The University of Basel ensures and develops the quality of its courses through a system of three closed feedback loops, as follows:
- Feedback loop one: Responsibility for course quality is first and foremost overseen by lecturers, who design and perform lessons, and regularly reflect on them through discussions with students.
- Feedback loop two: The faculty or department has a responsibility to ensure the implementation of quality management for courses in its organizational unit, and in the event of critical course evaluations in particular, to seek discussions with lecturers, to agree on measures and to check their implementation and success.
- Feedback loop three: The President’s Office is responsible for the university-wide implementation of quality management for courses, in compliance with uniform framework conditions and (inter)national standards, and in exchange with the faculties.
To ensure a systematic dialogue on course quality between the above-mentioned primary stakeholders, and in order to embrace and review measures, the feedback loops include firmly established processes and avenues for discussion (feedback sessions, employee interview, Commission meetings, Teaching Excange Meetings). This is based on the (aggregated) results of student course evaluations and structured annual reports on the faculties on the quality and quality management of courses.
Student course evaluation
Questionnaires tailored to faculty, subject and course type-specific quality criteria (basis: Rindermann’s multifactorial model of course quality) are used to record the student assessment of course quality. These are managed by decentralized EvaSys administrations in the faculties and departments. Each course is evaluated at least every third time it is held.
The evaluation usually takes place at the end of the semester, depending on the circumstances, through students filling out an online or paper-based questionnaire. As a result of the time made available in the contact hour, the response rate and quality of results is kept high and signal that student feedback is important to the faculty staff. In the subsequent contact hour, lecturers report back on the key findings and actions, if any, to the students, and if necessary use the opportunity for questions or comments (feedback session). Teachers can request a voluntary course evaluation at any time (contact: the responsible decentralized evaluation coordinator) or if necessary use other tools, such as focus group discussions or peer observation.
In the case of critical course evaluations, a discussion with the Dean of Studies in the faculty or with the chairperson of the teaching committee in the department is mandatory. The results are also discussed in aggregated form by the relevant committee responsible for teaching at the faculty and departmental level (teaching committee (UK), curriculum committee (CK) curriculum and examination commission (CPK), examination commission (PK)), and by the Deans of Studies in the Teaching Excange Meeting with the Vice President for Education. If necessary, measures are then agreed. Additionally, the annual meeting reports on the implementation of quality management for courses in the faculties and discusses measures for the further development of the quality management system and/or the quality of teaching.
Genesis of the QM for Courses
The quality management for courses was established from 2010 to 2017 at the University of Basel in a university-wide project, designed according to the principles of systemic organizational development. Vice President's Office for Education accompenied by a sounding board from all faculties and groups, developed a concept and university-wide project standards that comply with (inter)national standards and ensure uniform framework conditions at the University of Basel. Additionally, the processes and instruments for each faculty and/or department were developed using participative methods in compliance with university-wide standards. More detailed information on the development and implementation of QM Teaching Courses can be found in the framework document QM Teaching Courses.