Quality Assurance in Education

Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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  • Stakeholder perceptions on the role of school inspection standards in demonstrating education quality in China

    Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the factors and issues within the policy context of education and the school inspection system which might affect education quality in China and examine stakeholder perceptions of inspection content and context in one city region in China. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-methods design was used. In all, 365 teachers, headteachers and administrative staff from ten schools across the urban and rural area have responded the questionnaires. A total of 13 interviewees including teachers and headteachers from two urban schools and a rural school, city and national inspectors and an educational officer were conducted. The interview instrument was informed by both international and local literature and some of the quantitative findings. Findings: This paper argues that student non-academic outcomes were perceived by participants to be more important than academic achievements in demonstrating education quality. The prevailing exam-oriented evaluation system still sets barriers for student all-round development. Educational equity in student performance has not drawn sufficient attention from the inspectorates of Shandong province. Practical implications: School inspection standards remain to be improved to better support student all-round development and equity in educational outcomes within and between schools, and better accommodate policy contexts and local needs. Originality/value: This study examines the school effectiveness factors which have been rarely tested in Chinese context and collects new empirical evidence to explore participants’ perceptions on the quality of school inspection criteria and education quality in Shandong province.

  • Development of the “special-vocational-education-service-quality scale”. Listening to the voices of students with intellectual disability

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a scale for the evaluation of the perceived quality of services provided to students with disabilities by Special Vocational Education (SVE) institutions in Greece. Design/methodology/approach: SVE service quality was approached on the basis of the performance-only model. The participatory research paradigm was followed, engaging students with disability and specifically with intellectual disability in several stages of the instrument development. The methodological design included two phases for the establishment and testing of the reliability and validity of the scale. Findings: The findings of the study support a multifactorial construct of SVE service quality consisting of five factors: responsiveness, surroundings, personalization, training and facilities adequacy. Research limitations/implications: Generalization of results should be attempted with concern. The type and severity of disability should be considered in future use of the scale. The construct of training for students with disability needs to be further investigated. Practical implications: SVE-Service-Quality Scale may be used in SVE settings highlighting areas of improvement or as an instrument for the assessment of implemented interventions. Social implications: Participatory research may serve as an empowerment opportunity for students with disability, whose active engagement in the research design allows for a small-scale yet valuable social impact, promoting emancipation for people with disability. Originality/value: The study draws attention on the field of SVE service quality where research is scarce, introducing SVE in the discussion about educational service quality assessment.

  • Discourses on quality and quality assurance in higher education from the perspective of global university rankings

    Purpose: This paper aims to investigate how global university rankings interact with quality and quality assurance in higher education along the two lines of investigation, that is, from the perspective of their relationship with the concept of quality (assurance) and the development of quality assurance policies in higher education, with particular emphasis on accreditation as the prevalent quality assurance approach. Design/methodology/approach: The paper firstly conceptualises quality and quality assurance in higher education and critically examines the methodological construction of the four selected world university rankings and their references to “quality”. On this basis, it answers the two “how” questions: How is the concept of quality (assurance) in higher education perceived by world university rankings and how do they interact with quality assurance and accreditation policies in higher education? Answers are provided through the analysis of different documentary sources, such as academic literature, glossaries, international studies, institutional strategies and other documents, with particular focus on official websites of international ranking systems and individual higher education institutions, media announcements, and so on. Findings: The paper argues that given their quantitative orientation, it is quite problematic to perceive world university rankings as a means of assessing or assuring the institutional quality. Like (international) accreditations, they may foster vertical differentiation of higher education systems and institutions. Because of their predominant accountability purpose, they cannot encourage improvements in the quality of higher education institutions. Practical implications: Research results are beneficial to different higher education stakeholders (e.g. policymakers, institutional leadership, academics and students), as they offer them a comprehensive view on rankings’ ability to assess, assure or improve the quality in higher education. Originality/value: The existing research focuses principally either on interactions of global university rankings with the concept of quality or with processes of quality assurance in higher education. The comprehensive and detailed analysis of their relationship with both concepts thus adds value to the prevailing scholarly debates.

