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Unlocking the mystery of measuring educational gain: Let's talk TEF and good practices

10 Oct 2023 | Juliette Gaunt In the UK, the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) provides a structured framework for evaluating the quality of teaching and the learning experience in higher education institutions. This blog post delves into the critical theme of measuring educational gain and its relevance to TEF submission.

Within the landscape of higher education, measuring educational gain has become an important aspect of assessing the quality and effectiveness of educational institutions. In the UK, the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) provides a structured framework for evaluating the quality of teaching and the learning experience in higher education institutions. This blog post delves into the critical theme of measuring educational gain and its relevance to TEF submission. Whether you are from small and specialist provision, college-based higher education or a traditional university institution, there is something here for everyone!

Let’s dive into the exciting world of measuring educational gain and how it ties into the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).

What is Educational Gain, Anyway?

First things first, let us decode the jargon. Educational gain is like the gold star of higher education – it's all about the progress students make during their academic journey. Think knowledge, skills, and personal growth!

TEF: The game-changer

TEF, our trusty framework, breaks down the quality of higher education into three parts: teaching quality, learning environment, and the focus of today, Student Outcomes and Learning Gain. This is where we measure the magic that happens in learning environments. TEF is a common language that bridges the gap between Institutions.

So, what's the scoop on measuring educational gain for TEF?

1. Goals galore: Every programme should have clear learning goals. What are students meant to learn? It’s like setting the GPS for a meaningful education journey.

2. Assessments and more: We're talking assessments that are as dependable as your favourite coffee shop's morning brew. They should be spot-on in measuring those learning goals.

3. Time travel with data: Get ready to time travel! Collect data from the past, present, and even the future if you can. The longer you track, the clearer the picture gets.

4. Benchmark: Don't dance alone! Benchmark your results against others to see where you stand! (Johnson, 2020)

5. Ask the experts: Chat with employers and alumni – they are like the referees of the job market. Their insights can tell you how well your graduates are kicking it in their careers (Smith et al, 2021).

Small and Special Institutions: Nurturing excellence

You are the boutique stores of higher education, offering unique programmes tailored to specific industries or disciplines. Here is what sets you apart:

  • Tailored excellence: your metrics should be a bespoke suit, tailored to specific programmes. One size does not fit all!
  • Specialisation rules: Highlight what makes your programmes stand out – those niche skills, industry-specific know-how and tight-knit communities
  • Narrative impact: Numbers are great but don’t forget to share stories and anecdotes that prove the real impact of your education (Brown & Jones, 2019).

College-Based HE Providers: Empowering Futures

You are the launchpad for many students’ higher education journeys. Here is what sets you apart:

  • Bridge to HE: your role in preparing students for the rigours of higher education is crucial. Ensure your assessments align with the needs and goals of these programmes
  • Hands-on-Learning: Emphasise practical and vocational skills that empower students for their future careers
  • Showcase Success Stories: Highlight your Graduates achievements and how your Institution played a vital role in their educational growth.

Traditional universities: ‘pioneers of academia’

You are the tried and tested institutions which have shaped higher education for centuries. Here is how you continue to lead:

  • Balanced excellence: maintain a balance between research and learning/teaching to provide a well-rounded education
  • Global perspective: Embrace a global perspective in your educational offerings and assessment methods
  • Innovate and adapt: Stay ahead of the curve by continuously innovating in your approach to educational gain measurement.

Your Turn to Shine!

So, there you have it – measuring educational gain, TEF style! Let's keep the conversation going, because when it comes to education, there's always more to discover! Now we have started the chatter around measuring educational gain for TEF, here is your call to action:

Share Your Successes: If you are in the educational arena, share your success stories on how you measure educational gain effectively. Let's learn from each other! You can do this by signing up to the forthcoming Measuring Educational Gains Member Benefit offered by Advance HE – a chance to share your stories, learn from others and articulate your future path with support from the community.

Measuring Educational Gains Member Benefit - join the mindshare events in November here

Juliette Gaunt is a National Teaching Fellow and Collaborative Excellence Award winner. With a clinical background in Allied Health, as a registered Speech and Language Therapist, she now has over 15 years of experience in Higher Education occupying a range of roles including Senior Lecturer/Clinical Placement Coordinator, Associate Professor (Education), Associate Dean and Dean (Student Experience, Teaching and Learning). Juliette’s current role is Senior Consultant (student success) with Advance HE. Her interests include student success, mental health and wellbeing, student enablement and leadership in Higher Education.


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