NTEU discussion on TEQSA framework for standards in teaching and learning

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NTEU workers protest John Howard's Industrial Relations reforms in Sydney 2005

This wiki page has been created by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for the purpose of discussing the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Review into the Teaching and Learning Standards.

About the Review[edit]

The TEQSA Taskforce in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has prepared a discussion paper on the development of teaching and learning standards in Australian higher education.

This paper has being released for response by the sector, which will be passed to the Chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel for their consideration once they have been appointed.

NTEU’s Policy and Research Unit is in the process of preparing a submission in response to the paper, and to assist us in framing our response we invite comments from people with an interest and/or expertise in this area.

Submission Deadlines[edit]

NTEU’s submissions to the Review is due cob 22nd July. Any feedback or comments you wish to make in relation to the discussion paper and the issues raised can be posted either on this wiki or alternatively emailed to tmacdonald@nteu.org.au.

More info[edit]

For more information please contact the Policy and Research Unit at tmacdonald@nteu.org.au

Overview of Document[edit]

This paper initiates a process of discussion on possible approaches to articulating, reviewing and reporting on teaching and learning standards in Australian higher education. It presents the policy context, including the role of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA); incorporates an analysis of relevant developments as background; and proposes a way forward.

The TEQSA legislation introduced into the Parliament of Australia in March provides, among other things, that a Higher Education Standards Panel (Standards Panel) will be responsible for developing the Higher Education Standards Framework, including teaching and learning standards. The Standards Panel must consult with interested parties when developing the standards.

The Standards Panel will be independent of the TEQSA Commission and will provide advice and recommendations directly to the Minister for Tertiary Education and the Minister for Research. This will ensure the separation of standard setting from the monitoring and enforcement functions carried out by TEQSA.

The Interim TEQSA Commission seeks feedback from higher education providers, professional associations, industry bodies and government agencies about directions for development before detailed work begins. The outcomes from this discussion process will be provided to the Standards Panel for further consideration once the Commission is formally established.

There are three sections in the paper, each with associated discussion points:

1. The policy context for national teaching and learning standards, including proposed statements of principle for TEQSA’s approach.

Feedback is sought on the proposed definition of teaching and learning standards. Feedback is also sought on the proposed statements of principle describing TEQSA’s approach to teaching and learning standards.

2. A brief review of international and domestic developments, including student surveys, qualification frameworks, explicit statements of learning outcomes, common tests and peer review. Feedback is sought on the analysis of these developments in terms of their utility in developing a teaching and learning standards framework.

3. Steps toward Australian teaching and learning standards, how Australian higher education, including TEQSA, might further develop a national approach to teaching and learning standards.

Feedback is sought on the proposed structure of the framework, including on the relationships between the various elements. Feedback is also sought on the particular considerations and possibilities described for developing standards statements, measures and indicators, and processes for expert review.

Items of Interest in the Paper[edit]

There are a number of issues raised by the paper. NTEU welcomes comments in relation to any number of these as well as responsed to the questions posed by the paper.

In addition, NTEU poses the following discussion points for comment:

  • Is there anything additional required in the proposed principles for TEQSA's approach to national teaching and learning standards? Are the proposed principles appropriate? See page 6 for the 7 principles.
  • Benchmarking of assessment needs to be resourced and supported, as well as embedded in substantial assessment frameworks.
  • Teaching standards and learning standards are proposed as conceptually different but there is scope in the document to look more at the teaching side, especially formal background and qualifications of staff who conduct peer-reviews. Should these be treated as seperate concepts?
  • In the brief review of international and domestic developments, is the use of student satisfation/engagement and graduate surveys an appropriate tool to measure quality in teaching and learning?
  • Are there likely to be problems in linking the Australian Qualifications Framework to Leaning outcomes and using these to provide a point of reference when accrediting qaulification within an education system?
  • The Discussion paper notes the use of external tests for generic skills (such as the Graduate Skills Assessment (GSA)and the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) in the USA) to determine quality in teaching and learning. Is this a practical measure for TEQSA to adopot as part of the standards? Is it likely to lead to ranking and game playing by institutions?
  • Are the measures proposed for determing teaching quality (The Teaching Standards Framework (TSF) project, Macquarie University's internal teaching standards framework, DEEWR's proposed Higher Education Performance Framework) appropriate for this task?
  • NTEU supports the peer reivew process. However, the paper asks if this is appropriate for teaching and learning, given that peer review is considered to usually focus on curriculum design and realted teaching processes, and does not appeart to be applied when assessing learning outcomes. It also contrasts external peer review to disciplinary peer review and raised the issue of transparency of process.
  • Is the proposed framework for the construction of national teaching and learning standards appropriate? What difficulties are the likely to be in codifying higher education standards and is there are risk of setting the bar too low or that institutional diversity may be impacted upon?
  • Are the proposed models for structuring standards statements and standard's descriptions appropriate? Is using student experience survey data to evaluate effective teaching and learning support an effective mechanism for this? Are common test instruments suitable to determine quality in teaching and learning?
  • The Discussion paper notes (pg 20) that in relation to revieing teaching standards that:

There is a case to be made for the sector exploring how it might systematically expand existing practices of external review of curricula, beyond professional programs. People with appropriate expertise and experience might be recruited to review programs in their general discipline area. Such practice could make an important contribution to a national approach to teaching and learning standards.......The challenge for TEQSA lies in determining how to best utilise such practices for its role as the national regulator. If any such processes were mandated, rather than voluntary, they would need to be both cost-effective and efficient, for TEQSA and for institutions.

What should TEQSA's role be in reviewing the standards of Teaching and Learning?

There are many issues in this discussion paper that will impact on NTEU members and there is value in establishing a restricted shared forum for further input.