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Descriptors of Enhancement

In 2013, SHEEC recognised the need to revisit the Indicators of Enhancement (published in 2008) to ensure they are as useful as possible to individual institutions for internal reflection about enhancement and useful to SHEEC, as a way of facilitating sector-wide discussions about enhancement.

Accordingly, in 2013 SHEEC commissioned Professor Murray Saunders, Dr Stephen Dempster (Lancaster University) and Dr Neil Lent (University of Edinburgh) to review the Indicators of Enhancement and to develop a refreshed set of indicators appropriate for current institutional approaches to enhancement, to support internal (and sector-level) reflection about enhancement, taking cognisance of progress since 2008. Professor Saunders and his team concluded that despite some indications of continuing positive uses, there was a need to revise the 2008 indicators, to bring them into closer alignment with other forms of evaluative practice.

The ‘Descriptors of enhancement are the product of a small SHEEC working group, led by Professor Saunders. The new descriptors have one overarching use, namely to provide a framework which captures the core practices in the Scottish approach to enhancement. They are intended to be used to coordinate the way enhancement might be described at national and institutional levels, and to provide a tool to integrate the various frameworks in use in the various review processes.

The descriptors focus on enhancement practices, designed to improve or enable the quality of teaching and learning within an institution. A strong guiding principle for the development of the new descriptors was to identify clusters of practices which evoked the distinctive character of the Scottish approach to enhancement, and which set it apart from other, more assurance-driven designs. The descriptors cover the following six specific dimensions of the Scottish approach to enhancement:
  1. Collaborative practice
  2. The use of national quality Enhancement Themes
  3. Learning from international experience
  4. Alignment and coherence
  5. Evaluative practice
  6. Students as partners