FINEEC’s evaluation and quality management concepts
Accreditation refers to granting a certain quality label or licence to an educational organisation or a degree programme on the basis of an evaluation process. An accreditation is a public recognition and a proof that an educational organisation or a degree programme has fulfilled the criteria set for the accreditation.
Audit is independent and systematic external evaluation. Audits are institutional evaluations focusing on the operations and/or the quality management of the educational organisation. In FINEEC’s audits the procedures the educational organisation uses to maintain and develop the quality of its activities is assessed. Pre-determined criteria are applied in audits.
Benchlearning, peer learning
Benchlearning or peer learning is an organisational development tool. It is based on a mutual learning process where organisations share information, knowledge and experiences. Through benchlearning the organisation can obtain peer feedback on its activities as well as gain new insights and ideas for the further development of the organisation and its activities. Benchlearning can take place at individual level, organisational level or network-level.
A criterion refers to a ground for evaluation. It explains what kind of activity, result or quality level is desired. The criterion can be quantitative or qualitative and it is defined prior the evaluation. The evaluated activity or quality management is assessed against the criteria. Based on this, conclusions can be drawn as to how well the activities or the quality management meet the set criteria. The criteria can be defined as a scale or as levels, such as for example insufficient-good-excellent or absent-emerging-developing-advanced.
The aim of enhancement-led evaluation is the development of activities. The methods applied in enhancement-led evaluations are inclusive and interactive. The evaluated organisation can develop its activities already during the evaluation. The results of the evaluations are aimed to enhance activities. In the enhancement-led approach the trust between the party implementing the evaluation and evaluation participant as well as the educational organisation’s responsibility for the development of its activities is emphasised. Evaluation methods are tailored according to the objectives and the theme of the evaluation.
A central aspect of the enhancement-led approach is the participation of different parties, such as education providers, teaching staff and other personnel, students, working life and stakeholders, in planning the evaluation, producing evaluation data and interpreting the results. The interaction between different parties participating in the evaluation is central.
Evaluation is interpretative analysis of the object examined and includes the element of valuation – highlighting the value of or making a value judgement about a matter or activities. For example, evaluation may mean that the activities or the matter is compared with the objectives, norms, criteria or results that have been set. Evaluation comprises systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of information about the activities. The aim of giving a value distinguishes evaluation from research.
A feedback system refers to an entity formed by the ways of gathering and handling of feedback. The feedback processes often include counter feedback, i.e. feedback given to those who have provided the feedback.
A good practice is a proven operating practice or tool used in operations or quality management. It has been used in practice and there is evidence of its positive effects on the operations. Good practices may be applied in other educational organisations.
An indicator is a qualitative or quantitative measure. An indicator can express an attribute, status, level or changes in the object examined, thus serving as the basis for measurement. An indicator is a concrete and verifiable description or a figure concerning the desirable properties of activities.
Peer reviews are based on collegial assessment in which independent external experts provide feedback on the activities of the organisation. Peer assessors (or evaluators) often represent the organisation or community similar to the one being evaluated.
Process-related factors of quality
The process-related factors of quality describe how the set objectives, content and other activities are implemented in practice. The structural and process-related factors of quality operate in interaction.
Quality culture is defined by how the organisation defines quality in its operations and how quality and its importance is understood within the organisation. The educational organisation may define in more concrete terms what quality culture means in its operating context. For example, quality culture can describe the atmosphere for development within the organisation as well as the individual and collective commitment to quality work. The ability to identify the organisation’s strengths and development areas is a sign of a mature quality culture.
A quality label shows that the educational organisation has passed an external evaluation based on defined criteria.
Quality management refers to the practices, processes or systems used by the educational organisation to plan, implement, monitor and develop the quality of its activities. Quality management can be understood as a general concept that includes quality management, steering, assurance and enhancement.
Quality system (quality management system, quality assurance system)
A quality system refers to an operational entity formed by the quality management organisation, division of responsibility, procedures and resources. Each educational organisation decides on the objectives, structure, operating principles, methods used and development of quality management in its quality system.
Quality work means actions taken in practice to maintain and develop the quality of the organisation’s activities. Quality work is quality management in practise.
Self-assessment refers to an assessment carried out by the educational organisation on its activities. The aim of self-assessment is usually to support the educational organisation to identify its development areas and strengths in order to enhance its activities. Through self-assessment, the organisation can identify its own situation as well as to set objectives and launch development measures to achieve the objectives.
Structural factors of quality
The structural factors of quality are factors related to organising activities. They may be defined and regulated by acts, decrees and other national documents and documents that govern the operation of the education provider at the local level. The structural factors of quality are defined by aspects such as who is responsible for the quality, where the activities take place and what kind of framework is created for the activities. Hence, the quality factors related to structures are relatively permanent.