PhD, Associate Professor S.A. Sedov1
PhD, Associate Professor E.E. Merzon1
Elabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University, Elabuga
Keywords: quality culture, evaluation, higher pedagogical education, physical education.
Background. The high priority given today to the academic education quality rating system in the Physical Education Discipline is due to a few objective reasons including: new updated version of ENQA (ESG 2015) standards and recommendations; new Professional Educator Standard still non-harmonised with the valid educational standards for the academic Pedagogical Education course; and the increasing expectations of the sector stakeholders to the physical education quality as a variable rate driven by a set of rating criteria that also vary with the social order to universities.
Objective of the study was to explore the most promising avenues for the projects to develop an efficient academic education quality rating system in application to the Physical Education Discipline.
Methods and structure of the study. Elabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University (EIKFU) is highly reputed in the Volga Federal district of Russia for its academic traditions and education quality. It should be noted that it was back in 2011 that EIKFU was qualified with the top 55 Russian universities that competed in the Professional Education System Quality Assessment Contest initiated by the Russian Education Supervision Agency. Till lately the academic process had been designed in compliance with ENQA (ESG 2005), ISO 9001:2008, ISO 9004:2009 standards and recommendations. As soon as the latest version of ESG 2015, ISO 9001:2015 education standard appeared, the educational community started revising the academic education quality. Having accepted these materials, the new Professional Educator Standard and the latest internal education quality audit findings as a basis, we identified the most beneficial actions for the academic education quality rating system advancement project.
It was in the early 2016-17 academic year that the Physical Education Department of Elabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University came up with the promising actions for the academic education quality rating system advancement project. Subject to the new project initiative were 185 students majoring in Physical Education in the Pedagogical Education course, faculty, university management and administrative staff and some practical specialists from the employer institutions. The action plan for the project was designed as required by the internal and external validation criteria. The outcome data dependability was secured by elimination and levelling of the external variables that could affect the outcomes. The project benefits were rated based on the feedbacks from the students, faculty and employers. The statistical data significance for the project actions was determined using the Pearson’s χ2 criterion.
Study results and discussion. The empirical study performed throghout the academic year gave the grounds to rate benefits of the project actions to advance the academic physical education quality rating system. The stakeholders involved in the study appreciated positive effects of the advancement efforts. The study data analysis on the α-level (5% error level) shows that the differences between the pre- and post-experiment data arrays are not accidental, i.e. the study confirms the cause-and-effect relationship of the project initiatives and benefits of the new academic education quality rating system in application to the Physical Education discipline. We believe that the project experience may be applied as one of the best-case scenarios for the physical education advancement projects on the whole. Let us consider the study details in the following discussion.
The available reference literature on the subject gives a variety of interpretations of the education quality and its constituents albeit basically views of the researchers are similar on the education process quality and its outcome quality viewed as the key components of modern education. One should note a trend to decompose the notion of process quality into resource quality (i.e. university, its human resource etc.) and income quality (students coming to the university). So, in the context of the education quality, its rating should be interpreted as the compliance of every education system stakeholder’s requirements to the education process quality (including incomes and resource) and outcomes of the latter. In other words, the education quality should be rated by the stakeholders with account of every aspect involved in the process causes and effects and the satisfaction of the stakeholders’ interests – including income, resource, education process and its outcome.
From the viewpoint of the educational standards compliance, the valid academic pedagogical education quality rating system cannot be considered adequate and satisfactory for the stakeholders’ interests. For example, the new Professional Educator Standard incompliant with the valid education standards does not release an educational establishment of responsibility for the quality. It should be noted that public perceptions of the education quality are being changed. And the academic education quality rating system needs to be updated correspondingly since it is the academic pedagogical education on the whole and its outcome in particular that determine the spiritual and economic progress of society for many years to come. Therefore, a top priority needs to be given to the academic pedagogical education quality rating system advancement process at every level of the system management. It should be confessed that the stakeholders of the academic education system are interdependent and, hence, their rates are interdependent as yet. If an educator, for instance, rates student’s progress, the student, in his/her turn, rates the education level. We could give here examples of multiple interdependences of that kind including, for instance, the ones addressed in the A.M. Novikov’s rating system  that was used as a basis for the Russian Education Quality Rating Concept. The above interdependences and interconnections, however, may yield such outcomes that could be totally opposite to the expected ones. The existing relationships of the education process stakeholders give multiple examples of such contradictions in the education quality rating criteria and concepts. It is the volatility and controversy of the stakeholders’ interests that largely forced the process actors to give so high priority to the academic pedagogical education quality rating system advancement project at our university.
However, the wide choice and versions of such advancement initiatives make the project decision of the professional school very difficult – all the more that we do not have ready solutions and each proposed solution needs to be thoroughly analysed. When we recognise, for example, some practical benefits of the European education models in this area as verified by the efficiency of the relevant European academic education standards and recommendations (ESG) in the European universe, we still need to analyse their application specifics and prospects in the Russian academic environments with due consideration for the national education traditions, specifics, fields and priorities.
