General Guidelines for Self-Evaluation in the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education´s Quality Evaluation System 2011—2014
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has been given the task of evaluating the results of courses and programmes. Here, ‘results´ refers to how well the specific courses or programmes meet the requirements laid down in the Higher Education Act and the qualification descriptors in the ordinances that are linked to it. The National Agency´s evaluations will assess to what extent students´ achieved learning outcomes correspond to the intended learning outcomes. The material on which the experts base their assessments are independent projects (degree projects) produced by students, the higher education institutions´ own self-evaluations, questionnaires sent to alumni and the students´ own perceptions of the outcomes of their programmes of study in relation to the targets in the qualification descriptors. The self-evaluation is important for the National Agency´s evaluations but should also offer an important tool for the work of the institutions themselves on the quality assurance of their courses and programmes.
The self-evaluation comprises three sections. The first, and most important, is intended to enable a more extensive and complete account of outcomes than that offered by the independent projects. In its self-evaluation, a higher education institution should therefore present, analyse and assess the outcomes achieved in relation to all the targets on which the evaluation is based. This account must aim to demonstrate to the experts that the students (and therefore the course or programme) meet the targets in the qualification descriptors. Some presentation of the circumstances and processes may however be included to enable the institution to account for how it assures that the students do achieve the targets. However, it is not the circumstances and processes that will be evaluated by the experts but the educational outcomes, i.e. goal attainment. According to the appraisal of the Government in its bill entitled Fokus på kunskap — kvalitet i den högre utbildningen [Focus on knowledge — quality in higher education] (Govt. bill 2009/10:139 p. 21) it is important to assess the usefulness of programmes for the labour market in the National Agency´s evaluations. This should therefore be taken into account in the self-evaluations.
The aim of the second section is to account for the circumstances that have a manifest impact on the outcomes of programmes. One such circumstance consists of the teaching resources used in the programme evaluated. For this reason the higher education institutions should, in their self-evaluations, present information about teachers´ qualifications and the availability of teaching resources and analyse this information in relation to the targets that apply for the qualification to be awarded. The higher education institutions also have the possibility of accounting for, and analysing, relevant information on the students´ preconditions and presenting arguments about how these may have affected the outcomes of a programme.
In the third section the higher education institution has the possibility of accounting for other circumstances that may be considered particularly important for the evaluation of the programme. These may for instance include local targets for the programme or the role played by the independent projects in the programme.
This document contains general guidelines on self-evaluation on which the guidelines for each evaluation are based.