Ottewill, Roger and Macfarlane, Bruce
The good, the bad and the ugly: learning the lessons from subject review in business and management
The International Journal of Management Education, 4, (3), .
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Subject review was the principal quality assurance mechanism for higher education in the UK between 1997 and 2001. It was conducted under the auspices of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and involved the expenditure of a considerable amount of time and energy on the part of reviewers and reviewed alike. It is therefore pertinent to ask whether subject review generated anything that could assist business educators as they seek to enhance the quality of their academic practice. Although subject review has attracted a considerable amount of criticism, arguably certain aspects are of relevance to the ongoing debate as to what constitutes good and bad practice in teaching and learner support.
The paper discusses some of the findings of a BEST-funded project, the aim of which was to capture and disseminate ‘the richness of academic practice identified’ in the 164 subject review reports for business and management. What emerged from this investigation was a series of pedagogic principles that appeared to inform the judgements of reviewers. They included flexibility, strategic thinking, transparency, pedagogic pluralism; learner participation, consistency, collaboration between all who contribute to the student learning experience; stakeholder involvement; self-criticism; and procedures for embedding good practice.
Many of these principles are derived from theories of learning and teaching. In addition, a number reflect good business practice and should therefore be of particular concern to business educators. If applied wisely, the principles can facilitate reflection on teaching and can impact on learning. However, their existence suggests a mismatch between the espoused philosophy of subject review, ‘fitness for purpose’, and that of quality as ‘excellence’.
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