Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 28 September 2010



Dalrymple, J. (2010), "Editorial", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 18 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/qae.2010.12018daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Quality Assurance in Education, Volume 18, Issue 4

The financial turmoil of the global financial crisis is likely to affect most sectors of the economy in many countries worldwide. An important element of every economy is the education sector, straddling early childhood education through to the tertiary sector. It is quite natural for people to respond to potential austerity measures in national economies with special pleading for the sector that they represent. In particular, it is likely that the readership of this journal would agree that education is an important contributor to the well-being of citizens, the development of civil society and the economic sustainability of communities.

In these circumstances, it is essential that the efforts to assure quality in all education institutions are maintained in the face of fiscal austerity. At the level of the institution, there is adequate evidence to sustain the argument that expenditure on appropriate quality assurance measures is both justified and results in lower overall costs in the long run. However, it is at the level of the individual that robust quality assurance provides the greatest benefits. It is not feasible to issue a “recall notice” to individuals whose educational experience has been blighted by poor quality in the way that is routinely done in the case of automobiles that have a fault arising from quality assurance failures. Remedial action is also much more difficult and may be impossible for the individual.

In this issue, we have contributions from a variety of international settings, from developing economies to advanced developed economies and from the school and college sector to higher education. There is evidence that the importance of quality assurance and quality improvement in all aspect of education is appreciated globally and that the effort to improve the performance of the education systems continues despite the austerity measures in some economies.

This issue begins with a contribution from Dennis Chung Sea Law focussing on the student experience. The paper explores the developments in post-school education quality assurance and reviews a number of survey instruments that are used to gauge the student experience. The author indicates that ad hoc survey instruments may not be exposed to the stringent validity and reliability tests that more formalised and established instruments have undergone. One option is to adopt one of the instruments with proven validity and reliability to survey elements of the student experience. This provides a path to valid and reliable data collection and analysis that forms the basis of improvement effort.

In the second paper, Charles Ellis and Kathryn Castle examine two discrete and well-established activities, teacher research, and continuous quality improvement and draw parallels between the activities. The teacher research process begins by questioning current practice, followed by planning a study or intervention. The study or intervention produces data, which when analysed and interpreted, results in improved teaching. This cycle is then developed and parallels are drawn with the “plan-do-study-act” quality improvement cycle. The policy implications of the quality improvement contribution of the teacher research activity are then discussed.

The third paper, by Cláudia S. Sarrico, Maria J. Rosa and Inês P. Coelho, presents an exploratory study carried out in a group of Portuguese schools that uses data-envelopment analysis to compare the performance of the schools. It is recognised that schools are complex entities and that the idea of performance of a school is a complex construct. The use of data-envelopment analysis had its origins in the analysis of the performance of public sector and not for profit organisations where it was recognised that a single metric, for example, the value returned to shareholders, was inadequate and inappropriate. The approach has attracted more widespread interest and this exploratory study yielded helpful insights into school performance.

The penultimate paper, by Trang T.M. Nguyen and Tho D. Nguyen, presents the results of research carried out in the context of business education in a transitional market, namely Vietnam. The paper presents a model that links learning performance with a number of characteristics of the student and the instructor and the model is tested using inferential statistics for a cohort of students of business in the transitional economy of Vietnam.

The final paper is a case study by Moshe Sharabi that illustrates how the human resource management provided leadership in quality improvement in an Israeli higher education college. The approach used well-established quality improvement tools and techniques to bring about improvements in the student experience. The human resource management function collected and analysed data that reflected the student experience. By focusing on the interfaces between functional areas in the college, it was possible to identify opportunities for improvement in the college operations that would enhance the student experience.

The papers introduced here attest to the increasing sophistication of the approaches to quality improvement that are emerging throughout the world. The importance of the student experience in the quality improvement effort in educational institutions is also emerging as a stronger theme nowadays.

I trust that you will find the papers in this issue provide us all with the opportunity to reflect on the various responses to the global financial crisis and consider these responses in the context of the development of quality and quality improvement in education.

John Dalrymple

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