Evaluative cultures in higher education

Core Module

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Albert Einstein.

Do you want to know more about how evaluation influences academic life and higher education organisations?  This module aims to provide students with sufficient theoretical and practical understandings of academic and higher education evaluation to engage with current and ongoing evaluation policies critically. 

This is one of the three core modules taken in Part 1, and it helps you engage critically with developments in understanding how evaluation is conducted and theorised, and the ways in which these developments are impacting on higher education cultures and practices. You will consider this in relation to the role of higher education and its relationship with society generally. The module prepares you to engage in current and prospective policy debates surrounding the value of higher education and the ways in which the sector is evaluated. The module goes beyond research, theory, concepts and debate however, empowering you to engage personally in effective evaluation of the enhancement of teaching, research and other sector functions. The rigorous evaluative research that you conduct for this module, on a topic of your choice, will enable you to write a journal article of significance to a wide readership.

The module is organised into the following three main themes each with subsidiary topics:

1. The changing role of the University

  • employability agenda and the role of university in preparing for, and creating work
  • universities as a “public good”, and the accountability agenda
  • responsible research and innovation (RRI) agenda
  • internationalisation and marketisation of the University

2. Theories of and approaches to university evaluation

  • evaluative frameworks around higher education
  • peer review and group-peer review
  • notions of “excellence” in evaluative cultures in our education
  • metrics and their constitutive effects

3. Learning through evaluation- research dynamics

  • uses of evaluation (development, accountability, nudging and knowledge)
  • evaluative effects and the impact of higher education interventions
  • evaluating notions of public good and effect on university cultures.

As with each of the three core modules on the programme, the assessment of this one is a journal-length assignment on a topic relevant to the module chosen by you. The assessment criteria are those of a PhD generally: the assignment offers an original contribution to knowledge and is of publishable standard. The model on which this assessment strategy is based is that of submitting a journal article: you initially submit a preliminary version which receives extensive formative feedback from the module tutor. Here the tutor is acting in the same way as peer reviewers of a submitted journal article. You are then able to improve your assignment based on that advice and submit it for summative assessment. If the assignment does not reach PhD standard at this stage you have the opportunity for one further resubmission, again based on substantial advice from the module tutor.

Having successfully completed this module you will be a specialist in an area of the topic, able to publish in that area, and able to enhance professional understanding, practices and approaches relevant to the module’s topic.

The module leader for ECHE is Dr Gemma Derrick who has many years’ experience in this field.

Participant comment: “Good, very supportive feedback. Tutor availability good, support offered regularly… “I am really enjoying the whole programme and gaining a lot, personally and professionally.”