South African Journal of Higher Education

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A mechanism for programme evaluation in higher education

PA Venter, MJ Bezuidenhout


Quality assurance in higher education has a bearing on the policies, systems and processes directed at ensuring the quality of education provision in an institution (HEQC 1996, 14). To ensure a striving for excellence in academic programmes in a Faculty, to determine the extent to which this striving is achieved and to promote development and improvement, a project for programme evaluation was initiated, geared at designing a mechanism to be used in academic programme self-evaluations, but which will also be suitable for preparations for external evaluations and can serve as a premise for planning and development actions to improve programme quality. For the purpose of this project, quality assurance is labelled by the integration of methods, thinking and approach, that triangulates in a synergistic manner and inform the complexities and nuances of all core activities related to programme management and implementation, as well as quality management, namely quality control, evaluation, reflection, growth, development and enhancement, and planning. A qualitative, explorative and descriptive design was employed. A study of quality assurance criteria for academic programmes was conducted, followed by the development of an evaluation mechanism with criteria and rubrics for evaluation.
Interviews were used as data collection method, with respondents from a variety of academic programmes country-wide, as well as experts in the area of academic QA. The final outcome of the project is a matrix-based mechanism indicating various levels of quality attainment, and providing guidelines for improvement. The instrument will be suitable for use in all academic programmes that strive to comply with the HEQC criteria for programme review.
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