THE ROLE OF NEO-LIBERALISATION IDEOLOGY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

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CHAPTER 3 CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS

INTRODUCTION

Chapter 2 discussed the contextual and regulatory framework of the study. As part of the discussion, the legal and regulatory framework in which PHEIs operate was highlighted and it was shown that PHEIs operate in a highly regulated environment. Chapter 3 introduces conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of this study. As part of articulating the conceptual and theoretical frameworks, it defines and discusses the concepts of quality and quality assurance (QA) as critical factors that determine whether an institution and its programmes are accredited and its curriculum is effectively implemented. The concepts of curriculum and curriculum implementation as well as strategies for implementing the curriculum, facilitators and inhibitors of effective curriculum implementation, models of curriculum implementation, and the theoretical framework namely the force-field theory which underpins the study, are also discussed.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

This section articulates the concepts of QA and curriculum implementation. As part of this articulation, two concepts, namely quality and curriculum, are discussed first to build strong cases for how QA and curriculum implementation processes take place respectively in accredited PHEIs.

Quality assurance

This study describes the QA process by first understanding it in the HE and PHE contexts. According to Baryeh (2009: 5), “The search for a universal definition of quality has been unsuccessful because the quality construct space is so broad and includes so many components that there would be little utility in any model that attempts to encompass them all”. The difficulty of defining the quality construct continues to evolve in line with changing contexts and exigencies (Tapera and Kuipa, 2016). Quality in HE is viewed as a multidimensional concept which embraces teaching, academic programmes, research and scholarship, staffing, students, buildings, equipment, service to the community and the academic environment (Tapera and Kuipa, 2016; Ellasey, 2015).
As a multidimensional concept, the construct of quality can therefore be defined in a number of ways (Ellasey, 2015; Project Management Skills, 2017). Quality is first defined as a matter of negotiation between parties concerned (Baryeh, 2009) and hence is perceived as the ability to meet agreed goals in line with requirements formulated by all stakeholders. Quality is also defined as satisfying customers by meeting their expectations (Baryeh, 2009). The definitions above therefore connote quality in HE as being able to provide services and products that meet customer (students, employer, government, parents) expectations. Baryeh (2009) categorizes quality into five discrete but inter-related conceptions as follows: i) Quality is exceptional, of high standards, and elite; ii) Quality is perfect, consistent, and has zero defects); iii) Quality refers to fitness for purpose, that is, fitting customer specifications or expectations; iv) Quality is value for money, that is, it should be worth it; and v) Quality is transformation, that is, it should empower students through knowledge and skills.
This study specifically defines quality as fitness for purpose – a definition which according to Sanyal and Martin (2007: 22), “encapsulates the concept of meeting commonly agreed precepts or standards which may be defined by law, an institution, a coordinating authority, a professional body or by a regulating authority”. Quality in HE is defined by a clear set of institutional features and ways of doing things that heighten the possibility of educational outcomes being achieved (Amaral, 2009). Among a number of factors that affect quality in HEIs and hence the way curriculum is implemented include the “institutional vision and goals, the talent and expertise of the teaching staff, admission and assessment standards, the teaching and learning environment, the employability of graduates, the quality of libraries and laboratories and the effectiveness of institutional management” (Banji, 2011: 4). One way of measuring institutional quality is through educational inputs or outputs (Banji, 2011). According to Tsang (2002: 151), “educational inputs relate to human and other material resources that are factored into the production function of schools while educational outputs relate to the performance of students on achievement tests, or the number and types of graduates coming out of the educational systems”. Once a clear definition of quality has been established and communicated by the regulatory authorities to all stakeholders in HE, the process of QA begins.
QA has become a central theme in HE with a multiplicity of definitions and meanings (Harris, 2008). Most of the current debates on QA are premised on the assertion that HE needs a strengthened system of accountability (Tapera and Kuipa, 2016), a concern raised by external stakeholders such as government, parents, students and industry in Botswana and many other countries, that a consistently high level of collegiate learning can no longer be guaranteed without QA (Tapera and Kuipa, 2016). Accountability according to Kimber and Maddox (2003: 7), “involves and invokes a notion of answerability derived from the public sector where responsiveness is about consumer satisfaction, driven by the market paradigm”. This issue of accountability is especially relevant in PHE in Botswana where in both print and non-print media, there have been numerous calls for the government to come up with urgent mechanisms to ensure PHE providers are made more accountable for the quality of services they claimed to provide.
The debate about academic QA in HE, more often than not, tends to bring to the fore extensive contestation about its meaning and purpose (Tapera and Kuipa, 2016). This is confirmed by Tapera and Kuipa (2016) who posit that QA in HE is a contested concept and that the understanding of quality continues to be a subject of much heated debate. Furthermore, Wendler (2016) feels that the concept of QA was amorphous, non-measurable and too ambiguous to be appropriate for the regulation and accreditation of HEIs.
