July 2013

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Conclusions from the workshop "Reaccreditation of the teaching assessment handbooks used by public universities in Catalonia"

Editorial board - AQU Cataluny

La reacreditació dels Manuals d'avaluació docent de les universitats públiques catalanesMore than 80 people, including vice-rectors, academics, students and technical staff from the universities and the Agency came together at the headquarters of AQU Catalunya on 16 April to appraise the teaching assessment programme in Catalan universities and discuss the challenges facing the programme.

The objective of the workshop was, on the one hand, to assess the efficacy and impact of the teaching assessment handbooks (which set out the models to be applied in the assessment of teaching by faculty staff) used by public universities in Catalonia and, on the other, discuss their subsequent accreditation, bearing in mind the need, with regard to teaching staff, for the integration of the AUDIT (the design and evaluation of internal systems for quality assurance) and DOCENTIA (support for teaching assessment) programmes with the VSMA Framework (for the validation, monitoring, modification and accreditation of recognised university degree programmes).

The workshop was divided up into three parts:

  1. The efficacy of the teaching assessment handbooks and their place in the VSMA framework. AQU Catalunya gave an overview of the use of the handbooks from the time of their introduction in 2003 and also presented the results of the opinion poll (survey) on the teaching assessment process of the main actors involved (vice-rectors, review panels, academic managers and students).
    PDF document PDF Results of the survey on the reaccreditation of the teaching assessment handbooks [ca], Esteve Arboix Codina, head of Teaching Staff and Research, AQU Catalunya
    PDF document PDF Accreditation of recognised degrees and teaching assessment [ca], Josep Anton Ferré Vidal, Director of AQU Catalunya
  2. The impact of teaching assessment handbooks. By way of example, the UPC, UPF and UdL outlined their experiences of applying their respective teaching assessment handbooks.
    PDF document PDF Using instruments and application software to manage teaching assessment [ca], Santiago Roca Martín, head of Planning, Evaluation and Quality, BarcelonaTech/UPC
    PDF document PDF Teaching Assessment Handbook - UPF [ca], Miquel Oliver Riera, vice-rector for Quality and Institutional Strategy, Pompeu Fabra University/UPF
    PDF document PDF Teaching Assessment at the University of Lleida: Excellence in Teaching [ca], Ferran Badia Pascual, vice-rector of Planning, Innovation and Enterprise, University of Lleida/UdL
  3. Reaccreditation. AQU Catalunya outlined the main areas of work being carried out regarding the reaccreditation of the teaching assessment handbooks.
    PDF document PDF Reaccreditation of the teaching assessment handbooks: process and challenges [ca], Antoni Blanc Altemir, chair of the CEMAI Committee (Special committee for the assessment of individual merits and activities), AQU Catalunya

The conclusions of the discussions during the workshop are given below

Regarding the efficacy of the programme

  • Programme consolidation. Of note is the effective running of the teaching assessment programme in general. Since the programme was started in 2003 assessment of the work of more than 10,000 teachers has been carried out, and it has been integrated as an instrument for teaching improvement and enhancement. While improvements to certain aspects are necessary, further exploration and development is needed of the line of action set in place ten years ago.
  • Minimum threshold (teaching assignment) for assessment. There is no firm consensus regarding this matter. A total of 12 credits per year, with a reduction when administrative work is also done, is accepted as valid, although this threshold is not laid down in the handbooks of all universities.
  • Individual assessment vs. group assessment. The current handbooks are used for the individual assessment of teachers. The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) however refers to teaching as a collective effort of teachers and/or teaching groups, so the handbooks need to incorporate a collective perspective of teaching assessment in frameworks that are both structured and coordinated.
  • Voluntary assessment vs. compulsory assessment. The current model provides for assessment of a voluntary nature. The outcome data show that a percentage of teachers in each call for applications (ranging from 30% to 50%) could have applied for assessment, but decided not to. The possibility of teaching assessment being made compulsory stood out in both the surveys and the discussions.
  • Prestige of the teaching quality premium. As in the case of research quality premiums, it is important for the teaching quality premium to be considered as merit in teacher accreditation and for it to receive higher recognition (for example, premiums, eligibility to sit on assessment and/or selection boards, economic incentives, etc.). Within this context, existing initiatives dealing with the recognition of teaching excellence in the higher education system in Catalonia stand out very positively.
  • Regularity. Assessment of the level of competence of teachers is currently envisaged once every five years. Difficulties are often encountered with this time period as far as evidence and the retrospective drawing up of a self-report is concerned. Consideration therefore needs to be given to whether it is the teacher who each year individually prepares the self-report and compiles the evidence of teaching work (for example, surveys).
  • Self-report. This is a key element, especially because of the importance of reflection on the part of the teachers. There is the risk however of a lot of the information contained in the self-reports not reaching those involved in strategic decision-making.
  • Publicising of the results. In accordance with the principle of transparency established in the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the EHEA (ESG), progress needs to be made in the publicising of assessment results. The possibility was mentioned of publishing the name of teachers who are positively assessed.
  • Adjunct teaching staff. During the discussions it was determined that, for the time being, professionals who combine their professional work activity with teaching at university are not subject to teaching assessment. Nevertheless, the need for adjunct teaching staff to be included was raised.
  • Role of the students. In addition to the satisfaction surveys and their often indirect participation on review panels, student participation has still not reached its maximum level of involvement. This needs to be boosted and reinforced in the various stages of review and evaluation. In this regard, the presence of students from the Consell de l'Estudiantat de Catalunya (Catalan Student Council) in the workshop is an important step forwards in this direction.
  • Sustainability of the programme. Given the current context of economic crisis and the shortage of budgetary resources, maximum efficiency is necessary in the application of the programme.

With regard to programme integration

  • Progress needs to be made in the integration of the AUDIT and DOCENTIA programmes into the VSMA Framework. There are links that currently exist between the programmes and in the short term it would appear to be feasible to incorporate the information on five-year teaching-based salary bonuses in the monitoring of degrees, as well as into WINDDAT (website with indicators on teaching that can be used for monitoring).

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