It should be mentioned that the curricula of the academic Physical Education discipline within the Pedagogical Education course is very different from the future education specialist trainings in other academic disciplines. Sporting students are mostly more disciplined, responsible for the process outcomes and demonstrate a higher thinking culture. It is not accidental that the highest priority was given to the quality assurance culture improvement and it was ranked the core component of the project under implementation. We interpret the quality assurance culture as a cumulative index that shows how well harmonised the quality assurance criteria and the terms of reference of the education system stakeholders are. The initiative success depends on how the project responsibilities are shared and accepted by the stakeholders and how agreed the requirements to the pedagogical education quality of the students and their lawful representatives, employers (addressed in the Professional Educator Standard), Ministry of Education (educational process standards), university and its faculty are.
We should note that the academic quality assurance culture advancement project was proved highly beneficial in the physical education domain. It may be also pertinent to mention that the high attention to this project domain was due to the interesting results reported by the European University Association (EUA) in the Internal Quality Assurance Culture of European Universities Project; plus the University Quality Culture Study Project (EQC) by the EUA in cooperation with the German Principals’ Conference and Scottish Quality Assurance Agency. The term quality [assurance] culture was first used in the first version of the standards and recommendations of the European Association for Quality (ENQA) – ESG 2005. It is important that the new version of the ENQA (ESG 2015) standards and recommendations not only claims to assure the quality culture but also supports it by the relevant Directives – setting forth, among other things, Standard 1.3 “Students-centred education” . It may be pertinent to mention that since 2005 the national pedagogical system has been in need of a due quality assurance system for the Russian academic education. At the same time, some researchers (N.I. Medvedeva, T.A. Meshkova, L.R. Yagudina et al) have applied the European quality culture basics in Russia and thereby provided us with a foothold for dissemination of the relevant positive experience. Our academic physical education quality assurance culture improvement project was based on the materials of the European Quality Guaranties Forums of 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 .
However, the above materials still give no idea of how the education process stakeholders should agree on the quality assurance criteria for the education sector. In the effort to have the education quality assurance criteria agreed upon by the stakeholders in application to the academic Physical Education discipline, the university team has formalised the key quality assurance criteria by the relevant operational definitions. These operational definitions are designed to give definite meanings of the agreed quality assurance criteria to prevent any misinterpretations. The key requirements and expectations of the customers (of the criteria) were also formalised by the definitions and meanings of the quality assurance criteria; with the relevant quality rates, units and measuring procedures; and the relevant quality standard compliance procedures.
The first two fields, in our forecasts, could provide a basis for the academic physical education quality rating system, but for the short run only. In the long run, the system progress will secure evaluation as one more field. The academic education quality rating system in application to the Physical Education discipline is now considered by the stakeholders not only as the requirements meeting process but also as a lag period between the project implementation and practical quality improvement within the relevant quality assurance cycle – in application to the core and associating university education processes. Therefore, the academic education quality rating system improvement in application to the Physical Education discipline will serve as a driving force for the progress of the university education quality assurance system on the whole, with the processes evolving from the reproduction level to the ability level and, in some cases, to the efficiency level.
Conclusion. The academic education quality rating system advancement project in application to the Physical Education discipline has set a new avenue for our work and for the education process outcome quality assurance. Most efficient avenues for the university efforts to advance the system are the following: (1) Formalise the core education quality assurance criteria via the relevant operational definitions; (2) Improve the quality assurance culture to guarantee the education quality being compliant with the stakeholders’ interests; and (3) Make evaluations with the quality rating outcomes being applied to plan and improve the education quality assurance process.
The study was supported by a subsidy under the Kazan (Privolzhskiy) Federal University state support program designed to step up its competitiveness versus that of the leading global academic education and research centres.
- Evropeyskiy forum po garantii kachestva (EQAF) [European Forum for Quality Assurance (EQAF)]. Available at: https://www.eurashe.eu/events/eqaf/, free access.
- Novikov A.M., Novikov D.A. Kachestvo obrazovaniya: sistema vnutrennikh i vneshnikh otsenok [Quality of education: internal and external evaluation system]. Narodnoe obrazovanie, 2007, no. 4, pp. 147-155.
- Standarty i rekomendatsii dlya garantii kachestva v Evropeyskom prostranstve vysshego obrazovaniya (ESG) [Standards and recommendations for quality assurance in European Higher Education (ESG)]. Translation of National Center for Higher Education. Available at: http://www.enqa.eu/indirme/esg/ESG%20in%20Russian_by%20NCPA.pdf, free access.
The study considers the academic education quality rating system development initiatives among the top-priority social and educational matters. In this context, an objective of the study was to offer the most efficient avenues for the university activities to develop the pedagogical education quality rating system applicable to the academic Physical Education discipline. The empirical data mining study performed for an academic year gave the grounds to rate progress of the ongoing academic project to rate the physical education quality. The stakeholders involved in the study appreciated practical benefits of the initiative. The study findings approximated with 5% error level gave the grounds to state that the difference of the data arrays prior to and after the initiative are not accidental. Therefore, the ongoing initiatives were found to be of positive effect on the academic education quality rates in the academic Physical Education discipline as verified by the cause-and-effect correlations analysed. The study made it possible to offer the most promising ways to improve the system, as follow: formalise the key education quality criteria by the relevant operable definitions; improve the education quality assurance culture to guarantee the stakeholders’ interests being satisfied; and apply the education quality rating results to improve the education quality management and planning system.