Two sides of the same coin : qualitative and quantitative approaches to process analysis

Macgregor, George (2012) Two sides of the same coin : qualitative and quantitative approaches to process analysis. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. (

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The innovation and development work undertaken by PiP is intended to explore and develop new technology-supported approaches to curriculum design, approval and review. A significant component of this innovation is the use of business process analysis and process change techniques to improve the efficacy of curriculum approval processes. Improvements to approval process responsiveness and overall process efficacy can assist institutions in better reviewing or updating curriculum designs to enhance pedagogy. Improvements to process also assume a greater significance in a globalised HE environment, in which institutions must adapt or create curricula quickly in order to better reflect rapidly changing academic contexts, as well as better responding to the demands of employment marketplaces and the expectations of professional bodies. Of course, this is increasingly an issue for disciplines within the sciences and engineering, where new skills or knowledge need to be rapidly embedded in curricula as a response to emerging technological or environmental developments. To make matters more difficult still, all of the aforementioned must also be achieved while simultaneously maintaining high standards of academic quality, thus adding a further layer of complexity to the way in which HE institutions engage in “responsive curriculum design” and approval. Partly owing to limitations in the data required to facilitate comparative analyses, this evaluation adopted a mixed approach, making use of a series of qualitative and quantitative methods as well as theoretical techniques. Together these approaches enabled a comparative evaluation of the curriculum approval process under the “new state” (i.e. using C-CAP) and under the “previous state”. This contribution summarises the methodology used to enable comparative evaluation and presents a summary of the analysis and discussion of the results. In particular, the contribution explores the notion of qualitative and quantitative research methods in exposing the 'philosophical' and 'material' perspectives of system processes.