26.11.2013
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The SPEAQ project supports a lasting change in terms of quality

BRUSSELS – Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used in the SPEAQ project in order to identify ways in which quality in higher education is viewed and practised by three key stakeholder groups, namely students, academics and quality managers. The results of the initial data collection exercise of the SPEAQ project have now been published in the form of three synthesis reports. These reports summarise the data of all the ten partners involved in the project, including the European Students’ Union.

Drawing on the results of these interviews with the three ‘quality circles’ the project partners developed small-scale projects which set out to act on feedback from the interviews with the three stakeholder groups.

The main aim of these projects was to improve the ways in which quality processes are implemented and experienced within higher education institutions and to facilitate connections and a dialogue between the three quality circles. These projects were intended to respond to local issues, as well as to address more universal concerns, identified in the summary reports from the first year. Following are examples of projects that were elaborated by the partners:

•    a student project as part of the curriculum

•    peer mentoring

•    restructuring processes for collecting student feedback for course evaluations

•    listening to the international student voice

•    a staff quality forum

•    embedding the use of quality tools in professional development activities for staff

•    student engagement with improving the quality of study programmes

•    intra and cross-disciplinary collaboration on improving assessment

•    creating online resources to improve the quality of staff and student feedback

What has been very encouraging in the outcomes of these projects has been their potential to bring about real and lasting change within the courses, faculties or institutions in which they have been applied. Most partners report that these projects have been a catalyst for change and that the activities they initiated will be sustained and in some cases extended over the coming year. Summaries of these projects and reports on their outcomes can be found in the resources section of the SPEAQ project website.

Other outcomes from SPEAQ have included practical tools to support wider implementation of the project’s approach. These include a short workshop which was devised and run by all the partners in order to provide a forum to discuss quality issues and to bring together members of all the three ‘quality circles’ which is something that rarely happens in higher education. The workshop materials have been translated into English, French, German and Spanish and can be freely used and adapted. In addition, the resources developed for each of the two implementation phases, data collection and projects, have been produced as two sets of guidance notes that will help colleagues in other institutions to develop their own initiatives.

To sum up, quality in higher education is a wide and complex field encompassing both assurance (checking) and enhancement (improving) dimensions that are practised and viewed in a wide range of ways, formal and informal, top-down and bottom-up. SPEAQ has effectively developed a reflective approach to issues of quality based on grassroots discussions and cooperation and “has designed, tried and tested concrete activities which may support the overall aim of the European Higher Education Area and individual institutions of achieving a quality culture in higher education,” according to Anca Greere, the project’s evaluator.

Find out more about SPEAQ following this link

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LifelongLearningProgrammeThis project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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