Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Communities of Practice: Building Organisational Capability through an Undergraduate Assurance of Learning Program

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Communities of Practice: Building Organisational Capability through an Undergraduate Assurance of Learning Program

Article excerpt

Introduction

In an atmosphere of change tertiary institutions throughout Australia are currently addressing questions of quality assurance in learning and teaching. "Quality assurance" is defined as the process by which educational institutions measure learning outcomes against a set of specific goals and objectives (Hall and Kro 2006). Questions regarding quality in tertiary education in Australia have been linked to government funding decisions for institutions, increased numbers of international students choosing to study in Australia; increasing numbers of students generally seeking to continue their education after high school and the need for greater national consistency. New regulations were released by Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA 2011) in April, 2011. TEQSA is an independent body with powers to register university and non-university higher education providers, monitor quality and ensure standards.

TEQSA is a Commonwealth statutory authority established under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. The Agency identifies that institutions will be required to demonstrate that their graduates have the capabilities that are required for successful engagement in today's complex world. The benefits are identified as multiple and suiting a range of stakeholders. Taxpayers benefit through identifying value for money in the national interest; employers have greater confidence in graduate capabilities; higher education providers can clearly demonstrate students' academic performance from the documentation of what students learn and know and can do. Students benefit from improved information on what institutions offer, helping them to make informed decisions about what and where they will study (TEQSA 2011).

Assessment of Learning or assurance of learning is one of the most frequently discussed topics in tertiary education today (Martell and Caldron 2009). In the past, indirect measures such as student feedback from specific units and course experience questionnaires and reports from courses identified as underperforming for reasons related to enrolment and retention have provided measures of quality. Direct measures involve capturing, monitoring and evaluating data specific to student achievement related to program goals. Developing programs for capturing and monitoring direct measures are providing a new direction for quality in tertiary education. Assurance of learning involves choosing, creating and innovating effective measures for assessing student accomplishments. The measures selected need to fit with the goals determined for the program and the pedagogues used as well as the circumstances of the institution (Zhu and McFarland). In addition it is recommended that if assurance of learning is to be effective academics need to be involved in this process of determination. Hollister and Koppel (2007) identified that the assessment process requires the broadening of thinking from one of being unit or subject centred to one of focusing on the program as a whole, to build program goals, measure program outcomes and make adjustments to the program curriculum. However academics have traditionally been the experts in their own fields with little requiring them to work across disciplines within programs. Working across disciplines within programs requires new skills not encouraged in the past.

One Australian Business School (The School) that chose international accreditations more than 10 years ago as part of its strategic competitive advantage, recently implemented an assurance of learning process to assure quality in its program. Establishing a competitive advantage is increasingly important in the Business School environment and indeed within Higher Education generally. Australian Universities face increasing competition both nationally and internationally (Coaldrake 2, March 2011 National Press Luncheon). In order to compete internationally for high quality faculty, students, and research collaborations it is essential to have an international focus and a quality product that predicts excellence in the student experience and graduates that meet industry needs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.