Evidence-based quality assurance: an alternative paradigm for non-traditional higher education

Date created: 
Higher Education

The quality of higher education programs has been, historically, evaluated using criteria framed by a traditional worldview of higher education, which is centred on faculty expertise and in-class instruction as the mode of delivery. As the result of significant changes in the past decade higher education institutions are responding with new program delivery models that challenge the established concept and traditional measures of quality. “Blended” programs represent a relatively new delivery model, combining both on-campus and online delivery methods. Whereas traditional universities have long-standing, and well-tested, methods for evaluating the quality of programs, blended programs must be assessed using different criteria. The purpose of this research project was, first, to identify indicators that could be used to assess the quality of blended, graduate programs and, second, to determine which of these were the strongest indicators of program quality. Using a logic model approach as the theoretical framework, which views programs as systems with inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes, measures were developed and assessed by graduate students, faculty, and program administrators. Of the 75 indicators developed, process-related measures were rated most highly overall and outcome-related measures lowest. 33 of the 75 indicators were rated most highly and, of these, graduate students, faculty and program administrators all agreed on ten as the strongest indicators of program quality. These included three groups of indicators: (a) faculty/instructors’ enthusiasm, communication skills, availability and responsiveness; (b) learners’ mastery of the competencies, their ability to integrate theory and practice, and apply learning outcomes to work /life, and (c) the extent to which program goals are defined, program and course materials are well organized, and the extent to which feedback is use to improve the program.

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Copyright remains with the author
Senior supervisor: 
Faculty of Education - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ed.D.)