Assessing the Quality of a University-Particularly its Teaching

Robert E. Stake, María Isabel Arbesú García, Gloria Contreras Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universities are complex organizations, made up of semi-autonomous sectors and even more autonomous faculty members. Tradition and rules push activities toward homogeneity. Still, most administrators, staffs and students enjoy a grand leeway in which to work. Vincent Tinto (1995) noted that it would be difficult to find a single academic culture but, different cultures, different practices of evaluation and various groups of teachers and students. Informal and formal evaluation procedures abound, and all, individually and collectively, fall far short of delivering a comprehensive statement of university quality. The greatest understanding of quality is to be found in experienced individuals who attend to the flows of information across campus and disdain efforts to make shallow ratings and reputations stand for the goodness of the whole or certain parts. The most invested in evaluation yet seldom forthright about educational quality is the administration, which of course needs both internal and external evaluation. The evaluation of teaching on campus is a particularly accessible example of complexity and assessment methods, and serves as the primary example of this document. The distinction between formative and summative evaluation is critical, and the same data seldom can serve both. The strategies for formative use of data to improve the university are said to be: The goal-based strategy, the deficit strategy, the sector-study strategy, and the self-study strategy, which overlap and complement, but get the greatest gain when the energy of self-study can be brought forth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-142
JournalREDU. Revista de Docencia Universitaria
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • assessment
  • quality of teaching
  • university ratings
  • formative evaluation


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