Can a US-based, research-supported approach to quality assurance be adapted to education systems outside of USA? The presenters will share their experience working through the first two years of a five-year collaboration agreement between a leading US-based quality assurance organization and a major research university in China.
Can a US-based, research-supported approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education, adopted by over 1000 higher educational institutions, K-12, and other educational organizations for over a decade, be adapted to education systems outside of USA? What needs to be taken into consideration, and what adjustments are needed in order for the quality standards developed for the US-based and other English-speaking educational communities to be applicable to an education environment that is very different culturally and pedagogically?
The presenters will share their experience working through the first two years of a five-year collaboration agreement signed in May of 2015 between a leading US-based quality assurance organization and a major research university in China, the culmination of several years of informal contacts and preliminary explorations of mutual vision and interest between the two parties. The goal for the first two years was to carry out research and subsequently, based on the researching findings, adapt the widely adopted US-based rubric to develop a set of standards that are culturally appropriate and pedagogically acceptable to the Chinese higher education community in order to promote and foster a quality assurance process in its online education practice.
After a core group of faculty, staff and administrators from the Chinese research university received two-week long online training, in the summer of 2015, on how to apply the US-based standards, they completed a survey to provide their views on whether the US-based standards are suitable for the current Chinese online education environment. The survey questions were scored by Richter's five-point scale, from "Very Suitable" to "Completely Unsuitable".
Next, the workshop completers conducted reviews on a number of Chinse online and blended courses to assess the fit between the US-based standards and Chinese online course design practice. The instructors were asked to determine whether the US-based standards were “Met" or "Not Met" for each aspect of the course and why.
Combining the above work, an overall analysis was conducted on the suitability of the US-based standards to the Chinese online education environment, the gap between current Chinese online courses and the criteria to meet US-based standards, and what needed to be improved in the current Chinese online course design practice.
The presenters will share some results and analysis from this research study. While it is not surprising to see that the high-suitability standards indicated by the Chinese participants are also US-based essential standards, which focus on the course overview, instructional materials and learning activities, some low-suitability standards identified do not correspond with the importance level assigned to these US-based standards. Three reasons have been proposed to explain the discrepancies: 1) influence by language and translation; 2) influence by contextual factors; and 3) influence by cultural factors.
In evaluating whether the Chinese courses met US-based standards, all the courses received scores lower than the required minimal total score to meet US-based standards overall with a 44 points difference between the highest and the lowest scores, which shows that a big gap exists between current Chinese online courses and the US-based standards. In analyzing the course reviews, the US-based Standards fell into four categories: perfect fitting, challenging, potential, and not as important.
Based on the results of the research, an adapted rubric of Chinese higher education online course quality standards have been developed, which is not only applicable to the Chinese culture and pedagogical practices, but also, more importantly, will serve as a benchmarking tool to promote and foster a quality assurance process for online education throughout the Chinese higher education community.
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