THE SUSTAINABILITY OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION: LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE
The term Sustainability aims to describe the capacity of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. Despite the predominance of the term and its use in practice in fields ranging from architecture to economic development, there hasn’t been a serious effort to formulate quality technical education leadership and governance based on sustainability and the values and characteristics it comprises.
We define Sustainability of Technical Education (SoTE) as the ability to continuously improve without reducing the capacity to endure. In other words, the SoTE is Improvability and Endurance. The SoTE is achieved at two levels, namely, the system and approach levels. At the system level, the educational institution should be able to improve without reducing its ability to endure. Improvability and Endurance are observed as the objectives, or pillars, of Sustainability.
Based on our definition, we refined a framework for measuring the sustainability of education in higher-education institutions. The structure of the refined measurement framework consists of criteria, measures, indicators, and a set of analytic rubrics that aid the calculation of different indicators including a one main indicator called the Sustainability Indicator. The nine sustainability criteria are: leadership and governance, student learning by disciplinary program, student learning by research program, faculty research and consultancy, industry and community engagement, academic support services, student support services, faculty and staff support services, and general support services and facilities.
In this paper, we focus on leadership and governance and present the results and analysis of a pilot study using a case-study methodology.
This study’s theoretical proposition is that the presented measurement tool accurately:
a) describes the content and constructs that comprise sustainability of technical education in a higher education setting, and
b) measures the sustainability.
The case study aims to answer the following questions:
• Do measurement tool scores reliably provide information about the sustainability of education that the institution provides?
• To what extent does the implementation of the study assessment bring benefits to participating Institution?
• To what extent does the implementation of the study contribute to demonstrating its value for the improvement of sustainability of education?
The presented framework provides opportunities for wide and deep measurements. The measurements could be interpreted per criteria, measures, indicators, and/or combined forms. The 5-point rubric scale of indicators – Nascent, Beginning, Developing, Competent, and Accomplished are mapped onto constant values. The measured indicators are then each divided by measurements from a reference institution for normalization and for producing performance ratios. One of the combined measurement forms is the Sustainability Indicator (SI), which is the Geometric Mean of all ratios.
Included is a discussion on the presented comprehensive evaluation tool’s usefulness for the continuous improvement at programmatic and institutional levels, as well as for collecting and providing evidence for quality assurance and accreditation organizations, such as ABET.