What is quality management?
At WU, quality management in teaching is based on three key principles that characterize WU’s quality culture: reflection, feedback, and communication. These are the values upon which our definition of quality in teaching and our approaches to quality development and assurance are based. The concept of quality per se is not very clearly defined. For this reason, quality in teaching can mean something different to everyone. To build a shared understanding of what quality in teaching means at WU, including the perspectives and objectives of everyone involved, we have created a definition of quality in teaching that is based on the following dimensions:
Assurance of Learning
Assurance of Teaching Effectiveness
Assurance of Efficiency and Resource Adequacy
Assurance of Responsiveness to Academic and Corporate Needs
Assurance of Alignment with External Requirements
How do we assure quality?
WU follows a “fitness for purpose” approach and applies a range of methods, techniques, and projects in the management of teaching quality. These instruments are embedded into processes that are geared to the two major factors that determine WU’s teaching activities: our degree programs and our students. We develop our quality management processes and the corresponding quality development and assurance instruments based on the various dimensions of quality as outlined above. The instruments are targeted at three different yet interdependent levels derived from the key principles of WU’s quality culture: analysis, development, and dialog.
Examples of quality management activities and instruments in the field of teaching
Program evaluation is a method for systematic quality development on an individual degree program level. Its scope goes far beyond the evaluation of individual courses. Degree programs are evaluated over extended periods of time, based on various indicators, and improvements are implemented in cooperation with the respective departments.
Program evaluation is based on data from the following areas:
Assurance of Learning: grade distribution, Course Alignment Matrix
Assurance of Teaching Effectiveness: course evaluation results
Assurance of Responsiveness to Academic and Corporate Needs: graduate monitoring
Assurance of Efficiency and Resource Adequacy: key figures (applicants, first-semester students, graduates, enrollment status), average duration of studies, course portfolio
During a special workshop, the figures for these indicators are interpreted and quality development measures are formulated. The workshop is structured and designed jointly by the academic directors and the Program Management and Teaching & Learning Support staff. Participants come from different units and contribute their unique perspectives on the programs under evaluation: academic directors, Program Management and Teaching & Learning Support staff members, employer, alumni, and student representatives, subject peers, and academic directors from different WU degree programs (max. 14 participants). The results of this workshop provide the basis of a four-year action plan.
Academic director meetings
Academic directors are responsible for the content and the administrative aspects of their degree programs – across department boundaries. They work together with the units reporting to the Vice-Rector for Academic Programs and Student Affairs, which in turn support the academic directors in many areas, e.g. by assisting in the application phase, graduation ceremonies, and program quality development and by providing data to support course planning. Program Management and Teaching & Learning Support also coordinates WU’s entire program portfolio, defines joint standards, and facilitates coordination among the various degree programs.
The annual academic director meetings with representatives of the Vice-Rector for Academic Programs and Student Affairs and, for program-specific topics, with the program management are one of the key elements of program management at WU.
The main objective of course evaluation at WU is to include students in the process of quality assurance and quality enhancement in teaching as co-producers of their own academic success.
Courses are evaluated on a regularly scheduled basis, but teachers can also request a voluntary evaluation for their courses at any time.
WU has been presenting in-house teaching awards for roughly ten years now. Each year, WU presents its Innovative Teaching and Excellent Teaching Awards.
Teaching & learning community
eTeaching and eLearning play an important role at WU. The university is constantly developing these fields and encourages eTeaching and eLearning initiatives. WU faculty can draw from an extensive eTeaching portfolio with tools and techniques that can be adapted to all kinds of teaching scenarios and needs.
Since 2007, WU’s tutoring program and its student tutors have been providing hands-on, to-the-point support to WU’s students and faculty, making valuable contributions to teaching quality enhancement at WU. The two main goals of the program are to improve teacher-to-student ratios and to enhance teaching on the bachelor’s and master’s levels with a focus on course contents.
WU Student Panel Monitoring
The WU Student Panel Monitoring project provides comprehensive data on the experiences and needs of WU students during different phases of their studies. The project allows us not only to analyze data obtained at individual points in time, but also to carry out longitudinal analyses to track developments and obtain more profound information about our students and about how they progress through their studies.
With its graduate monitoring project, WU intends to collect more data on its graduates and how they do in the job market. The project is a cooperation between WU’s Program Management and Teaching & Learning Support unit and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna.