Quality of teaching: teaching standards and assessment

The provision of high-quality teaching is one of the primary aims of the university. The character of the teaching is determined by its connection with the level of qualification and experience: students pursue their chosen programmes under the guidance of academic staff who are active scholars, teachers with teaching experience in the areas which they teach, and who can present the intellectual challenge of studying a subject in depth. This article does not attempt to cover all aspects of teaching. It does not seek to prescribe for the essential element of intellectual inspiration and challenge in the best university teaching, which depends on the talents of the academic staff. What it provides is the establishment of a framework, based on good practice, within which the vital activity of teachers stimulates, and attracts learners to go through the study programmes successfully. The other issue is to discuss teaching assessment criteria to help teachers to be guided in teaching quality requirements.

Introduction

All members of the teaching staff are jointly responsible for maintaining high quality of university courses, together with other colleagues in academic support services.

Close collaboration between academic staff is essential to ensure that syllabuses and teaching methods are properly coordinated, and that students are presented with modern and challenging programmes of study. It is recognized that university teaching should make students aware of their own abilities and give them the confidence to take charge of their intellectual development and their needs for learning in the future.

Students are given the opportunity and support to achieve their full potential in academic work and are encouraged to develop independent study skills, so that they can take an increasing share of responsibility for their own learning. In this respect, the role of a teacher is guiding, facilitating, and directing. Also, the teacher needs to expose himself in a researcher’s role to connect teaching with research which makes university teaching be different from other levels. This approach is discussed in many requirements, but still, it is a critical issue for discussion. The best way and solution to this problem is the focus on effective methods of teaching through developing thinking, to help students to learn to think.

The effectiveness of teaching can be assessed in many ways, by conventional examinations, by appraisal of the acquired skills, and by regular review and external assessment of syllabuses. An important part of the monitoring process is the feed-back from students, in the form of opinions on courses, general views on the organization of programmes, and specific comments on the quality of teaching. All departments should have effective procedures for gathering students’ opinions with regular meetings between teaching staff and student representatives for each programme (usually one representative for each year) to exchange views and discuss problems. Student representatives should be supported at a higher level, by Academic Council or similar body, to coordinate opinions and suggestions which cross departmental boundaries, and to assist representatives in their work. It is usually appropriate to have a separate committee for undergraduate and graduate students [1].

The aim of the article is to discuss the development of a framework for teaching standards with performance requirements and assessment. While teaching is the core activity of any educational institution, from quality perspectives we must be able to measure it and monitor its dynamics through teaching assessment. Therefore, first, we need to specify standards and respond to these standards by guidelines and procedures.

The object of the research is to develop a framework for teaching quality. At each university, it is recommended that academic requirements include Teaching Standards, as well as establishing and implementing guidelines for ensuring good teaching practice. These guidelines provide monitoring and supporting procedures, to ensure that the university's aims in teaching are met. Quality assurance requirements’ major role is coordinating the procedures for maintaining the quality of teaching.

It is recommended to each department to have a Teaching Standards Committee for undergraduate and graduate teaching with responsibility for ensuring that the aims of the teaching standards are met. The details of implementation may differ from Faculty to Faculty, because of their different organization and styles of teaching [2]. This research study will refer to the "Teaching Standards Committee" to indicate whichever Committee has the appropriate remit in each of these areas of the university. For graduate teaching, it is recommended to have a separate Committee which is responsible for teaching standards and the implementation of the teaching standards.

Experimental

The research was mainly done through surveys, questionnaires, and face-to-face interviews. Survey included large groups of teachers. By means of questionnaires and interviews, we obtained information and analysed them, accordingly.

Several countries have been developing teaching standards for the purpose of providing recognition and more attractive career pathways to teachers who attain these standards. These initiatives aim to lift the status of teaching as a profession and to provide stronger incentives for professional learning. This article describes the work of a project at the Australian Council for Educational Research, the ACER Portfolio Project, designed to develop methods whereby teachers can demonstrate how their practice meets the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards) at the ‘Highly Accomplished’ level and test them in schools for their validity and feasibility. The article describes how the Project developed an assessment framework that provided a representative sample of evidence about teacher's practice covering the standards, trialed portfolio tasks in schools with volunteer teachers and tested whether it was possible to train other teachers to assess their portfolio entries reliably and set standards for highly-accomplished teaching.

