Towards Rethinking Research on Quality in Higher Education

Massey University, New Zealand

Massey University, New Zealand


Knight and Trowler (2000) identify two meanings of quality in higher education. They associate Type 1 quality with audit accountability, measurement, linearity and retrospection. Type 2 quality is associated with collegial accountability, improvement, holism and transformation. Type 1 quality is dominant in 21st century education. While not arguing that this meaning of quality be replaced in higher education, we suggest that Type 2 quality is worth exploring further. Two questions guide the exploration. The first is "can quality in modern educational research usefully be seen in a holistic, prospective and developmental way"? The second is "how might this be done"? The paper addresses the questions in three parts. The first highlights multiple meanings of quality. The second shows that quality is a complex construct that requires rethinking to include transformational perspectives. Third the paper offers an example of Type 2 quality educational research from the sciences.

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