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The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been introduced into England’s Higher Education (HE) system. The aim is to allow the Government to monitor and assess the quality of teaching in England’s universities. The Government have argued that TEF will:

“1) ensure all students receive an excellent teaching experience that encourages original thinking, drives up engagement and prepares them for the world of work

2) build a culture where teaching has equal status with research, with great teachers enjoying the same professional recognition and opportunities for career and pay progression as great researchers

3) provide students with the information they need to judge teaching quality

4) recognise institutions that do the most to welcome students from a range of backgrounds and support their retention and progression

5) include a clear set of outcome-focused criteria and metrics.”* (THE, 2015)

In chapter 16 we talk about things you should consider when choosing key performance measures, which is exactly what the TEF is based upon. The key thing is to ensure the system conveys how well the responsible party is at performing the job required. So if you had to design a set of performance measures to assess how the quality of teaching at a University, what would you use?

Would you be surprised to learn that the key indicators are; continuation rates, student satisfaction and employment and further study outcomes (OfS, 2018)? Meaning that the designers believe that teaching students well is directly related to whether a student is able to carry on studying all the way through their degree, is happy with the teaching and can get a good job. Some of these metrics are certainly questionable because there are many factors that can impact these measures.  The importance of these metrics relates to the fees that can be charged by the institutions and the league table position. Therefore, the outcome of the assessment, which is derived by a panel who consider the metrics along with a narrative submission, for an award of bronze, silver or gold is very important. It seems although we teach our students how to design a good performance measurement system we are governed by those who have not fully understood the concept!

 

*numbers added

OfS (2018) What is TEF? https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/what-is-the-tef/ accessed 1/5/18

THE (2015) Teaching excellence framework (TEF): everything you need to know. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/teaching-excellence-framework-tef-everything-you-need-to-know accessed 1/5/18