Category Archives: Education Leadership

The pros and cons of remote learning

This is an excerpt from one of my latest articles that was accepted for publication by the 6th International Conference on E-Education, E-Business & E-Technology (ICEBT2022).

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2022). A cost-benefit analysis on remote learning: A systematic review and implications for the future. 6th International Conference on e-Education, e-Business and e-Technology (Beijing, China: 26th June 2022). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4104629

(image source: CrushPixel)

After the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions were expected to adapt to an unexpected crisis situation. In many cases, they had to follow their policy makers’ preventative measures to mitigate the contagion of the pandemic [1, 2]. As a result, they introduced contingency plans, and disseminated information on the virus, among students and employees. In many cases, educators were coerced to shift from the provision of traditional, face-to-face teaching and blended learning approaches, to a fully virtual remote course delivery [3, 4]. This transition resulted in a number of challenges to students and instructors [5]. Educators were pressurized to utilize digital technologies including learning management systems (LMS) as well as video conferencing programs [6]. Very often, they relied on their institutions’ Moodle or virtual learning environment (VLE) software to share digital resources including videos, power point presentations and links to online notes [7]. During the pandemic educators also acquainted themselves with video-conferencing platforms [8].

Subsequently, when COVID-19 restrictions were eased, a number of educational institutions reopened their doors to students and employees [9]. They introduced social distancing policies and hygienic procedures in their premises [4, 10]. At the time of writing, a number of academic members of staff, in various contexts, are still utilizing learning technologies including LMS and video conferencing programs [6]. Currently, student-centered educators are adopting hybrid/blended learning approaches, as they deliver face-to-face lectures in addition to online learning methodologies. Very often, they do so to support students who are not in a position to attend their lectures on campus.

A synthesis of the literature on the costs and benefits of remote learning

The costs

Many researchers noted that Covid-19 disrupted the provision of education. In the main, they reported that there were various challenges for the successful implementation of remote learning [17, 23-25]. For example, one of the contributions implied that the prolonged use of virtual platforms might negatively impact the efficacy of synchronous learning [27].

Various studies indicated that the research participants were not always pleased with the quality of education that was provided by their educators, during the pandemic [28]. Academic commentators indicated that faculty members were not experts in the delivery of remote/online instruction. They implied that instructors could require periodic developmental training to improve the service quality of their courses [4, 10].

While a few researchers noted that students appreciated the availability of recorded lectures [29], others reported that educators were not always recording their lectures and/or did not share learning resources with them [21]. This issue could have affected the students’ learning outcomes [30, 31]. In fact, some students were worried about their academic progress during COVID-19 [32]. In many cases, they encountered a number of difficulties during remote course delivery. For instance, online group work involved additional planning as well as institutional support [33]. Previous literature suggests that students necessitate counseling, tutoring and mentoring as well as ongoing assurances to succeed [34, 35].

In many cases, the researchers discovered that course participants required adequate training and support to complete their assessments [23, 24, 36]. A few of them also hinted that was a digital divide among students could have been evidenced among those who experienced connectivity and equipment problems, among other issues [5, 37]. Other authors argued about the individuals’ challenges to focus on their screens for long periods of time [6]. Notwithstanding, educators and students may develop bad postures and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen. Therefore, students ought to be given regular breaks from the screen to refresh their minds and their bodies.

The benefits

Generally, a number of contributions shed light on the benefits of using remote learning technologies, including learning management systems [1, 21, 29, 32] and interactive conferencing programs (1, 6, 17, 33]. Such educational technologies can help in creating rich social interactions [38-40] as well as positive learning environments – that foster learning and retention [41, 42]. Previous research indicated that digital learning resources can enhance the students’ knowledge and skills [43]. Remote instruction approaches can also provide supportive environments to students [39] and could even increase their chances of learning [30, 31]. Virtual lectures may be recorded or archived for future reference [29]. Hence, students or educators could access their learning materials at their convenience [44-46].