  • The philosophy of quality in education: a qualitative approach

    Purpose: This paper aims to explore the perceptions of pre-school educators for the application of total quality philosophy in kindergartens in the prefecture of Corinthia, Greece. Dimensions, such as the adoption of quality philosophy in the pre-school unit by the superiors, the active participation of teachers in decision-making and human resource management parameters, are examined. Design/methodology/approach: The methodological approach of qualitative research was selected for the collection, processing and analysis of data based on the methodological tools of the interview with a semi-structured questionnaire and deliberate random sampling of kindergarten teachers serving in public units where they have teaching and/or administrative tasks. Findings: The analysis of the data shows that there is no particular familiarity with the basic parameters of total quality philosophy in pre-school education and is related to empirical planning and lack of long-term vision. However, participatory decision-making and emotional intelligence are found as essential elements for ensuring an efficient and open-ended school culture. Originality/value: The study is the first of its kind in Greece and abroad and its findings can be used to enrich the thematic scope of application of total quality management dimensions to pre-school education and in particular, those dimensions related to the leadership profile of teachers exercising responsibility tasks.

  • The influence of culture on quality management practices and their effects on perceived service quality by secondary school students

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how quality culture influences the relationship between total quality management (TQM) and secondary school students’ perceived service quality (PSQ). Design/methodology/approach: The authors underpin research to analyse the effect of quality culture and TQM practices on PSQ. The sample included questionnaires completed by 268 teachers and 559 students from 56 secondary schools in the Murcia Region (Spain). The proposed model comprises an exogenous construct (quality culture) and three endogenous ones (two constructs represent the TQM model’s infrastructure practices and core practices, whereas one represents PSQ), and specifies the relations among them. The authors used the variance-based structural equation modeling technique and the partial least squares estimation method to test the hypotheses. Findings: Its empirical analysis reveals that the quality culture influences the effectiveness of QM practices by suggesting a significant strong effect on infrastructure and core quality practices. In turn, the analysis reveals that these two QM aspects differently have an impact on PSQ. Finally, the mediation analysis results reveal the indirect significant impact of the quality culture on PSQ through the mediator effect of QM practices. Originality/value: The main contribution of this work is to theoretically explain and empirically prove some mechanisms by which education centers can develop and implement a total quality initiative. The findings provide ideas for management teams about how to personalize TQM practices to achieve optimum performance outcomes.

  • Rubrics meeting quality assurance and improvement needs in the accreditation context

    Purpose: K-20 accreditation is contingent on having policies and procedures that provide evidence of quality assurance (QA) and quality improvement (QI), viewed here as the first of two conflicting paradigms, requiring concurrent expressions of excellence and need. Standardized summative assessments using the traditional tabular rubric design (typically writing assessments) serve the QA purpose well while leaving QI difficult to achieve. This is the second-related pair of conflicting paradigms – formative vs summative assessment. The purpose of this study is to illuminate these conflicts, present a sample illustrative solution and suggest that both institutions and accreditation agencies implement policies resolving these conflicts. Design/methodology/approach: This viewpoint is based in part on an analysis of the content of many rubrics, with several selected for presentation herein. For K-12 settings, the AdvancED accreditation standards (used in 70 countries) and a multistate writing rubric are discussed. For postsecondary, a segment of the VALUE rubrics, used by a large number of postsecondary institutions across the USA, is presented. Examples of potential solutions for both levels are presented to clarify the problem and identify policy implications. Findings: This specific aspect of the QA/QI challenge is a solvable problem, and a solution is proposed with the potential to improve learning in the USA and other countries. Originality/value: Institutional personnel struggle with the conflicts often not realizing the source of their struggle. In this viewpoint, a new rubric format is suggested with the hope of initiating policy change discussions.

  • Quality assurance and the classification of universities: the case of Chile

    Purpose: The purpose of this study is to analyze the relationship between quality assurance, the traditional a priori approach, and a more recently developed empirical classification of universities, as a means of assessing whether the different classification systems fulfill their original purpose. The study analyzes Chilean university classifications because they have been used in setting up higher education public policies. Design/methodology/approach: The existing classifications of Chilean universities were identified in the literature. Researchers determined categories, criteria and/or indicators used, as well as their main purposes as described by the authors of the classifications. All the criteria and indicators identified were directly related to the quality of academic activities and to the results of the university accreditation processes. The institutional accreditation outcomes and variables were studied using univariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Findings: The a priori approach proved to be consistent with the results of institutional quality assurance, despite of the variability in individual performances. The empirical systems, however, do not show any contribution to the improvement of public policies in higher education. The results clearly show that classifications based on performance do not necessarily ensure improvements in institutional quality. Originality/value: To the authors’ knowledge, this analysis is the first study of the relationship between university classification and quality assurance. The growing number of proposals for different empirical classifications in Chilean universities is evidence of institutional diversity only. However, the classification designs did not respond to purposes such as public policies improvements and other expected results from these instruments.

