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Student engagement, teaching excellence & measurement

Dr Geoff Stoakes, Head of Special Projects, Higher Education Academy

WhatUni Conference, 14 April 2016



Teaching Quality

Learning Environment

Student outcomes and learning gain

Aspects of teaching excellence

The GP reiterates that there is no accepted definition of TE and instead proposes 3 aspects of TE: TQ; LE and St Outcomes and LG. It also provides an indicative list of criteria under each aspects. The sector has responded by saying that the three aspects and the proposed criteria, whilst they might have been differently phrased, do cover the areas of TE reasonably comprehensively.HOWEVER, when it comes to the metrics to be deployed to assess institutional performance, concerns have been raised.2


Three common metrics (suitably benchmarked):Student satisfaction indicators National Student Survey (teaching quality and learning environment)

Employment/destination Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, from 2017 results of Her Majestys Revenues and Customs (tax returns)

Retention/continuation student outcomes (annual data returns to HESA)

Teaching Excellence Framework: proposed common metrics

principles for metrics: valid; robust; comprehensive; credible; current

So three common metrics known to be, at best, proxies for TE are proposed; are designedly OUTCOME measures; Student satisfaction is not measure of teaching excellence; though the questions of assessment and feedback come closer to measuring the quality of one aspect of TQ. Employment is a result of many factors unconnected to TQ e.g. student ability; social capital; institutional reputation; whether programme is vocation with good chance of employment on graduation; the DLHE is a short-term measure are misleading. Reliance on graduate salaries may well be misleading (e.g. some jobs start with very low pay e.g. film making etc)

a further outcome, or product, measure of quality most commonly cited the proportion of students obtaining a first or upper second has been undermined by grade inflation. Retention of students may relate in part to the quality of student support, but is mainly down to the quality of the student and their socio-economic background (issues of affordability; family circumstances etc). The weight of each would be very difficult to measure.

So there is considerable concern about the metrics which will be used in Year Two of the TEF (because they are considered to be the best available.)3

Student engagement

Gibbs, G (2016) Teaching in Response to the Higher Education Green Paper HEPIUS research indicates student engagement is the key factor is promoting student learning gain (e.g. Pascarella & Terenzini)Chickering & Gamson (1987) Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education 413/04/2016

As a survey NSSE annually assesses the extent to which students are participating in educational practices that are strongly associated with high levels of learning and personal development (Kuh 2001)

Several aspects of educational provision are known to predict both student performance and learning gains, independently of other variables such as resources, research performance and student entry standards. The impact of these aspects of educational provision can be validly measured by examining student engagement and effort using the NSSE, and NSSE scores are sufficiently robust that they can act as proxies for the quality of educational provision. (Gibbs 2012)


Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering and Gamson 1987) with examplesGood practiceencourages student-faculty contact (e.g. students as partners in research; in curriculum development/assessment peer assessment)encourages cooperation among students (peer-assisted learning)encourages active learning (placements)gives prompt feedbackemphasises time on task (directed student learning)communicates high expectationsrespects diverse talents and ways of learning (inclusive learning)


HEAs favoured metrics Number of staff with accredited teaching qualifications (HEA Fellows) HESA staff return

UK Engagement Survey (UKES) - adopted and adapted questions from National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) assesses the extent to which students are participating in educational practices that are strongly associated with high levels of learning and development (Kuh 2001)


UK Engagement Survey. Selection of questionsReflective and integrative learningE.g. How often have you connected your learning to societal problems or issues?Time spentE.g. About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week preparing for taught sessions?Skills developmentE.g. How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in solving complex real-world problems? Engaging with researchE.g. How much has your coursework emphasised learning about the results of current research? Creating knowledgeE.g. How much has your coursework emphasised your active participation in creating knowledge?


Scales with illustrative questions.7