The trouble with quality reviews

DCU has just undergone an institutional quality review and that’s fine. I’m all in favour of accountability. But I do have a serious problem with the whole issue of quality and it has caused me to have a disagreement or two over the years with external examiners.

The thing is this: many of the judgements that are made around quality in education are based on opinion or ideology, not evidence. I have had numerous disagreements over the years with externs who have made recommendations that were based on…well nothing. One extern wanted me and my fellow engineers to reduce our contact hours because ours were higher than our biology colleagues. Another extern was troubled by the fact that the continuous assessment component of our modules was not given a uniform weighing. He was especially troubled by the fact that some modules had no CA component at all. Another extern was unhappy about the fact that some lecturers had very comprehensive notes on Moodle whereas others had no notes at all.

It seems that the default position of quality reviewers is to presume that uniformity is good. My own view is that diversity is good.

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