Internal and External Validity in Quality Assurance
Different national and international organizations have minimum standards that define the quality of higher education. In definition, the quality of higher education refers to the degree to which the training provided in a particular higher education institution meets the minimum threshold for the educational needs of students and the society through regular assessments, maintenance, and improvements. Quality assurance in higher education refers to the processes, policies, measures, and actions aimed at ensuring maintenance and development of quality higher education. Higher education quality assurance measures, procedures, and processes follow systemic arrangements for an evaluation of educational facilities and study programs. The evaluation arrangements are according to significant basic and standard features of quality assurance systems at national levels, which include; coordination at national levels by independent institutions and internal evaluation resulting in the making of self-assessment reports. Other features include external self-assessment assessment findings and publication of evaluation outcomes, including recommendations for improvements. Implementation of recommendations and evaluation of the effectiveness of the quality assurance frameworks and suggestions are also significant features of quality assurance frameworks in higher education. Knowledge of essential functions of quality assurance in higher education brings into perspective the elements of internal and external validity in any quality assurance assessment. This article will discuss the importance of internal validity and external validity in higher education quality assurance assessment and how lectures can ensure that the concepts are maintained and reliable. However, it is significant first to understand the meaning of internal validity and external validity in higher education quality assessment.
Defining Key Terms
Assessment: One of the essential words in quality assurance is assessment. In higher education quality assurance, assessment refers to the different approaches and procedures employed by institutions or external regulators of quality to evaluate the educational facilities and study programs (Seyfried, M., & Pohlenz, P. (2018). Quality assurance in higher education deals with internal assessment(self-assessment) and external assessment.
Internal validity: Internal validity refers to the degree to which results of a study are attributed to independent variables rather than general explanations. In EQA internal validity, the independent variables are an institution’s self-assessment reports and recommendations. Internal validation in Higher Education Quality Assurance refers to the processes and procedures involved in validating the Educational Quality Assessment (EQA) methods that an organization uses to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of its internal processes. Internal validity consists of verifying the Educational Quality Assurance Assessment (EQAA) internal structures and procedures and reviewing the entire EQA process, including the method of review that an educational institution uses, the reviewers’ selection process, and the publication of the results. In simple terms, internal validation refers to the analysis of an organization’s self-assessment processes and resulting reports.
External validity: External validity refers to the extent to which the results of internal validity assessment can be generalized. In essence, external validity looks into how the internal validation processes fit into the general context of Educational Quality Assurance. In HEQA, External validity refers to the validation of EQA process outcomes according to the prevailing industry standards. For example, external validity can involve the evaluation of the validity and reliability of EQAA procedures and approaches. In essence, external validity simply refers to the validation of a higher educational institution’s EQA procedure choices and the results of the outcomes (Sigmund, Siegmund & Apel, 2015). One major factor that separates external validity from internal validity is that the former involves external experts or institutions monitoring and marking the institution’s self-assessment processes and approaches. Internal validity, on the other hand, is conducted by an institution’s internal review board.
Importance of internal and external validity in Higher Educational Quality Assurance Assessment (HEQAA)
Internal and external validity are very integral parts of quality assurance assessment in higher education. Internal and external validity help in determining the effectiveness of efficiency of institutional quality assurance assessments in different ways. For example, external validity can help researchers assess the effectiveness of an organization’s internal assessment approaches by comparing the self-reports with other institutions in the industry (Seyfried, M., & Pohlenz, P. 2018). Internal validity can also help in determining the effectiveness of EQAA by providing self-assessment reports and recommendations that are unique to an organization and comparable to the industry during external evaluation. Therefore, internal and external validity are among the most significant determinants of the success of quality assurance assessment in Higher educational institutions. Additionally, Internal and external validity can also help EQA stakeholders to relate educational plans to economic and social planning. This way, the purpose of EQA, to ensure higher education institutions impact both students and the community in the practices. In essence, internal and external validity helps EQA to fit into the social context of educational planning.
Internal validity in higher education quality assessments allows educational institutions to provide educational institutions with the opportunity to improve the quality of their education provisions by coming up with their own policies and practices of assessment. This way, internal validity contributes to the primary purpose of EQA in higher education, which is to produce graduates who are not only ready for the job market but also impactful to the community in their practices and knowledge. External validity also holds the significance of developing supra-institutional policies that serve the purpose of assuring the collective qualities of the EQAAs used in higher educational institutions (Dill, 2010). They provide specific minimum thresholds that higher educational institutions’ EQA internal validity should meet, and that part of a national policy framework designed by the state to assure academic standards. Therefore, both external and internal validity frameworks require constant review to ensure quality assurance frameworks help students fit into the ever-changing professional environment. However, for the various importance of internal and external validity to be active and efficient, lectures have the responsibility of ensuring that internal and external validity is maintained and reliable. The next part of this article discusses how I can assure, as a lecturer, that internal and external validity are secured and safe. However, it is crucial first to consider the fundamental concepts of ensuring the validity of student assessment to maintain quality standards of programs.
critical concepts of ensuring the validity of student assessment in any application to maintain the quality of the program
Ensuring the validity of students’ assessment is very important because it provides essential measures on individual student assessment programs that inform the progress and progress of students, and help in planning for improvement of teaching and sharing of information of quality assurance with relevant stakeholders. Therefore, ensuring student assessment validity impacts the maintenance and reliability of internal and external validity approaches by informing the areas that need structural and strategic changes. A validated student assessment framework would ensure that the correct information on the areas that need maintenance and improvement towards reliability in an institution’s internal and external validity quality assurance approaches. Therefore, it is also significant for this essay to discuss the fundamental concepts of ensuring the validity of student assessments in all programs that an institution offers.
