Using Evaluation to Strengthen Organisational Self-Assessment

Appendix 5: Glossary

Accountability An obligation to demonstrate that commitments have been met.
Activities Programmes, systems and services that the organisation delivers.
Analysis  A part of the evaluative approach that involves evaluating parts or aspects in order to gain an underlying meaning.
Audit A systematic and independent examination that includes determining whether a TEO is complying with its own quality management system and meeting the requirements of external quality standards.
Benchmark A point of reference against which something can be measured for the purpose of stimulating organisational improvement.
Continuous improvement A systematic ongoing focus on improving the quality of an organisation’s processes and outcomes.
Evaluation The systematic determination of the merit (quality), worth (value) or significance (importance) of the quality of outcomes for learners and other stakeholders and processes that contribute to this (Scriven, 1991). The evaluative process includes a planned approach to gathering, analysing and synthesising evidence from multiple sources.
Evaluative conversations Discussions that explore what a TEO knows about outcomes for learners and other interested parties and what processes contribute to these.
Key evaluation questions High-level, open-ended questions intended to elicit answers that inform judgements about the quality of educational outcomes and the key processes that influence these outcomes.
Evaluative judgements The conclusions that identify the quality and value of outcomes for learners and stakeholders rather than simply describing activities.
Evidence Information that is gathered to inform evaluative judgements about the quality and value of outcomes for learners and other interested parties. Evidence includes information from interviews, observations and written documentation. It must be valid and reliable.
External evaluation and review A periodic process carried out by a quality assurance body that leads to judgements about the quality and value of a TEO’s activities as these relate to outcomes for learners and other interested communities or individuals. It encompasses, but is not restricted to, validating the organisation’s self-assessment process.
Inputs People and things that are put into or accepted into an organisation.
Outcomes Changes that happen to learners, employing organisations, communities and the economy that are at least partially caused by the organisation’s programmes and activities.
Outputs “Products” and trained learners that are produced by, or through the organisation’s programmes and activities


Quality is dynamic and will look different in different contexts. In tertiary education, it is the value that learners gain from their learning experience, the utility of their qualifications and the extent to which positive longer term outcomes occur.
The extent to which identified needs and other relevant standards are met in respect of a specific purpose or outcome.
Quality Assurance The planned and systematic actions needed to provide confidence that a TEO’s activities satisfy requirements for quality.
Self-Assessment The ongoing process whereby TEOs evaluate the quality and value of their own performance and educational provision.
Stakeholders Individuals, groups or organisations with a legitimate vested interest in a TEO’s work and outcomes. Internal: learners, staff, councils/boards, owners External: funding bodies, iwi, professional groups, employers, industry, regions, other educators, parents, future learners 
Community of interest An individual, group or organisation, within or external to the TEO, with a legitimate and purposeful interest in a TEO’s work and outcomes.
Tertiary evaluation indicators These describe valued tertiary education outcomes and the key inter-related processes likely to be contributing to those outcomes. They provide a frame of reference for external evaluation and review and can be used by TEOs to inform their self-assessment processes.
Value The usefulness or benefit to an individual, organisation or community of an organisation’s activities.
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