The question of the choice of methodology needs to come as early as possible in the consideration of the project. At some point, you may find yourself wondering:
Will any of the existing models of quality suit my own project?, or
Which one (if any) is the best quality model in the education of adults?, or perhaps
How do I go about making an appropriate decision?.
Basically, a model is a set of elements (some of which appear to represent the highest or optimum attainable value/expression), which are used as a reference (sometimes in order to make comparisons). As object of imitation, an existing model may be followed or "reproduced". Alternatively, a model can also serve as inspiration for further developments.
Most of the existing quality models were not developed for higher education but for other sectors such as industry, management, manufacturing and so on. For instance, ISO 9000 appears to be a set of standards for quality management, assurance and systems to be used in contractual supplier-customer relationships, while TQM is an organisational strategy aimed at the continuous improvement of effectiveness in achieving customer satisfaction.
In recent years different adaptations have been developed. However, there is no such thing as a universal genuine quality model for education. Most of these adaptations consider education as a service and are more focused on the administrative and organisational aspects rather than on the quality of the teaching and learning processes. Some types also include output measures to allow for comparison such as statistical data, performance indicators and so on.
Basically, the following types of activity (affecting the adoption of the model) can be identified in a project:
accreditation, awarding, certification
audit, peer review, visit/inspection
assessment, evaluation, reporting
Also, the environment in which the project takes place will possess characteristics (institutional, organisational, resources, methodologies and so on) that may influence the adoption of the model to be implemented.
In practice, most cases appear to be "ad-hoc" models and, according to our experience, very diverse, ranging from the adoption of a ready-made model to the development of a completely "tailor-made" model.
In some cases different models were adopted for the same evaluation project by different sections within the same institution.