Among the fundamental concepts of ensuring the validity of student assessment approaches is the idea of methods for student assessments. Approaches to student assessment are critical factors in the process of ensuring the validity of student assessment approaches that looks into the various processes involved in student assessment. Understanding approaches to student assessment contributes to ensuring the validity of students’ evaluation by exposing techniques used to access student progress and learning. Some of the approaches student assessment that researchers use to determine the validity of student assessment is the analytical approach, which involves the collection of evidence of student learning and planning the data in systematic ways that can help arrive at analytic conclusions about the learning process in an institution. Another concept that is key to ensuring the validity of student assessment is understanding whether the analytical approaches to student assessments are either summative, formative, or diagnostic.
Summative assessments are the type of assessments that provide a summary of the learning that has taken place in an institution and recording, marking, and certifying achievements. Formative assessment, on the other hand, is assessments aimed at identifying aspects of learning developments and providing more profound and more subsequent learning recommendations. Diagnostic assessments are assessments conducted at the beginning of learning processes to determine starting points or baselines that help develop more impactful and suitable learning programs (OECD. Publishing, 2013). The other key concepts of ensuring student assessment validity are the concepts of internal and external analysis, which are the main themes of this essay. Therefore, the next part of this essay discusses how I would ensure the maintenance and reliability of internal and external validity frameworks in higher education as a lecturer.
How would I Ensure Internal and External Validity in Higher Education Quality Assurance Are Maintained and Reliable as a Lecturer?
As a lecturer, one of the most effective ways that I can deal with the issue of ensuring internal and external validity in HEQAAs is by balancing internal and external quality assurance dynamics in the higher education environment. My experience in the higher education industry has taught me that there is a delicacy in the process of balancing internal and external validity in most higher education institutions. However, the idea of an integrated approach to quality assurance provides one of the best models for balancing the two factors by balancing accountability in internal validity and improving the orientation of quality in higher education. As a lecturer, I would use the integrated approach to quality assurance, to ensure internal and external validity in higher education quality assurance by;
• Approaching understanding the relationship between internal and external validity, modestly, and deservingly. In essence, the delicate relationship between internal and external validity makes the process of balancing internal and external validity in higher education a source of conflict (Paintsil, 2016). Creating harmony between the two ideas in the best way to approach ensuring maintenance and reliability of any quality assessment model. As a lecturer, I would, therefore, align and harmonize the relationship between internal validity and external validity by approaching the topic modestly, to ensure that I maintain and improve the standards of efficacy and ensure reliability in the results of the assessments.
• Joining the research to develop a holistic implementation approach to quality assurance that combines the two concepts of validity, but still uses the Johan P. Olsen’s four governance model for quality assurance implementation. In essence, the secret to ensuring maintenance and reliability of internal and external validity is by aligning the two models to the governance structures that guide them and creating an environment of harmony and integration between the two concepts.
• Ensuring internal and external validity frameworks are appropriately aligned according to the governance structures before integrating the two ideas to a common platform that promotes responsibility, accountability, and, above all, independence. This approach to maintaining and ensuring the reliability of the internal and external validity in higher education owes to the fact that higher learning institution has a responsibility to be accountable to the society for their internal validity strategies.
• Balancing internal and external validity is a compelling approach to maintain and ensure the reliability of two models of quality assurance. This is because it touches the weakest aspect of the process of ensuring assessment validity, which is the different and contradicting environment between the two concepts. However, it consists of addressing how to maintain and ensure the reliability of the two models of quality assessment from a harmonizing and perspective.
I am also mandated, as a lecturer, to ensure that the organization or higher education institution that I work for or with has an elaborate internal validity framework. I can, therefore, take up the role of following up on the maintenance and reliability of internal assessment strategies and the provision of important reconditions that adhere to external validity standards. I would, therefore, ensure that my institution is up-to-date with technology and trends in internal and external validity maintenance and reliability. It is also my duty as a lecturer to safeguard the student assessment approaches that my organization uses to adhere to industry standards as a way of maintaining reliable quality assurance standards (Dill, 2010). Students’ assessments are significant sources of information on areas in quality assurance frameworks that need maintenance. Therefore, I would be keen on the individual assessment approaches that my institution employs in their internal assessments to identify loopholes for improvement and to ensure the maintenance of existing policies and frameworks.