In Quality Assurance, it is important that we measure every activity of teachers as it is in accordance with quality procedures that we have to monitor the developments in defining, assuring and improving quality, including in teaching [3]. Therefore, many researchers study these issues to make the teaching staff know how they teach and what has to be improved, and also, create teachers rating and teaching excellence units to assist teachers to have professional development programme courses. Teachers have to dynamically grow in parallel with the growth of demands from students in quality of study programmes, in developing certain competences and professional skills.

However, there are some difficulties as well in establishing and implementing teaching standards as we have to face with a dynamically changing educational paradigms, new technologies, digitalization of education and the change of the role of a teacher to a counsellor, advisor, facilitator, etc.

Results and Discussion

Teaching standards and requirements

The effectiveness of teaching can be assessed in many ways:

  • by conventional examinations;
  • by appraisal of the skills acquired;
  • by regular review;
  • by external assessment of syllabuses.

An important part of the monitoring process is the following:

  • feed-back from students, in the form of opinions on particular courses;
  • general views on the organization of programmes;
  • specific comments on the quality of teaching.

A university should have the effective procedures for gathering students’ opinions with regular meetings between teaching staff and student representatives for each programme (usually one representative for each year) to exchange views and discuss problems.

Student representatives should be provided with a support at a higher level in order to coordinate proposals and to assist representatives in their work.

The Teaching Standards Committees and the Graduate Committees may include student membership.

Student feedback

An essential element, in the maintenance of high standards of teaching, is the systematic gathering of the views and perceptions of students on the course structures and teaching provision. Each Faculty and Department should have well-defined procedures for obtaining student opinions and bringing them into the process of programme development and review. These procedures should cover the following points:

Departments should provide a regular forum for the expression of students' views on the programme, as well as on individual course units: this may be an open meeting for staff and students; it should consider such matters as the options structure, syllabuses and appropriateness of the core and aims of the programme, the workload, and the balance between different teaching methods and different forms of assessment; when there is a major review of the programme it will be useful to have a special meeting in scheduled programme: it may be at lecture times, to encourage student participation.

Comments from recent graduates are also valuable if they can be obtained. Faculty should provide the opportunity for discussing general issues such as library facilities, project work, assessment, and course flexibility. Recommendations from such discussions can be sent to the Teaching Standards Committee or the Graduate Committee.

For the review of individual course units, the use of questionnaires is recommended, though there may be cases where they are inappropriate (for example, in practical classes and project-based units). Departments should draw up questionnaires which are appropriate for their own course units, bearing in mind that they should be relatively short and straightforward in order to encourage a high response rate, and to simplify the subsequent analysis. The covered aspects will include organization of the material, clarity, and pace of the presentation, use of teaching aids where appropriate, handling of seminars or practical classes, availability of books and equipment. It is generally helpful to quantify responses by means of a five-point rating scale, as indicated in the examples given in Appendix 1. Student questionnaires should be used to help in assessing the teaching of individual course units. In these conditions, the questionnaires tend to draw attention to the mechanics of teaching rather than the content of a course, so they provide only limited evidence for assessing the effectiveness of a course. The exact form of the questionnaires will vary between disciplines because of differences in the style of teaching, but some general comments and examples may be useful.

Response rate

It is essential to aim for a high response rate (at least 80 %) in order to get a good picture of the students' reactions to a course. One way, which has been found effective in achieving this, is to give out the questionnaires during a lecture or class, and to stop teaching 10 or 15 minutes early, so that they can be completed and handed in by the students as they leave. Alternatively, they can be given in to the Departmental office, or collected by the course representative. Whatever the procedure, anonymity of responses should be ensured.

Small groups

Questionnaires may be less appropriate for the smaller teaching groups (less than 15 students). For example, students in graduate classes or clinical teaching groups might be expected to discuss their problems and reactions directly with the lecturer, with a little encouragement. Alternatively, the Programme Director could arrange meetings for them from time to time. Departments should consider this matter in the light of their own circumstances and issue questionnaires where they are likely to be useful, considering it is important to review the effectiveness of small-group teaching.

Form of questionnaire

As noted above, the form of the questionnaire will depend on the discipline and style of teaching, and each Department should design a standard form to suit its needs. In general, the questionnaires should be brief, straightforward, and simple, to ensure a good response which can be easily analysed and interpreted. There may be special occasions when a more elaborate survey is justified, for example, when a course is being considered for major revision. It would be desirable to adopt a five-point rating scale as standard, the high figures indicating the best performance (This is partly to give consistency in teaching assessments, e.g. for promotion cases).

