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).

Working paper: educational leadership in Norway

clipboard02Key results from the survey to study programme leaders have been summarized in a recent working paper published in NIFU series (available in Norwegian). The working paper presents some of the main results from the survey, which will be followed with more detailed analysis in various academic publications.

Key results include:

  • Educational leadership as a specific role is ambiguous and lacks of standardization. This can be interpreted as educational leaders lacking power, but it can also be interpreted as a flexible way to tackle complex institutional realities.
  • In a number of cases, this leadership function is instead viewed as a coordinating role, as there is little opportunities to influence academic and administrative aspects of the study programmes.
  • Educational leaders frequently co-operate with various other arenas and actors, thus the function is often enacted in a collaborative manner.

The working paper primarily maps this rather heterogeneous and complex landscape of educational leadership, highlighting key differences between disciplinary and professional study programmes. The study was sent to 1010 respondents from 33 institutions in December 2015. During the survey, 551 respondents provided their answers, making the response rate of 54,6.

The survey is first of its kind in Norway and thus provides fascinating new data to understanding the role of educational leaders in Norwegian higher education institutions, a population that has not been previously studied.

Download and read the report here (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).

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.