P. Li

University of Bristol (UNITED KINGDOM)
The issue of student learning outcomes has become an important trend in the global higher education, and many higher education institutions, quality assurance and accreditation organisations are asked to provide concrete evidence to demonstrate and communicate with stakeholders such as expected students, academic communities, employers and policy makers. Higher education institutions must ensure that students have attained key learning outcomes and have met academic standards during their university experiences. Since 2012, the Foundation for Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT) has been conducting the second 5-year cycle of higher education evaluation within 84 universities and colleges. The main purpose of this ongoing evaluation is to examine whether each department and graduate school can establish a quality assurance mechanism to ensure student learning outcomes and put the mechanisms into practice. Thus, the aim of this research is to explore academics’ perceptions of the new higher education evaluation policy in Taiwan. This empirical research is a case study involving one purposively selected university, and in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 academics. Most participants work in the field of education and they are at the different levels- university, faculty and department. A thematic analysis approach was used to analyse data collected from interviews. Also, documents including the national quality assurance policies, the case university’s public meeting minutes and internal quality assurance strategies related to student learning outcomes were analysed via an ethnographic content analysis method. The main research findings argued that the quality assurance mechanisms for student learning outcomes potentially influence on academics’ teaching and learning, curriculum and assessment methods. Further, academics presented positive and negative opinions of implementing the quality assurance mechanisms and suggestions for the improvements of the systems.