Several researchers underlined the importance of maintaining ongoing, two-way communications with students, and of providing them with appropriate facilitating conditions, to continue improving their learning journeys [6, 47-48]. Video conferencing technologies allow educators to follow up on their students’ progress. They facilitate online interactions, in real time, and enable them to obtain immediate feedback from their students [1, 49]. Notwithstanding, there are fewer chances of students’ absenteeism and on missing out on their lessons, as they can join online meetings from home or from other locations of their choice.

Conclusions

This review implies that online technologies have opened a window of opportunity for educators. Indeed, learning management systems as well as conferencing programs are useful tools for educators to continue delivering education in a post covid-19 context. However, it is imperative that educational institutions invest in online learning infrastructures, resources and facilitating conditions, for the benefit of their students and faculty employees. They should determine whether their instructors are (or are not) delivering high levels of service quality through the utilization of remote learning technologies to continue delivering student-centered education.

This paper can be downloaded from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360474225_A_cost-benefit_analysis_on_the_use_of_remote_learning_technologies_A_systematic_review_and_a_synthesis_of_the_literature

References (these are all the references that were featured in the full paper)

  1. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2021. The acceptance of learning management systems and video conferencing technologies: Lessons learned from COVID-19. Tech, Know and Learning, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10758-021-09561-y
  2. OECD 2020. OECD Policy Response to CoronaVirus: Education responses to COVID-19: Embracing digital learning and online collaboration”, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, France.  http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/education-responses-to-covid-19-embracing-digital-learning-and-online-collaboration-d75eb0e8/
  3. Sir John Daniel. 2020. Education and the COVID-19 pandemic. Prospects, 49(1), 91-96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09464-3
  4. Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Evaluating service quality and performance of higher education institutions: A systematic review and a post COVID-19 outlook. Int J. of Qual & Serv Sciences 13, 2, 268-281. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQSS-03-2020-0034
  5. Tewathia, Nidhi, Anant Kamath, and P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan. 2020. Social inequalities, fundamental inequities, and recurring of the digital divide: Insights from India. Tech in Soc, 61, 101251.
  6. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Camilleri. 2022. Remote learning via video conferencing technologies: Implications for research and practice. Tech in Society, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.101881
  7. Fathema, Nafsaniath, David Shannon, and Margaret Ross. 2015. Expanding the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to examine faculty use of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in higher education institutions. J of Online Learning & Teach, 11(2), 210-232.
  8. Worldbank 2020 The COVID-19 Crisis Response: Supporting tertiary education for continuity, adaptation, and innovation. Worldbank Group Education, Washington, USA. http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/621991586463915490/WB-Tertiary-Ed-and-Covid-19-Crisis-for-public-use-April-9.pdf
  9. Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Shifting from traditional and blended learning approaches to a fully virtual and remote course delivery: Implications from COVID-19. Acad Letters, Article, 481.
  10. Ronald W. Welch, Robert J. Rabb, and Alyson Grace Eggleston. 2021. Using the SWIVL for Effective HyFlex Instruction: Best Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
  11. Rabab Ali Abumalloh, Shahla Asadi, Mehrbakhsh Nilashi, Behrouz Minaei-Bidgoli, Fatima Khan Nayer, Sarminah Samad, Saidatulakmal Mohd, and Othman Ibrahim. 2021. The impact of coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on education: The role of virtual and remote laboratories in education. Tech in Soc, 67, 101728.
  12. Stephen J. Aguilar, 2020. Guidelines and tools for promoting digital equity. Inf and Lear Sci, 121(5/6), 285-299.
  13. Amy B. Smoyer, Kyle O’Brien, and Elizabeth Rodriguez-Keyes. 2020. Lessons learned from COVID-19: Being known in online social work classrooms. Int Social Work, 63(5), 651-654.
  14. Anthony F. Tasso, Nesrin Hisli Sahin, and Gabrielle J. San Roman.2021. COVID-19 disruption on college students: Academic and socioemotional implications. Psych Trauma: Theory, Res, Practice, and Pol, 13(1), 9-15.
  15. Jingrong Xie, and Mary F. Rice. 2021. Instructional designers’ roles in emergency remote teaching during COVID-19. Dist Ed, 42(1), 70-87.
