Stensaker, Tømte and Fossland presenting at Nordic Council of Ministers conference in Helsinki

Last week, on 14th of June, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre organized a Nordic conference, titled: Student-centred approach and the quality of degree education. The conference brought together over 200 participants from various Nordic countries.

Professor Bjørn Stensaker held one of the keynote speeches, where he focused on the relationship between learning outcomes and quality assurance, and pointed some of the issues of bringing quality assurance practice closer to the primary processes of higher education.

cathrine and trineIn addition, Research professor Cathrine Tømte and Associate professor Trine Fossland presented some of their work in the first parallel session. View their presentation “The teachers’ role in the changing landscape of technology rich environments” here (pdf).

The keynote speech by Bjørn Stensaker was also recorded and is avilable on youtube, embedded in the video below. Bjørn Stensakers presentation starts at about 55 minutes, after the introductory speeches from Anita Lehikoinen (Ministry and Education and Culture in Finland), Anders Geertsen (Nordic Council of Ministers) and Professor Riitta Pyykkö (University of Turku).

Data collection regarding educational processes underway

Dr Tine Prøitz, NIFU/HBV
Dr Tine Prøitz, NIFU/HBV
Professor Monika Nerland, UiO
Professor Monika Nerland, UiO

Part C in this project focuses on educational practices, including curriculum development, teaching and learning activities, as well as feedback and assessment.

Sub-project leaders Monika Nerland and Tine Prøitz comment on the overall focus of the sub-project: “To learn more about what matters for educational quality on the practice level in different instructional environments, we conduct observation-based studies of teaching-learning activities in selected courses that employ student-active approaches. Three case studies are undertaken this spring, and three more will follow in the autumn term 2016. In addition, two parallel case studies are conducted in Finland.

The Finnish partners in this project are located at the Centre for Research and Development of Higher Education (YTY) in University of Helsinki

Data collection underway in case institutions
Data collection underway in case institutions (Photo: Rachelle Esterhazy)

Data collection is also now underway in part C: “We are now about to finish the data collection in the first three courses, conducted in a biology program, an engineering program and a nursing program respectively. Towards the end of the courses we will collect students’ experiences from the course by way of group interviews and a questionnaire developed by our colleagues in Helsinki.

In the picture on the right, project researcher Rachelle Esterhazy has documented the site visit to one of the case institutions.

The analysis process is expected to provide rather unique data about the learning processes  in Norway, Nerland and Prøitz explain: “We are very excited about starting to analyze the data, as we do not have much knowledge about the activities taking place behind the doors to lecture halls, labs and seminar rooms in higher education, or how these activities support student learning.”

Read more about project C here.

Survey to study programme leaders: analysis underway

As a part of Project B in this study, local quality enhancement procedures and practices are being examined. For this purpose, a comprehensive nation-wide survey was sent to over 1000 study programme leaders in Norway. The survey was sent out in December 2015 and data collection was completed in the beginning of 2016.

The survey is first of its kind in Norway, as the first report from the project identified that educational leadership in higher education on study programme level is an area that has been understudied. Researcher on the project, Elisabeth Hovdhaugen comments:

Dr. Elisabeth Hovdhaugen, NIFU
Dr. Elisabeth Hovdhaugen, NIFU

We are now underway with analyzing the survey data. In the Norwegian context, no one has this kind of comprehensive data on the staff responsible for study programmes. This is a topic that appears to have gained increased attention in recent years and knowledge about what study program leaders do is essential and much needed.

Initial results are expected to be ready before the summer.

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).

perolaf
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.