FAQs for Annual Monitoring Process

Note: Due to the impact of Covid-19, the streamlined Annual Monitoring will continue in a modified form for the review of academic session 2020-21. Our existing Annual Monitoring arrangements have been adapted to incorporate a lighter touch focussing on key issues including reflection on the Student Experience and monitoring any signs of grade inflation. The revised AM1 Form reflects the preference for Annual Monitoring to be reported at School level with the option, where appropriate and with the agreement of the College Quality & Enhancement Officer, to permit more formal reporting on a more detailed level i.e. from units of learning.

In addition, information on locally approved blanket course changes will be linked into the Annual Monitoring process. School Annual Monitoring Summaries (SAMS) will include commentary on temporary course changes introduced in 2020-21 to adjust to the pandemic along with plans for continuation or further development of such changes in the delivery planned for 2021-22. Schools will need to report on their reflection on the impact of these changes on the student experience and opportunities for continuing any identified enhancements in the future design of learning, teaching and assessment.

The commentary on course changes will be collated in the College Annual Monitoring Summaries.

Q1. What is the purpose of Annual Monitoring?

Annual Monitoring is an integral component of University’s Academic Quality Framework designed to contribute to the maintenance of standards and the enhancement of learning and teaching through the regular scrutiny of our courses. Annual Monitoring also seeks to identify good practice and to encourage staff to reflect on local experience of strategic matters and contributes to:

  • Monitoring student performance and progression.
  • Evaluating the quality of the student experience and identifying enhancements.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of learning and teaching resources and identifying matters requiring attention.
  • Identifying, promoting and disseminating good practice.
  • Feeding into College and School Learning & Teaching Plans and the University Learning & Teaching Strategy.

The reporting element of Annual Monitoring is required to assure Schools/RIs, Colleges and the University that ongoing reflection and enhancement is taking place at course and programme level.

The UK Quality Code refers to Monitoring and Evaluation as an essential element of the academic cycle which can enable universities to consider how learning opportunities for students may be improved.

Q2. What is the cycle of Annual Monitoring?

There is a continuous cycle of monitoring throughout each session punctuated by the reporting phase at the end of teaching. The key dates for the various activities are set out in Annual Monitoring – Process and Timescales.

Annual Monitoring can be broken down into component tasks of:

  • reviewing evidence;
  • reflection;
  • planning and undertaking action;
  • reporting.

Q3. What is the reporting cycle for Postgraduate Taught programmes?

The timing for reporting at the end of teaching on postgraduate taught degree programmes is flexible. Two approaches are currently used and can be adopted by Colleges depending on their structures. School Annual Monitoring Officers must clarify which approach their College is taking and report accordingly:

Approach 1

Conducting the review and reporting of postgraduate delivery after completion of the full cycle of postgraduate teaching and project/dissertation submission, thus reviewing at a separate point from the undergraduate cycle. Review and reflection begins in September, with production of the School Annual Monitoring Summary in October, and the College Annual Monitoring Summary in November reporting to College LTC and Academic Standards Committee in January.

Approach 2

Aligning the timing of review and reporting with undergraduate course delivery. This works particularly well where there is shared teaching between undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts. The reflection and review of delivery takes place at the end of Semester 2 teaching alongside the reflection and review of undergraduate teaching. The School and College Annual Monitoring Summary Reports are prepared in July and September respectively covering UG and PGT delivery in a single report. Information on the PGT project work which takes place over the summer is covered in the following year’s reporting round.

Q4. Who is involved?

  • All teaching staff
  • Course and Programme Leaders/Co-ordinators
  • School Quality & Enhancement Officers
  • Heads of School
  • Conveners of School Learning & Teaching Committees
  • College Quality & Enhancement Officers
  • Deans of Learning & Teaching

All teaching staff should contribute to the review, reflection and action phases of Annual Monitoring. Initial reporting is the responsibility of Course or Programme Leaders or Co-ordinators and is co-ordinated by School Quality & Enhancement Officers who report to College level. College Quality & Enhancement Officers oversee and co-ordinate the management of the process across the College and report annually to the University’s Academic Standards Committee.

Q5. What evidence is used?

Various pieces of feedback and evidence will be received throughout the year, including:  

  • Course questionnaires and other locally used student feedback mechanisms
  • Summary and Response Documents (SaRDs) generated from course questionnaires as detailed in the University’s Course Evaluation Policy
  • Staff-Student Liaison Committees
  • Feedback from staff involved in delivery and/or support
  • Feedback and advice from external examiners
  • Student exam performance (including degree classifications)
  • External Student Surveys, e.g.
    • National Student Survey (NSS),
    • Student Barometer (ISB),
    • Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)
  • Complaints

Q6. What should be considered when reviewing and reflecting on an ongoing basis?

Staff who are responsible for provision are best placed, and have the detailed knowledge required, to identify and make effective improvements.  As data becomes available, there should be review, reflection and discussion of any action required. A note of key points, positive and negative, and the outcomes should be made and kept for reference and use at the reporting stage. The outcome should be reported back to the individual or group that provided the comments to “close the feedback loop”.

Things to consider when reflecting:

  • The effectiveness of assessment methods.
  • The currency of the course or programme.
  • Evidence of good practice and/or innovation; might it be useful to disseminate to other areas? (Contact details may be requested to take this forward).
  • Opportunities for improvement.
  • Barriers that prevent changes being made.
  • Actions that require input from the School/RI, College or University.
  • Feedback relating to Equality and Diversity.
  • Progress made on actions identified in the last cycle.