  16. Lata Kanyal Butola, 2021. E-learning-a new trend of learning in 21st century during COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J of Foren Med and Toxicology, 15(1), 422-426.
  17. William Hurst, Adam Withington, and Hoshang Kolivand. 2022. Virtual conference design: features and obstacles. Multimedia Tools and Applic. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11042-022-12402-4
  18. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2019. The students’ readiness to engage with mobile learning apps. Interactive Tech and Smart Educ 17,1, 28-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-06-2019-0027
  19. Andrzej Szymkowiak, Boban Melović, Marina Dabić, Kishokanth Jeganathan, and Gagandeep Singh Kundi. 2021. Information technology and Gen Z: The role of teachers, the internet, and technology in the education of young people. Tech in Soc, 65, 101565.
  20. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education. Tech, Know and Learning 22,1, 65-82. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10758-016-9287-7
  21. Patricia R. Backer, Maria Chierichetti, Laura E. Sullivan-Green, and Liat Rosenfeld. 2021. Learning from the Student Experience: Impact of Shelter-in-Place on the Learning Experiences of Engineering Students at SJSU. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.
  22. Timothy Boye, and Tania Machet. 2021. Emerging from COVID-19 to future practice. Proceedings – SEFI 49th Annual Conference: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening – and Lasting, 697-704.
  23. Andrea N. Giordano, and Casey R. Christopher. 2020. Repurposing best teaching practices for remote learning environments: Chemistry in the news and oral examinations during covid-19. J of Chemical Educ, 97(9), 2815-2818.
  24. Mohamed Shaik Honnurvali, Ayman A. El-Saleh, Abdul Manan Sheikh, Keng Goh, Naren Gupta, and Tariq Umar. 2022. Sustainable Engineering higher education in Oman-lessons learned from the pandemic (COVID-19), improvements, and suggestions in the teaching, learning and administrative framework. J of Eng Education Trans, 35(3), 52-69.
  25. Rizwana Wahid, Oveesa Farooq, and Ahtisham Aziz. 2021. The New Normal: Online Classes and Assessments during the COVID-19 Outbreak. J of E-Learning and Know Society, 17(2), 85-96.
  26. Brenda Van Wyk, Gillian Mooney, Martin Duma, and Samuel Faloye, 2020. Emergency remote learning in the times of covid: A higher education innovation strategy. Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL2020, 499-507.
  27. Andrew Darr, Jenna Regan, and Yerko Berrocal. 2021. Effect of Video Conferencing on Student Academic Performance: Evidence from Preclinical Summative Assessment Scores. Medical Science Educator, 31(6), 1747-1750.
  28. Ji-Hee Jung, and Jae-Ik Shin 2021. Assessment of university students on online remote learning during COVID-19 pandemic in Korea: An empirical study, Sustainability (Switzerland), 13(19), 10821.       
  29. John Michael Cotter, and Rasim Guldiken. 2021. Remote Versus In-Class Active Learning Exercises for an Undergraduate Course in Fluid Mechanics, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings                 
  30. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education. Tech, Knowledge and Learning, 22(1), 65-82.
  31. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. The students’ perceptions of digital game-based learning. In European Conference on Games Based Learning (pp. 56-62). Academic Conferences International Limited.
  32. Marilyn Barger, and Lakshmi Jayaram. 2021. Students Talk: The Experience of Advanced Technology Students at Two-Year Colleges during COVID-19, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.  
  33. Kennedy Saldanha, Jennifer Currin-McCulloch, Barbara Muskat, Shirley R. Simon, Ann M. Bergart, Ellen Sue Mesbur, Donna Guy, Namoonga B. Chilwalo, Mamadou M. Seck, Greg Tully, Kristina Lind, Cheryl D. Lee, Neil Hall,and Diana Kelly, 2021. Turning boxes into supportive circles: Enhancing online group work teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Work with Groups, 44(4), 310-327.
  34. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. The technology acceptance of mobile applications in education. In 13th International Conference on Mobile Learning (Budapest, April 10th). Proceedings, pp., International Association for Development of the Information Society.
  35. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. Mobile learning via educational apps: an interpretative study. In Proceedings of the 2019 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (pp. 88-92).
  36. Galina Ilieva, and Tania Yankova. 2020. IoT in Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic.TEM Journal, 9(4), 1669-1674.
  37. Emily S. Kinsky, Patrick F. Merle, and Karen Freberg. 2021. Zooming through a Pandemic: An Examination of Marketable Skills Gained by University Students during the COVID-19 Crisis. Howard J of Comm, 32(5), 507-529
  38. Anne E. Drake, Jonathan Hy, Gordon A. MacDougall, Brendan Holmes, Lauren Icken, Jon W. Schrock, and Robert A. Jones.. 2021. Innovations with tele-ultrasound in education sonography: the use of tele-ultrasound to train novice scanners. Ultrasound J, 13(1), Article 6, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13089-021-00210-0
