The Challenge: Quality Enhancement in Teaching– How do We Know We are Making Progress?
Du Plessis, Linda
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In 2014 the Council for Higher Education in South Africa launched a national Quality Enhancement Project (QEP). The aim of the project is to improve student success both at individual Higher Education Institutions and in the higher education sector as a whole. There is a widely-held belief that teaching quality is a many-sided yet ultimately elusive phenomenon. Performance indicators in higher education focus largely on research outputs and academic performance of students. They largely ignore the quality of the academic experience. The inevitable question that then arises is: how do we know quality enhancement projects are making a difference? There are two aspects related to this. What is the QEP catalysing and mobilising in institutions to bring about culture change? To what extent there is a greater focus on improvement in the culture of the institutions? Adopting a biomatrix system thinking perspective, this article unpacks the web of systems and stakeholders that impacts on quality. Biomatrix theory highlights process (as opposed to structure) and emphasizes ongoing change and sees stability as emerging from the regularity of change and a stable pattern of interaction. The principal conclusion reached is a conceptual framework for measuring ongoing quality enhancement efforts. The availability of qualitative data sources remain an unresolved challenge.