Analysis of replies

The analysis will not be an excessive burden if the questionnaires are simple. A standard analysis would be a one-page report giving class size, response rate, summary of comments, averages of numerical ratings. This could be produced by the lecturer, the course organizer, the office staff, or the student representative, etc. In all cases, it ought to be available to the lecturer, the Programme Director, and the Head of Department. General comments on the courses should be available for discussions with student representatives.

Departments will devise their own procedures for issuing questionnaires and collating the responses, but a summary of the results should be available to the Head of Department, the Programme leader, and to staff and students. Teaching Standards Committees need to encourage good practice in this area, perhaps by reviewing questionnaires and recommending guidelines for assessing the results.

Students must have clearly defined channels of complaint if there are problems over course arrangements or the standard of teaching, so that prompt action can be taken where necessary. The programme Handbook should give the name of the Head of Department (or Departments in the case of joint degrees). The names of course representatives should also be well-publicized, for example, through a student noticeboard. Minor problems can be examined by the lecturer or to the personal tutor, but more serious complaints will normally be reported through the student representative to the lecturer; if no action is taken, the Head of Department should be approached. The nature and outcome of any complaint should be recorded and made available for the annual programme review.

Peer review of teaching

The other essential element in promoting and sustaining good teaching is the review of teaching performance by members of the academic staff. The detailed arrangements will vary between Departments, but the following points must be covered.

  • a) New lecturers will be given guidance in their early years by an experienced lecturer appointed as a mentor. Their teaching performance should be subjected to regular discussion and review, and any difficulties should be identified and addressed. The mentor, or another member of staff, should observe lectures and classes, and ensure that advice is given on such matters as course-work, examining, and projects. The Head of Department will be expected to report on teaching ability when a lecturer's appointment comes up for renewal or confirmation (see Appendix 1 on the Assessment of Teaching).
  • b) After the initial period, the teaching performances of staff members should be reviewed at least every three years, and Departments need establish an appropriate procedure for these reviews (for example, by means of an advisory panel). The activities reviewed should include the followings:
  • lecturing, classes, and seminars (by arrangement with the lecturer);
  • production of teaching materials;
  • course organization;
  • innovation in content or in teaching methods;
  • work as a tutor or adviser.

The results should be discussed with the lecturer concerned and made available to the Head of Department, who will be free to use such evidence, together with student feedback, in preparing cases for promotion.

Training and development

All new lecturers are required to attend a training course on teaching methods during their probationary period. However, all academic staff should consider the benefit of attending courses on aspects of teaching from time to time. The university should provide a range of seminars and short courses which are widely advertised. Staff appraisal should take account of the results of student questionnaires and peer review, and definite plans should be made to meet any needs for training.

In the educational workplaces where graduate students are employed as teaching assistants or demonstrators, they must be given suitable training according to the circumstances. For instance, if they provide tutorial support for a lecture course, or help to mark the associated coursework, they will need guidance from the lecturer on the scope of the syllabus and the likely points of difficulty. The university will provide general training in this area [4].

Members of the teaching staff should be encouraged to think about new methods of teaching, and to introduce pilot schemes for developments such as new uses of information technology, active learning based on group work, different forms of assessment, and self-evaluation by students. This type of activity should be recorded in the lecturer's resume as an important aspect of teaching performance, and as supporting evidence in making a case for salary review or promotion.

Assessment of teaching

All members of the teaching staff are jointly responsible for the quality of teaching, and the assessment of individual teaching ability and performance is an important aspect of maintaining good standards.

This note brings together some recommendations in order to give a practical guide to assessment. This can be helpful in staff development, as well as in the presentation of cases for confirmation of appointment, salary review or promotion.

Scope of assessment

The teaching activity of a staff member has a number of different aspects, and assessment should not be limited to those that are easily measured (such as contact hours, or the average score on course questionnaires). Points relevant to assessment may be summarized under the five following headings, such as:

  1. Amount and type of teaching;
  2. Class-room effectiveness;
  3. Overall planning of teaching;
  4. Innovation and special activities;
  5. Teaching outcomes.

