May 31, 2012
Media Release - A Performance-Based Accountability System In Higher Education
How to Improve Undergraduate Teaching in Canada
Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released How to Improve Undergraduate Teaching: A Performance-based Accountability System. The author of the paper is Rodney A. Clifton, a Senior Scholar at the University of Manitoba and a leading expert on post-secondary education policy reform.
Clifton writes that the quality of undergraduate education in Canada has deteriorated in recent years. He cites a number of studies showing that students are often short-changed by indifferent instruction, large classes, and an absence of academic rigour. Clifton argues that more should be done to measure the quality of undergraduate education to strengthen accountability, and to ensure high quality instruction.
Specifically, Clifton calls for the development of a performance-based accountability system in Canadian universities to ensure that the best undergraduate teachers are recognized and rewarded for their success.
The performance-based accountability system proposed by Clifton would use course evaluation data provided by students to identify and reward good professors and teaching departments. The author proposes an accountability program under which excellent teaching departments would be rewarded with additional resources while underperforming departments would receive fewer resources. Over time, this would lead to a transfer of resources from departments with below average teachers to departments with excellent teachers.
This type of accountability system would ensure departments would be evaluated based on readily available, reliable, valid and easily interpretable data. As a result, decisions by senior administrators surrounding resource allocation would become more transparent to students and taxpayers.
Clifton notes that providing excellent undergraduate instruction is undervalued in Canadian universities, and that research contributions receive more recognition and prestige than sustained excellence in teaching. As a result, professors face few incentives to devote scarce time and energy to improving the quality of their own teaching. A performance-based accountability system based on teaching evaluations would strengthen the link between excellent teaching and career advancement for university professors, while providing recognition and rewards for the best teaching professors and departments.
Download a copy of How to Improve Undergraduate Teaching HERE.
For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:
Dr. Rodney A. Clifton, PhD
Tel: (204) 261-8895
is a Senior Scholar at the University of Manitoba and a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (www.fcpp.org). He received his B.Ed and M.Ed. from the University of Alberta, his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and his Fil.Dr. from the University of Stockholm. In addition, he has been awarded a Spencer Fellowship from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a Rh. Award from the University of Manitoba, a R.W.B. Jackson Research Award from the Canadian Educational Researchers’ Association, and both an Edward Sheffield and a Distinguished Research Awards from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education. He has written for numerous newspapers and journals, including the Canadian Journal of Education, Policy Options, Sociology of Education, the National Post, and the Winnipeg Free Press. His books include Socioeconomic Status, Attitudes, and Educational Performances: A Comparison of Students in England and New Zealand, Authority in Classrooms, Crosscurrents: Contemporary Canadian Educational Issues, and Recent Social Trends in Canada, 1960-2000. His most recent book, What’s Wrong With Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them, was published in 2010 and was written with Michael Zwaagstra and John Long.