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Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Southern Africa

Challenges and Opportunities

Ephraim Mhlanga

This book attempts to explore the nature of quality assurance policies and practices in three universities in the Southern African region. It looks at how they were developed, the parties that were involved in the policy process, the implications of such processes for policy implementation, and institutional and contextual factors mediating quality assurance practices on the ground. The major aim of the book is to explore both enabling and constraining factors affecting quality enhancement in higher education in this region.
The book is based on a set of case studies undertaken at the three universities. Although they share a relatively common geographical location, the universities have different contextual environments and are at different stages of quality assurance development.

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Chapter 3 Exploring the Quality Dimensions of Developing Institutions

Extract

Introduction This chapter gives the epistemological basis on which the entire study was premised. It explains the strategy that was employed in this study and argues that the design of the study, methods of data collection and data analysis techniques used were the most appropriate for addressing the question posed in Chapter One above. The chapter explains the research design employed in the study and why it was considered appropriate, the ration- ale for selecting the cases used in the study, the data collection methods, measures that were taken in order to increase both the validity and reli- ability of the results, and how the data were analysed. It tries to show the authenticity of the data by describing in detail all the steps the researcher followed in the execution of the field study and the steps that were taken to increase validity and reliability of the results. Besides dealing with the methodological aspects of the study, one of the main messages the chap- ter portrays is that there is no “blueprint” methodology that applies to all studies of a similar nature; indeed each study has its own unique experi- ences and its own theory. The learning experiences derived from a study are therefore unique, especially in terms of the ef fectiveness of particular approaches, methodologies and instruments used. 72 Chapter 3 The epistemological orientation of the study The approach to this study was premised on my perceptions of the virtues of reality and truth and how they can be...

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