Metaevaluation in Australian University Language Programs
AuthorMartinez Marco, Lucia Alicia
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Lucia Alicia Martinez Marco
Calls to conduct research on evaluation have been made to learn about its practical realities, in order to ensure a quality process and to improve future evaluation experiences. A key methodology addressing this need is metaevaluation, the evaluation of an evaluation. Studying seven Australian university case studies of reviews of language programs, metaevaluation is used as both the conceptual framework as well as a methodological tool to explore and assess the evaluation practices and to discover practice patterns, using the findings to make recommendations about how such evaluations should be conducted. The research in this thesis demonstrates that New Public Management (NPM) which operates as a common organizational and policy framework in Australian Higher Education and has been defined as a national and local control system which “models higher education simply in economic terms” (Marginson 2010, p. 6) is the most influential evaluation factor in reviews. In this policy context, a gap is found between the tenets of evaluation theory and the character of Australian Language Program Evaluations (aligned with NPM ideology). As a consequence, most initiators or sponsors of evaluations are not focused so much on the quality of the process but on using reviews as a top-down instrument to implement a cost-efficiency agenda. As the analysis of data progressed, it became clear that the majority of cases reveal a process of reviewing empty of any theoretical foundations based in the evaluation discipline, thus putting in jeopardy the quality of the evaluation process, which resembled more a sponsors’ top-down exercise of checking or imposing compliance with University priorities. In light of these broad findings, this thesis claims that metaevaluation has a key role in raising the quality of the practice of reviewing by ensuring reviews are informed by evaluation theory and practice, thus following principles of good practice, and that it can also help mitigate a purely cost-driven process.
Keywordsuniversity foreign language programs; program evaluation; metaevaluation; language program reviews; university language teaching; Australian language program evaluation; foreign language learning; neoliberal education policy; New Public Management; higher education policy; higher education management
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