Higher Education

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 221–237 | Cite as

Mapping the quality assurance of teaching and learning in higher education: the emergence of a specialty?

  • Isabel SteinhardtEmail author
  • Christian Schneijderberg
  • Nicolai Götze
  • Janosch Baumann
  • Georg Krücken


The quality assurance of teaching and learning as part of universities’ governance and quality management has become a major subject in higher education and higher education politics worldwide. In addition, increasing academic attention has been paid to the quality assurance of teaching and learning, as is evident from the growing number of articles in specific journals of higher education. This paper maps the development and content of research in the literature regarding the quality assurance of teaching and learning. For this mapping, a bibliometric analysis of 1610 articles from 399 different journals from 1996 to 2013 was performed using SCOPUS. The aim of this mapping is to answer the following research question: Has the quality assurance of teaching and learning become a research specialty? A co-citation analysis identifies the following four thematic clusters: an Assessment-Cluster, a Quality-Cluster, a Quality-Management-Cluster and a Student-Evaluation-of-Teaching-Cluster. Based on a categorization of the literature’s core content, two distinct views on the quality assurance of teaching and learning become evident, representing an antagonistic tension in the research between an education strand and a management strand of research. Several indications from the empirical evidence in this paper suggest that the quality assurance of teaching and learning is (becoming) a specialty. The identification and awareness of a specialty as a cognitive organizing characteristic combining two and more categories of research topics are of great importance for the creation of knowledge in the complex interdisciplinary research field of higher education.


Science mapping University Higher education Quality assurance Teaching Learning 



We want to thank the two anonymous reviewers of this paper for their very helpful comments. Also for comments we want to thank Shweta Mishra and Christiane Rittgerott. For help with the SCOPUS data we owe gratitude to Valeria Aman and Stefan Gauch.


This study originates from a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), Grant Number 01PY13017.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Steinhardt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Schneijderberg
    • 1
  • Nicolai Götze
    • 1
  • Janosch Baumann
    • 1
  • Georg Krücken
    • 1
  1. 1.International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel)University of KasselKasselGermany

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