Evaluation of Studyability
Since 2008, the Association of North German Universities has been developing a new project in which the topic of studyability, meaning the feasibility of a study program, is at the center of attention. The preparations are finished, so at their meeting on March 4, 2011, the presidents and rectors decided to start the realization phase of the project in the universities.
The member universities of Bremen, Greifswald, Hamburg, Kiel, Lübeck, Oldenburg, and Rostock have introduced the consecutive structure for study programs in a relatively short time period and have introduced a relevant number of new programs as well. Studyability and quality development and assurance have been preliminary motives for the implementation of new study programs, at least conceptually. Their further development and improvement is one central challenge in the current situation.
About the project
Studyability in the context of the project means the ability of any student of average talent to manage the study program and reach its aims with justifiable effort in the intended period of time. To ensure and improve studyability is therefore a constitutive basis for functioning academic studies. The project does not aim at generating universal standards. It provides a questionnaire for the universities by which they can check for criteria that are relevant for studyability and for implementation into a quality management system in teaching and studies. The project is primarily interested in the quality of processes (implementation of legal frameworks, orders, central decisions of the university, responsibilities, etc.) and not so much in the quality of the study programs as such. The question of systematic quality management in teaching and studies becomes more and more important. The processes of program accreditation already contain questions about effects of the quality management system on study programs. In the upcoming institutional (system) accreditation, this aspect is at the center of attention. The universities have to prove if and to what degree they have integrated processes of quality assurance into teaching and studies which meet the demands of accreditation (see: Akkreditierungsrat 2008: Kriterien für die Systemakkreditierung). Independent of the further development of the accreditation system in Germany, the aspect remains central to the development of quality management systems.
Aims of the project
- Deeper knowledge about the question of the studyability of study programs after analyzing and evaluating the implementation and handling of selected criteria.
- Internal check of existing instruments and processes which are supposed to ensure the studyability of study programs. Identification of reasons for problems in this area and development of means to improve the quality management system which can be implemented in practice in middle and long term perspective.
- Identification of best practice solutions for the criteria and evaluation of the possibilities to transfer them to other study programs at the same university or even to other universities.
- Development of a joint procedure within the Association of North German Universities for means of quality assurance and institutional anchorage, which provides the opportunity to reassess and develop the respective quality management systems for teaching and studies for the member universities.
- External evaluation of the quality management systems for teaching and studies with regard to studyability (formal processes) at the member universities and of the joint procedure to reassess and develop respective quality management on the basis of the demands for institutional (system) accreditation.
Studyability can be examined for formal aspects as well as for content. E.g., the Accreditation Council names formal and content-related aspects of and criteria for studyability with regard to institutional (system) accreditation. After the Accreditation Council, the feasibility of study programs provides a sufficient level of quality with regard to these criteria. They were discussed in the Association of North German Universities, which then defined its own criteria oriented around the reality of students.
In the context of this project, the association assumes that the adequate consideration of the following criteria leads to improved studyability of study programs:
All participating universities and subjects receive feedback and proposals for improvement for the studyability of their study programs on the basis of the criteria they selected. These are supposed to have a positive influence on studyability in the whole institution and trigger concrete intervention projects. Moreover, indicators for functioning and potential improvement of the quality management system for teaching and studies can be derived. They will refer to the studyability of study programs and the selected criteria and look for the effectiveness of the quality assurance instruments and processes applied. The recommendations provide approaches to improving quality management systems in the single universities. At the same time, it can be examined how closely the necessary preconditions and structure for institutional (system) accreditation are met.
Ms. Antje Mayer, project manager
Stabsstelle für Hochschul- und Qualitätsentwicklung HQE
Ulmenstrasse 69, Haus 3
Phone +49 (0)381 498-1243