Monday, March 9, 2015

Rate University Teaching Quality On-line

In "The hunt for Australia's best teaching uni" (The Age, 9 March 2015), Gary Newman asks how to rank the quality of teaching at universities. Using the measures which have been used he lists Australia's top universities for teaching as: Victoria, Griffith, Deakin, Central Queensland, Tasmania, Edith Cowan, Canberra, Federation, Bond, Notre Dame, Sunshine Coast, New England and Western Sydney. That seems a reasonable list, with the regional universities not known for research having to focus on teaching. Also many of these institutions started as technical and teachers colleges devoted to education and now have an emphasis on e-learning (which requires a more professional approach to teaching).

As he points out the current ranking systems are based largely on research quality which is not necessarily related to the quality of teaching. He says a 2013 study provides some data (this appears to be "Factors Associated with Job Satisfaction Amongst Australian University Academics and Future Workforce Implications" by Peter Bentley, Hamish Coates, Ian Dobson, Leo Goedegebuure and Lynn Meek).

One interesting variation in rankings is the Ranking Web of Universities (Webometrics Ranking), which bases it assessment on the university's web presence. This produces a result similar to other measures but is easier to compile. Perhaps that could be applied to provide a measure of teaching quality, not just for Australian institutions, but world wide.
This, of course assumes that students are interested in teaching quality. It may be that students select a university based on its research reputation, as that is how the quality of their qualification will be seen.

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