3.3.5 Participation of stakeholders in self-assessment

It is highly desirable that besides staff members of the VET institution itself other internal and external stakeholders are involved in self-assessment activities. However, in realistic terms, in most cases the scope to involve them actively is rather limited.

The easiest way to enlarge the stakeholders’ circle is to involve the students. In addition to collection of feedback via questionnaires, teachers and trainers should be encouraged to collect qualitative feedback in a dialogue session with their students towards the end of the class. When students feel their opinions and ideas are welcomed, it can reasonably be expected that some at least will also participate in further activities to improve quality.

All these additional activities are designed to obtain qualitative feedback and statements from internal and external stakeholders on current status of the VET institution and on their expectations for its further development. Stakeholders might be invited to participate in selective meetings or thematic workshops to discuss current problems, or to elaborate on future trends and demands. Depending on the topic, this could be a one-off meeting or a series of round tables, to which a wide range of external stakeholders can be invited. Whatever the format, it is important that the inviting VET institution has a clear idea of what the topic on the agenda is to give stakeholders a clear orientation and make them understand what is expected of them.

A tool that VET institutions are using increasingly – and successfully – to assess quality with stakeholders is focus groups. Originally rooted in social research, this tool has gained wide acceptance as a way to tackle in depth sensitive issues in training and education. A focus group is a tool through which a group of people is brought together and asked to express their opinions – on quality of a product or service, concepts or ideas, or new trends and developments. Focus groups are interactive settings where participants are free to talk and exchange views with other group members. They should be characterised by a thoughtful and permissive atmosphere. Excessive formality and rigidity should be avoided as this might stifle dynamics of interaction between participants, but too much informality and relaxation could also cause problems as the discussion might not be taken seriously.

In practice, focus groups not only deepen interpretation of data previously collected with quantitative tools such as feedback questionnaires, but they will also help to stimulate new ideas and creative concepts for developing quality in your VET institution.


Box 20. Tool: organising a focus group

A guide on how to conduct a focus group to involve stakeholders actively in quality debates within a VET institution can be found in the annex, Section 1.23.