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

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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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The relevant search strings are the following: accreditation + higher education + studying; accreditation + higher education + teaching; accreditation + university + studying; bologna process + governance; bologna process + quality; competition + higher education + studying + quality; competition + higher education + teaching; competition + university + studying + quality; competition + university + teaching + quality; enhancement + higher education + studying + quality; enhancement + higher education + teaching + quality; enhancement + university + studying + quality; enhancement + university + teaching + quality; evaluation + higher education + studying; evaluation + higher education + teaching; evaluation + university + studying; evaluation + university + teaching; governance + higher education + teaching; governance + university + studying; governance + university + teaching; management + higher education + studying + quality; management + higher education + teaching + quality; management + university + studying + quality; management + university + teaching + quality; quality + higher education + studying; quality + higher education + teaching; quality + university + studying; quality + university + teaching; steering + higher education + teaching; steering + university + teaching; university + didactic + quality; university + enhancement.

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Acknowledgements

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.

Funding

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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Correspondence to Isabel Steinhardt.

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Steinhardt, I., Schneijderberg, C., Götze, N. et al. Mapping the quality assurance of teaching and learning in higher education: the emergence of a specialty?. High Educ 74, 221–237 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-016-0045-5

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Keywords

  • Science mapping
  • University
  • Higher education
  • Quality assurance
  • Teaching
  • Learning