EDEV_506 Week 6_3

Your story of grade input resonates strongly with me. Just last week for the first time in my new job, I had to input the grades for the April-August term. It was a nightmare task! As in your case, there was no training, and to add to that, there was no separate notice of the dedicated URL I had to use (a colleague gave me that information), and each student’s score was a radio button click option. I couldn’t even type in the grade score and have the ‘system’ interpret that as an A*, A, B, C, D or Fail. I had to click each button individually. Our system is a disaster. I can’t comment on the change management process as the system was in place when I took up employment in April, but I’d like to consider what would be necessary to change the current monster into a more user-friendly instrument.

Ultimately, the information from any page a teacher clicks is transformed (is transformable) into a csv file containing the class code & name, student code & name, teacher code & name and grade category. I’m presuming that there is a functioning relational database in Academic Affairs that reads the csv file and extracts the data in order to replace it inside other linked tables. In this case, such tables would include any particular student’s record, the teacher’s grading history, the course’s history and so on, including a table that shows how many A*s, As, Bs, etc., any individual teacher gives on average, a nugget of information that is of immense value to students and of potential embarrassment to teachers. Please note that the initial transformation from a single class’s information into data (Longden & Yorke, 2009; Zins, 2007) as a crucial step in making that data useable as information in other forms. For these steps to be taken, a number of interested parties need to be involved, and each needing to indicate what kind of information they require from the data fields in the final submission form. For example, as well as the needs of academic affairs, students need to know their academic record; finance needs to know to charge repeaters; deans may want to know about student performance, pass/fail rates of various courses, or teacher grading trends; and so on. So far, the stakeholders are institution-internal, but the creation and maintenance of a secure, professional, relational database is a profession job which is often outsourced (Smither & London, 2009). Budgets for each internal and external segment need to be considered and balanced against competing needs. One incident struck me in my previous job where an expensive photocopying system was retained because although that individual figure was high, the faxes, printing and other mechanical tools provided by the single supplier taken together turned out cheaper.

If I were to instigate a change to the present cumbersome system, I would need to get the agreement of the majority of stakeholders involved while recognising the “traditionally incoherent normative nature” of management in HEIs (Frølich, Huisman, Slipersæter, Stensaker, & Botas, 2013, p. 82). Such discussions would need to address benefits and weaknesses to each stakeholder group independently, making a balanced scorecard model (Donoghue, 2007) implausible in this environment, because any single group could veto any plan.

Jim

Donoghue, S. (2007). Leadership and strategy. In S. Marshall (Ed.), Strategic leadership of change in higher education: What’s new? (pp. 42–53). Milton Park, UK: Routledge.

Frølich, N., Huisman, J., Slipersæter, S., Stensaker, B., & Botas, P. C. P. (2013). A reinterpretation of institutional transformations in European higher education: Strategising pluralistic organisations in multiplex environments. Higher Education, 65, 79–93. doi:10.1007/s10734-012-9582-8

Longden, B., & Yorke, M. (2009). Institutional research. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 13(3), 66–70.doi:10.1080/13603100903068957

Smither, J. W., & London, M. (2009). Performance management: Putting research into action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from http://www.untag-smd.ac.id/files/Perpustakaan_Digital_2/PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT Performance management  putting research into action.pdf#page=35

Zins, C. (2007). Conceptual approaches for defining data, information and knowledge. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(4), 479–493. doi:10.1002/asi

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About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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