This report has been written to contribute to the current debates about educational quality in undergraduate education in the UK and about the need to justify increases in resources on the basis of indicators of educational quality.
It identifies a range of dimensions of quality and examine the extent to which each could be considered a valid indicator with reference to the available research evidence. It attempts to identify which kinds of data we should take seriously and which we should be cautious of placing weight on. Some of these dimensions we might be wise to pay attention to currently lack a solid evidence base especially in relation to research carried out in the UK context and so the report also identifies priorities for research and for data collection and analysis.
The report identifies which dimensions of educational quality can reasonably be used to compare educational settings. It adapts Biggs's '3P' model (Biggs 1993) of 'presage' 'process' and 'product' to categorise the variables under consideration. The report examines a wide range of potential indicators. Presage variables define the context before students start learning process variables describe what goes on as students learn and product variables relate to the outcomes of that learning. For presage and process variables the available evidence is examined concerning the validity of the variable: the extent to which it predicts student learning outcomes and educational gains. Each product variable is examined for its ability to indicate comparative quality.