Culture of Quality

OCTOBER 8, 2012, QC
Five concepts of quality as applied to higher education:
Quality as exceptional, which in turn has three notions
• Quality as distinctive (unattainable for most; instinctively
• Quality as exceeding very high standards (attainable to a
limited extent; excellent input and output)
• Quality as conformance to standards (use of criteria and
ratings; comparability; appear to have absolute
Harvey, L., and D. Green (1993). "Defining Quality.", Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 18 (1): 9-34.
Quality as perfection or consistency, with zero
defects‖(conforms to particular specifications, with emphasis
on process and quality culture; everyone is responsible for
quality; democratizes but also relativizes excellence)
Quality as fitness for purpose, either as the institution‘s
mission or as defined purpose by end users (students or
Quality as value for money (accountability, performance
Quality as transformation (provider doing something, not for,
but to the end user; enhancement, empowerment; equated
with the exceptional)
Quality is relatively easy to measure in terms of excellence
(conformance to standards) and fitness for purpose.
The concept of quality as transformation is harder to measure.
Quality as transformation means that the participation of
students, faculty, and researchers in the education process is
It means ―giving power to participants to influence their own
transformation,‖ with the learner taking ―ownership of the
learning process and ... responsibility for determining the style
and mode of delivery of learning to some extent.
(Harvey and Green, 1993; Harvey and Burrows, 1992; Muller and Funnell, 1992)
Harvey, L. and A. Burrows (1992). ―Empowering Students.‖ New Academic, 1(3): 1ff.
Assessment of such quality puts a premium on the outcomes
of processes. In operational terms, outcomes-based
education means ―starting with a clear picture of what is
important for students to be able to do, then organizing the
curriculum, instruction, and assessment to make sure that
this learning ultimately happens.
Spady, W. (1994). Outcome-based Education: Critical Issues and Answers. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.
This definition puts students at the center of the education
process. Placing students first is a simple design principle, but
it has great power.‖ By having learning objectives that derive
from desired learning outcomes, there should be more
appropriate teaching methodologies and assessments.
Kennedy, Donald (1997). Academic Duty. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Provider doing something to, not for, the end user.
Provider transforms students to personify the desired program
outcomes. Students to play a central role in such a
Culture is a way of life shared by a community. Shared attitudes
and behavior. (corporate culture (IBM, Google..); culture of
excellence; culture of science...)
Culture of quality, with quality as transformation of students in
an outcomes-based system, is way of life that will make a
success of such a system.
Shared belief in outcomes-based education and desire for it to
succeed leads to change in mind set, attitudes and behavior:
• Faculty members: sensitivity to CQI, the art and science of
assessment and evaluation, the changing or changed role of
the teacher and student in the educational process
• Student: sensitivity to their central role in learning
• Admin and staff: learned reflex that attaining outcomes is
an organizing principle (guidance, extension services, IT,
student services...)
The Mapua ABET Journey:
Non self-conscious cultural development
An appreciation of the nature of the school; global standards?
Starts out logically.
Testing for commitment; a paper chase? Becomes emotional in
strong belief.
Lining up the material resources; support from the very top;
shared belief and attitude
Lining up the human resources; support from bottom; start of
mass cultural development
Self-study on outcomes-based education and accreditation;
no paucity of resources for the curious and the motivated;
deeper internalization
Poring over all the details; applying the knowledge; SSR
Empowerment and guidance; enough common understanding;
common new language; learning new reflexes
Putting a structure; CQIO; organizing it; involving many
Running the cycle; interaction over a new matrix; a nascent
culture supplanting some old customs (grading system,
Collectively nervous to death during accreditation visit;
shared experience; shared stories; shared history; culture as
history, according to Nick Joaquin; history as culture, I say.
More theory; more tools and artifacts (software); less
clutter; already some detritus left on the road of cultural
Sticking to the knitting; reflexes gone customary
Challenges of student-centered learning still a mountain to
climb; necessitates some real attitudinal changes on the part
of students, faculty and staff; a fraction of a culture thus far; at
least not a fractured culture.
Culture of outcomes-based education is a culture of quality!

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