  39. Ming Lei, Ian M. Clemente, Haixia Liu, and John Bell. 2022. The Acceptance of Telepresence Robots in Higher Education. Int J of Social Robotics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-021-00837-y                                                           
  40. Yuan Li, David Hicks, Wallace S. Lages, Sang Won Lee, Akshay Sharma, and Doug A. Bowman   2021. ARCritique: Supporting remote design critique of physical artifacts through collaborative augmented reality. Proceedings – 2021 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops, VRW 2021, 9419257, 585-586
  41. Vivekananth Subbiramaniyan, Chandrashekhar Apte, and Ciraj Ali Mohammed. 2021. A meme-based approach for enhancing student engagement and learning in renal physiology, Adv in Physio Educ, 46(1), 27-29.                 
  42. Joshua Zavitz, Aarti Sarwal, Jacob Schoeneck, Casey Glass, Brandon Hays, E. Shen, Casey Bryant, and Karisma Gupta. 2021. Virtual multispecialty point-of-care ultrasound rotation for fourth-year medical students during COVID-19: Innovative teaching techniques improve ultrasound knowledge and image interpretation. AEM Education and Training, 5(4), e10632.                         
  43. Vikash Gayah, Sarah E. Zappe, and Stephanie Cutler. 2021.Impact of Remote Instructional Format on Student Perception of a Supportive Learning Environment for Expertise Development. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.
  44. Butler, A., Camilleri, M. A., Creed, A., & Zutshi, A. 2021. The use of mobile learning technologies for corporate training and development: A contextual framework. In Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Emerald Publishing Limited.
  45. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. The Students Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea. International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC). ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3337682.3337689
  46. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2019. The Acceptance and Use of Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education. In Pfennig, A. & Chen, K.C. (Eds.) 3rd International Conference on Education and eLearning (ICEEL2019), Barcelona, Spain. ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3371647.3372205
  47. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. Mobile Learning via Educational Apps: An Interpretative Study. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea. International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC). ACM Digital Library. https://doi.org/10.1145/3337682.3337687
  48. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2020. The students’ acceptance and use of their university’s virtual learning environment. In Chen, K.C., Ma, Y., & Kawamura, M., The 11th International Conference on E-Education, E-Business, E-Management, and E-Learning (IC4E 2020). Ritsumeikan University, Osaka, Japan. ACM Digital Library. https://www.mendeley.com/catalogue/037e2920-3bc5-3f9f-8b92-210a2e924156/
  49. Paul Capriotti, Iliana Zeler, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of the key dimensions for dialogic communication. In M.A. Camilleri (Ed.) Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211003
  50. Valeria Aloizou, Tania Chasiotou, Symeon Retalis, Theodoros Daviotis, and Panagiotis Koulouvaris. 2021. Remote learning for children with Special Education Needs in the era of COVID-19: Beyond tele-conferencing sessions. Educ Media Int, 58 (2), 181-201.
  51. Yelena Chaiko, Nadezhda Kunicina, Antons Patlins, and Anastasia Zhiravetska. 2020. Advanced practices: Web technologies in the educational process and science. 2020 IEEE 61st Annual International Scientific Conference on Power and Electrical Engineering of Riga Technical University, RTUCON 2020 – Proceedings, 9316567.
  52. Courtney J. Chatha, and Stacey Lowery Bretz. 2020. Adapting Interactive Interview Tasks to Remote Data Collection: Human Subjects Research That Requires Annotations and Manipulations of Chemical Structures during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Chemical Educ, 97(11), 4196-4201.
  53. Phil Legg, Thomas Higgs, Pennie Spruhan, Jonathan White, and Ian Johnson. 2021. ‘Hacking an IoT Home’: New opportunities for cyber security education combining remote learning with cyber-physical systems. 2021 International Conference on Cyber Situational Awareness, Data Analytics and Assessment, CyberSA 2021, 9478251.
  54. Jenifer M. Ross, Lauri Wright, and Andrea Y. Arikawa, 2021. Adapting a classroom simulation experience to an online escape room in nutrition education. Online Learning J, 25(1), 238-244.
  55. Jintawat Sangpratoom, Atima Tharatipyakul, Natnaree Ua-Arak, Kejkaew Thanasuan, and Suporn Pongnumkul. 2021.Comparing Remote Learning between Live Lectures and Self-paced Interactive Tutorials for Learning an Introduction to Blockchain Proceedings – 2021 International Conference on Information Systems and Advanced Technologies, ICISAT 2021
  56. Sharon Wallace, Monika S. Schuler, Michelle Kaulback, Karen Hunt, and Manisa Baker. 2021. Nursing student experiences of remote learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic. In Nursing Forum, 56(3), 612-618.

