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Chapter 2 - Assuring quality in learning regions partnerships: core criteria and indicators

Page history last edited by Randolph Preisinger-Kleine 8 years, 8 months ago

Dr. Ciprian Fartusnic

Observatory for LLL, Romania



Based on national research findings and on partners common analysis of research data (available on the project official website, www.learning-regions.net), R3L+ project developed a comprehensive description of four core quality areas, that function as quality criteria in a quality assurance process embedded in learning regions initiatives. These criteria are focused on: creation and development of collaborative partnerships or networks; participation and involvement of the members of these networks; progress and sustainability of partnership and promotion of learning culture within it. Therefore the answer to the first question highlights the idea that every promoter of learning regions or learning cities should pay a particular attention to these factors in order to create the conditions of a genuine quality assurance process within the partnership.


For answering the second question, the project team developed a set of specific indicators for each quality criteria. The assumption underlying the elaboration of these indicators was that, in order to have quality assurance as an improvement tool for the learning region initiatives and not as an end in itself, we have to take into account that quality depends and is built through a complex range of interventions. SMART indicators should be defined in relation with each of these actions and the quality assurance process could enter in a continuing improvement loop.


A detailed presentation of the quality specific indicators is made on project official web site. R3L+ innovative approach is however not limited to the definition of this reference framework of quality assurance in learning regions. Nor to define in detail quality areas and indicators fitted with the needs of learning regions and cities.


Based on this framework, the project aims also at influencing in vivo the process of quality assurance, by creating a comprehensive assistance model for learning regions promoters and practitioners. As it will be presented in the next section, our approach to quality assurance cycle was primary a practical one: quality in learning regions initiatives could be promoted only by a partnership aware of the need for quality assurance mechanisms, and willing to invest resources in this field.


The starting point of our approach included the main areas of quality assurance: planning, implementation, evaluation and review (Figure 1). As in the case of any partnership, learning regions activities are bound to follow the stages of this "virtuous circle", if they want to be connected to a constant process of (self)-improvement.



Fig. 1. The classical modal of quality assurance cycle



Another relevant resource for our approach was Le and Kazis[i] ideas linked with the applicability of quality assurance mechanisms. Today more and more regions have the need for more varied range of learning opportunities. A focus on quality could provide sufficient evidence for the effectiveness and efficiency of "sound investments in the infrastructure of policies and partnerships for changes". Promoting an explicit and comprehensive quality circle, the learning partnership initiatives could demonstrate their role in upgrading the knowledge, skills and economic success of various regional stakeholders.  It is therefore a higher opportunity for the network to attract further support over time in terms of human, physical or financial resources.


Last but not list, as already pointed out, R3L+ work was influenced by the policy developments at European level in the area of quality assurance, in particular the EQAVET Recommendation of European Parliament from 18th of June 2009. Designed to help Member States promote and monitor quality improvement in VET, the system provides a common basis for quality principles, reference criteria and indicators. The assumption of this initiative is that the common framework allows for increasing transparency and consistency with each other’s policy initiatives and actions in the field of quality assurance and enhancement. Learning regions activity could therefore found a new bridge with the Quality Assurance National Reference Points from EU state and to play a more active/visible role in the European Quality Assurance network for both initial and continuous VET area.


The EU policy is also important for indicating definitions of the main concepts we work with such as quality (as a context, experiences and expectations -depending variable) or quality assurance (as integrated set of policies, procedures, criteria, tools and verification instruments and mechanisms whose collective purpose is to ensure and enhance the quality of a provided service).


[i] Cecilia Le and Richard Kazis, 2010 Educating All Learners for the New Economy. Region needs more varied range of learning opportunities in The New England Journal of Higher Education, Winter 2009.



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