Assurance of learning- Are academics and senior leaders singing from the same hymn sheet?
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Assurance of learning (AoL) is an important process in quality education, designed to measure the accomplishment of educational aims at the core of an institution’s programs, whilst encouraging faculty to continuously develop and improve the programs and courses. This paper reports on a study of Australian business schools to investigate current AoL practices through semi structured interviews with senior faculty leaders followed by focus group interviews with groups of senior program leaders and groups of academic teaching staff. Initial findings indicate there are significant challenges in encouraging academic staff to commit to the process and recognise the benefits of assuring learning. The differences in understanding between the various leaders and the academics were highlighted through the different focus groups. Leaders’ stressed strategic issues such as staff engagement and change, while academics focussed on process issues such as teaching graduate attributes and external accreditation.
Understanding the differences in the perspectives of leaders and faculty is important, as without a shared understanding between the two groups, there is likely to be limited engagement, which creates difficulties in developing effective assurance of learning processes. Findings indicate that successful strategies developed to foster shared values on assurance of learning include: strong senior leaders’ commitment; developing champions among program and unit level staff; providing professional development opportunities; promoting and celebrating success and effectiveness; and ensuring an inclusive process with academics of all levels collaborating in the development and implementation of the process.
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