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Learning Resources, digital media, Education, Education Leadership, education technology, Higher Education, internet technologies, internet technologies and society, online

The Performance Management in Higher Education

This is an excerpt from my latest academic article, entitled; “Using the balanced scorecard as a performance management tool in higher education” that will be published in Sage’s “Management in Education” (Journal).


The higher education institutions (HEIs) are competing in a global marketplace, particularly those which are operating in the contexts of neoliberal policymaking (Fadeeva and Mochizuki, 2010; Deem et al., 2008; Olssen and Peters, 2005; Bleiklie, 2001). Several universities are characterized by their de-centralized leadership as they operate with budget constraints (Smeenk, Teelken, Eisinga and Doorewaard, 2008; Bleiklie, 2001). Notwithstanding, their stakeholders expect their increased accountability and quality assurance, in terms of their efficiency, economy and effectiveness (Witte and López-Torres, 2017; Smeek et al., 2008). Hence, HEIs set norms, standards, benchmarks, and quality controls to measure their performance; as they are increasingly market-led and customer-driven (Jauhiainen, Jauhiainen, Laiho and Lehto, 2015; Billing, 2004; Etzkowitz, et al., 2000). Specifically, the universities’ performance is having a positive effect on the economic development of societies; through the provision of inclusive, democratized access to quality education and high impact research (Arnesen & Lundahl, 2006). Moreover, the educational institutions are also expected to forge strong relationships with marketplace stakeholders, including business and industry (Waring, 2013).