Earlier researchers such as Beaton (1999) also believed that the rhetoric of quality and QA were often vague and empty of meaning. In another earlier research, (Oloo, 2010) argued that QA was notoriously an ambiguous term whose measurement was simply futile. Contemporary discourse though recognises the relevance and importance of QA, especially in HE and its contribution to continuous improvement in search of excellence (Wendler, 2016; Tapera and Kuipa, 2016). According to current thinking, QA in HE “relates to an external government or non-governmental body assessing the operations of an institution and/or its programmes to determine whether it/they meet the agreed standards of HE quality and warrant accreditation” (Bjarnason, et al., 2009: 12). In this context, QA is viewed not only as important for satisfying external constituents but also as a precondition for improvement (Tsevi, 2014; Kasozi, 2014; Tapera and Kuipa, 2016). From the discussion above therefore, a robust QA therefore, can be used as a catalyst both in the consideration of broader questions about the meaning and evidence of HE quality and in clarifying an institution’s mission and purpose and in effective curriculum implementation.
QA has been defined in various ways by various authorities. Altback, et al. (2009) define QA as the process whereby the issues of performance, standards, norms, accreditation, benchmarks, outcomes and accountability overlap to form the foundation of the quality culture of HEIs. This definition therefore highlights the fact that quality and QA in HE must be understood in the context of internal and external institutional performance and best practices. Once best practices such as recruiting highly qualified teaching staff, ensuring appropriate and adequate teaching space (lecture rooms, laboratories, study rooms), and ensuring adequate and current teaching materials, are implemented, the curriculum will be effectively implemented. QA is also conceptualised as all planned and systematic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements (fitness for purpose) for a product or service will be fulfilled (Ciobanu, 2013; Boateng, 2014; Hamdatu, Siddiek & Al-Olyan, 2013).
The reference above to QA as a systematic process dovetails with the conception of QA as given by Kohoutek (2009: 23) who views QA “as a systematic review of institutions and educational programmes to ensure that acceptable standards of education, scholarship, and infrastructure are being maintained”. Lemaitre (2008) also defines QA as the process of systematically gathering, quantifying and using information for the purpose of judging the effectiveness and curricular adequacy of a PHEI as a whole (institutional QA) or its programmes (programme QA). From the definitions above therefore, it can be concluded that QA implies the evaluation of the core activities of a PHEI in order to monitor and ensure quality delivery and improvement of services that are offered to students.
In her earlier work, Clarke (1994) comprehensively defined QA as a collective process by which both the national regulatory authorities and the PHEIs ensure that the quality of educational processes is maintained in order to satisfy the needs of students and all interested stakeholders. This definition by Clarke (1994) suggests that QA ensures that:
i) The curricula in PHEIs meet the appropriate academic and professional standards; ii) The objectives of the PHEIs’ curricula are appropriate and achievable; iii) The resources and facilities are available for successful implementation of the PHEI curricula and; iv) PHEIs strive continually to improve the quality of their curricula and the implementation processes.
The implications of the definition of QA by Clarke (1994) are therefore that: a) QA focuses on processes, that is, “it seeks to convince both internal and external constituencies that a PHEI’s processes produce high quality outcomes or successful curriculum implementation; b) QA makes accountability for quality explicit at various points within an institution, that is, quality is every member of the organisation’s responsibility; and c) QA is a continuous, active and responsive process which includes strong evaluation and feedback loops and effective communication” across all stakeholders (Harris, 2013: 10).
Two major attributes of the QA system include the development and adoption of minimum standards as well as the monitoring and regulation of the implementation standards (Elassy, 2015; Tapera & Kuipa, 2016). With regard to the former, two aspects of standards which stand out relate to the level of impact HE services have on their stakeholders, and the standards of the technical quality of services of programmes the PHEIs offer (Wendler, 2016). With regard to the latter, observations show that most QA systems in HE seem to focus on monitoring and regulating processes to ensure quality as a means of providing transparency and meaningful articulation between the standards and the outcomes; hence, this touches more critically on the implementation of programmes (Bradley, Noonan, Nugent & Scales, 2008). According to Oloo (2010), effective QA should focus on improving the quality of HE. QA in Botswana mostly ensures fidelity of implementation of processes and curricula rather than on how the institutions can improve the provision of HE. It is very difficult in Botswana to deviate from what would have been approved by the regulatory authorities and this negatively
affects curriculum implementation. For example, it takes between six months to a year for the regulatory authorities to approve change of courseware yet lecturers would be wanting to use current materials for teaching.
According to Kasozi (2014) PHEI regulation is important in ensuring quality delivery of HE in many countries including Botswana. There are two forms of QA; namely, internal and external QA and these interact with each other in a symbiotic process (Boateng, 2014).

