Friday, 8 August 2014

ANQ 2014 - Impact of AUN-QA Assessments on the Quality of Educational Programmes

The paper titled "The Impact of ASEAN University Network-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) Assessments on the Quality of Educational Programmes" was presented by Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, AUN-QA Expert (Singapore) at the ANQ 2014 Congress held in Singapore from 5 to 8 August 2014.

The following is the abstract of the paper:

The creation of the AUN-QA was initiated in 1998 as a network of Chief Quality Officers (CQOs) appointed by the AUN member universities as the focal point for coordinating activities to realise the mission of harmonising educational standards and to seek continuous improvement of academic quality of universities in ASEAN. Since then, AUN-QA has been actively promoting, developing, and implementing quality assurance practices based on an empirical approach where quality assurance practices are shared, tested, evaluated, and improved.

AUN-QA assessment was inaugurated in December 2007. From 2007 to 2012, 16 AUN-QA assessments covering four countries, seven universities and 37 programmes were carried out. The 37 programmes were assessed by AUN-QA assessors based on the 15 criteria of the AUN-QA Model at the programme level.

To assess the impact of AUN-QA assessments on the quality of educational programmes, an analysis of the results was made using medians and categories of criterion rated based on the AUN-QA Rating Scale. Based on the medians of the AUN-QA criterion rated at the programme level, the number of criteria rated “Better than Adequate” has increased from 1 in 2007 to 13 out of 15 in 2012. This demonstrates that the quality of the assessed educational programmes at the participating universities has improved over the last six years. 

Recommendations to further improve the quality of the educational programme in the 15 criteria are made.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

AUN-ADB Phase 3 Project for CLM Countries - 1st QA Training Workshop in Cambodia

AUN-ADB Phase 3 of QA training to universities in CLM countries will be held over 3 years from 2014 to 2016. The 1st training workshop will be held in 2014 and it will involve participants that had participated in phases 1 and 2 of QA training. The 2nd and 3rd training workshops will be held in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The workshops aim to attract new applicants from CLM universities.

The 1st QA training workshop for Cambodia was held from 28 - 31 July 2014 and facilitated by Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin (AUN-QA Expert) and Dr Wyona Patalinghug (DLSU). Twenty-four participants from the following institutions attended the 1st QA training workshop:

  • Royal University of Laws and Economics
  • Royal University of Phnom Penh
  • Cambodian University for Specialties
  • National University of Management
  • Svay Rieng University
  • Accreditation Committee of Cambodia
  • Department of Higher Education

The 1st QA training workshop aims to achieve the following learning outcomes:
  • Apply the PDCA approach to curriculum design and development
  • Identify the stakeholders’ needs for curriculum development
  • Apply constructive alignment of learning outcomes, teaching and learning strategies and student assessment
  • Apply Bloom’s taxonomy in learning outcomes
  • Apply appropriate teaching and learning strategies for effective learning
  • Design student assessment and rubrics
  • Adapt and translate the Bloom’s taxonomy into local language for implementation

The 1st workshop focuses on enhancing the QA in curriculum design and development process emphasizing on constructive alignment of learning outcomes, teaching and learning strategy and student assessment. It hopes to strengthen the underlying foundations of QA in higher education of CLM countries.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

AUN-ADB QA Documentation Project @Cambodia

The AUN-ADB QA documentation project on “Quality Management of Educational Programmes in CLM Universities” is part of Phase 3 of the AUN-ADB Project on Strengthening Capacity of University Quality Assurance System towards Uplifting Higher Education Quality in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar (CLM) Countries.

The project complements the Phase 3 of QA training workshops designed for participating universities in CLM countries from 2014 to 2016.

The objectives of the documentation project are to: 
  • enhance and strengthen the basic QA management system at the programme level based on the ASEAN-QA project site assessment results,
  • establish a documentation system for existing QA management system at programme level based on AUN-QA model,
  • provide a common reference for QA management system planning, implementation, monitoring and improvement,
  • provide a common source for QA management system training, communication, standardisation and review
The first meeting of the QA documentation project in Cambodia was held from 24 - 26 July 2014. The meeting was hosted by the Royal University of Law and Economics. The meeting was attended by 19 participants from the Royal University of Law and Economics, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Department of Higher Education and Accreditation Committee of Cambodia. The meeting was led and facilitated by Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, AUN-QA expert from Singapore.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Tipping Point of a Happy Economy

The Tipping Point
Since the founding of Positive psychology in 1998 by Dr. Martin Seligman, there has been a rising interest in both positive psychology and subjective happiness. Some organisations were quick to take advantage of this trend and became propagators of happiness. They used “happiness” as the tagline in their promotion and advertising campaigns.  Organisations like Zappos, Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s, Wall’s Ice Cream, Starhub are some examples. The envision of a “happy economy” became a reality when the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted the resolution “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development” in August 2011 and declared every 20thMarch as the International Day of Happiness in 2013.
Definition of Happiness
Happiness can be defined as the subjective measure of life satisfaction or dissatisfaction and a life that is worth living. It can be categorised into seven levels from the most to the least satisfaction in life:-
The Happy Life            – Engage one’s strengths to contribute to a larger purpose.
The Good Life              – Engage in activities or events which cause enjoyment.
The Pleasant Life        – Experiences that bring pleasures to the body or mind.
I’m OK Life                    – A temporary state when one is at the set point or baseline level of happiness.
The Unpleasant Life   – Circumstances that cause pain to the body or mind
The Bad Life                 – Disengage at home, work and community
The No Life                   – Live life aimlessly

The Happiness DNA
Happiness is a natural pursuit of human beings and it can be learned. First, is to identify the sources of happiness, and next, is to learn the various skills to cultivate happiness.  The sources of happiness can be broadly classified into external and internal. External sources of happiness are short-lived and external to us. They include financial, career, environmental, social and physical. Internal sources are permanent and they help to create an internal condition that is conducive to cultivate happiness in our genes. They include mental, emotional and spiritual.

