Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

The Standards of Profession in Current Approaches to Assessing Quality in Romanian Arts Higher Education

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

The Standards of Profession in Current Approaches to Assessing Quality in Romanian Arts Higher Education

Article excerpt

The required standards for quality assurance in higher education in Europe have been agreed upon by ministers of higher education in 2005. They are stated in the Report on Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. The standard for teaching is that "Institutions should have ways of satisfying themselves that staff involved with the teaching of students are qualified and competent to do so. They should be available to those undertaking external reviews, and commented upon in reports" (ENQA Report, 2009, p.18). Apart from stating the standard, the report also provides general guidelines to practice, not differentiating between the type or contents of learning in higher education. The general statement of requirement is that of acknowledging the importance of certain features of teaching in higher education : the teachers are generally expected to "have a full knowledge and understanding of the subject they are teaching, have the necessary skills and experience to transmit their knowledge and understanding effectively to students in a range of teaching contexts, and [can] access feedback on their own performance"(idem).

Problem statement

Matching perfectly current trends on nurturing a cost-efficiency rationale in assessing quality in higher education, the ENQA standard and general guidelines translated into increased control and practices of evidence subjecting to standardization and quantitative approaches to measuring performance and quality in all learning areas, irrespective of the traditions, values and practices in various academic disciplines. In the pitfalls of this approach the arts higher education institutions seem to have caught tightest.

In a comparative report on quality assurance and accreditation of higher music education institutions in Europe published in 2008, the Association Europenée de Conservatoires (AEC) explains the situation created by the Standardization approach in a manner applicable to all arts disciplines: "The vast majority of substantial work in music predates the assessment movement of the latter half of this century that calls for the substantial collection and comparison of data, reliance on quantitative benchmarks, use of large-scale technical review systems, and the production of symbols that reduce complexities so that results can be understood by all, irrespective of expertise. Such simple indicators are intended to confirm what students should know, what they should learn, what they have learned, and thus what teachers should teach. The cry for accountability of this kind has become commonplace. One result is the need to describe, codify, and explain past, current, and evolving practice based on the different natures of fields and professions. It is important to be cautious and aware, however, because wrong decisions about assessment policy can reduce the effectiveness of higher education. Two important issues to keep in mind are: (1) higher education is ever changing, and to assess in one common way that which changes constantly is overwhelming, if unrealistic given the fact that changes are ongoing in many disciplines and institutions; and (2) that which is important to be assessed can be easily lost in the concept, rhetoric, and operation of an overly-standardized review procedure" (2008, p.10).

The concern expressed in the AEC's report is comprehensive of a number of aspects concerning the quality of teaching and learning experiences in the arts higher education, with which Romanian faculty staff in arts universities are often in a position to declare shared views and worries. Faculty in Romanian arts higher education have been responding to a national methodology of assessment with similar requirements of quality and an equal focus on quantitative markers of academic performance for all types of academic institutions and their teaching staff, irrespective of the discipline or contentrelated specificities of learning in those institutions. …

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