Lists, figures, KPIs, measurable objectives: for me, they’re very useful. They define our ambitions and show us where we stand. Critics of the ‘measuring culture’ say that measuring doesn’t promote better education but distracts us from achieving it. For me, figures are an important starting point for the discussion we have to have with our students and colleagues about education in our constant search for reliable analyses, improvement and excellence. This is why I’m posing the ‘Plus 1’ question.
We’re now approaching the end of the academic year. Some of our first and second-year students are figuring out how they can earn enough credits to avoid a binding negative study advice. Fourth-year students are hoping to get their thesis in on time. There’s still time to make a difference before the summer holidays. So here’s my question: what are you going to do to ensure that just one more student than last year gets through his or her foundation year this year? Or that one more can graduate before summer? How will you help just one student with a study delay get at least somewhat back on track? What can you do to help one student be successful enough to stay afloat? What if each of us could make the ‘Plus 1’ dream come true this year? Collectively, we’d make a bigger difference. It’s a goal we could start on today.
We’ll continue this, of course, in the upcoming academic year. But the findings of the National Student Survey will be released before the summer holidays. I’m expecting a decrease in student satisfaction this year. After all, we know that students notice when an organisation is in transition. OK, it might be lamentable, but let’s focus on analysing the situation in our teams. This way, we can work together on removing one obstacle at a time. All those little pluses will start to add up. They’ll become obvious to our students, your colleagues and yourself. And we’ll start seeing that Plus 1 in the figures.
Measuring educational excellence
So we’re back to measuring again – along with its critics. The critics are justified in saying that we have to obtain reliable findings from our analysis and not let this stand in the way of our goals. Gert Biestra, Professor of Education and a specialist in educational theory, wrote a book about this: Goed onderwijs en de cultuur van het meten (educational excellence and the culture of measuring). He advocates making educational objectives measurable so they can be verified or not. Even so, this can have an adverse effect if the target of providing good education shifts to achieving high scores on a measurement tool. This means that the discussion about measurement results and removing obstacles always has to focus on the quality of our education.
Plus 1 applies to me as well, although I’d rather go for the plus 10. And one way I’m doing this is by conducting that discussion about education in a round table about teaching and didactics. Would you like to tell about your own Plus 1? How you are contributing to the quality of our education? What are we doing right? How can we apply this to more areas? What do you need to make your teaching even better? What would you like to see more of in terms of education at THUAS? Sign up to take part in this discussion.
Or share your Plus 1 by responding below!
Leonard Geluk has been Chair of the Executive Board since 1 April 2014. Prior to this, he served as Alderman of Education for Rotterdam and Chairman of a regional training centre in Utrecht.