Financial. Being financially adequate to make ends meet is an important source of happiness. A person cannot be happy if he is worried about how to make ends meet.
Career. Employees spend more than one-third of their lifetime at work and it is important that they can find workplace happiness and meaning in their daily work.
Environmental. Residential studies in the United States have shown that houses close to nature or green space promote well-being and reduce mental fatigue of people who live there.
Social. Happiness is not just about being happy but it is also about bringing happiness to people around us. Research has shown that relationship with spouse, children, parents, colleagues and friends is an important source of happiness. 
Physical. Physical health is an important source of happiness as it affects both the physical and mental ability of a person. Good health brings happiness and happiness brings better health. In a 2002 Australian study (published in the American Journal of Health Promotion), participants who were happy and satisfied found that they were 1.6 times healthier than the group who were unhappy.
Mental. Ed Diener, the University of Illinois psychology professor emeritus, who lead the review of more than 160 studies on the connection between a positive state of mind and overall health and longevity has found 'clear and compelling evidence' that happier people enjoy better health and longer lives.
Emotional. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson and author of the book “Positivity”, says that focusing on day-to-day feelings of satisfaction can lead to a happier life, and that an awareness of the present moment, paying attention to human kindness, and enjoying nice weather can increase positivity in one's mental outlook.
Spiritual. Spiritual source of happiness is not about religion or faith but about having a clear sense of purpose in life. Discovering one’s life purpose and passion, and directing all energies towards it raises happiness.
Workplace Happiness
Numerous studies on workplace happiness have shown that happy employees are 2 times more productive and they are likely to stay in their jobs 5 times longer than unhappy employees. They are 6 times more engerised and they are likely to take 10 times less medical leaves than their unhappy colleagues. Happier workers also tend to help their colleagues 33% more than their least happy colleagues. They are 36% more motivated and are likely to achieve their goals 31% more than unhappy employees. Making employees happy becomes a necessity rather than an exception in a happy economy.

Organisations need to adopt a holistic approach in aligning and internalising an organisation’s purpose, people, practices and culture to nurture a happier workplace.
Happy Purpose
In the happy economy, organisation’s existence goes beyond profits. Altruism is the moral purpose of organisations to make all stakeholders happier. Happiness should be an inclusive purpose.
Happy Practices
The happy purpose has to be translated into happy practices that aim to nurture happy people and a happy culture. The design and implementation of happy workplace practices to nurture a happy culture, and to attract and retain happy people is a crucial ingredient of the workplace happiness DNA. 
Happy People
Only 10 percent of personal happiness is beyond the control of individuals. The other 90 percent can be achieved by hiring happy people and nurturing them with the happy soul, happy mind, happy heart and happy habits.
Happy Culture
The ingredients of a happy culture and how it can be sustained in the long term promote workplace happiness as a way of life.
The above article is published at

Monday, 30 June 2014

Certified Quality Manager 27th Intake - Training and Development Module

The Certified Quality Manager (CQM) course is hosted by the Singapore Quality Institute (SQI) and Mr Johnson Ong Chee Bin is the appointed trainer for the Training and Development Module. The module for the 27th Intake was held on 28 June 2014 at SQI. The module covers the following topics:

• Introduction to Training and Development
• Training and Development Process
• National Models for Training and Development
• Factors affecting the Future of Training and Development

Saturday, 21 June 2014

PDCA or ADRI Approach to Self-Assessment Report (SAR) Writing

PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) or ADRI (Approach-Deployment-Results-Improvement) is a systematic way to write a comprehensive self-assessment report. It ensures how requirements or criteria of a quality assurance system are addressed systematically based on a process approach.

Below is an illustration of how the PDCA or ADRI approach is applied to write a comprehensive SAR in meeting the AUN-QA criterion at programme level.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ASEAN-QAct Consultancy Visit at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)

ASEAN-QAct is an extension of the ASEAN-QA Project Phase 1 which was offered to all 21 universities that underwent the ASEAN-QA site assessments. A call for application was made to the universities and 6 universities including UUM was selected for a consultancy follow up visit. 

The consultancy visit was held at UUM from 17 to 19 June 2014. The consultancy team consisted of European experts, Dr Nadine and Ms Sylvi from University of Potsdam and ASEAN expert, Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, AUN-QA expert from Singapore. The focus of the consultancy was on the constructive alignment of learning outcomes, teaching & learning strategies and student assessments. More than 30 participants from the School of International Studies attended the workshop. 

One of the participants attended the workshop says "I have to tell you that I have been in many workshops and training about Learning Outcome but your presentation is the best, most structured, make sense, interesting and I have learned the most. Other faculty members said that they really benefitted from the consultancy too. Well done for the great job!"