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Unit information: Quality and Improvement in Education in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Quality and Improvement in Education
Unit code EDUCM5207
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sands
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit is designed for those interested in designing, managing, delivering and evaluating quality education in all fields. It will review research and experience relating to effectiveness and improvement in educational settings and consider the implications for policy and practice. It will focus on research into the organisational and other factors that correlate with effective outcomes, comparing across different cultural and country contexts, and strategies for promoting quality and improvement at local, national and organisational level. Research employing a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for quality assurance and evaluation (eg intervention/programme evaluation, case studies, inspection frameworks, league tables, value added approaches) will be considered.

The broad aim of this unit is to review selected research and theory relating to quality, effectiveness and improvement in education and to consider the implications for policy and practice in different countries/cultures and different school/college contexts.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • evaluate critically the theoretical and research evidence concerning education quality, and the characteristics of ‘effective’ educational organisations in an international or UK context;
  • critically review the strengths, weaknesses and feasibility of various education improvement strategies and how educational quality is evaluated at institutional, local, national and global levels;
  • consider how the ideas, evidence and methods raised in the unit might be applied in participants own institutional context;
  • reflect critically on participants’ own experience as a practitioner in relation to the issues discussed in the unit;
  • independently source, manage and critically engage with a range of texts related to quality and improvement in education, including through use of digital and web-based tools; and
  • build and clearly articulate orally and in a written assignment a coherent and convincing argument relating to one specific aspect or example of quality and improvement in education.

Teaching details

10 x 2-hour seminars

Assessment Details

Formative assessment - detailed feedback will be given on

  • case studies that students develop individually or collaboratively that reflect critically on the usefulness of educational and effectiveness research/concepts for specific contexts they know well.
  • a detailed outline for the assessed assignment

Summative assessment - a 4,000 word assignment which will assess students’ critical understanding of the literature on quality, improvement and effectiveness, and their ability to discuss the implications of the theories and concepts in relation to their own professional practice.

Reading and References

  • Brundrett, M. & Crawford, M. (Ed.s) (2008) Developing School Leaders: An International Perspective, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Chapman, C. Muijs, D.R. Sammons, P. and Reynolds, D. (2015) The International Handbook of School Effectiveness Research, 2nd Edition. London: Falmer Press.
  • Slee, R. Weiner, G. and Tomlinson, S. (1998) School Effectiveness for Whom? Challenges to the School Effectiveness and School Improvement Movements, London: Falmer Press.
  • Preedy, M. Glatter, R. and Wise, C. (eds) (2003) Strategic Leadership and Educational Improvement, London: Sage Publications.
  • Scheerens, J. Glas, C. Thomas, S. (2003) Education Evaluation, Assessment and Monitoring: A systematic approach, Lisse, the Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.
  • Townsend, T (ed) (2007) International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement. New York: Springer.