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Ascribing meaning to quality cultures in the Portuguese context

Amélia Veiga (Research Unit, A3ES – Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education and CIPES – Centre for Research into Higher Education Policies, Lisbon, Portugal)
Maria João Rosa (Universidade de Aveiro and CIPES – Centre for Research into Higher Education Policies, Aveiro, Portugal)
Sónia Cardoso (Research Unit, A3ES – Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education and CIPES – Centre for Research into Higher Education Policies, Lisbon, Portugal)
Alberto Amaral (Research Unit, A3ES – Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education and CIPES – Centre for Research into Higher Education Policies, Lisbon, Portugal)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 1 July 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to discuss Portuguese academics’ views on quality assessment and the elements that are important for a better understanding of what ascribes meaning to “quality cultures” in Portuguese higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

The discussion was based on the results of a survey run in 2010 among Portuguese academics on quality assessment objectives and purposes. Descriptive statistics was used to investigate academics’ support to what quality assessment was supposed to guarantee (its purposes) and which should be its objectives. Furthermore, a factorial analysis using Promax rotation (oblique) was performed to investigate if the different purposes could be grouped according to the different areas they address in terms of quality assessment, helping to uncover a rationale that could explain the answers obtained. Theoretically, the results have been analysed in the light of the “quality culture” concept.

Findings

Perceptions of Portuguese academics that support internal processes of quality assurance correspond either to the responsive quality culture or the regenerative quality culture. The viable form of ideal cultures is analytically limited, and the perceptions gathered encourage “quality cultures” biased by stronger group control.

Originality/value

The paper offers new insights into academics’ perceptions on quality assessment, a theme that so far has been relatively absent from higher education quality assurance studies. Furthermore, the results obtained could be useful to policymakers and quality assurance agencies when setting up evaluation and accreditation systems capable of balancing improvement associated with the group dimension and accountability coupled with the grid dimension.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research was supported by a grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia under the framework of the project Perceptions of Higher Education Institutions and Academics to Assessment and Accreditation (PTDC/ESC/68884/2006).

Citation

Veiga, A., João Rosa, M., Cardoso, S. and Amaral, A. (2014), "Ascribing meaning to quality cultures in the Portuguese context", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 255-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-05-2013-0020

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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