|dc.description.abstract||The Oman Accreditation Council (OAC), which is called later the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA), designed a higher education institution (HEI) Quality Assurance (QA) framework for Omani public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), starting with a quality audit process in 2008. The Colleges of Applied Sciences (CASs), as a public HEI, are required to ensure the quality of all services and activities to meet particular national standards (specified in the framework) in order to gain a HEI and programme certificate. In line with a quality audit scope, the quality of the fields of PD and related teaching quality should be ensured and enhanced by the promotion and contribution of the former field to the maintenance and improvement of the latter one.
The chief purpose of this study was to identify the uptake and implications of the growing requirement to improve teaching quality and the PD of academics at the CASs in the Sultanate of Oman especially in the context of the application of the QA framework. The study focused on examining the academics’ participation in professional development programmes (PDPs) and current perceptions of PD with respect to the improvement of teaching quality improvement at these colleges. The current study also dealt with a reorganization and prioritization of academics’ PD needs, barriers to effective PD, and factors to enhance PD of academics regarding teaching quality improvement in the colleges.
Based on the purpose and research objectives, the current study adopted both positivist (quantitative) and interpretive (qualitative) research paradigms. Because the study perused quantitative and qualitative data regarding certain variables, it chose a mixed-research design. The researcher designed survey questionnaire to collect quantitative data and a semi-structured interview and a focus group discussion to probe and interpret quantitative findings. After fulfillment of the validity and reliability measurements, a self-completion questionnaire was distributed to a stratified random sample of academics (170) over the six CASs. A total of 150 questionnaires (out of 170) were completed and returned and the response-rate reached 88.2%. The quantitative data was analyzed by appropriate analysis using the Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS), while the qualitative data was analyzed by appropriate qualitative analysis.
The findings of the study showed that the level of academics’ participation in PDPs to improve teaching quality in the last two years in the CASs seems to be unsatisfactorily low. The current perceptions of the PD situations in the colleges, relating to teaching quality improvement, signified a shortage in the number of available PDPs and/or a discouragement of academics’ participation in these programmes in the last two years. The study also revealed all the 22 PD needs of academics regarding the improvement of teaching quality are significantly demanded by participants; the higher rated needs focused on a development of ‘student centred’ skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, the study illustrated that the highest significant perceived barriers to effective PD in the CASs, as related to teaching quality improvement, focus on a lack of a clear institutional PD policy and a lack of appropriately systematic PD plans. The study also revealed all 10 perceived factors to enhance PD regarding teaching quality improvement are very important. The most significant factors represented and stressed particular problematic issues (the high rated barriers) and a reduction of a heavy workload to enhance academics’ participation in PD regarding the improvement of teaching quality.
Conclusions drawn from the discussion of the findings of study include a lack of a clear PD policy at national and institutional levels and absence of a particular authority/unit concerning PD issues in Omani HEIs. The two problematic issues resulted in a lack of systematic and realistic PD plans in the CASs, involving a lack of academics’ involvement in PD plans, a misconnection of academics’ PD needs to PD, inappropriate facilities and resources allocation, and inappropriate evaluation processes of PD. In addition, the conclusions also include that PD of academics regarding the improvement of teaching quality in the colleges requires more attention and focus to manage particular significant issues perceived by participants as both barriers and potential facilitators relating to PD of academics.
Based on identified conclusions, particular implications for policy and practice to enhance PD to improve teaching quality were set at three levels: governmental, institutional, and individual. Moreover, achievements of the current study according to the research questions were identified and contributions of the study to the fields of PD, teaching quality, and the context of QA and quality audit in HE were addressed. Based on the findings and conclusions, particular directions and recommended issues were suggested to be studied by further research to benefit the enhancement of PD and related teaching quality improvement.||