As a result, many universities have adapted, or are trying to adapt to the changing environment as they re-structure their organization and put more emphasis on improving their organizational performance. These developments have inevitably led to the emergence of bureaucratic procedures and processes (Jauhiainen et al., 2015).  HEIs have even started using the corporate language as they formulate plans, set objectives, and use performance management criteria to control their resources (Smeenk et al., 2008; Ball, 2003). For instance, the Finnish universities have introduced new steering mechanisms, including the performance systems in budgeting, organizational reforms, management methods and salary systems (Camilleri, 2018; Jauhiainen et al., 2015). Previously, Welch (2007) noted that HEIs were adopting new modes of governance, organizational forms, management styles, and values that were prevalent in the private business sector. The logic behind these new managerial reforms was to improve the HEIs’ value for money principles (Waring, 2013; Deem, 1998). Therefore, the financing of HEIs is a crucial element in an imperfectly competitive, quasi-market model (Marginson, 2013; Olssen and Peters, 2005; Enders, 2004; Dill, 1997).

Academic commentators frequently suggest that the managerial strategies, structures, and values that belong to the ‘private sector’ are leading to significant improvements in the HEIs’ performance (Waring, 2013; Teelken, 2012; Deem and Brehony, 2005; Deem, 1998). On the other hand, critics argue that the ‘managerial’ universities are focusing on human resource management (HRM) practices that affect the quality of their employees’ job performance (Smeenk et al., 2008). Very often, HEIs are employing bureaucratic procedures involving time-consuming activities that could otherwise have been invested in research activities and / or to enhance teaching programs. The HEIs’ management agenda is actually imposed on the academics’ norms of conduct and on their professional behaviors. Therefore, the universities’ leadership can affect the employees’ autonomies as they are expected to comply with their employers’ requirements (Deem and Brehony, 2005). Smeenk et al. (2008) posited that this contentious issue may lead to perennial conflicts between the employees’ values and their university leaders’ managerial values; resulting in lower organizational commitment and reduced productivities.

The HEIs’ managerial model has led to a shift in the balance of power from the academics to their leaders as the universities have developed quality assurance systems to monitor and control their academic employees’ performance (Camilleri, 2018; Cardoso, Tavares and Sin, 2015). This trend towards managerialism can be perceived as a lack of trust in the academic community. However, the rationale behind managerialism is to foster a performative culture among members of staff, as universities need to respond to increased competitive pressures for resources, competences and capabilities (Decramer et al., 2013; Marginson, 2006; 2001; Enders, 2004). These issues have changed the HEIs’ academic cultures and norms in an unprecedented way (Chou and Chan, 2016; Marginson, 2013).

HEIs have resorted to the utilization of measures and key performance indicators to improve their global visibility. Their intention is to raise their institutions’ profile by using metrics that measure productivity. Many universities have developed their own performance measures or followed frameworks that monitor the productivity of academic members of staff (Taylor and Baines, 2012). Very often, their objective is to audit their academic employees’ work. However, their work cannot always be quantified and measured in objective performance evaluations. For instance, Waring (2013) argued that academic employees are expected to comply with their employers’ performance appraisals (PAs) and their form-filling exercises. The rationale behind the use of PAs is to measure the employees’ productivity in the form of quantifiable performance criteria. Hence, the PA is deemed as a vital element for the evaluation of the employees’ performance (Kivistö et al., 2017; Dilts et al., 1994). The PA can be used as part of a holistic performance management approach that measures the academics’ teaching, research and outreach. This performance management tool can possibly determine the employees’ retention, promotion, tenure as well as salary increments (Subbaye, 2018; Ramsden, 1991).

