Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The freeing of trade barriers and improved logistics has enabled much greater participation in trade in global markets. These developments have created an environment where innovation, knowledge and human capability have replaced the emphasis on the traditional sources of competitive advantage. There has been, in parallel, recognition in both developed economies and those that are developing, that the key to these new sources of competitive advantage lie in the standards of the education systems that underpin the abilities of the people. Over the past couple decades, many of the developed economies have introduced organisations and systems to monitor and assure governments and other stakeholders of the quality of higher education provision. These systems have become increasingly sophisticated over time, and, as the developing economies are encouraged, by inter alia the World Bank, to introduce similar systems, the resource constraints and capability are likely to hamper the introduction of robust systems. In order to address their special requirements in building national and institutional infrastructures for quality assurance, we announced a special issue of Quality Assurance in Education on “Emerging systems educational quality assessment in developing countries” for the issue scheduled for publication in June, 2008 (Volume 16 Number 2). We are pleased with the response from those interested in making a contribution following the initial mail out at the beginning of the year. We would urge those still considering to finalise their submission before the closing date of 28th September 2007. A detailed brochure is included elsewhere in this issue.
Looking at the current issue, we are pleased with the range of topics addressed. In particular we welcome the two articles from Middle East, which essentially highlight the influence of regional culture on practices that largely emanate from Western countries supported by literature based on local studies. Also we note with interest that the strident academic protest against “managerialism” in quality assurance has not died away after nearly two decades of its adoption. We carry two items, one a book review on the issue of trust, and another article on the deteriorating conditions of academic work. The rest of the articles are evenly divided between system and academic issues, providing a good balance for our coverage.
In the first article Sang Hoon Bae examines the relationship between the implementation of the ISO 9000 quality management system and educational outcomes of schools, measured by student achievement on the state-mandated tests and school attendance rates. The sophisticated statistical analysis employed reveals that although ISO 9000 participation is not related to the students’ graduation rates in high schools, it is positively associated with the students’ school attendance rates.
The following article by Chaminda Pathirage, Richard Haigh, Dilanthi Amaratunga and David Baldry examines methods that could be used to enhance the quality and consistency of dissertation assessment. Findings from two dissertation assessment exercises revealed wide variation in the assessment of dissertations by the School’s assessors. Several initiatives to enhance the quality and consistency of assessment are discussed.
In the next article Martin Cartwright describes research undertaken in two post-1992 universities into staff perceptions of and reactions to the rhetoric of the national quality agenda in the United Kingdom as expressed by bodies such as the Quality Assurance Agency. The paper concludes that from the point of view of the academic staff there is a significant mismatch between the rhetoric of the official paragons of quality and the discourse about quality implicit in that agenda.
Ahmad Al-Issa and Hana Sulieman examine in the next article students’ perception of end-of-semester Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET), and explore the extent to which SET are biased by non-instructional factors. The results of this study show that significant differences exist among the various demographic groups with respect to students’ perceptions of the evaluation process. The study presents evidence on how students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds affect their responses to SET.
Mathew Joseph, George Stone, Kimberly Grantham, Nukhet Harmancioglu and Essam Ibrahim in their exploratory study following next, attempt to capture some of the principal benefits/factors attributable to service learning/community service projects, from a student perspective. The authors conclude that students believe that their college experience is preparing them for the job market, and that critical thinking has been enhanced.
Alison Clarke, Gareth Smith and Alison Smith report, in the next article, on an in depth exploration of service quality in an Information Technology service department in a Higher Education Institute and evaluate the instrument used. The study confirmed previous research that the application of SERVQUAL in the public sector can produce different service quality dimensions from those found in private sector services. The implications of these findings for the department are discussed, together with the value of SERVQUAL to the public sector, in general, and Higher Education, in particular.
Yadollah Mehralizadeh, Mohamad Jafar Pakseresht, Massoud Baradaran and Sakineh Shahi, in the next paper report on a case study of internal evaluation within the academic departments of a university in Iran. It was concluded that internal evaluation processes are potentially valuable in Iranian universities, but if this value is to be realized on a continuous basis then it needs to become an integral part of each department, university, and the nationally accepted framework of quality assurance.
In the final book review section Adele Flood reviews Paul Gibbs’s book Trusting in the University. The book alerts the readers to the evolving vision of education as a “product rather than a public good” (p. 2). The author suggests that this totalisation and rewarding by market forces fosters “bad faith between academics and … chief administrators” (p. 7). The reviewer doubts whether for all the weight of such arguments the economic tide can be turned back to fully encompass the flourishing individualism in these times of economically driven imperatives and mass education.
Finally, the team hopes that the articles included for your consideration in this issue will provide inspiration for reflection, individually and collectively, to review some of the perspectives on and practices for quality in education.
John DalrympleFor the Editorial Team