Why Awarding University Subject Gold Medals Is Wrong?June 21, 2018
In its entity, the government’s teaching excellence (Tef) was created to measure the ultimate quality of teaching in each academic discipline at the universities of the matter. Such an approach functions to assist students in determining the study preferences, incentives, and make the universities more transparent in the long-term. However, what if the claims are simply inadequate?
There is quite a bit of concern among the educators that such a methodology from universities results in lack of trustworthiness, crooked ratings, and that it can be easily fooled if needed. The originally created Teftook pride in assessing the institutions in their whole and our reaction at the time was dubious of the methods used. To fix the situation, Tef came up with a new technique that would aim to analyze each subject that is being taught, making the overall process more complex and easily gamed upon. As an indicator of quality, Tef would award bronze, silver, and gold medals upon the careful evaluation. What’s concerning, though, is that Tef will be taking into consideration smaller sample sizes, which only intensifies the overall uncertainty.
The Tef itself doesn‘t really work because it judges what we can, rather than what should be measured in regards to quality in the long-term perspective. To illustrate this better, take the graduate jobs: it’s clear that the family background plays a more vital role than the university teaching as the common sense dictates. Yet, Tef is reluctant to approach the analysis from the qualitative outlook instead of basing the conclusions solely on the metrics. The other concern is that Tef is relying on the opinion of students towards the course, which can be shaped by different means as a matter of fact: London universities kept getting consistently lower scores due to the high cost of living in the nation’s capital.
It can be concluded that Tef is evaluating things that are strictly limited with the excellence of teaching. Instead of using the factors affecting the quality, Tef is willing to rely upon statistical uncertainties of the standardized scores, which would make the previous comparisons quite useless. A new book from Professor Jerry Miller argues that because of fixation on metrics, the universities can inevitably fool the system and deserve the awards they would not otherwise get. The creators of the Tef analysis aren‘t particularly aware of how the system can be played as can be also seen in other areas of public policy analysis. As a matter of example, one can simply catch the effort of professors to put the D-achieving students into the higher branch of C-achieving students, which can surely help with the overall scores but not with the quality of teaching.
No one really knows how much the execution of Tef would cost in the long-term perspective as the data is kept private from the public. Jo Johnson, the kind of guy who introduced Tef, said that the system would decrease the overall bureaucracy, make the process more transparent, and scalable. In response to the poor measurements of Tef, however, Jo promised that the system would be more reliant on qualitative things that the statistics simply can’t pick up. What’s worth noting, however, is that the universities are willing to adopt Tef because of the increase in student fees, connected to such a practice. The idea has been ditched, so there are even less and fewer incentives for universities to take apart.
Before universities can make the final decision, there are some lessons from history that can make an impact. Take the teaching quality assessment (TQA), for instance. The system was introduced with a purpose to judge the overall quality across universities, yet failed in the long-run due to its inefficiency and easiness with which it can be played upon. The question may arise in the mind of the reader: why the hell would we adopt the similar practice if it hasn‘t worked in the past? The answer is yet to come.
The thing is, no one wants to admit that the quantitative data is of no use when measuring the quality of teaching in universities. On the opposite, some things are more than helpful while on such a path. Yet with the challenges that the modern teaching brings to the table, it’s clear that the outdated methods should be kept away from the overall evaluation. We could easily tell the quality of teaching environment by measuring class sized, libraries, technology, and IT provision, but not the excellence of teaching per se. To do that properly, there is a need for the enormous observation of classes, similar to the mechanism that is used to accredit universities and colleges all over the globe. Without doing so, there is plainly no need to move on with the overarching idea that measuring the teaching excellence requires nothing more but some numbers. In the long-term, it’s not going to help as can be learned from both the lessons of the past and the current Tef methods.
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