Internal quality assurance

Internal quality assurance (IQA), also called internal regulation, “refers to the policies and processes implemented in an institution or its programmes to ensure that the institution is fulfilling its own purposes and meeting the standards that apply to HE in general and to the profession or discipline in particular” (Donina, Meoli & Paleari, 2015: 12). IQA is coordinated within the institution by an internal regulatory unit, usually a QA office within the university which makes sure that the externally imposed benchmarks (standards) are effectively implemented (Kasozi, 2014). As part of QA, the IQA office carries out internal audits in the institution targeting the following areas: Institutional governance, Faculty and departmental governance, quality of teaching and learning, the quality of teaching staff, sufficiency and quality of teaching/learning facilities, materials and equipment, research and publications, and other pertinent issues (Kasozi, 2014). In a highly regulated environment, the existence of such a quality assurance office manned by trained personnel on issues of QA is a precondition for successful accreditation of the institution and/or its programme in PHEIs in Botswana.

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External quality assurance

External quality assurance (EQA), also called external regulation, “refers to the actions of an external body such as a QA agency other than the institution itself that assesses the institution’s operations or the quality of its programmes in order to determine whether it is meeting the agreed or predetermined standards” (Boateng, 2014: 16). Banji (2011) defines EQA as the strict determination of processes which academics and universities must observe (comply with) with respect to the organisation and implementation of their curricular and other activities. According to Boateng (2014), EQA is a regulatory mechanism exercised by the state or its regulatory agency, through traditional top-down authority by using directives that prescribe detailed academic and operational behaviours expected.
Carried out through the process of accreditation, EQA involves a self-study document (SSD), peer-review, and a clearly prescribed process of reporting (Banji, 2011; Leyton-Brown, 2004). In his study on the purposes of EQA, Aas (2007) found that the following are the main purposes of EQA: a) Ensuring and developing quality; b) Detecting good and bad quality; c) Putting in place a strong quality culture and; d) Acting as a basis for self-assessment and change (continuous improvement). From the purposes above therefore, it can be concluded that EQA promotes institutional quality improvement by giving third-party feedback on quality processes to the institutions, as well as enhancing and legitimizing internal quality management processes.
The process of EQA is similar to the process of IQA except that EQA is done by an external body. First, as part of QA, EQA defines and enforces regulatory frameworks in the following ways: Institutional accreditation, accreditation of individual academic programmes, ensuring merit-based admissions into HE, standardizing credit accumulation and transfer, ensuring quality of teaching staff for effective curriculum implementation, ensuring examination regulations conform with expected standards, standardization of academic awards, encouraging institutional research and publications, checking on the quality and adequacy of infrastructure, and regulating cross-border HE (Tertiary Education Council, 2013; Kasozi, 2014). As part of performing the QA responsibilities above, external government regulatory authorities carry out institutional audits to establish the extent to which the quality standards above are implemented by the institutions and propose areas of improvement where there is a need to (Levy 2013; Kasozi, 2014).
The section above discussed the concepts of quality and QA. It explained the process of quality assurance, and how it is is used as a tool for accreditation in PHE. The next section discusses the concepts curriculum, and curriculum implementation, specifically targeting the historical development of the concept curriculum, conceptions of curriculum, approaches to and models of curriculum implementation, as well as factors that influence curriculum implementation.

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The concept of curriculum

Studies of curriculum, from conceptual frameworks to actual practice, are not new (Wang, 2006). Despite that, coming up with a universally agreed definition of the term curriculum continues to prove an elusive task (Joskin, 2012) because the term curriculum is widely used by students, academics, institutional management and policy makers across different contexts (Fotheringham, et al., 2012). Some scholars believe that a curriculum was not deliberately developed to accomplish a clear set of educational purposes but evolved as a response to the increasing complexity of educational decision-making (Su, 2012).
The difficulty above in defining the term curriculum is also confirmed by Tabaundule (2014) who argues that one of the major challenges in the field of curriculum studies is assigning meaning to the term curriculum. This definitional challenge led authorities such as Kelly (2005: 5-6 in Tabaundule, 2014) to argue that the rallying point towards a universally agreed definition of curriculum could be in trying to locate a definition that “embraces at least four major curriculum dimensions namely, a) Educational planning and practice which describes the intentions of the curriculum planners; b) The procedures adopted for the implementation of those intentions; c) The actual experiences of the leaners resulting from the teachers’ direct attempts to carry out the planners’ intentions and; d) The hidden learnings that occur as a bi-product of the organisation of the curriculum and of the school”. From the above dimensions, it can be observed therefore that a curriculum answers the usual ‘whom’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions (Brown, 2014).
According to Brown (2014: 4), the term curriculum can be understood in two ways. The first way is to interpret it as fact, practice, or social conflict “in terms of political power thus taking curriculum”. The second approach to understanding curriculum is by analysing the nature of what is taught in schools thus taking curriculum as race, gender, aesthetic, institutionalised or poststructuralist texts. These representations of curriculum therefore imply that the word curriculum means many things to many people as the following section shows. To therefore gain a deeper understanding of the word curriculum, the historical development of the concept is traced and discussed, with consideration being given to both the descriptive and prescriptive definitions of the concept.

