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Academics' perceptions of their teaching role following the introduction of Teaching Quality Assessment

By Christine Leigh


The aim of this phenomenologically-based study was to establish, from the perspective of academics, what impact the introduction of Teaching Quality Assessment had had on teaching in higher education. Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA) was introduced by the university funding councils, in response to their obligations under the Further and Higher Education (FHE) Act (1992) and was the methodology used to assess the quality of teaching in higher education in the UK during the period February 1993 to June 1995.\ud \ud A semi-structured interview approach was chosen to generate the data. Forty-six academics from two departments (Computer Science and Business Studies) in four institutions (two pre-1992 and two post-1992 universities) were interviewed. Questions focused on academics’ personal views, opinions and aspirations with respect to teaching. These were examined together with their perceptions of the institutional context particularly with respect to support for teaching, and incorporating their experiences of TQA.\ud \ud Respondents expressed a high commitment to teaching, and a stronger professional than institutional loyalty. Teaching was very pressurised due to increasing student numbers, high student:staff ratios, demanding students and the requirements of external monitoring. Academics were also under pressure to excel at research, since status was based on research, rather than teaching excellence. These pressures had been exacerbated by the Government’s funding, expansion, and customer-service policies, to which institutions had responded with increasingly bureaucratic and less collegial systems.\ud \ud The academics felt that TQA did not benefit teaching and learning directly, but indirect benefits included promoting the improvement of administrative systems, and helping them to maintain standards. Participants also regarded the TQA methodology as inappropriate, and suggested that quality assurance systems should be audit-based and improvement-focused, with minimal external controls to assure the integrity of institutional self-regulatory mechanisms

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