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Unit information: Evaluating Educational Quality and Improvement in Organisational Settings in 2015/16

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Unit name Evaluating Educational Quality and Improvement in Organisational Settings
Unit code EDUCD0091
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Thomas
Open unit status Not open

Understanding Educational Research


Research Methods in Learning, Leadership & Policy

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is designed for those interested in designing, managing, delivering and evaluating quality education in all fields. It will review research and experience relating to educational effectiveness, improvement and quality assurance in organisational settings and consider the implications for policy and practice. It will focus on research into the organisational factors that correlate with effective outcomes, both in UK and worldwide, and consider strategies for promoting quality and improvement at local, national and organisational levels, as well as a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating quality (eg large-scale programme evaluation, case studies, inspection frameworks, peer review, league tables). Students will be invited to present case studies based on their experience and critically reflect on the usefulness of the theoretical and conceptual ideas discussed.


The broad aim of this unit is to review selected research and theory relating to concept of educational quality, strategies for improving educational effectiveness, and approaches to quality assurance. Evidence from different countries/cultures and different organisational settings will be used to consider the implications of such theories for policy and practice. A range of evaluation approaches and methods, applicable to various organisational settings, will be considered (e.g. large-scale programme evaluation, case studies, inspection frameworks, peer and self review, national and international league tables). The influence of values, culture and context on various quality frameworks, together with the changing role of various stakeholders in contributing to quality, will also be considered.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The intended learning outcomes of this unit are fourfold. At the end of the unit participants should be able to:

  • evaluate critically the theoretical and research evidence concerning education quality, and the characteristics of ‘effective’ educational organisations in an international context;
  • critically review the strengths, weaknesses and feasibility of various education improvement strategies at institutional, local, national and global levels;
  • understand and critically review the methodology and methods of evaluating educational quality and improvement in different settings
  • consider how the ideas, evidence and methods raised in the unit might be applied in the participants’ own institutional context; and reflect critically on their own experience as a practitioner in relation to the issues discussed in the unit.

Teaching Information

The course will be delivered through a combination of teaching strategies, which may include whole group lectures, visiting speakers, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions and student presentations.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Information

A 4000 word essay which will assess students’ critical understanding of the literature on quality, improvement and evaluation, and their ability to discuss the implications of the theories, concepts and evaluation methods in relation to their own professional practice. This will be developed from a case study of quality evaluation using an example/s from the participant’s own experience to be prepared prior to the unit and presented, discussed and developed as the unit progresses.

Reading and References

Harris, A., Bennett, N. and Preedy, M. (eds) (1997) Organisational Effectiveness and Improvement in Education, Buckingham: Open University Press

Scheerens, J. Glas, C. Thomas, S. (2003) Education Evaluation, Assessment and Monitoring: A systematic approach, Lisse, the Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger

Townsend, T (ed) (2007) International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement. New York: Springer

Rossi, PH, Lipsey, MW & Freeman, HE (2004) Evaluation: A Systematic Approach. 6th edition. Sage.

Preedy, M., Glatter, R. and Wise, C. (eds) (2003) Strategic Leadership and Educational Improvement, London: Sage Publications