Therefore, PAs ought to be clear and fair. Their administration should involve consistent, rational procedures that make use of appropriate standards. The management’s evaluation of the employees’ performance should be based on tangible evidence. In a similar vein, the employees need to be informed of what is expected from them (Dilts et al., 1994). They should also be knowledgeable about due processes for appeal arising from adverse evaluations, as well as on grievance procedures, if any (Author, 2018). In recent years; the value of the annual performance appraisals (PAs) has increasingly been challenged in favor of more regular ‘performance conversations’ (Aguinis, 2013; Herdlein, Kukemelk and Türk, 2008). Therefore, regular performance feedback or the frequent appraisal of employees still remain a crucial aspect of the performance management cycle. Pace (2015) reported that the PA was used to develop the employees’ skills, rather than for administrative decisions. In a similar vein, the University of Texas (2019) HR page suggests that the appraisers’ role is “to set expectations, gather data, and provide ongoing feedback to employees, to assist them in utilizing their skills, expertise and ideas in a way that produces results”. However, a thorough literature review suggests that there are diverging views among academia and practitioners on the role of the annual PA, the form it should take, and on its effectiveness in the realms of higher education (Herdlein et al., 2008; DeNisi and Pritchard, 2006).

The Performance Management Frameworks

The HEIs’ evaluative systems may include an analysis of the respective universities’ stated intentions, peer opinions, government norms and comparisons, primary procedures from ‘self-evaluation’ through external peer review. These metrics can be drawn from published indicators and ratings, among other frameworks (Billing, 2004).  Their performance evaluations can be either internally or externally driven (Cappiello and Pedrini, 2017). The internally driven appraisal systems put more emphasis on self-evaluation and self-regulatory activities (Baxter, 2017; Bednall, Sanders and Runhaar, 2014; Dilts et al., 1994). Alternatively, the externally driven evaluative frameworks may involve appraisal interviews that assess the quality of the employees’ performance in relation to pre-established criteria (DeNisi and Pritchard, 2006; Cederblom, 1982).

Many countries, including the European Union (EU) states have passed relevant legislation, regulatory standards and guidelines for the HEIs’ quality assurance (Baxter, 2017), and for the performance evaluations of their members of staff (Kohoutek et al., 2018; Cardoso et al., 2015; Bleiklie, 2001). Of course, the academic employees’ performance is usually evaluated against their employers’ priorities, commitments, and aims; by using relevant international benchmarks and targets (Lo, 2009). The academics are usually appraised on their research impact, teaching activities and outreach (QS Ranking, 2019; THE, 2019). Their academic services, including their teaching resources, administrative support, and research output all serve as performance indicators that can contribute to the reputation and standing of the HEI that employs them (Geuna and Martin, 2003).

Notwithstanding, several universities have restructured their faculties and departments to enhance their research capabilities. Their intention is to improve their institutional performance in global rankings (Lo, 2014). Therefore, HEIs recruit academics who are prolific authors that publish high-impact research with numerous citations in peer reviewed journals (Wood and Salt, 2018; Author, 2018). They may prefer researchers with scientific or quantitative backgrounds, regardless of their teaching experience (Chou and Chan, 2016). These universities are prioritizing research and promoting their academics’ publications to the detriment of university teaching. Thus, the academics’ contributions in key international journals is the predominant criterion that is used to judge the quality of academia (Billing, 2004). For this reason, the vast majority of scholars are using the English language as a vehicle to publish their research in reputable, high impact journals (Chou and Chan, 2016). Hence, the quantity and quality of their research ought to be evaluated through a number of criteria (Lo, 2014; 2011; Dill and Soo, 2005).