IMPORTANT: If any actions are identified that can be raised with the appropriate body directly (e.g. issues of AV/IT or minor issues relating to Estates) then these should be taken forward immediately and do not need to be included in the School Annual Monitoring Summary. If the issue persists and has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the Course or Programme Leader, it can be brought to the attention of the School/RI, College or University via the enhancement summary reports. The issue should be clearly stated in the relevant section of the report form along with a note of action taken to date.

Q7. What should a School Annual Monitoring Summary report include?

At the end of teaching, feedback received during the past semester or session should be gathered and reviewed to inform an overview of the delivery of learning and teaching. This should take place as soon as possible after teaching finishes while the experience is still fresh in the mind.* Meetings should be held at programme, unit, or School level,** as appropriate, to discuss the overview and notes from these passed to the School Annual Monitoring Officer to enable them to produce the School Annual Monitoring Summary.

The AM1 template identifies items to include in the School Annual Monitoring Summary, including commentary on:

  • What is working well? and What needs work?
  • Good Practice
  • Progress with actions identified in the last Annual Monitoring cycle
  • Hot Topics (set each year by the University’s Learning & Teaching Committee)
  • Reflection on on the impact of temporary course changes on the student experience and opportunities for continuing any identified enhancements in the future design of learning, teaching and assessment.

*Some information relevant to the current session will not be available at this time, for example, external examiners reports or student survey results. A flexible approach is therefore required. Informal indicators can be used where they are available, e.g. verbal comments from external examiners or data from the previous session. It is important not to delay the review and reflection process to wait for these items. 

**Where it is not possible to schedule such meetings, each Course Leader/Convener should complete the AM1 template for their course and pass it to the School Quality & Enhancement Officer.

Q8. What about Collaborative provision?

The School/RI and College have responsibility to monitor and review all collaborative arrangements. Therefore, all courses and programmes offered in collaboration with others should be included in Annual Monitoring, irrespective of whether UoG is leading the course/programme. The level and focus of monitoring is dependent on the nature of the arrangement (see examples below) but, as far as possible, it should fit with standard University process.

The completed Annual Monitoring Summary should be discussed with collaborating institutions to ensure that it presents an accurate reflection of the course or programme as a whole and that matters requiring attention are directed appropriately. Schools/RIs collaborating in courses and programmes should ensure that all participants receive a copy of the completed Annual Monitoring Summary.

Example 1

The delivery of a UoG programme by UoG staff using the premises and facilities of another organisation physically and geographically distanced from UoG campuses (often another Higher Education Institution) is known as ‘distance delivery’. The University’s standard requirements for Annual Monitoring will apply. The Annual Monitoring process should be completed for the programme and feed into School/RI Annual Monitoring at the same time and in the same way as other and equivalent programmes offered by the School/RI. If the same programme is offered on the home campus, a comparison should be made between the two, particularly in relation to student performance, student feedback and feedback from staff and the external examiner.

Example 2

The University also delivers joint/dual degrees. Annual Monitoring for a joint degree should be conducted by the Joint Management Board. The JMB should meet regularly and report at least annually to the relevant College Committee. The College will then submit a composite report on all its collaborative arrangements.

Q9. What should a College Annual Monitoring Summary report include?

The AM2 template identifies items to include in the College Annual Monitoring Summary, including commentary on:

  • Specified themes arising from previous Annual Monitoring activity. For each theme commentary is sought on What is working well? and What needs work?
  • Good Practice.
  • Hot Topics (set each year by the University’s Learning & Teaching Committee).

Q10. How are actions taken forward?

Actions are identified for various levels: i.e. School, College and the University. These are included in School and College Annual Monitoring Summary reports and then discussed at the relevant meetings:

  • School Quality & Enhancement Officers Meeting.
  • School Learning & Teaching Committee.
  • College Learning & Teaching Committee.
  • Academic Standards Committee (ASC).

School and College Quality & Enhancement Officers sit on the relevant School and College committees and will work with the conveners and clerks to identify the ‘owners’ of School and College level actions and seek reports on progress with actions to be submitted at meetings later in the cycle.

ASC is run by Academic Policy & Governance which will identify the ‘owners’ of University level actions and seek responses from them which will be reported back to ASC, and also made available to College and School Quality & Enhancement Officers for further dissemination.

Q11. How will I hear about progress with actions identified in Annual Monitoring?

School and College Quality & Enhancement Officers will disseminate information on progress with key actions at School, College and University level.

Summary information will also be published on the Academic Policy & Governance website and made available to School and College Quality & Enhancement Officers.


Q12. What is the Academic Standards Committee (ASC)?

ASC supports the implementation of the University’s Learning & Teaching Strategy through assurance and enhancement of the quality of educational provision and through maintenance of standards. ASC oversees the operation of most aspects of the University’s Academic Quality Framework including Annual Monitoring. College Quality & Enhancement Officers present College Annual Monitoring Summaries to ASC, and actions required at University level are identified and monitored.

Q13. What involvement do students have in the process?

While students do not contribute directly to the drafting of Annual Monitoring summary reports, their feedback in various forms is taken as part of the dataset used to review provision. Students are also advised of good practice, issues and actions identified through Annual Monitoring via the School Learning & Teaching Committee and should also receive information on progress with actions taken to enhance the student experience. 

Q14. Why do we report on enhancement?

We operate under the national Quality Enhancement Framework in Scotland which is distinct from the rest of the UK as it emphasises enhancement, not just quality assurance, taking a holistic approach in supporting the quality of the student experience. We work in partnership with the Quality Assurance Agency Scotland and are required to report annually to the Scottish Funding Council on our quality processes including our engagement with the enhancement framework.

We welcome the enhancement approach within the sector as we fully recognise that all staff, both academic and support, are continuously reflecting upon and seeking to improve practice in all areas of our work to advance learning and teaching and research in their disciplines and the quality of the student learning experience.