ENBIS-8 in Athens

21 – 25 September 2008 Abstract submission: 14 March – 11 August 2008

A statistical framework for teaching improvement in higher education

24 September 2008, 09:00 – 09:20


Submitted by
Stefano Barone
Stefano Barone & Eva Lo Franco
University of Palermo, Italy
The never ending debate on quality invests every institution devoted to higher education. It is undeniable that with a massive and fast globalisation causing student flows in any direction, and under the constraints of limited economic resources devoted to higher education, the performances and quality of any academic system must be constantly monitored and improved.
Thus, whoever researches and teaches the scientific foundations of quality, has at the same time the right and the duty to provide his/her opinion and to firstly assure the quality of the processes for which he/she is responsible.
In the recent past the authors started focusing on Teaching as a relevant aspect for the transmission of knowledge to an audience who constantly experiences a rapidly changing technological environment. We recently proposed a methodology named TESF: Teaching Experiments and Student Feedback. It is aimed at designing, monitoring, and continuously improving (according to the Deming's cycle) the quality of a university course. The TESF methodology is based on the concurrent adoption of Design of Experiments and the SERVQUAL model. The experiments are essentially “teaching experiments” performed by the teacher according to a predefined plan. The teacher is therefore the designer, the experimenter and part of the experimental unit. The other part of the experimental unit is constituted by a predefined sample of students attending the course (students evaluators sample) whose feedback is carefully studied.
We have shown, by a preliminary application of the TESF, that it is absolutely not necessary to be an experienced statistician to apply this methodology and even the description of the model is kept at the most general level. In fact the methodology, initially thought for the academic environment could be easily applied to any educational context. On the other side, it is evident that expert statisticians can be stimulated by this approach, so a scientific discussion can be opened and further substantial improvements can be gained.
This presentation is aimed at giving an overview of the TESF, giving emphasis to the statistical aspects therein involved and the delicate experimental and measurement issues. An interesting upgrade concerning the data (student feedback) analysis will be a specific focus.
Results from the application of the methodology in three consecutive editions of a Statistics course at the University of Palermo will be presented.
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