Defining Pedagogical Quality

In the first blog post of this series, I suggested that pedagogical quality can be used as an effective counter narrative to teacher quality for school improvement. I argued that pedagogical quality is a unique yet powerful description and measurement of learning and teaching as it happens in the school. As such, pedagogical quality is directly related to the core beliefs that schools hold about learning and teaching and as such, the purpose of school and education…

Pedagogical quality isn’t a universally agreed on though, and nor should it be, so our rationale of what constitutes pedagogical quality must be broad enough to include a wide variety of interpretations, yet succinct enough for us to understand, discuss and design innovative learning and teaching approaches. The IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework uses a simple model that identifies four dimensions that comprise pedagogical quality: 1) educational goals, 2) teacher moral purpose, 3) students needs, and 4) new opportunities.

Let’s now unpack each of these dimensions:

1. Educational Goals
The Melbourne Declaration for the Educational Goals for Young Australians does a pretty good job at unpacking educational goals. It identifies three distinct goals: 1) develop necessary the skills, knowledge, competencies, and ways of thinking, 2) develop creative and confident individuals, and 3) develop active and informed citizens.

So, what are the educational goals for your students? How closely do they align with the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration? Clearly identifying these goals is the first step in building a clear definition of pedagogical quality.


2. Teacher Role and Moral Purpose
Teachers bring their unique skills, knowledge and beliefs about learning and teaching, often this is referred to as teacher moral purpose. As such, what teachers individually themselves believe and understand to be their role as teachers also forms our definition of pedagogical quality. For some teachers the compelling motivation will be a focus on high level content knowledge and teaching strategies, for others a focus on developing individual connections with students is given greater importance, while others a desire to find new ways to improve both their practice and their student’s learning is paramount. In reality, most teachers will hold a mix of these three identities.

As you seek to redefine pedagogical quality in your school and classroom what is the role of your teachers? Is it consistent across the school? Does it need to be?


3. Student Needs
Just as teachers’ individuality influences our understanding of pedagogical quality, so does the individual needs of the schools students. There may be localised cohort considerations based on the unique makeup of the school’s students. There may be widespread generational shifts in the interests, experiences, and home learning adjunct to the curriculum. There may be shifts in societal and post school needs and priorities. Any of these factors may cause teachers and schools to redefine their understanding of pedagogical quality.

What are the needs of your students? Are these needs consistent across the school? How do these needs influence your definition of pedagogical quality?


4. Compelling Opportunities
New ways that modern technologies are being used outside of school settings and new learning spaces inside of the school are the most prominent examples of how compelling opportunities force a rethink of our definition of pedagogical quality. It is useful to examine these compelling opportunities in light of the new learning strategies that they afford. This might include looking at how the compelling opportunity changes the way learners learn with others, who they work on complex projects, and how they make decisions about their own learning.

What are the compelling opportunities for learning outside of your school’s current practice? How might they build on and redefine current pedagogical strengths and weaknesses?


By combining these four dimensions schools and teachers are able to construct a clear and powerful definition of pedagogical quality. A definition that will differ from school to school, and a definition that will grow over time. By focussing and measuring pedagogical quality schools and teachers can develop a powerful and convincing narrative for lasting and meaningful school improvement.


Participants at the IOI Weekend will get experience using the IOI pedagogical quality framework as they use it to identify innovation opportunities and measure pedagogical impact. 

You can download a printable version of the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework which is creative commons licensed here.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?


Photo credit: Feature image Roof Ladder taken by Photo taken by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho 
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