Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


Novel Recipes




core definition

Inspection is the direct, independent observation and evaluation of activities and resources by a trained professional.

explanatory context

Inspection differs from peer review in many ways. First, inspectors tend to be full-time occupations (although sometimes seconded). Second, inspectors usually have far more training in and experience of evaluation than peers. Third, inspection visits are more fluid and less predetermined than peer group visits. Fourth, inspection tends to involve more direct observation of practice than most peer reviews. Fifth, inspection tends to involve more two-way dialogue and sharing of practice than peer review events.

analytical review

A British senior inspector defined inspection as:

Inspection is concerned with standards of learning and is based on the direct observation of students and their teachers at work. It involves professional judgement, which is collective rather than individual, and draws on a knowledge of national standards. (Melia, 1994, p. 40)


Campbell and Rozsnyai (2002, p. 132) define an inspector as an independent evaluator but do not draw a distinction with peer review or external expert.

Inspector: Also: peer, external expert. Member of a selected team evaluating a unit but who is not connected to it. (Campbell & Rozsnyai, 2002, p. 132)


An alternative view links inspection with ensuring compliance to specification.

Inspection: measuring, checking, examining or gauging one or more properties of different entities  and comparing the results obtained by setting requirements in order to establish whether congruence has been achieved for each property. (Tempus, 2001)

In answer to the self-imposed question “What is inspection?”, the Education and Training Inspectorate (undated) describes instead the purpose and tasks of inspection.

The purpose of inspection is to promote the highest possible standards of learning, teaching, training and achievement throughout the education, training and youth sectors. In all inspections, the fundamental task of the inspection team, is to:

• make, and communicate, an objective professional evaluation of the quality of learning and teaching, including the standards achieved by learners;

• evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the leadership and management of the organisation being inspected;

• base this professional evaluation on evidence gained, in the main, through first-hand observation.

The report of the findings of the inspection should acknowledge good practice and outcomes and, where appropriate, provide a clear basis for improvement.

associated issues

related areas

See also



institutional accreditation



Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO.

Education and Training Inspectorate, undated, Common Framework for Inspection, available at, accessed 1 September 2012, page not available 3 January 2017.

Melia, T., 1994, ‘Inspecting quality in the classroom: an HMI perspective’ in Green, D. (Ed.), 1994, What is Quality in Higher Education? pp. 38–45 (Buckingham, Open University press and Society for Research into Higher Education).

Tempus, 2001, Glossary of the terms related to quality assurance Development of Quality Assurance System in Higher Education (QUASYS) Tempus Joint European Project, UM JEP-16015-2001 , accessed 1 September 2012, still available 20 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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