Creating a Quality Culture in Surveying Education
by Stig Enemark
Key words: Quality Assurance, University Education,
A FIG publication on Quality Assurance in Surveying
Education was launched September 1999. The publication seeks to expose
some of the quality issues related to surveying education and to
propose a model of quality assurance which can help institutions in
member countries to enhance their educational programmes for the
The purpose of this new FIG publication is to
provide some guidelines on quality related matters to all those
members who are active in either pursuing or influencing the
development of surveying in higher education establishments across the
world. Furthermore, the publication seeks to provide pointers of good
practice used in the delivery and teaching of surveying courses, which
can be applied to enhance the overall teaching and learning
environment. Specifically, a quality model and a checklist of good
practice are offered for adoption and use. In this regard, guidelines
are also given through examples of good practice from educational
institutions throughout the world.
Drawing from the quality concept presented in the
publication, the paper presents the experiences and results of
implementing a quality management approach in surveying education at
Aalborg University. The focus will be on the efforts to enhance the
total teaching and learning environment within the Faculty of
Engineering and Science.
Having 25 years of experience in problem-oriented
project-organised studies Aalborg University is confident that the
educational system is promoting a high quality learning environment
for the students. The concept of quality management is designed to
support this basic educational concept. Quality should be understood
as a multidimensional concept that relates to the contextual setting
of the educational model, the institutional mission, as well as the
standards within a given discipline.
Aalborg University is based on a problem-oriented
and project-organised educational concept. The concept is focused on
"learning by doing" or "action learning". Each
semester has a basic structure of, in principle, equal distribution
between lecture courses and project work. The project work is carried
out in small groups of four to six students having a teacher connected
as supervisor. Basically, the quality of the programmes is assessed
through the system of external examiners, while the internal means of
continual quality assurance in a sense lies within the educational
The focus is on "learning to learn". The
point is, that professional and technical skills can be acquired and
updated at a later stage in ones career while skills for
problem-solving and skills for learning to learn can only be achieved
through the process of academic training at the universities. The
concept of project-organised education provides just that opportunity.
The problem-based project work of the students
reflects the relevant current and actual problems in the real world.
The content of the study programme is therefore continually adjusted
to reflect the professional, technological and societal development.
To manage this process of constant renewal a system of quality
management is established. The system aims to manage the process of
internal monitoring and evaluation, and it serves as a basis for
continual improvement of the quality of lecture courses, the single
term as well as the total curriculum. The system this way acts as a
circle of continual quality improvement of the curriculum. It is
argued that establishment and management of such a system is basically
about creating a quality culture.
Quality assurance refers to the means by which an
institution satisfies itself that the standards and the quality of its
educational provision can be maintained and enhanced. The paper
identifies four means of quality assurance:
- The quality management system is aiming to assess and
improve the content of the lecture courses, the project work as well
as the total study environment. This concept relates to the project-organised
educational model and it is seen as the basis engine for constant
renewal and improvement.
- The quality enhancement system is aiming to develop the
professional and pedagogical level of the faculty staff. This system
relates to the lecturer/student interface of the project-organised
learning environment. The system also relates to the interaction
between education and research representing the necessary dynamic
element of innovative education.
- The quality control system is aiming to control the
examination procedures as well as to assess the overall professional
level and academic standard of the curriculum. The system ensures
that the profile and quality of the programmes and the standard of
the graduates are in line with the academic demands of higher
education as well as expectations and needs of the trade and
- The quality assessment system where the quality of the
university programmes is assessed and developed through the process
of external validation from the National Evaluation Centre. The
validation report is seen as a means of quality enhancement.
The paper concludes by presenting the lessons
learnt within all four means of quality assurance.
Prof. Stig Enemark
Head of School of Surveying and Planning
Aalborg University, Fibigerstrede 11