June 22nd, 2021 2:00 PM through June 23rd, 2021 4:30 PM
Online event, link will be provided
Event Fee(s)
Guest Price £ 0.00
Member Price £ 0.00

Call for contributions

The debate on ‘quality’ in universities continues to exercise the time and energies of those involved in higher education and in government. These debates include questions of the meaning of quality as well as its measurement. Central to such debates are the related issues of ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’; issues that are embedded in discourse of accountability, value for money, and who pays. The Covid pandemic has foregrounded the inherent quality of online, as opposed to face-to-face learning, but we are also witnessing, in England, ongoing reviews of the various UK government measures of teaching quality. The recent responses to the Augar review, TEF and NSS plans have not done much to clarify the situation

This event will offer opportunities to discuss what is meant by ‘quality’ and how we might go about measuring it. Alongside invited contributions, we are looking for colleagues to address a specific aspect of quality in higher education. Contributions may be short (5 mins) lightening presentations, longer reflective case studies or theoretical papers. We welcome joint contributions with students and will seek to ensure a diversity of voices.

Contributors please register a brief outline of your contributions here.

For more details contact: Richard Davies (rdavies15@uclan.ac.uk)

This event is organised by the Academic Practice Network, SRHE and supported by CSPACE, Birmingham City University, and CCL, University of Central Lancashire



      22nd June

2pm                            Quality in the networked digital university

Adam Matthews, University of Birmingham

Quality Assurance (QA) has many different meanings to many different people inside and outside of the university. In this talk I am not going to attempt to define QA but look at the many influences on QA both inside and outside of the university and between the human and non-human. The concept of the unbundled university and the literature base around it is growing and I will use some of these perspectives to explore the network of specialist roles and organisations who have a stake and influence in both determining and delivering quality in higher education. I will also include digital technologies as actors in this network. Having mapped out some of these ‘actants’ I will introduce some of the sociological and philosophical perspectives on the relationships between humans, technology and education. This is all with the aim of opening discussions and perspectives about quality in the networked digital university.


3pm                            Called Contributions 1

4pm                            Called Contributions 2

5 pm                           Key questions - breakout Groups

5.45pm                       Quality Quiz and online social (optional)

6.30pm                       End


23rd June

2pm                            Review of day 1/Plenary

2.30pm                       Called Contributions 3

3.30pm                       Title: Quality as an emergent, formative process: understanding and improving teaching and learning as a case in point

Professor Matt O’Leary, Professor of Education, Director of CSPACE research centre, Birmingham City University

Dr Vanessa Cui, Research Fellow, co-lead of Practitioner Education Research Group at CSPACE, Birmingham City University

Quality is a ubiquitous term that permeates all areas of higher education policy and practice. Policy levers such as the Teaching Excellence Framework and the National Student Survey have ensured that debates about the quality of teaching and learning in higher education have remained centre stage in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic has further heightened the focus on the quality of the teaching and learning experience. In this talk, we examine the epistemological and methodological aspects of ‘quality’ in relation to teaching and learning. We begin by challenging and resisting some of the dominant conceptualisations of so-called quality enshrined in current teaching and learning policy and practice, exposing their shortcomings but also offering a reimagined, alternative perspective driven by collaborative, professional responsibility rather than managerialist accountability. As an antidote to reductive, commodified conceptualisations of teaching and learning, our talk explores the situated experiences of university teachers and students participating in an innovative model of collaborative observation. Drawing on longitudinal qualitative data, we critically reflect on the key findings and implications for improving the quality of teaching and learning in higher education. Our discussion reveals how these students and their teachers used a model of collaborative observation to develop a collective classroom consciousness about learning and its relationship with teaching. We conclude by arguing that this classroom consciousness can subsequently be used to inform and transform the learning and professional practice of students and their teachers meaningfully and sustainably.


4.30pm                End of conference

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