Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Self-Evaluation as a Factor of Quality Assurance in Education

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Self-Evaluation as a Factor of Quality Assurance in Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

Using an empirical research study based on a systematic sample of teachers, school counselors, and principals working in Slovenian primary and secondary schools, we examined how frequently these education professionals self-evaluate their work. The multiple regression models demonstrated that educators' interest in research work and belief in the necessity of continuous professional development have the strongest impact on their views of the importance of self-evaluation. Those educators whose knowledge of conducting self-evaluation is greater also attach more importance to carrying out self-evaluation. School management's encouragement has a further impact on educators' views on the importance of conducting self-evaluation. If an educational institution is to adopt self-evaluation as a permanent expert activity, which is a precondition for effective quality improvement, it needs to develop an adequate atmosphere among its educators. This atmosphere should enable and encourage research work, self-evaluation, and educators' professional development.

Keywords: self-evaluation, professional development, quality assurance, quality control, total quality management

1. Introduction

The processes of assessing and assuring quality are closely related to research work, more specifically to carrying out self-evaluation research studies. When responsibility for quality assurance is allocated to an individual school, it is assumed that educators are motivated, as well as qualified, to carry out self-evaluation. The idea that educators should undertake research work originates in the English project Ford Teaching Project (1973-1976), which trained educators to self-evaluate educational practice and to conduct action research studies (Stenhouse, 1975). Self-evaluating educational practice was perceived as belonging to the educator's everyday tasks, and the results of self-evaluation were utilized as the basis for further planning of educational work.

Evaluation is a process of establishing to what degree, and in what manner, we have reached our goals. Through evaluation, we collect evidence and reach provable findings on the quality of programs, projects, services, organizations, and individuals' work (Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007). This requires the systematic use of social science research methods to assess the plans, implementation, outcomes, and efficiency of programs, policies, or units of analysis (Rossi & Freeman, 1993, p. 4). Evaluation falls within the realm ofapplied social science research. As a form of applied research evaluation differs from basic research, which is directed toward further theory development, in that it is focused on changing existing conditions, its fundamental aim is practical progress. Interim and final conclusions form the basis for the development of the plans for further work, and these plans include the introduction of changes and improvements directly related to pedagogical practice. Self-evaluation can also be defined as a reflection on the important aspects of educational work and leading to the assessment of the current work done by an educational institution, or as a planned, systematic, structured, and constant attention that schools pay to the quality of their work. Data collected through self-evaluation and their interpretation, as well as the analysis of the causes of the existing situation, are the foundations used to plan how to eliminate weaknesses and to maintain positive achievements. Thus, they are of key importance for institutional and individual quality improvement and maintenance.

Quality in education should be understood in the context of the relevant cultural discourse (Stronach, 1999; Gaber & Kos Kecojevic, 2011). According to Sallis (2002), quality is a dynamic concept that is impossible to define in absolute terms, as it can have a variety of meanings. When defining quality, it is always necessary to have a debate about what it is that makes a school "good". …

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