30 Aug 2010
What factors influence peer ratings of faculty research performance in the United States?
Peers play a significant role in assessing faculty members’ performance and in determining others’ career outcomes, such as tenure and promotion. However, the literature is fairly silent on how faculty members formulate their impressions of others’ performance. As part of a larger study, this paper explores factors that significantly correlate with peer ratings of research performance and the reliability of peer ratings. Using a random sample of 236 faculty members from a wide range of accredited business schools in the United States, the authors conducted a web-based survey of faculty in business management to examine the predictors of peer ratings of research performance. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
30 Aug 2010
Performance incentives and public college accountability in the United States
The allocation of funds to public colleges based on performance criteria rather than activity or enrolment criteria is often described as performance funding. In the United States, performance funding policies have become a frequently used instrument of higher education accountability. The history of such policies, however, is a complex one, with some states implementing such policies while others discontinue them. This paper describes and evaluates the first and the longest-standing performance funding policy in the United States, one designed and implemented in 1980 and remaining in effect for over 25 years.
30 Aug 2010
Knowledge production within the innovation system
This paper focuses on a key issue for university managers, educational developers and teaching practitioners: that of producing new operational knowledge in the innovation system. More specifically, it explores the knowledge required to guide individual and institutional styles of teaching and learning in a large multi-disciplinary faculty. The case study presented outlines a sustainable approach for achieving quality enhancement of teaching and learning and producing new operational knowledge. Sustainability is achieved by linking to, and being sympathetic to, the innovative activity-led concept of learning reported in this paper. This leads to the identification of elements of evaluation that are appropriately aligned to the teaching and learning behaviours, attitudes and approaches that are critical for the innovation to be successful. Such context-sensitive evaluation elements allow meaningful feedback for the purposes of creating new operational knowledge that may then be applied and tested for on-going refinement and learning.
30 Aug 2010
Characteristics of effective and sustainable teaching development programmes for quality teaching in higher education
There is a growing need for teacher development centres to help instructors of higher education become better teachers. This paper describes a multi-year study designed to explore how these centres support effective and sustainable teaching development with the aim of providing a quality teaching and learning experience. Key interview findings revealed four practices that are characteristic of effective teaching centres: knowing how to be strategic; using a multilayered approach; working with existing pressures, tensions and challenges; and knowing how to get the work done. The results of this study also offer insights on how to assess the strengths and challenges of teaching centres, and suggest that leaders of these centres consider their programme outcomes carefully in order to build a centre that meets the needs of both participants and policy makers. Finally, the findings assist in framing programmes to facilitate a quality teaching and learning experience.
30 Aug 2010
"Employability" through curriculum innovation and skills development
Over 50% of Portuguese graduates are out of work for more than six months after leaving university, against the OECD average of 42%. This suggests that universities need to do more to improve graduates’ chances on the labour market and, in many ways, the Bologna reform provided European Union universities with an opportunity to tackle this issue. This paper describes how the Bologna process led to reform at the Catholic University of Portugal’s Faculty of Economics and Management, starting in 2005. Undergraduate studies were reduced from four to three years and strategies were implemented to improve graduates’ employability. The primary aspect of the reform was a competency-based approach to curricula development, along with the creation of three new courses dealing specifically with transferable skills: critical thinking, systemic thinking and communication and teamwork.
30 Aug 2010
The facilitation of collaborative learning
The better management of group dynamics is increasingly being recognised as crucial for the success of inquiry-based curricula. This paper explores a number of issues surrounding the management of group dynamics in collaborative learning settings in medical education at the University of New South Wales, Australia. The findings of a study conducted there provide a practical framework for the identification of common problems that can confront facilitators, as well as a range of strategies that have been found by experienced facilitators to be useful in managing these issues. The strategies are discussed within the conditions in which they have been found to be effective, and facilitators are alerted about the possible pitfalls associated with these strategies. Thus, the paper provides insights into a key aspect of the collaborative learning and teaching process and the student behaviours that impact on it. It proposes practical strategies that can inform staff development activities, and is a starting point for developing quality teaching support.
30 Aug 2010
Attitudes to gender equality issues in British and German academia
This paper explores a range of perceived similarities and differences between male and female academics in the context of contemporary European Union "gender mainstreaming" policy. It concentrates upon the higher education systems of Germany and the United Kingdom, and is based upon questionnaire responses. A large majority of respondents believe that more needs to be done to remedy inequalities arising from maternity leave and child rearing, and that their universities are still gendered organisations with too few women at the top. Many females regard themselves as less strategic than males in managing their careers, and believe that they need to behave the same as men to succeed. They think that men have historically dominated in their subject area and still do so. Relatively small percentages of men endorse these opinions in relation to women, and their responses are often positive in their perception of female academics. It is almost universally agreed that women are doing a good professional job, and very few employees (either male or female) experience gross forms of bullying and harassment at work. A certain convergence between the genders in some respects may indicate the erosion of binary gender hierarchies in the current policy environment.