Evaluation of a site visits implemented in the remote formula from the perspective of universities and members of assessment panel of the Polish Accreditation Committee
The spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, has prompted changes around the world. As a result of those changes an innovative management models based on remote work are no longer seen only as an auxiliary tool, and have become the norm in everyday life. Both Polish and other European universities have replaced the traditional model of teaching and teaching with distance learning methods and techniques.
Acting in a sense of responsibility for the decisions making, affecting the development of higher education, maintaining professionalism in carrying out undertaken actions, as well as observing the principles of openness and transparency of the applied procedures, observance of ethical principles and respecting academic traditions, the Polish Accreditation Committee discerned that the extraordinary nature of the situation it cannot mean the suspension or elimination of activities aimed at improving the quality of education in the short or long term. Therefore, immediately after the announcement of the pandemic, in parallel with the decision to suspend the process of programmes assessment, we started the intensive analytical and conceptual work (April-August 2020), the purpose of which was to restore the state in which the Commission is implementing one from its main statutory tasks. Subsequently, we undertook a number of implementation activities (August-October 2020), such as including trainings addressed to both internal and external stakeholders, or work related to the adaptation of internal legal acts of the Commission to the modified formula of site visits. As a result, with the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year, PKA implemented the remote site visit procedure. The first “long-distance” site visit – using appropriately prepared tools – was carried out on October 15 and 16, 2020. Until now, remote visits are the only form of program evaluation carried out by the Committee.
The Committee is guided by the overriding value, which is the social welfare, therefore, acting in the spirit of responsibility and professionalism, at the stage of designing the schedule for implementing remote formula of assessment process, it was planned to evaluate the new form of the site visit. Consequently, in pursuit of the application of PKA mission, as well as gaining valuable experience from a situation that unexpectedly changed the functioning of many aspects of social life, we conducted the research which should be use to improve the assessment process, as well as to develop recommendations for the future. The survey was carry out in the period from February 22, 2021 to March 10, 2021, in total over 430 respondents, both from the group of university representatives who were visited remotely in the period from October 2020 to February 2021, and members of assessment panel who were participating in such a procedure. The analysis of the results showed that the site visit in remote formula by MS Teams / MS SharePoint allows for the assessment of the program with regard to all detailed criteria. Moreover, the study confirmed that the procedure complies all European principles, norms and standards, which makes the program evaluation process fair, authoritative and the same for all participants of the process.
Another key finding from the conducted research is the general observation that after the pandemic and its related limitations are over, we cannot expect to return to the method of conducting site visits in the same way as it was ran before the pandemic (only stationary ), as some elements which was designed and implemented under remote work conditions significantly improved the course of the evaluation procedure.
We encourage you to read the full test report (the full report is available only in the Polish language version).