What is quality assurance?
Quality assurance can be defined as a system to monitor and evaluate a product or a service.
It should identify and recommend measures to make improvements to standards and performance, or at least maintain the status quo if everything is working well.
Internal quality assurance (IQA) relates to the monitoring of all the teaching, learning and assessment activities which learners will undertake. The activities should form part of an organisation’s overall quality assurance system.
Quality assurance is different to quality control which seeks to find problems. Quality assurance seeks to avoid problems, stabilise, and improve products and services.
A few relevant resources to help you achieve the quality assurance units are available to purchase with immediate download upon checkout. Just scroll down this page.
The following text is adapted from the book below.
Quality assurance should take place in education and training establishments to ensure the products and services are the best they can be. The product is the programme or qualification that the learner is working towards. The service is everything which underpins the product and supports the learner.
If quality assurance does not take place, there are risks to the accuracy, consistency and fairness of training and assessment practice which might disadvantage learners. Quality assurance should be a continual process with the aim of maintaining and improving the products and services offered.
Internal quality assurance (IQA)
This relates to the monitoring of the full learning journey. This is in addition to quality assurance which should take place to monitor other aspects besides the learning process. IQA monitors the whole process from when a learner commences to when they finish i.e. the full learning journey. It can also take place prior to the learner commencing i.e. monitoring the application and interview process, to after they have left i.e. following up on progression.
Internal quality assurers are often supervisors or managers and are naturally responsible for staff, systems and procedures. Some are still working as assessors and performing both roles. That’s absolutely fine as long as they don’t IQA their own assessment decisions, as that would be a conflict of interest. Some smaller organisations might only have one assessor and one internal quality assurer, which again is fine providing they remain fully objective when carrying out their role. Some small teams, i.e. one assessor and one internal quality assurer can swap roles and IQA each other’s assessment decisions. Again, it’s not a problem unless the awarding organisation deems it is. It could be considered a good way of standardising practice, as they will be monitoring each other regularly to ensure consistency. You can work towards a qualification in IQA if you wish.
As a minimum, an internal quality assurer should:
Internal quality assurance cycle
Depending upon the subject, the IQA cycle will usually be followed as in the diagram. The cycle will continue to ensure the training and assessment process is constantly monitored and improved if necessary.
Throughout the cycle, standardisation of practice between internal quality assurers should take place; this will help ensure the consistency and fairness of decisions, along with the support given to assessors. Feedback should also be obtained from learners and others involved in the assessment process.
The IQA cycle can involve the following aspects:
Records must be maintained of all the IQA activities for audit requirements. If the qualification is accredited by an awarding organisation, external quality assurance (EQA) will also take place.
As an internal quality assurer only samples activities, there is the possibility some aspects might be missed. Imagine this taking place in a bakery, the quality assurer would not sample every item by tasting each one. They would only taste a sample from each baker, otherwise there would be nothing left to sell.
There are risks involved and these should be considered when planning an IQA sampling strategy. For example, if an assessor is new to their role their work should be sampled more.
If you wish to find out more about the IQA role, you can take the unit: Understanding the principles and practices of internally assuring the quality of assessment. This is a knowledge based unit for anyone who wishes to know about the theory of internal quality assurance. You do not need to carry out any internal quality assurance activities to achieve this unit.
Possible risks for an internal quality assurer (IQA) to look out for:
(in alphabetical order)
Some ways to check the authenticity of learners’ work includes:
IQA resources available for immediate download
Information Leaflet - Key Concepts and Principles of IQA (£1.50)
6 pages covering: • Why should IQA take place? • The functions of IQA • IQA cycle • Key concepts of IQA • IQA rationale • Key principles of IQA • Role & responsibilities of an IQA • Regulations, Policies and Procedures • Reading list • Website list
Information Leaflet - Planning IQA activities (£1.50)
6 pages covering: • Factors to consider when planning • IQA strategy • IQA activities • Sample plans • Managing risk • Using technology • Reading list • Website list
Preparing for an EQA visit (£1.50)
4 pages of information regarding an EQA visit, along with a checklist of what to prepare in advance of the visit.
Information Leaflet - Standardising Assessment and IQA practice (£1.50)
3 pages covering · What is standardisation? · Benefits of standardisation · Standardisation activities · IQA team activities • Reading list • Website list
Information Leaflet - Making IQA Decisions and Giving Feedback (£1.50)
7 pages covering: • Factors influencing decisions • Making a decision: observing practice • Making a decision: sampling work • Appeals • Feedback • Different feedback methods • Providing feedback • Reading list • Website list
Information Leaflet - IQA Records (£1.50)
3 pages covering: • Record keeping • Reasons for keeping IQA records • Data Protection • Confidentiality • Examples of IQA records • Reading list • Website list
(See below for blank templates and completed examples)
Templates – A full set of IQA Plans and Records (in Word) (£3.00)
Can be used by IQAs who do not have their own IQA record system
7 templates in Word (with instructions) plus a sample agenda for a team meeting, for you to amend to suit your own requirements. Includes: Observation Plan, Meeting and standardisation plan, Sample plan and tracking sheet, Assessor delivery checklist, Assessor observation checklist, Learner discussion checklist, Internal quality assurance sample report, and an example Agenda which can be used for team meetings. They can easily be amended to suit your own requirements.
Completed examples are available to purchase below: Ref I9016
A full set of completed examples of IQA Plans and Records (£4.00)
7 completed examples of: observation Plan, Meeting and standardisation plan, Sample plan and tracking sheet, Assessor delivery checklist, Assessor observation checklist, Learner discussion checklist, Internal quality assurance sample report.
A set of blank templates in Word is available to purchase above: Ref AT006