The main themes of this unit are the setting up of internal systems for quality management, the steps and processes involved and the instruments that can be used for quality assurance and enhancement in language education institutions/departments.
Questions addressed in this unit include: How to identify symptoms of low quality? How to diagnose the causes and plan appropriate remedial action? Possible ways of collecting, selecting and using data are exemplified – such as action research, classroom observation, interviews, focus-group discussions, etc.
The second part of Unit 3 explores Institutional Self-evaluation with its various dimensions. Principles, functions and aims are discussed in relation to the context and main focus of the self-evaluation process. The Guide encourages readers to explore the link between individual and team-self-evaluation, as well as the role of participatory analysis of institutional processes and procedures for action planning and quality enhancement.
The main focus in the last part of this Unit is on Class Observation, which is presented as a key-component both of Quality Management and of Professional Development. Its multiple functions are discussed in relation to the different types of observation and the contexts of use. From a quality management perspective, effective observation serves the purpose of identifying both areas for improvement and areas of strength.
Setting up systems for the sharing of good practice, facilitating a culture of constructive feedback and continuous professional development benefits both the institution and all the individual professionals involved in the process of quality assurance. The importance of a collaborative atmosphere, appropriate attitudes and skills, is highlighted both in relation to class observation and institutional self-evaluation.
The methodological approach throughout the unit is that of encouraging readers to reflect on their own experience of systems and processes, and to take a problem-solving approach to the activities and case studies presented.