Quality assurance is the process of measuring progress against requirements or standards. These standards may be created based on previous results and aspirational goals, based on an industry benchmark or a requirement for certification. Quality improvement is the process of using data from the quality assurance process to constantly improve the organisation and meet the organisational goals. Within the teaching organisation the quality assurance arrangements are managed by the Quality Team, comprising of senior management. Information for the quality assurance process is obtained from a variety of methods throughout the year, including regular teaching observations and an annual teaching establishment Self-Assessment Review (SAR), as well as many other opportunities throughout the year.
A frequent element of the quality assurance process that occurs throughout the year are teaching observations, this is essential to ensure the students (customers) are receiving a quality service (teaching). The performance observed will be recorded and will be used during staff reviews in order to identify areas for improvement. Staff reviews are conducted twice a year and provide an opportunity for managers to review staff performance, for the senior management to distribute the objectives of the organisation to all members of staff via the managers and for staff to voice their opinions. A rating is normally provided as part of a staff review, which, in many organisations, is related to pay scale and provides a promotion opportunity. The progress and success of students is monitored throughout the year, this will include predicted grades, attendance and retention. At various points throughout the year, External Quality Assurance (EQA) will be conducted by an external verifier appointed by the awarding organisation. The external verifier will ensure the internal verification is being conducted and essential procedures are being followed, in some instances marking quality will also be assessed. Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) is conducted throughout the year and comprises of moderation of assignment briefs, marking verification and, in some instances, double blind marking. This process is in place to provide fairness, accountability and credibility for students and the marks awarded.
Twice yearly the students are given a formal opportunity to provide feedback for the courses and units they study. The feedback forms my students complete includes questions such as “I can see how this unit contributes to my overall programme of study” and “The teaching was effective in helping me learn.” The feedback received will provide an idea of how the students found the unit and their experience of the teaching. This information will be used to build the overall picture of the performance of the unit, course and lecturer. This feedback cannot be treated as gospel as stricter lecturers are more likely to perform worse. Lecturers on the course I teach traditionally perform poorly on less technical / soft units, such as professional skills. The impact in the event of a particularly poor student feedback is further investigation, possibly resulting in additional teaching observation to gather more information. Each course and lecturer will have key performance indicators that give objectives for the staff to work towards; these should be in the form of a smart objective. This is another method for senior management to communicate the requirements to all the staff by assigning specific key performance indicators to each staff member.