboard02The researchers highlight in the working paper that quality indicators have different kinds of functions – for system and institutional governance, as an information source for the public (incl students who apply to higher education), as a basis for quality enhancement practices in the institutions, and for purposes of conducting research.

While a substantial amount of data exists on Norwegian higher education, several aspects of quality in higher education are difficult to quantify and measure. Thus, the report argues that indicators should be based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative indicators. For instance, merely measuring resource use would not necessarily say anything about quality as it does not give indications about the pedagogical approaches used nor the study environment at the institution. Furthermore, the report highlights that there likely is considerable amounts of data regarding process quality, but that this is not part of the traditional reporting in current system.

Download the working paper here (in Norwegian).

Project meeting at NIFU 21-22 January

NIFU is hosting a comprehensive project meeting for parts A, B and C of the project, with project partners attending from Norway and from Finland (University of Helsinki) and Denmark (Århus University).

Per Olaf Aamodt (NIFU)

Per Olaf Aamodt was presenting some of the key results of the comprehensive review of existing data sources in Norwegian higher education and their applicability for indicators on input, process and output quality. He argued that there is considerable data collected in the Norwegian system, but much of it is collected for other purposes than quality measurement.

“It is very exciting to see what data is available and what can it be used for, to have this comprehensive view on all data sources that we already have,” says Per Olaf Aamodt.

Project leaders for B and C also gave updates on the work done in the sub-projects. Monika Nerland, project co-leader for part C updated the whole project team on the preparatory work for case studies in part C. Currently, work is underway to map the field and prepare for empirical data collection period that is about to start shortly. Observation studies in project part C will be carried out in spring and fall of 2016, accompanied with interview and document studies. Peter Maassen, project co-leader for part B gave brief overview of status in project B regarding study programme dynamics, as well as plan for work in the institutional cases studied in part B where main emphasis is to examine how work on quality on institutional level is related to what is taking place on study programme level.

The six case studies in both sub-projects overlap, and will allow for a comprehensive analysis – from institutional strategies to quality work on various levels, as well as the actual teaching and learning practices that take place.

In addition to work with the whole group, the meeting included more detailed work in projects part B and C to discuss sub-project specific issues and current work in the sub-projects.

On Friday, the project meeting will continue with discussions in the sub-projects and plan ahead for the remaining of the work this spring.

Quality in Norwegian higher education review published this week

qualityIn this first report from the project, the aim is to position our study with respect to the international research-based literature in this area, and to identify factors and mechanisms that the relevant literature points to as important contributors to the enhancement of quality in higher education. A second aim is to identify knowledge gaps in the existing literature. The literature is selected to highlight some core themes with respect to quality in higher education.

Download the report here.