Objective evidence can be collected regarding the first four of these; the fifth is more open to individual judgement. The following sections consider the information which is relevant to each heading, and how it can be obtained.

Amount and type of teaching.

Each Department should be able to state the actual contribution of individual staff members to its organized teaching (The detailed arrangements for keeping records are a matter for the Department). It is easy to give the number of contact hours, but this is insufficient without some information about the type of teaching involved, and how the individual's workload compares with the general pattern in the Department. The usual types of teaching activity are as follows:

Undergraduate:

  • lectures marking load;
  • tutorials, practicals, field-work, etc.;
  • project supervision;
  • lectures;
  • classes/seminars M.A./M.Sc./Ph.D. supervision.

The amount of teaching undertaken by an individual must be considered in relation to other commitments such as research activity or major administrative jobs. Most Departments have a system of allowances to enable workloads to be compared between staff with different patterns of activity. The information required for a teaching profile needs to be given over several years, and not only for the current year.

Graduate:

Overall planning of teaching

This heading covers all the activity, other than direct classroom teaching which is needed to run successful courses. The main points will include the following planning of the syllabus (usually a group activity):

  • revision and updating of course material;
  • effective arrangements for practical and written work;
  • efficiency in setting and marking examinations;
  • provision of good tutorial support, accessibility to students.

The evidence for a person's standard of achievement in these areas will come from four sources, peer review of teaching reviews and discussions with students comments from external examiners information at departmental level.

Class-room effectiveness

This is concerned with personal teaching ability, as shown in lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical classes, points to be looked for, are well-prepared and structured lectures presentation of material clearly and audibly use of teaching aids where appropriate ability to promote and guide class discussions.

Evidence about lecturing ability is obtained from two sources, peer review including attendance at lectures and student questionnaires. It is difficult to assess small-group teaching, because the presence of an observer may disturb the dynamics of a group, and questionnaires are not entirely satisfactory for small numbers. However, this form of teaching often occupies a lot of staff and student time, and it is important to review its effectiveness [5]. Departments should consider whether to use questionnaires or to elicit information by general discussion with students self-assessment may also be useful.

Innovation and special activities

For lecturers in their first three or four years of appointment, the above headings will usually cover the main teaching activities. However, established academic staff of several years' standing may be expected to have made further contributions to teaching in one or more of the following areas, particularly, where a case for promotion is based largely on teaching design of new courses or major re-structuring innovation in methods of teaching or assessment substantial academic counselling (eg, as departmental tutor) development of special courses such as publication of text-books, or papers on teaching topics. These activities should be recorded by members of staff in their resumes, and the Department should also have records of them. The method of assessment will depend on the nature of the work. The first three areas above will be covered by peer review and departmental information. For special courses, class feed-back should be obtained as for undergraduate teaching. In the case of text-books or published papers, it may be useful to obtain the opinion of an outside referee.

Teaching outcomes

It is possible to lose sight of the ultimate aims of teaching in dealing with procedures and questionnaires. Good teaching at university level will have elements of depth and intellectual challenge which cannot be quantified, and which will influence students in different ways. Some pointers to the outstanding teacher are large take-up of any optional courses given ability to attract research students effective help to junior members of staff obtaining external funding for teaching projects subsequent careers of his/her students.

The assessment of this area is largely a matter of judgement, based on peer review and discussion in the departmental committee on promotions [6].

Conclusions

Teaching profile

An analysis of teaching activity under the five headings above should give a comprehensive picture of ability and performance, indicating areas of strength and helping to identify any needs for development. In quantifying responses to questionnaires, the teaching profile recommends a five-point rating scale (with 5 indicating the best performance). This scale may be appropriate for some of the other elements of assessment, taking 2 to represent the level of adequate performance, However, for certain activities a single number is inadequate, and a descriptive account is to be preferred (Table 1).

