Surveys unite to provide current status of Assurance of Learning in Higher Education

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 39: The Shape of Higher Education

July, 2016, 391 pages
Published by
Melissa Davis & Allan Goody

This paper provides an overview of assurance of learning (AoL) practices across Australia in the context of a comparison of two national surveys. AoL is a quality enhancement process used in Higher Education (Lawson et al., 2014), defined as the process by which learning outcomes are measured against specific course goals (Hall & Kro, 2006). Progress has been demonstrated over 5 years through increased awareness of AoL through legislation (Australian Government, 2014) and improved practice supported by national projects (Lawson, Scheepers & Taylor, 2015) but further work is still required. The question of how to support AoL implementation through cultural change to increase staff engagement and resources such as professional development is important. The authors compared data from two national surveys administered to the higher education sector in 2014-15, supporting the quantitative survey findings with qualitative participant statements. Lawson et al.’s (2015) Quality Enhancement project (QE) has found significant positive changes in AoL practice since 2010 in Business Education but, despite this, there are still areas for development including collaborative curriculum design. The 2014-2015 Quality Pursuit (QP) survey verified these results, looking more broadly to the sector and their data showed only 54.6% of respondents are engaged in AoL for quality enhancement. This paper will explore both the survey data and discuss mechanisms to support practice through change management and professional development.

Keywords: Assurance of Learning, Higher Education, Cultural Change