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Is feedback to tutors the key to supporting quality in adult education? A case study of a private training organisation in New Zealand

Euan Wilson (NZMA, Auckland, New Zealand)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 25 June 2019

Issue publication date: 11 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine best practices in supporting tutors in academic quality within private training enterprises (PTEs) in New Zealand and to make practical recommendations for people working in the tertiary education sector.


A hypothesis is proposed, which is then tested using a case study examining what support from the quality assurance section of a PTE’s tutors perceive to be important. The hypothesis is that additional feedback is required for tutors. The results are compared with those on the literature on quality assurance to see if there is consistency in themes.


The primary themes that emerged from interview and survey data were that tutors with more than three years of experience feel they would benefit from more regular, clear and constructive feedback and that these tutors need support during any programme-related changes.

Research limitations/implications

This research highlights that the quality of feedback is crucial in education and a worthwhile area of further investigation. Limitations include the size of the sample of interviewees and that the study was based on only one organization in New Zealand. Future research is also suggested, which could include data from other tertiary educational institutions.

Practical implications

The paper concludes with a practical overview of “dos” and two “don’ts” identified from the case study. The objective is to share recommendations in a practical and useable way with other practitioners.

Social implications

This account of an inquiry into internal quality assurance processes and outcomes offers transferable learnings to tutors, academic quality assurance teams, employers and other stakeholders across the education sector.


The conclusion drawn from this is case study is that educational organisations should ensure that anyone tasked with providing feedback to tutors is first coached themselves; otherwise, the feedback can be unhelpful.



Since the time of writing this article Euan Wilson regrettably died.


Wilson, E. (2019), "Is feedback to tutors the key to supporting quality in adult education? A case study of a private training organisation in New Zealand", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 338-346.



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