WP3 European Curriculum Design TOOLKIT
Benchmarking Two: How do we benchmark? Strategies for benchmarking.
HOW do we compare against the best of the best of the best in the world?
Strategies for benchmarking? Questions to ask. Processes and procedures.
Most study programmes start benchmarking with an internet search, attempting to gather information about comparable programmes from around the world. Most programme teams will have a strong idea about the leading programmes in their discipline. There may be a temptation to defer to your alma mater (the programme through which the lecturer studied and graduated). However, in benchmarking, it’s important to as the question ‘which study do you consider to be the best of the best of the best study programme in your discipline?’ Aim high in asking this question, but make sure that you ARE comparing like with like. If you’re benchmarking for your BATCHELOR programme, do NOT attempt to compare it with a MASTERS or DOCTORAL programme – this will only confuse you and your benchmarking process. Compare Batchelor programmes with Batchelor programmes. Compare Masters programmes with Masters programmes etc…
The second question to ask in benchmarking is ‘WHY do you think the comparable programme IS the best of the best of the best?’ This is an important question to answer as you start your benchmarking process, because it helps to set initial targets for the improvement of your study programme.
Once you’ve identified a study programme, it might be desirable to travel to visit that programme, to spend a few days with their programme team, discussing pedagogy, asking questions and seeing how they do their business. However, such travel costs money!
If your university of HEI cannot afford to send you and your team on such a research journey, consider trying to establish an Erasmus KA1 mobility between your HEI and the HEI in which you are interested in benchmarking. A Mobility agreement would allow your programme team to have a contractual arrangement with the other HEI. It would pay for the travel and subsistence of your team on the research trips. Mobilities also provide plenty of time to discuss, ask questions, do appropriate training and presentations etc.
In applying for mobilities, it’s necessary for your HEI to build some reference to Internationalisation into your institution’s Strategic Plan. Here’s a short reference from page 31 - 32 of IADT’s Strategic Plan 2019 – 2023…
— Identify priority regions for international development. Develop existing and create new relationships with international peers.
— Seek opportunities to collaborate on programmes with international higher education providers with a reputation for excellence.
When benchmarking, it’s important to establish trust between the partners. Never ask a question which you wouldn’t answer yourself. It’s often helpful to provide benchmarking questions before you visit. Keep your questions short and simple! It’s essential to treat any answers you’re given, as well as any information about documentation, processes or procedures, with great confidence. Do not COPY! The rule always is ‘to adapt, not adopt’.
Page 28 of The FOCUS guide states…
‘Essentially Benchmarking is about raising basic questions and attempting to find the answers.
· How well are we doing compared to others?
· How good do we want to be? What are our objectives?
· Who is doing it the best?
· How do they do it?
· How can we adapt what they do to our institution?
· How can we become better than the best?
Finding the answers to these basic questions, combined with a structured approach, and applying a proper methodology has proven to lead to valuable results.’
FOCUS Benchmarking Tempus Project 2013
Though this is about benchmarking for Quality Assurance, many of the methodological and ethical approaches can be adapted when benchmarking about your specific discipline, curriculum, pedagogical content, processes and procedures.
see pages 31 to 32 for short strategic goals on Internationalisation
2006 European Benchmarking Code of Conduct