Before We Measure Teaching Quality, We Should Know What It Is


(Research Fortnight)

Professor and university students in a lecture hall

Photo by Clerkenwell/Getty Images

by Lucy Strang

November 29, 2016

Teaching can change lives. Sometimes, one teacher's influence is enough to inspire a student to pursue a field of study that becomes a career. However, establishing what good quality teaching is and how it can be measured remains a challenge, particularly in higher education.

The roll-out of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which intends to assess and monitor teaching quality at participating higher education institutions in the UK, is leading to an increased focus on what quality teaching in higher education means. The reward for institutions awarded top TEF ratings is high: they will be able to increase their tuition fees up to the predicted inflation rate. Those that don't will be limited to rises of half this amount....

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Lucy Strang is an analyst at RAND Europe, and an author of “Review of the Research Literature on Defining and Demonstrating Quality Teaching and Impact in Higher Education.”

This commentary originally appeared on Research Fortnight on November 21, 2016. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.