In a new series of articles Professor Sean Brawley provides an overview on the current program of renewal of our course and unit quality assurance processes. This important work is now being finalised through the MQ Operating Plan 2020-2024 and now, Academic Senate is engaged in the finalisation of the associated policy suite.  

In Part 1 of this series I introduced you to the new MQ Curriculum Lifecycle Framework. This Framework has been informed by our new approach to Quality Assurance, Enhancement and Improvement (QAE&I). In Part 2, I introduced you to the work that is currently underway to build our Quality System and the new suite of policies that will support this work. This policy suite is now moving through our institutional academic governance process for approval at the meeting of Academic Senate on 31 August.

This article outlines the roadmap to implementation and gives you a sense of when we will operationalise various stages and when you will start to engage with aspects of the Quality system. I will concentrate my commentary on our new approaches to monitoring and reaccreditation, fulfilling an important part of our regular responsibilities as MQ academics and professional staff.

Course Reaccreditation

Course reaccreditation forms the centrepiece of our QAE&I work. Every course within the University will undergo a reaccreditation at least every 7 years. The first cycle of our new approach to Course Reaccreditation commences this September. The DVC(A) in conjunction with Faculties have finalised our schedule for reaccreditation for the next seven years. The schedule will be endorsed by ASQC at its meeting on 3 August. 

In our first cycle in 2021-22 approximately 50 courses will be subject to reaccreditation representing courses covering about 33 per cent of the student population. Once ASQC has endorsed the schedule we will commence work with Course Directors to start the process.

Annual Course Monitoring and Review — the “Health Check” and “In-Cycle Review”

In April 2022 we will undertake our first Annual “Health Check” exercise with those courses not undertaking full reaccreditation. The Health Check is driven by a data dashboard. The data informing the dashboard is being finalised by our Business Intelligence and Reporting Unit with assistance from the Program and Pathways team. I think about this dashboard like a smoke detector. It will provide an alert system – drawing attention to where there may be an issue in a course worthy of investigation. Should there be a need for a greater investigation into the cause of the alert an “In-Cycle Review” is commissioned and a deeper dive into the cause of the alert is undertaken. An ‘In-Cycle Review’ can also be triggered by the Executive Dean outside the Annual Health Check process.

If this investigation finds there are actions that need to be taken a “Success Plan” is established. Support for the implementation of a “Success Plan” resulting from the review will be available from both Faculty L&T and the Office of the PVC(L&T). 

Like all processes discussed here, this process will be captured from end-to-end in our quality system. This transparent and detailed approach to monitoring and review also provides further opportunities to examine whether there are whole-of-institution issues at play in the coursework suite. It will also provide an opportunity to examine where there are instances of best practice occurring providing an opportunity to share this best practice more widely, expanding quality from a silo to a situation where this can be shared more widely.

Unit Monitoring and Grade Ratification

Most academics and many professional staff in departments or courses already engage in this work through the regular Grade Ratification meeting process. Our current Faculty “Pro-Forma A” forms have traditionally been the place where unit convenors have shared their reflections on how the unit performed over the previous offering. We are leveraging off this work to bring a new approach that provides more data and insights to unit monitoring and we will continue to use the existing meeting process as the place where these insights are shared and considered by colleagues. This work will be supported by an enhancement to the Grade Certification and Ratification dashboard that will share new unit insights, including LEU and iLearn engagement data, which will add richness to the unit monitoring process . It will alert colleagues that there may be an issue in a unit worthy of investigation. If there is, an “Action Plan” will then drive the necessary change and the completion of any work will be recorded through the CMS.

After a trial of the system with our colleagues in MUIC, the new approach to Unit Monitoring and Grade Ratification will go live in S2. The regular meetings you hold in late November/early December this year will be under the new approach with the supporting dashboard and system.

Read Cathy Rytmeister’s TECHE post to understand the changes taking place with students surveying to support Unit Monitoring

Unit Periodic Review

In 2022 our unit periodic review cycle will commence. Units will be reviewed once in the accreditation cycle of the course for which they were designed. The unit periodic review is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at all aspects of a unit, including content, design, delivery modes and assessment strategies. Harnessing collaborative practice and peer review practices, a unit will be reviewed by two colleagues not involved with the teaching of the unit. They will share their thoughts with the Unit Convenor before finalising some recommendations to inform an “Action Plan”. We will work with courses scheduled for re-accreditation in 2023 to start this work next year.

Getting Ready for the New Quality System

Professional development of both academic and select professional staff will be crucial to the success of our new Quality system as we implement the first cycle. Work on finalising that training and a collection of supporting resources is already in hand and we will share more information about that work in another edition of this series.

In Part 4 we will continue to share the next steps of our roadmap to implementation. Watch this space!

For further information, please contact Maria D’Addiego-Kettle,

Header image by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Posted by Sean Brawley

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