Assessment of quality: how to proceed?
By Theo Jetten (WUR), Frank van Vree (NIOD) and Perry den Brok (WUR)

In this workshop we focused on assessment of quality, with a focus on education and societal impact. Frank van Vree demonstrated how the Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP) can serve as a starting point for the assessment of societal impact, by linking the assessment explicitly to the strategy of the unit involved. Perry den Brok presented different forms of evidence for assessing quality of education, based on the experiences at the WUR.

The discussion resulted in the following points of view:

  • There was a lot of agreement about the importance of linking indicators to strategy.
  • There was some discussion about rankings. If assessment is linked to specific goals and is aimed primarily at development (learning and improvement), then what is the point of benchmarking? This is the goal of the SEP.
  • There was a lot of agreement (68% agree; 18% strongly agree) to the following statement: ‘With respect to education an assessment framework is needed that includes a portfolio where a personal narrative is leading (with a vision and self-assessment) but that is supported by a mix of compulsory, chosen and self-selected evidence’.
  • Suggestions for indicators / evidence that should be included in such an assessment framework:
    • Originality, independence, vision (vision statement)
    • Student evaluations / narratives
    • Depends on the definition of quality of teaching
    • Related to institution targets
    • Syllabus / education materials / products
    • Narratives
    • Certificates
    • All we have now!
    • Societal relevance
    • Use of learning materials
    • Innovation
  • There was also some discussion about objective criteria: it was posed discarding objective criteria will cause problems when decisions have to be made regarding promotion or tenure (comparing apples and oranges). Criteria need to be transparent, and evidence is important. Comparing is one thing, but ranking is something else!
  • The performative effect should also be taken into consideration: this is considered important, so I will focus on this.

Perry den Brok was asked how he got the support base at the WUR: We created a committee consisting of a variety of people, had many co-creation / input sessions and did some ‘poldering’ (for example with the common core and restrictive optional choices). And of course, we keep monitoring and allow for adjusting.

The following link was shared during the session: