Examining the outcomes of the evaluation system for undergraduate programs in Brazil: The effect of socioeconomic background, educational conditions, selectivity, and institutional characteristics on student performance
AdvisorWoodard, Dudley B., Jr.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis research project represents the first national effort to examine the evaluation system implemented in the Brazilian higher education system to assess undergraduate education and determine its usefulness as an information tool for public policymakers. Due to the significant postsecondary education enrollment growth since 1995, concern about the quality of undergraduate programs has dominated the agenda of higher education. With little research available to inform policymakers, no general principles exist to guide public policy formation. A quantitative approach is used to explore the relationships between the quality of programs assessed by the program evaluation (ACO) and student performance at the exit exam (ENC). The data originated from three national databases in Brazil: the student exit exam (ENC) database, the evaluation of educational conditions (ACO) database, and the national information system for higher education (SIEdSup). The final sample comprises 77,085 undergraduate senior students from 698 undergraduate programs in four academic fields: Administration and Law (the largest fields), Civil Engineering (technological field), and Dentistry (a very selective field). Findings from this investigation offer strong evidence to conclude that administrative control is a higher imperative than institutional type. Public institutions, especially federal and state institutions, provide education at a higher quality level than private institutions. In regard to the educational conditions, faculty is undoubtedly the most critical resource for success in college, although student learning can be enhanced by having good quality curriculum and facilities. Lastly, SES background and program selectivity were significant predictors of student performance. The findings from this research project lead to three general principles that are helpful in informing public policymakers. Investment in public education pays, as the educational outcomes of public institutions were higher than those from private institutions. Investment in faculty is required to promote high quality education, which in turn does not require high quality facilities. Investment in graduate education is extremely necessary in this period of rapid enrollment growth, particularly to provide institutions of higher education with more qualified faculty and reduce the existing gap between elite and non-elite institutions. Other implications and recommendations are also discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College