Defining Quality in Primary and Secondary Education

  •  Anastasia Papanthymou    
  •  Maria Darra    


The purpose of this paper is to explore the conceptual content of the term ‘quality’ in primary and secondary education through the content analysis of 32 scientific publications. The analysis of the qualitative data is based on the methodology of grounded theory, revealing 21 major dimensions of quality with a high frequency of occurrence that are divided into five broader categories. The first category, ‘learning environment,’ includes psychosocial elements, physical elements, respect for diversity and collaboration, sharing, and team spirit. The second category, ‘learning content,’ includes student-centred pedagogy, well-structured knowledge base, continuous curriculum improvement, interest in all students, and life skills. The third category, ‘processes,’ includes teaching, learning, assessment, support, and supervision. The fourth category, ‘students,’ includes involvement/participation, feedback, challenging learning activities, and improved learning outcomes. Finally, the fifth category, ‘teachers,’ includes knowledge of educational context, content, curriculum, and pedagogy, pedagogical skills, emotional/management/reflection skills, and teacher professional development. According to the main findings, from the category ‘learning environment,’ the dimension concerning the psychosocial elements prevails in the literature; from the category ‘learning content’, the dimension of student-centred pedagogy prevails; and from the category ‘processes’, three dimensions prevail: the first is related to support and supervision and the other two are related to teaching and assessment. From the wider category ‘students,’ the dimension relating to improved learning outcomes prevails. Finally, in the category ‘teachers,’ two dimensions prevail: the first concerns skills (emotional, management, reflection), and the second dimension concerns knowledge of the educational context, content, curriculum, and pedagogy.

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