This article discusses some of the challenges of current evaluation work in higher education (HE). Despite years of interest in this space, the sector is still struggling to capture what is working to enhance student outcomes. Our own recent work as evaluators for QAA Scotland’s Enhancement Themes seeks to address this impasse. This article will provide an overview of the Enhancement Themes work in Scotland and how evaluation is being re-positioned as the crux of activity within higher education institutions wishing to demonstrate effectiveness. A case study will be presented which illustrates how this could be achieved by describing the ongoing creation and piloting of a ‘Universal Evaluation Framework’ which aims to liberate colleagues from their fears around evaluation capabilities. The intended outcomes of use include the development of evaluation capabilities, increased confidence in evaluating change in HE spaces, and an evidence base for decision making regarding student outcomes. The interactive tool will enable colleagues to plan, design, implement and learn from their evaluations and record their reflections. Digital records extend this learning into publication, possible scholarship and, more tellingly, as evidence.
This case study outlines a potentially game changing tool which aims to engage colleagues and capture evidence of what works in an accessible and transparent way. In contrast to other approaches to evaluation capacity building in UK HE, this tool aims to support all, regardless of levels of evaluation experience, role, and starting points. Our framework will be universal and accessible, and intuitively and inclusively designed.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Liz Austen, Stella Jones-Devitt