1.3 The evaluation and enhancement of education

Auditointiryhmän arvio

Enhancement of education is based on evident data and feedback

Evaluation and further development of HAMK’s educational provision is based on various channels of feedback as well as institutional data. In the interviews, employers and students, as well as staff, showed their proactive participation in developing the contents of education. This strong involvement of teachers, students, and external stakeholders in both the planning and the programme development was confirmed in the interviews as well as in the additional material. Up-to-date research data and the future skills needs are taken account in the degree programmes. Especially the student workshops pointed out and valued the good programme planning and the clear opportunities for various forms of feedback in degree programmes as well as the responsiveness of the heads of the degree programmes.

In general, the student feedback explicitly underlined their satisfaction with their role in the curriculum development and renewal process, indicating that the studies are very useful, practical, diverse and future-oriented. Important assessment data are derived from regular course feedback. Data sets are made available to all stakeholders for this purpose, including metrics, statistics, course evaluation information, and graduate studies. HAMK not only focuses on quantitative data (i.e., the National Graduation and feedback questionnaire and Career -monitoring survey) but also on qualitative dialogues with students when they participate in so-called development groups and boards. The continuous improvement of teaching and study quality through regular didactic training in HAMK100 and keeping the curricula up to date are also explicitly anchored in HAMK’s vision and can thus also be taken as a guiding principle. The documents also show that the underlying system is continuously being expanded and optimised.

From autumn 2021, module feedback is collected through the Spark system, allowing the feedback to be quickly linked to development affecting the following modules and giving feedback on feedback. Overall, the audit team concludes that HAMK uses a systematic approach for the enhancement of education that meets the requirements. The participation of teaching staff and students, administrative staff and graduates is ensured. Beyond the description of the processes in the self-evaluation report, HAMK was thus able, through the interviews, to clarify the systematisation of the further development of their study programmes.

HAMK has implemented various opportunities for students and staff to gather feedback on different levels within the institution. The interviews confirmed that feedback is an important aspect for HAMK in the focus of enhancement of education. One example of good practice is the Meet the Dean events. In these informal meetings students can discuss their concerns and opinions, showing the importance of student feedback for HAMK. HAMK’s motto, “It is an important value for us that they are heard”, was underlined in the interviews. In addition to the exchange with the deans, further discussion and reflection processes concerning the development of study quality were initiated within the schools. Through these various channels of feedback, students can also evaluate the support services offered, such as counselling, tutoring or career advice and mobility options. The interviews showed that student support services are also further developed based on student feedback and aim at directly responding to the needs of the learners.

Especially in the process of developing and optimising a module, student and teacher feedback is gathered. HAMK gathers feedback regularly and reacts upon the feedback in systematic ways, but the transparency to students about follow-up actions could be more structured and consistent. Students receive grades for modules that they have completed. The teacher gives each student an individual grade even if the work was carried out in a group or as common project assignments. HAMK teachers are encouraged to discuss feedback with their students systematically. Hence, a point of development, also indicated by students in the workshop and in the interviews of the student representatives, is the provision of feedback on their grades. In this context, it was also mentioned that teachers should be more proactive in pointing out student errors.

Through the documents provided as well as the interviews with various groups of internal and external stakeholders, the audit team gained convincing evidence that HAMK has consistently pursued the process of continuous improvement. This stringent and long-term focus on quality improvement has not only shaped HAMK’s programmes as being up to market needs, student-centered and competence oriented, but also HAMK’s profile as truly work-place oriented HE institution.

Continuous learning is a strategic development target

Continuous learning is a strategic field for HAMK. As mentioned in HAMK’s vision and strategy statement, HAMK students are owners of their own learning, and teachers act as instructors and enablers of learning. The interviews confirmed that the modules are well structured, based on three study models, so that it is possible to build new degree programmes or parts of degree programmes flexibly for new target groups of continuous learning without making changes to HAMK’s operating licence.

The audit team encourage HAMK to further develop different forms of continuous learning on a more systematic basis to foster lifelong learning, i.e., in the open university of applied sciences, specialisation studies and other further training. The audit team see the newly reformed continuous learning brand, HAMK Up, as a promising example of how to establish continuous learning trainings as regular learning experiences for those who want to gain further competences and knowledge in a specific field. This programme widens the range and diversity of training.

The benefits of digitalisation are utilised in teaching and guidance, i.e., by using digital literature as study packages from the library. This should be aimed at not only focusing on those people who want to raise their education level but for all potential groups.