Thematic evaluation constitutes an element of the new higher education QA system to be phased in the coming years. The purpose of the thematic evaluation is to support changes in the improvement areas that have been identified in completed assessments. Thematic evaluations allow to take stock of the situation, share best practices and receive independent feedback and recommendations from experts.
Thematic evaluations shall be conducted in some or all higher education institutions. The topics are horizontally relevant and as a rule, related to the quality improvement proposals made during external assessments of study programme groups (i.e. Purposefulness and up-to-dateness of teaching methods; Student assessment; Development of students’ key competencies; Involvement of students from all cycles of higher education in RDC activities; etc.). Thematic evaluations predominantly use a research-based assessment method.
The following principles apply to thematic evaluations:
- Thematic evaluations can be sample-based, but preferably include all of the HEIs (also the vocational education institutions, if appropriate).
- EKKA shall form an expert panel whose task will be to develop a research methodology, to carry out the evaluation and to prepare a report. If and when necessary, foreign experts may be involved.
- Thematic evaluations do not require preparation of a traditional self-evaluation report, but a survey that involves different parties may include aspects of self-evaluation. In parallel with surveys, assessment interviews, focus group interviews etc. are conducted.
- The EKKA Quality Assessment Council shall sign off the expert report.
- After the expert report is approved, a public presentation of the findings and a discussion will take place.
- The strengths and areas for improvement presented in the findings will also become an input for planning further activities as well as trends for both higher education institutions and the Ministry of Education and Research.
The pilot evaluation entitled “Learning and Teaching of Foreign Students in Estonian HEIs” was conducted in late 2018.
The evaluation sample included the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, Estonian Business School, Tallinn University, Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu.
In 2018, a steering committee was formed to lay down the terms of reference, select the sample and agree on assessment methodology. The steering committee members are as follows:
Heli Mattisen – Chairman, Director of EKKA
Tambet Anja – Estonian Students’ Union, Student
Anneli Entson – Employers’Confederation
Katrin Kiisler – Archimedes Foundation
Eva Liina Kliiman – Student
Liia Lauri – EKKA
Ülle Tensing – University of Tartu
Eneken Titov – Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences
Maiki Udam – Higher education consultant
Sigrid Vaher – Ministry of Education and Research
Gunnar Vaht – Archimedes Foundation
Kerli Zirk – Ministry of the Interior