Historical development and meaning of curriculum

The discourse on the nature and meaning of curriculum has been a subject of much contestation for a very long time, with a widely accepted or unanimously agreed definition of curriculum still to be found (Wang, 2006; Ourairat, 2011; Ofoha, et al., 2009; Wang, 2006). In earlier works of Smith Stanley, and Shores (1957 in Bloom, et al., 2006), curriculum was considered a sequence of potential experiences that is set up in the school for the purpose of disciplining children and youth in group ways of thinking and acting. Up to the period of Connelly & Clandinin (1988 in Bloom, et al., 2006), curriculum became regarded as a series of textbook topics or specific course outlines to be covered over a period of time.
However, as a concept, the word curriculum has its roots in the Latin word currere whose first meaning was ‘a running’, ‘a race’ or ‘a course’ and secondary meanings were a race-course or a career (Egan, 2003; Olibie, 2014), or courses to cover (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2014). Ofoha, et al. (2009) gave a more detailed description of the history of curriculum by indicating that the word curriculum originated from the Latin word currus which meant a race course or a chariot. The word currus evolved from the word currere which meant to run. Hence, the original meaning of curriculum was a course of study to be run or to be completed in an educational institution (Ofoha, et al., 2009). As a consequence of its historical meaning, the word curriculum initially assumed definitions that were too narrow, incomplete and simplistic such as that curriculum is a course of study or a plan for learning (Pratt, 1994), is subject matter to be covered by students (Tanner & Tanner, 1995), or is “all the learning of students which is planned and directed by the school to attain educational goals” (Taba, 1962 in Cincioglu, 2014: 27).
Beach and Reinhartz (1989) in another earlier definition viewed curriculum as a series of courses students take while Furniss (1999: 5) viewed curriculum “as a way of talking about what we want students to learn at school”. In yet another traditional definition McGinn and Borden (1995: 1) described curriculum as that “which defines for teachers the skills and knowledge that students should learn”. As summarised by Tanner and Tanner (1985), the traditional definitions above viewed curriculum as a plan or programme which the learner encounters under the direction of a school. On the other hand, Ellis (2004: 31) argues that curriculum is that “which a student is supposed to encounter, study, practice and master…what the student learns”. These narrow understandings define curriculum as planned activities that are critical to the totality of student learning in schools which teachers in schools and lecturers in colleges and universities tend to use.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION
DEDICATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ABSTRACT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION
1.1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 CONTEXTUAL FRAMEWORK
1.3 THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.8 MEASURES FOR TRUSTWORTHINESS
1.9 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.11 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2 CONTEXTUAL FRAMEWORK: THE LEGAL AND REGULATORY CONTEXT OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION IN BOTSWANA
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 THE ROLE OF NEO-LIBERALISATION IDEOLOGY IN HIGHER EDUCATION
2.3 THE GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
2.4 REGULATION OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
2.5 COMMON EXTERNAL QUALITY ASSURANCE REGULATORY BARRIERS AND PROBLEMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
2.6 REGULATORY POLICY FRAMEWORKS OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
2.7 REGULATORY POLICY FRAMEWORK OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION IN BOTSWANA
CHAPTER 3 CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
3.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
3.4 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RATIONALE FOR EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 RESEARCH METHODS
4.5 TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 ETHICAL MEASURES
4.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.3 ANALYSIS OF BIOGRAPHIC DATA
5.4 REGULATION OF PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS IN BOTSWANA
5.5 CORRELATION AND REGRESSION ANALYSIS
5.6 HYPOTHESIS TESTING ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INDEPENDENT AND DEPENDENT VARIABLES
5.7 LINEAR MODEL OF THE CURRENT STATUS OF CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION IN PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
5.8 STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODEL
CHAPTER 6 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SUMMARY OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.3 CONCLUSIONS
6.5 PROPOSED FRAMEWORK FOR EFFECTIVE CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION IN ACCREDITED PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
6.6 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.7 AVENUES FOR FURTHER STUDIES
6.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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