Sunday, 31 January 2010

Four Provocations

I have 4 possibly provocative propositions regarding university quality.

1. You don't get quality by measuring it.

2. Academic freedom is foundational to quality of knowledge, research, teaching. Accountability is important too, but must be structured to NEVER interfere with academics' and institutions' ability to choose what they research and teach.

3. Benchmarking achieves nothing when everything is crap.

4. Constructive alignment can cause a decline in disciplinary standards if your students are not good enough.

There will probably be more.


Anonymous said...

1. Yep
2. We all think we share the same meaning for 'academic freedom' but it doesn't always work that way. You've included de facto your definition. Good.
3. Probably agree, but it's a braod statement that doesn't distinguish the variety of benchmarking processes. Looking at yourself and others (even if all of its of a low standard) can be enlightening if gone towards with honest improvement in mind.
4. I don't understand this one. Is it the students, or is it the curriculum?


Hannah Forsyth said...

Hi MJ, not used to you here! Where I will also be a little more diplomatic.

3. Yes, it can still be useful. But loses its overall credibility if crap courses are justified by other crap courses.

4. This is a hypothesis I would like to explore. (a) students with lower aptitude enter sector (b) instead of designing curriculum around disciplinary standards, 'student needs' drive curriculum development therefore disciplinary standards must drop.

On a related matter, I noted in this article the following:

"After more than 15 years working in and around these certificates, I know the attitude in some institutions is along the lines of ‘a few seminars here and there and a bit of an assessment task – and Bob’s your uncle’. I know of at least one certificate currently run by someone without any educational qualifications. The proliferation of lower-end grad certs with drop-in seminars, super-flexible assessment options and requirements, lots of recognition of prior learning and much winking and nudging is a likely outcome if this indicator is introduced.

We will have masses of staff with GCHEs and not a sausage of difference to the quality of student learning."