In order to ensure the reliability and fairness of evaluations and quality assurance processes, ‘Standard 2.4 Peer-review experts’ from the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) points out that the external quality assurance should be carried out by groups of external experts that include (a) student member(s).
In the framework of the TeSLA project, the participation of external experts with different backgrounds, expertise and skills is fundamental. Their involvement aims to add a further dimension to the development and implementation of the processes.
In order to comply with the ESG requirements, all the external experts taking part in the TeSLA project were carefully selected and trained on the following subjects: contextualization of the project and the pilots, introduction to the assessment methodology, presentation of the meta-evaluation process and use of the authentication and authorship technologies. In addition, the composition of the different panels ensured geographical and gender diversity as well as the compliance with the no-conflict-of-interest regulations.
The first panel of external experts participating in the TeSLA project (hereinafter referred to as the Head panel) is chaired by an academic and includes a QA professional, a student and a technological expert. The secretary is a member of AQU Catalunya, representing the TeSLA project. The Head panel consists of the following members:
Academic: António Teixeira (Universidade Aberta, Portugal), president / academic
QA professional: Stephen Jackson (Assessment, Research & Evaluation Associates Ltd, United Kingdom), panel member/expert in evaluation methodology
Student: Inguna Zarina (University of Latvia, Latvia), panel member / student
Technological expert: Esther Andrés (ISDEFE, Spain), panel member / technological expert
Secretary: Roger Roca (AQU Catalunya, Spain), secretary / expert in evaluation methodology and member of the TeSLA project
Mission and findings from pilot 1
Upon completion of pilot 1, the mission of the Head panel was twofold. On one hand, the panel contributed to the improvement of the assessment methodology developed by the 3 QA agencies in WP4 in the early stages of the project. On the other hand, it assured the meta-evaluation of the results of pilot 1.
After a thorough review of documentation related to the assessment methodology and the results from pilot 1, the Head panel and WP4 developed an enhanced version of the methodology and suggested a set of recommendations to take into account by the TeSLA project on the following subjects: features of the sample, pedagogical and assessment elements, communication with the stakeholders, technological issues and pilot outcomes.
This external review of pilot 1 will contribute to the improvement of the following pilots and, hence, to the improvement of the TeSLA framework. Moreover, the Head panel will be involved in the evaluation of the following pilots in order to ensure the harmonisation of the upcoming processes.
The Head panel agreed that the project had important implications for online learning in HEIs across the EHEA and beyond. The first results demonstrate the potential of the methodology and the tools developed. However, they also show the risks which are typical of such an ambitious project.
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