In Australia, there has been a tendency to rely on quantitative indicators of university teaching quality. This has occurred partly because the indicators are perceived as objective and reliable and partly because they are relatively simple to gather and collate. A national project currently underway is based on the assumptions that teaching quality is multidimensional and that the identification and use of relevant indicators of teaching quality are dependent on the institutional environment. With a focus on student engagement, this paper outlines the research-based approach to developing indicators of teaching quality being taken by one Australian university participating in the national project.
The Australian Government's response to the 2008 Bradley Review of higher education has set clear targets for increased university participation of people from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. Using a ‘success-focused’ methodological approach, this research documents the factors that a sample of 53 later-year, low socioeconomic status background students at one Australian university report have assisted them to manage and overcome the challenges of remaining at, progressing through and succeeding at university. Thematic analyses of the data identified the most helpful factors as including the students' own study behaviour around, and attitude toward, study; teacher characteristics; institutional support of particular kinds; and student-to-student connections. Directions for institutional policy and practice are outlined.