Another way that I would approach the concept of ensuring maintenance and reliability of internal and external validity is through quality assuring the teaching and learning process. Most quality assurance approaches only focus on providing a variety of student assessment approaches and external validity frameworks. However, I would instead encourage my institution to concentrate on quality, assuring teaching, and learning processes in our higher learning institution. This would ensure that our assessment, analysis, and recommendation parts of the rest of the internal validity are swift and effective. I would also quality assuring the teaching and learning process adhere to the standards set by various stakeholders in the external validity model (Netshifhefhe, Nobongoza & Maphosa, 2016). By enabling or monitoring quality assurance in our teaching and learning processes, I will be simulating internal and external validity as the primary purpose of quality assurance, which is producing graduates that are useful and relevant in the job market. It is also my duty as a lecturer to ensure that constant reviews and changes to the teaching and learning approaches are affected promptly and to monitor their impact for further reconditions and updates. I would treat the process of quality, assuring the teaching and learning process like a living plant that needs water and sunlight to stay alive. The approach would help in ensuring that our institution is updated on quality assurance of teaching and learning so that we maintain the standards and reliability of internal and external validity models of quality assurance. I would also ensure that I explore the dimensions that one could take in quality assuring the teaching and learning process since the teaching and learning process plays a significant role in determining the results of quality assessment of students and ensuring quality standards maintenance.
Another significant area of internal and external validity that seem to escape the attention of most lecturers is the issue of teacher evaluation. It is important to assess the competency and quality of staff. As a lecturer, I would put in place existing framework from existing evidence-based research to ensure internal assessment of myself and my fellow teachers is continuous and provide results that prompt positive recommendations. I would also ensure that our internal frameworks for our teacher evaluation and assessment match the industry standards for teacher quality assurance. I would also ensure frequent review of the latest trends and updated information on external policies on teacher evaluation to ensure that mu organization is up to date. Another important factor to consider is creating harmony between internal and external approaches to teacher evaluation so that our internal standards for staff quality and competency are in line with external policies and the external stakeholders.
Most of the approaches to maintaining and ensuring the reliability of internal and external validity models that we have discussed above are internal validity structures. They deal with issues of quality assurance internally as an organization attempts to match industry quality standards or external validity standards. However, most lecturers and institutions make the indeliberate mistake of focusing on external validity more than they consider approaches that facilitate internal validity. As a lecturer, I would encourage my organization to promote fluidity in internal validity and quality assurance at internal organizational levels. Internal quality assurance should focus on teaching, learning, assessment, and provision of assessment reports and recommendations. My experience in the higher education industry has taught me that focusing on internal quality assurance and balancing with the requirements of the stakeholders in the external validity frameworks can help in maintaining and ensuring the reliability of both internal and external validity frameworks. I would, therefore, encourage my organization to promote higher education quality standards and produce employable graduates. However, several factors can hinder the ability of lecturers to ensure the maintenance and reliability of internal and external validity models. The article also looks into some of the factors that can make it difficult for a lecturer to ensure that internal and external validity approaches are maintained and made reliable in higher education quality assurance.
Challenges Lecturers Face In Maintaining and Ensuring the Reliability of and External Assessment Approaches
One of the factors that make it difficult for lecturers to effectively manage and maintain quality assurance standards and ensure the reliability of internal and external validity models is the issue of student’s perception of the quality assurance approaches. It is difficult for quality assurance models such as internal validity and eternal validity to be reliable if students have a negative opinion of the approaches to quality assurance. In the recent past, the digitalization of education has made the reliability of an institution’s ability to maintain internal and external validity questionable among students. Most students do not believe that their educational institutions are effective and efficacious, managing their internal and external validity (Akareem & Hossain, 2016). The student’s perception of the ability of lecturers and institutional to maintain and enable reliability of internal and external validity in higher education quality assessment is one of the more significant challenges that lecturers face in ensuring the reliability and maintenance.
Another challenge that lecturers face in ensuring internal and external validity effectiveness and maintenance is the diverse nature of the field of quality assurance. The different view of the quality assurance approaches used in the internal and external assessment of quality standards makes it difficult for lectures to determine the appropriate strategies to maintaining and ensuring the reliability of the quality standards for specific institutions. Lecturers are also unable to choose reliable and qualifiable approaches to internal and external assessment when they cannot identify or determine the right procedures for maintaining and ensuring the reliability of internal and external validity. The quality of teaching and learning processes and approaches that an institution uses also makes it difficult for lecturers to assure the protection of internal and external validity frameworks. When the teaching and learning process is of poor quality, lecturers find it difficult to balance the internal and external validity approaches because of their diverse nature.
Recommendations and Conclusions
The analysis of the concepts of internal and external validity in higher education quality assurance has exposed several weaknesses in quality assurance approaches. Additionally, this article has found one of the best strategies to ensuring that quality assessment standards are reliable and maintained is by harmonizing and integrating the two concepts of internal and external validity. This article recommends that the integrated quality assessment approach is one of the best recommendations when trying to achieve the quality assurance purpose of producing marketable and qualified graduates. This article has also found that there are significant challenges in lecturers’ ability to impact quality assurance models such as internal and external validity, mainly being the student’s perception of the effectiveness of the models, which is often negative.