Table 1

Questionnaire 1

This questionnaire is designed to help the lecturer evaluate and, where possible, improve the presentation of the course. Please fill it in constructively. Please indicate, by circling the appropriate number, your agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

Questions

Strongly agree

Disagree

Agree somewhat

Agree

Strongly agree

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1

I could hear the lecturer clearly

         

2

The visual and multimedia materials were clear and easy to read

         

3

The learning outcomes of the subject were emphasized

         

4

The lecturer explained the subject clearly (even though I may have found the material difficult)

         

5

The handouts (if used) were helpful

         

6

The lecture used the time allocation effectively

         

Continuation of table 1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

7

The lecturer is approachable and is prepared to go points over again (either within or after the lecture)

         

8

The lecturer is understandable and enthusiastic about the subject

         

9

The lecturer put the lecture course in the context of the whole syllabus

         

10

Recommended books were available in the library and online

         

Table 2

Questionnaire 2

Course Evaluation Questionnaire

Course:

Lecturer:

Advisor: (where appropriate)

Please circle the ranking on the scale that most accurately reflects your judgement. DO NOT answer questions on which you have no opinion.

1. What overall rating do you give this course

1 bad 2

3

4

5 excellent

2. Did you find the subject matter?

1 uninteresting 2

3

4

5 very interesting

3. In comparison with other courses, how did you find this course?

1 difficult 2

3

4

5 easy to follow

4. Were any notes handed out?

1 unsatisfactory 2

3

4

5 very satisfactory

5. Did you find the classes/tutorials?

1 unhelpful 2

3

4

5 helpful

6. Did the lecturer communicate the material?

1 poorly 2

3

4

5 very well

7. Was the lecturer’s overall classroom style (e.g. use of black/whiteboard, handwriting, teaching aids)

1 poor 2

3

4

5 excellent

8. The lecturer seemed conscientious and well prepared

1 disagree 2

3

4

5 agree

9. Recommended books were available in the library

1 disagree 2

3

4

5 agree

10. Approximately what proportion of the following did you attend?

1 2

3

4

5

a. Lectures

b. classes/tutorials

The remaining space is available for any further comments you may wish to make.

Explanations of some of your responses, especially extremes, could be of help.

What do you consider the strong and weak points of the course?

What changes would you suggest?

What do you consider the lecturer’s strong and weak points?

Do you have any constructive suggestions about teaching techniques?

Table 3

Questionnaire 3

Lecture course: Lecturer’s name:

Your degree course: Year of course:

For each question circle the number which represents your opinion on the scale shown.

What is your overall assessment of the course?

Excellent 5 Good 4 Satisfactory 3 Poor 2 Bad 1

1

2

3

4

5

6

How good was the design and the structure of the course?

Excellent 5

4

3

2

Bad 1

How informative was the reading list?

5 extremely informative

4

3

2

1 not informative

How well did the lecturer appear to know the subject?

5 extremely well

4

3

2

1 badly

How well were the lectures and classes organised?

5 extremely well

4

3

2

1 badly

How useful were the handouts and other visual aids?

5 extremely useful

4

3

2

1 not useful

How well were the lectures presented?

5 extremely well

4

3

2

1 badly

How much did you enjoy the course?

5 Very much

4

3

2

Not at all 1

To what extend do you feel you profited from the course?

5 A great deal

4

3

2

Not at all 1

Did the course encourage you to read about the subject?

5 quite a lot

4

3

2

1 none

Were the recommended books available in the library?

5 all

4

3

2

Not at all 1

How many of the lectures and tutorials did you attend?

5 all of them

4

3

2

1 very few

Did the content of the course fit in well with the rest of your degree?

5 totally

4

3

2

Not at all 1

References

  1. Felder, R., & Brent, R. (1999). How to Improve Teaching Quality, Vol.6. DOI — 10.1080/10686967.1999.11919183
  2. Sarsenbayeva, G. (2015a). Quality Assurance of Higher Education: National Trends of Development and Accreditation in Kazakhstan: European Journal of Natural History, Retrieved from: https://world-science.ru/en/article/view? id=33501.
  3. Sarsenbayeva, G. (2015b). Modelling Quality of Higher Education: use of system dynamics approach for performance measurement (the case of Kazakhstan) // Proceedings of European and International Conference: LINQ 2015 Retrieved from: http://www.learning-innovations.eu.
  4. Sarsenbayeva, G. (2015). Development of creative skills of students” International Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Russia, Moscow: Moscow State Regional University.
  5. Fisch, A. (2009). The difficulty of raising Standards in Teacher Training and Education 2009 Journal Pedagogy Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature Language Composition and Culture. UK. Duke University Press.
  6. Kyvik, S. (2013). The academic researcher role: enhancing expectations and improved performance Higher Education. DOI 10.1007/s10734-012-9561-0.
Year: 2021
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy