The Context, Design, and Impact of System-Wide Assessments to Enhance Effectiveness in the Higher Colleges of Technology of the United Arab Emirates

The Context, Design, and Impact of System-Wide Assessments to Enhance Effectiveness in the Higher Colleges of Technology of the United Arab Emirates

Marshall “Mark” Drummond (Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE) and Matthew A. Robby (Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2012070101
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Abstract

This paper examines the use of System-wide Assessments, an innovative initiative to enhance the accountability, quality, and effectiveness within the Higher Colleges of Technology of the United Arab Emirates. The authors review the historic and contemporary influences on college/university assessments and the key forces or factors which have shaped development and need of Outcome Assessments. The paper summarizes the literature on the best practices for assessment and promoting changes. The paper describes the objectives, structures, and processes involved with random use of System-wide Assessments among the 17 Federal colleges. A survey of 80 Deans and Chairs reports the perceptions and ratings of the process and impact of System-wide assessments. The lessons learned are described and inform recommendations for key components of an effective assessment system to promote accountability and improvement in higher education. Findings have significance for leaders of institutions of higher learning throughout the Middle East and the world.
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Educational Outcomes

The increased focus on educational outcomes has been influenced by a range of factors. According to Meyer and Bushney (2008), Outcome Assessment has arisen because of the perceived failures historically in properly evaluating higher education systems and programs. Lucas and Weber (1998) attributed the increased demand for Outcome Assessment to lowered expectations and standards. The decline in standards and quality has seen a corresponding increase in student grade point averages from grade inflation, as reported by Bond (2009), Johnson (2003), and Millet (2010). Increased use of Outcome Assessment has become necessary because of the lack of meaningful progress for student learning demonstrated on national exams (Kimmel & Marquette, 1998). The increased focus on accountability and assessment of outcomes likewise has arisen because of continued high attrition rates and differential educational outcomes based on socio-economic status and factors of race/ethnicity (Kimmel & Marquette, 1998). The call for greater assessment of outcomes in higher education is related to the perceived failure of institutional effectiveness and the deleterious implications for communities and societies because of the existence of under-prepared and uneducated populations, as described by Kuh and Ikenberry (2009), Nusche (2008), and the U.S. Department of Education (2006).

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