Quality interventions: Examining the unintended effects of quality policies on academic standards and staff stress

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
ISBN
0 908557 54 X
Abstract 

The purpose of quality assurance measures is to demonstrate quality of a product or process. It is tacitly assumed that the quality assurance process is either neutral or will encourage improvement in quality. This paper examines how data collection processes undertaken for quality assurance change the reward and motivational systems within universities and asks whether it is reasonable to assume that quality assurance strategies act benignly in their effects on aspects of educational quality such as standards and staff stress. The problem is important because it is undesirable if quality assurance measures adversely contribute to diminution of standards or unacceptable staff working conditions. Although validity of individual quality measures has been addressed in several studies, no study has examined the unintended consequences of individual measures or the combined effects of several measures on universities as organisations. Answers to these questions would permit those designing quality assurance strategies to predict the likely affects of data collection on the behaviour of those working within the organisation and on the educational experience for students. The problem will be addressed using systems dynamics methodology to map the combinations of effects of policies and strategies on reward systems and expected organisational behaviour. The analysis results in a new application of a methodology that will help those designing quality assurance processes avoid unintended outcomes from quality policies.

Keywords: Quality, Universities, Organisations

Quality interventions: Examining the unintended effects of quality policies on academic standards and staff stress

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Cooper, T.