I got a Magistra-Artium degree in anthropogeography and sociology. This gave me the opportunity to study two subjects on an equal footing and to put them in a meaningful relationship through interdisciplinary events or my thesis. In this way, I was also able to gain my first (independent) experience in dealing with quantitative and qualitative surveys and evaluations.
I work at the beautiful New Palace at the Center for Quality Development in Teaching and Studies (ZfQ) at the University of Potsdam for the field of university studies. As a central institution, we provide advice to both students and teachers, quality officers and committees, with the focus of my work being on the establishment and accreditation of study programs.
I already worked in quality management during my studies. The experience I gained there in the areas of evaluation and quality development in combination with my methodological training during my studies not only made me more sensitive to the handling of data, but also allowed me to better understand the structures and institutions behind it. After my studies, I only supported the course evaluation of the ZfQ and switched to internal accreditation after my parental leave.
Of course, we also pay attention to compliance with formal criteria in the course of our accreditation procedures. However, our reports (quality profiles) combine both degree program evaluation and accreditation reports, and relate to qualitative and quantitative empirical findings. On the one hand, we can check compliance with accreditation criteria, but on the other hand we can also express assessments of possible strengths or weaknesses of the degree programs and contribute to the development of the degree program with appropriate recommendations. In addition, our reports serve as the basis for subsequent decisions by the internal accreditation commission. So you won't find a red pencil on my desk.
Good quality does not just include compliance with standards and regulations. Good quality arises where the effects and goals are taken into account when the processes or content are conceptualized. Good quality is not static, it is constantly evolving. The assessment of the quality of study programs must be carried out taking into account the achievement of own organizational and professionally formulated goals, but also taking into account external, sometimes legal requirements. In order to be able to assess good quality, it must be determined whether the existing properties match the previously formulated requirements.
The current goals of quality management and quality development at the University of Potsdam were formulated in the university development plan 2014-2018. The focus of our work is on ensuring a structured study program with studyable curricula using scientifically adequate procedures and instruments. Our main goal is to establish a culture at the University of Potsdam in which all members of the University participate actively and responsibly in the development of teaching and learning.
DIN-ISO standards are mainly used when it comes to certified quality management systems. The University of Potsdam, on the other hand, has set up its own strategic quality management system, which follows a federal control principle and is associated with a comparatively high degree of decentralization. The faculties have extensive freedom in structuring their quality management in order to achieve the university-wide quality goals. In addition, when developing quality objectives, the specifics of the specialist culture are taken into account accordingly. The ZfQ continues to develop the decentralized quality management system, controls internal processes and supports the faculties in their quality development. The central evaluation statute of the university serves as the basis for the design of the procedures and processes of quality development in the faculties.
I don't think that improvement in the sense of increasing quality is automatically linked to achieving perfection. Rather, quality assurance and quality development processes represent the reaction and implementation to changing conditions and requirements.
I find the insights that we get into existing or new study programs at the University of Potsdam exciting. Even if the same formal criteria must generally be observed, both the content orientation and the effects of the respective subject cultures are just as decisive for the scope for interpretation that is available to us. In addition, our work requires dealing with all status groups: from students, to administration, through quality management officers to professors, as well as our specialist and professional reviewers. In this way, we get specific insights into the different perspectives or wishes, and we then try to bring them into line with the legal framework.
Quite clearly: Gather experience in the world of work even before starting your career!
It doesn't matter whether this is done through an internship or a student part-time job. Rather, it is important to work for an employer over a longer period of time, to get to know structures and processes, to integrate into a team, to learn how to handle one's tasks responsibly, but also with the trust that is placed in one. These practical experiences do not always have to reflect the context of their own studies, but they should also not be completely outside of personal interests.