Following rigorous initial accreditation; biennial audit inspections are carried out by the ACTDEC Independent Audit Panel. As a result ACTDEC is able to provide regular professional quality assurance for members of the public completing an ACTDEC TESOL distance course at one of five levels.
The following items (based on the ACTDEC Code of Practice) are subject to audit. The numbers and emboldened headings (below) relate to items listed in the Code of Practice.
1. Publicity, Advertising and Pre-course Information
ACTDEC Reason for audit: to ensure that relevant courses are ‘as advertised’ and give a ‘clear and truthful account of the accredited courses offered.’
Suggested method of audit: reference to the member’s website(s) or published course material is provided for the auditor. If changes have been made, the centre provides access either to the relevant information on the centre website or hard copy of any changes that have been made.
2. Selection and Admission of Participants
Reason for audit: to ensure that candidates hold the appropriate qualifications for the courses they have applied for.
Suggested method of audit: reference to the registration forms which students complete and send to ACTDEC, compared with members’ own criteria for admission.
The auditor is provided with two completed student registration forms to ensure they are consistent with the qualifications and experience required for the course. Two samples should be provided for each level of course the centre offers.
The registration forms selected are chosen by the auditor to ensure rigorous control.
The auditor is also provided with completed registration forms for at least two non-native students (again chosen at random by the auditor).
4. Course Process and 6. Progress and Assessment
Reason for audit: to examine how each institution marks student coursework and to measure the consistency in assessment. This helps ensure course monitoring for all accredited members.
Suggested method of audit: each organisation submits two samples of completed student work per level. Samples will normally be requested by the auditor from recently graduated students. If possible, to ensure consistency of marking, centres provide samples of student work that has been marked by different tutors. It is normal for auditors to see a variety of student work (i.e. work which has been awarded significantly different grades).
5. Course Structure, Syllabus and Content
Reason for audit: to ensure that material provided to students is the same or not substantially different to that which was originally presented at submission to the Accreditation Panel. Where material updates have been introduced, to verify that these are within parameters of each appropriate level.
Suggested method of audit: comparison with original samples submitted.
The auditor is informed of any changes that have been made to material since the last audit or accreditation and should be referred to examples of this material (hard copy or via web site) along with a rationale/explanation of why the changes have been made. Each current course syllabus is checked against the ACTDEC Specimen Regulations and Syllabus
6. Progress and Assessment and 7. Course Administration
Reason for audit: to monitor student progress and to ensure that any student grievances have been responded to appropriately.
Suggested method of audit: The auditor could be provided with samples of e-mail contact between tutor and/or Director of Studies and students to ensure that participants are receiving an appropriate level of support from the centre.
The centre is also required to submit samples of completed records of students’ ‘progress, assessment and achievement’ to ensure that records are being well kept. End of unit or course completion comments are also inspected and noted.
Reason for audit: to monitor any change to staffing arrangements and to ensure that newly appointed staff are adequately qualified/experienced.
Suggested method of audit: centre provides information concerning training and development to ensure that new members of staff are adequately prepared and trained for working in this context.
12. Course Evaluation and Quality Assurance
Reason for audit: to ensure that procedures to monitor and maintain internal standards on delivery of courses are available.
Suggested method of audit: Members submit sample records of course appraisal for inspection. Directors of Studies should provide information as to how and why the course might need to be developed further or adapted as well as information about any changes to the delivery/content of the course.
Centres are required to provide evidence that any previous suggestions or recommendations have been acted upon.
Note: Course participants are encouraged to consider contacting the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have reason to query or question any aspect of the course they are following. First however, participants should contact their course provider in order to attempt to resolve the problem directly.