The term quality is not new to academia (Selesho, 2014). However, recently the more specific concept of ‘quality culture’ allows investing in improving the faculty members’ teaching skills and, therefore, in the quality of the educational offer (Kairiša and Lapiņa, 2019; Loukkola and Zhang, 2010), thus emphasizing continuous improvement processes (Whalen, 2020). This can only happen by intertwining teaching and research paths and creating strategies to assess and appreciate the quality of teaching (ENQUA, 2015). The quality culture construct is also closely related to the concept of organizational learning and culture (Schein, 2010). But, since it is difficult to evaluate the quality culture of an organization (Cameron & Freeman, 1991), and the commitment of management is necessary but not sufficient to favor the development of the culture of quality (Spencer-Matthews 2001), the faculty development strategies must: a) emphasize shared ownership based on collegiality and consultation; b) allow to create greater awareness through knowledge sharing; c) encourage the involvement and participation of staff d) stimulate the agency of staff which is directly involved in the organization of education (Bendermacher & et al., 2017). The objective of this paper is to present a faculty development program, coordinated by the Quality Assurance Board and the Teaching and Learning Center of the University of Verona, aimed at supporting the instructor of the “International Law” course in improving the quality of her course. The instructor has joined the “A jump into quality” project aimed at encouraging the constant improvement of teaching and research and, therefore, the consolidation of a culture of quality through evaluation and self-evaluation tools. This faculty development strategy, being circumscribed within an educational evaluation framework (Stake, 1975), is not aimed to simply evaluate a performance but to identify strengths and elements that could be improved. Through a peer observation process combined with an analysis of discursive practices, the instructor and developers have analyzed the teaching practice, making it possible to become aware of behaviors and postures (Mortari, Silva, Bevilacqua & Pizzato, 2021). Results show how the instructor implements a set of strategies in order to support the students in acquiring knowledge relating to a disciplinary field, which is different from what mainly characterizes the course of study. Her intent of gradually bringing the students closer to the complexity was achieved through two different ways: on the one hand, progressively passing from transmissive acts, aimed at the simple passage of knowledge, to opening acts, aimed at an in-depth exploration of the discipline; on the other hand, creating an argument that did not leave any conceptual passage implicit, for granted. The students mainly used informative, co-constructive, assertive and developmental acts. They indicated their willingness to co-participate in the learning environment by providing data, expanding the argumentation on new reasoning plans and taking a stand within the dialogue. The participatory and interdisciplinary characters of the faculty development program led the developers and the instructor to integrate the collaborative and transformative dimensions identifying in the case-based strategy a way to optimize her teaching approach by actively involving the students in these learning processes.

Improve the quality of a course intertwining teaching, learning, and research. The faculty development program “A jump into quality”

Mortari, Luigina;Bevilacqua, Alessia
;
Silva, Roberta
2021-01-01

Abstract

The term quality is not new to academia (Selesho, 2014). However, recently the more specific concept of ‘quality culture’ allows investing in improving the faculty members’ teaching skills and, therefore, in the quality of the educational offer (Kairiša and Lapiņa, 2019; Loukkola and Zhang, 2010), thus emphasizing continuous improvement processes (Whalen, 2020). This can only happen by intertwining teaching and research paths and creating strategies to assess and appreciate the quality of teaching (ENQUA, 2015). The quality culture construct is also closely related to the concept of organizational learning and culture (Schein, 2010). But, since it is difficult to evaluate the quality culture of an organization (Cameron & Freeman, 1991), and the commitment of management is necessary but not sufficient to favor the development of the culture of quality (Spencer-Matthews 2001), the faculty development strategies must: a) emphasize shared ownership based on collegiality and consultation; b) allow to create greater awareness through knowledge sharing; c) encourage the involvement and participation of staff d) stimulate the agency of staff which is directly involved in the organization of education (Bendermacher & et al., 2017). The objective of this paper is to present a faculty development program, coordinated by the Quality Assurance Board and the Teaching and Learning Center of the University of Verona, aimed at supporting the instructor of the “International Law” course in improving the quality of her course. The instructor has joined the “A jump into quality” project aimed at encouraging the constant improvement of teaching and research and, therefore, the consolidation of a culture of quality through evaluation and self-evaluation tools. This faculty development strategy, being circumscribed within an educational evaluation framework (Stake, 1975), is not aimed to simply evaluate a performance but to identify strengths and elements that could be improved. Through a peer observation process combined with an analysis of discursive practices, the instructor and developers have analyzed the teaching practice, making it possible to become aware of behaviors and postures (Mortari, Silva, Bevilacqua & Pizzato, 2021). Results show how the instructor implements a set of strategies in order to support the students in acquiring knowledge relating to a disciplinary field, which is different from what mainly characterizes the course of study. Her intent of gradually bringing the students closer to the complexity was achieved through two different ways: on the one hand, progressively passing from transmissive acts, aimed at the simple passage of knowledge, to opening acts, aimed at an in-depth exploration of the discipline; on the other hand, creating an argument that did not leave any conceptual passage implicit, for granted. The students mainly used informative, co-constructive, assertive and developmental acts. They indicated their willingness to co-participate in the learning environment by providing data, expanding the argumentation on new reasoning plans and taking a stand within the dialogue. The participatory and interdisciplinary characters of the faculty development program led the developers and the instructor to integrate the collaborative and transformative dimensions identifying in the case-based strategy a way to optimize her teaching approach by actively involving the students in these learning processes.
978-84-09-34549-6
Faculty Development, Educational evaluation, Peer Observation, Discourse Analysis, Quality assurance.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1058193
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