  • Prioritised challenges and critical success factors for delivering quality education in Malaysian private higher education institutions

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to develop a hierarchical model to rank the challenges faced by the private Malaysian higher education institutions (HEIs) in the provision of quality education and subsequently their corresponding critical success factors (CSFs) to address those challenges. Design/methodology/approach: A sequential mix method was adopted in this study. Semi-structured interviews with 29 participants were initially conducted to identify the challenges and CSFs. This was followed by a questionnaire survey involving 158 respondents to prioritise the identified findings. Thematic analysis was conducted in the qualitative stage, uncovering the challenges and their corresponding CSFs. Data for both stages were accumulated from internal and external stakeholders of Malaysian private HEIs. Finally, the four stages of the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) were applied to rank the challenges and CSFs. Findings: The qualitative stage identified eight challenges, i.e. “academics”, “facilities”, “students”, “programmes and curriculum”, “competition”, “accreditation”, “finance” and “research” together with their corresponding CSFs. The AHP enables the ranking of these challenges. “Finance” has been found to be the most crucial challenge and “high competency in managing the institution’s finance” as the most important CSF to address this challenge. Research limitations/implications: As the study restricted its focus on Malaysian private HEIs, the results may not be generalised for public HEIs and foreign private HEIs operating in Malaysia. Originality/value: The hierarchical model developed in this study is deemed important for implementation to resolve the prioritised challenges. It spells out the specific areas in which the resources of Malaysian private HEIs need to be prudently disbursed and properly managed.

  • Exploring the reliability and validity of the learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) in an Arab setting

    Purpose: This study aims to examine the reliability and validity of the learning style construct conceptualized by Honey and Mumford (1986) in educational settings in the United Arab Emirates. Design/methodology/approach: Two independent samples from the UAE were used: one comprised 1,463 undergraduate students at the UAE University, and the other comprised 152 undergraduate students at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah. The data were analyzed using Cronbach’s alpha, inter-correlations and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Findings: Measured by alpha coefficients, the outcomes suggest that the learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) had moderate internal consistency in both samples. The inter-correlations reveal positive (weak to modest) correlations among the four learning styles for both samples, implying a lack of support for the two bipolar dimensions proposed by Kolb. CFA failed to support the four learning styles described by Honey and Mumford. Research limitations/implications: This study used only two samples to test the reliability and validity of the instrument. Second, other statistical tools (e.g. test-retest, item analysis) usually used to determine the reliability and validity of instruments were not used. Furthermore, the study was conducted over a short period; nonetheless, it has various implications for researchers, educators and managers. Originality/value: This investigation represents the first attempt to assess the LSQ’s reliability and validity in educational settings in the UAE. The findings contribute to the study of learning styles and instruments testing.

  • Higher education service quality, student satisfaction and loyalty. Validating the HESQUAL scale and testing an improved structural model

    Purpose: The purpose of this study is to validate the higher education service quality (HESQUAL) scale using a confirmatory approach and test an improved structural model that predicts student loyalty from image, perceived value, satisfaction and service quality. In addition to validating the HESQUAL scale using a confirmatory approach, two other main limitations in the extant literature are addressed. Design/methodology/approach: The model is tested using data collected from 501 students enrolled in different higher education institutions in Mauritius. A two-stage approach to structural equation modeling is used whereby the measurement model is first tested using confirmatory factor analysis and followed by the assessment of the structural model. Findings: Importantly, results indicate that student satisfaction is influenced by technical service quality, image and perceived value, but not by functional service quality. Both dimensions of service quality however are significant predictors of image and perceived value. The study uses a comprehensive measure of service quality and demonstrates that it is worthwhile to consider functional service quality as higher-order model and clearly distinguish between functional and technical quality, as both the technical and functional aspects play an important role in shaping students’ perceptions and behaviors. Originality/value: First, in the existing literature, service quality has not been considered as a second-order factor model in structural models of student satisfaction and loyalty, thus lacking either precision or parsimony. Second, the transformative quality aspect of higher education has been largely neglected in previous research testing such predictive models. The model delineates service quality into the functional and transformative (technical) aspects and treats functional service quality as a second-order factor comprising nine sub-dimensions.

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