University ranking sites, including (THE) and the QS Rankings, among others, use performance indicators to classify and measure the quality and status of HEIs. This would involve the gathering and analysis of survey data from academic stakeholders. THE and QS, among others clearly define the measures, their relative weight, and the processes by which the quantitative data is collected (Dill and Soo, 2005). The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) relies on publication-focused indicators as 60 percent of its weighting is assigned to the respective university’s research output. Therefore, these university ranking exercises are surely affecting the policies, cultures and behaviors of HEIs and of their academics (Wood and Salt, 2018; De Cramer et al., 2013; Lo, 2013).  For instance, the performance indicators directly encourage the recruitment of international faculty and students. Other examples of quantitative metrics include the students’ enrolment ratios, graduate rates, student drop-out rates, the students’ continuation of studies at the next academic level, and the employability index of graduates, among others. Moreover, qualitative indicators can also provide insightful data on the students’ opinions and perceptions about their learning environment. The HEIs could evaluate the students’ satisfaction with teaching; satisfaction with research opportunities and training; perceptions of international and public engagement opportunities; ease of taking courses across boundaries, and may also determine whether there are administrative / bureaucratic barriers for them (Kivistö et al., 2017; Jauhiainen et al., 2015; Ramsden, 1991). Hence, HEIs ought to continuously re-examine their strategic priorities and initiatives. It is in their interest to regularly analyze their performance management frameworks through financial and non-financial indicators, in order to assess the productivity of their human resources. Therefore, they should regularly review educational programs and course curricula (Kohoutek et al., 2018; Brewer and Brewer, 2010). On a faculty level, the university leaders ought to keep a track record of changes in the size of departments; age and distribution of academic employees; diversity of students and staff, in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, et cetera. In addition, faculties could examine discipline-specific rankings; and determine the expenditures per academic member of staff, among other options (Author, 2018).

The balanced scorecard

The balanced scorecard (BSC) was first introduced by Kaplan and Norton (1992) in their highly cited article, entitled “The Balanced Scorecard: Measures that Drive Performance”. BSC is an integrated results-oriented, performance management tool, consisting of financial and non-financial measures that link the organizations’ mission, core values, and vision for the future with strategies, targets, and initiatives that are designed to bring continuous improvements (Taylor and Baines, 2012; Wu, Lin and Chang, 2011; Beard, 2009; Umashankar and Dutta, 2007; Cullen, Joyce, Hassall and Broadbent, 2003; Kaplan and Norton, 1992). Its four performance indicators play an important role in translating strategy into action; and can be utilized to evaluate the performance of HEIs. BSC provides a balanced performance management system as it comprises a set of performance indices that can assess different organizational perspectives (Taylor and Baines, 2012). For BSC, the financial perspective is a core performance measure. However, the other three perspectives namely: customer (or stakeholder), organizational capacity and internal process ought to be considered in the performance evaluations of HEIs, as reported in the following table:

BSC Higher Education

The balanced scorecard approach in higher education

Cullen et al. (2003) suggested that the UK’s Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SHEFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), as well as the Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI) have incorporated the BSC’s targets in their Research Excellence Framework. Furthermore, other HEI targets, including: the students’ completion rates, the research impact of universities, collaborative partnerships with business and industry, among others, are key metrics that are increasingly being used in international benchmarking exercises, like the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), among others. Moreover, BSC can be used to measure the academic employees’ commitment towards their employer (Umashankar and Dutta, 2007; McKenzie, and Schweitzer, 2001). Notwithstanding, Wu, Lin and Chang (2011) contended that the BSC’s ‘‘organizational capacity’’ is related to the employee development, innovation and learning. Hence the measurement of the HEIs’ intangible assets, including their intellectual capital is affected by other perspectives, including the financial one (Taylor and Baines, 2012). This table summarizes some of the strengths and weaknesses of the balanced scorecard.

BSC

BSC is widely used to appraise the financial and non-financial performance of businesses and public service organizations including HEIs. Many HEI leaders are increasingly following business-like approaches as they are expected to operate in a quasi-market environment (Marginson, 2013). They need to scan their macro environment to be knowledgeable about the opportunities and threats from the political, economic, social and technological factors. Moreover, they have to regularly analyze their microenvironment by evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.  Hence, several HEIs are increasingly appraising their employees as they assess their performance on a regular basis. They may even decide to take remedial actions when necessary.  Therefore, BSC can also be employed by HEIs to improve their academic employees’ productivity levels (Marginson, 2013; 2000).


A pre-publication version of the full article is available through ResearchGate and Academia.edu.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, Balanced Scorecard, Education, Education Leadership, Higher Education, Human Resources, human resources management, performance appraisals, performance management, University Ranking, webometrics