E-TRAIN 2010-2012

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The project European Training of QA Experts (E-TRAIN) is another project of ECA. The overall aim of E-TRAIN is to facilitate the sharing of trained, knowledgeable, and internationally experienced experts who will be better equipped to participate in QA procedures, to the benefit of higher education institutions under review.

Background

The Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) insist that “the experts undertaking the external quality assurance activity have appropriate skills”. The ESG point out that quality assurance agencies (QAAs) should provide “appropriate briefing and training for experts” and insist on “the use of international experts”. The European University Association indicated in its Trends V Report that “the expert pool in any single country that could be used to evaluate the quality of programmes is extremely limited, and this is clearly an issue where regional cooperation would seem to offer a solution”. This project intends to strengthen the European dimension in quality assurance by making it possible for QAAs to identify trained and experienced experts from other European countries. The first action line of the project is to enhance the quality of Training Programmes for experts. This will be done in three successive steps. Firstly good practices in training of experts within and outside of Higher Education will be identified. Based on this QAA staff will be provided with training on a European level on how to train experts. Finally the trained QAA staff will conduct pilot training sessions for experts. Outcomes of this action line will be a Handbook for trainers and a Handbook for training experts. The second action line of the project is to develop a system to share trained and experienced experts on the European level. To do this national expert databases will be set up. These databases will be approachable to the other QAAs through a database on a European level. After the project the expert database will also be made available to QAAs in the EHEA.

Objectives

The overall aim of E-TRAIN is to facilitate the sharing of trained, knowledgeable, and internationally experienced experts who will be better equipped to participate in QA procedures, to the benefit of higher education institution institutions under review. There are two main objectives developed to support this overall aim.

The first objective of the project is to develop a European training programme for experts in quality assurance procedures. This programme will provide in training for staff members of quality assurance agencies and for training of experts (peers) who will be part of assessment panels. Good practices for training of experts will be identified, QAA staff will be trained and pilot training sessions for experts will be conducted. The scheduled training sessions provide an opportunity for the consortium and stakeholders to have a hands- on approach to the training of both QAA staff and experts. The training programme will consist of an easily accessible Knowledge Base on external quality assurance procedures, online training modules on quality, quality assurance and assessment methodologies and (national) support by experts of the responsible quality assurance agency.

The second objective of the project is to develop a programme to share experts among quality assurance agencies in Europe. This programme will develop a template portfolio for panel members and a database providing easy access to quality assurance agencies to these portfolios. These objectives will be achieved on the one hand by the methodologies proposed and on the other hand by the strong involvement of representatives from within and outside of Higher Education.

Partners

The E-TRAIN project is carried out by five European QA agencies. These are; ANECA, NVAO, ÖAR, PKA and ZEvA.

  • Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie (NVAO)
    English name: Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders
    Homepage: www.nvao.net
  • Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y AcreditaciónÖsterreichischer Akkreditierungsrat (ANECA)
    English name: National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation
    Homepage: www.aneca.es
  • Polska Komisja Akredytacyjna (PKA)
    English name: The Polish Accreditation Committee
    Homepage: www.pka.edu.pl
  • Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur Hannover (ZEVA)
    Homepage: www.zeva.org

Expected achievements

The E-TRAIN project intends to produce a long list of achievements. The actual outcomes of the project are published seperately. Below you can find the achievements the E-TRAIN project partners are currently working on.

Guide to good practices for training of QA experts

Nature: Online publication with examples on good practices

The Guide to good practices of experts in QA panels is an online publication which gathers the best practices of the QAA’s involved in the project and their network.

Guidelines for training of experts

Nature: Online guidelines

Online guidelines containing advice on the ways forward in training of experts. These guidelines outlines the content of the training sessions.

QA Knowledge Base & Course Materials Proposal

Nature: Training packages

An electronic publication which outlines the course materials for the training of experts, the materials chosen to be incorporated in the QA Knowledge Base and the way these materials will be presented.

Training of QA staff I

Nature: Training event

This training will be organised for staff members of the QAAs in the Stakeholders Group. This first trial training will test the prepared training materials. It provides the Stakeholders Group with a hands-on experience of the training materials and with an opportunity to underpin their feedback regarding the identified good practices.

Training of QA staff II

Nature: Training event

This training will be organised for staff members of QAAs (ENQA members) that are not involved in the Stakeholders Group. The second trial training will test the actual results of the training materials and be carried out based on the evaluations of the first training of QAA staff. It will provide the other QAAs in Europe with a hands-on experience of the proposed training. Outcome is the Handbook for QA staff.

Handbook for training of QA staff

Nature: Handbook

A publication (200 copies) that will provide all the contents, references and instructions to organise training events for staff members of QAAs and to offer the training to these experts. This Handbook is intended for those persons in the consortium (also staff of QAAs part of the consortium) that will be responsible for organising the training events and for those persons that will be responsible for the training itself.

Training session of experts I

Nature: Training event

This training (10 participants) will be organised for experts involved in the Focus Group and for additional experts proposed by QAAs involved in the Stakeholders Group. This 1. trial training will test the training materials. It provides the Focus Group with a hands-on experience of the proposals and with an opportunity to further underpin their feedback. The training will be evaluated and the outline will be improved on this basis.

Training session of experts II

Nature: Training event

This training will be organised for experts proposed by QAAs (members of ENQA) which are not involved in the Stakeholders Group. This second trial training will test the actual results of the training materials for the training of experts. It will provide experts with a hands-on experience of the developed training programme.

Handbook for training of experts

Nature: Report

A publication that will provide all the contents, references and instructions to organise training events for panel members and to offer the training to these experts. This Handbook is intended for the staff of the QAAs that will be responsible for organising the training events and for the staff of the QAAs that will be responsible for the training itself.

European Experts Exchange Portfolio

Nature: Online publication

An electronic publication to be presented to the Stakeholder and Focus Groups and to be discussed in their meetings. This publication proposes (1) the different elements that will make up the portfolio template and (2) the ways in which these elements have to presented. The publication will also cover privacy issues and how the portfolios can best be managed in a database.

Request for proposals

Nature: Electronic document

This deliverable is an electronic document to solicit competitive proposals for a database driven website. It will directly influence the way the E-TRAIN website will be developed and designed. It outlines the general requirements regarding proposals, the evaluation criteria and the description of the work to be done, i.e. the technical and operational specifications.

E-TRAIN Database and website

Nature: Database

This deliverable is a database driven website presenting all aspects of the E-TRAIN Project. Its intended end-users are European QAAs and experts. In the case of experts the target audience consists of both experts to be trained and experts already trained. It will give access to the publications which are developed during this project. The E-TRAIN Database and website is expected to be finalised by the end of the E-TRAIN project.

Manual: managing and exporting portfolios E-TRAIN

Nature: Electronic Manual

An electronic publication containing information, including examples, on how to establish automatic communication between a database of a QAA and the portfolio database of the E-TRAIN website. The communication will have to be handled in xsd/xml format. The manuals are prepared for the IT-administrators of the QAAs and will give them the opportunity to implement a secure export function on their database themselves.

E-TRAIN Project Meeting

Nature: Event

This meeting brings together representatives of the Boards of ENQA, EQAR and CEEN and representatives of the E-TRAIN Project. These representatives are from the Steering Group, from the Stakeholders Group and from the Focus Group. The meeting will reflect on the current status of the project and the experiences after the first trial training events. It will discuss the proposed way forward for participation of other QAA’s in Europe in the programme.

Dissemination Conference

Nature: Conference

This Conference will be used to disseminate the methodology and the outcomes of the project. This dissemination exercise mainly targets the European QAAs and the main European higher education policy makers. Partners and experts involved in the project will present their experiences; there will be ample room for feedback from HE stakeholders. The conference will be organised by ANECA, last two days and is expected to gather around 100 participants.

Outcomes

Handbook for the training of panel members for external QA procedures

As a result of the E-TRAIN project a handbook for the training of panel members for external QA procedures has been published. The handbook has been written by Dr Gillian King. This handbook gives practical guidelines on how to organize effective training sessions for panel members. All steps of the training process are covered in the handbook, from the planning phase up to the necessary evaluation of the delivered trainings. It is believed that both quality assurance agencies and higher education institutions, and also the individual experts, can profit from its reading.

Handbook for the training of panel members

Knowledge Base and Course Materials Proposal

This report presents an outline of the selection of materials chosen to be incorporated in the QA Knowledge Base, the way those documents are presented, agreed templates for content, as well as information on navigating and developing the website. It is not intended to summarize nor reflect full content of the Knowledge Base (as due to its dynamic content it is virtually impossible) but rather to depict how features included in database can be of help in the efforts QA agencies make to ensure that QA experts are highly qualified, skilled and equipped in up to date knowledge on QA matters. The Knowledge Base developed within the E-TRAIN project is developed as the “ECApedia” and is called the European Experts Training Portal. It can be easily accessed from the main page of the ECApedia.

Knowlege Base and Course Materials Proposal

European Experts Exchange Portfolio

This publication proposes

  • the different elements that will make up the European Experts Exchange Portfolio and
  • the ways in which these elements are presented.

The European Experts Exchange Portfolio is intended to facilitate locating experts, publishing experts’ background in panel reports and, finally, sharing of (trained/experienced) experts across borders.This portfolio should enable the inclusion of standardised contact details (vCard-standard) and the expert’s relevant expertise. We foresee databases per QA & A Agency and these databases are then included in a network in order to synchronise information (i.e. portfolios). The filled-in portfolios will however not be publicly available. Only QA/A Agencies or authenticated users can search for experts.

European Experts Exchange Portfolio

Guidelines for training of experts

This publication is the second outcome of ECA's E-TRAIN project. It presents guidelines and advice on the way forward in the development of ECA's training of experts that take part in external quality assurance procedures.


The guidelines included in this publication have been brought together through input from E-TRAIN's Focus Group and E-TRAIN's Stakeholder Group. The Focus Group consists of European quality assurance experts while the Stakeholders Group consists of representatives of ECA Members.

This publication is the starting point for the development of a European approach to the training of experts that will take part in external quality assurance procedures

The guidelines have been written by Stephanie Zwiessler (ÖAR).

Guidelines for training of experts

Guide to good practices for the training of experts

This is the first outcome of ECA's E-TRAIN project. It presents current practices and good practices regarding the training of experts that take part in external quality assurance procedures.

This publication presents an overview of current practices in the training of experts that take part in external quality assurance procedures as members of the assessment panel. Included are perceived good practices: those practices that agencies consider exemplary on how they training experts that take part in their external quality assurance procedures.

The practices included in the publication are the results of an extensive survey among quality assurance agencies. The results have been analysed and condensed by E-TRAIN's Stakeholder Group, which consists of representatives of all ECA members.

This publication is one of the starting point for the development of a European approach to the training of experts.

The guide has been written by Kaja Braathen (NVAO) and Stephanie Zwiessler (AQ Austria).

Guide to good practices for the training of experts

See also