Higher Education Research and Development

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 1469-8366
Print ISSN: 0729-4360
Publications
It is not easy to do justice to the professional life of a respected colleague, especially a colleague such as John Bowden. John is a big man. He is big in stature, big in personality and big in ideas and vision. He is a quintessential modern (as opposed to post-modern) man whose schemes and thinking are rich and far-reaching. As a collection, the papers in this issue are a rich tribute to someone who has without doubt had significant impact on teaching and learning in higher education internationally. The authors should be congratulated. I also wish to thank my fellow editors of this Special Issue, Gerlese Åkerlind and Pam Green, for the opportunity to write this Introduction to the issue. The three of us were the original editorial team, deciding on the design of the issue and potential contributors together, but ill-health stopped me from contributing either a paper or input into the major editorial tasks. I am deeply grateful to Gerlese and to Pam for the opportunity now, at the eleventh hour, to make a personal contribution to this issue. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Higher education policy is seeking, in the interest of 'quality assurance', to reward teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Academic language and learning (ALL) advisers, who work closely with students to improve their performance in their courses of study, have much to contribute to SoTL. ALL advisers who adopt an 'academic literacies' approach share with lecturers in the disciplines an engagement with issues of '-ography' (i.e. writing in and for a discourse community) - including the relationships between epistemology, form, and language - yet, misconceptions about ALL advisers' work can prevent discipline lecturers from consulting them when thinking about questions of teaching and learning in their own field. This paper discusses ALL advisers' access to insights into students' experiences of learning and of being taught, with relevance both for particular disciplines and for academic culture across the disciplines; their contributions to SoTL; the difficulties they encounter in trying to communicate across the borders of the disciplines; and ways of improving this situation in the context of the new emphasis on encouraging improvement in the quality of teaching.
 
Kolb learning cycle and learning styles (source: Tucker, 2008b).  
Graphs showing Kolb learning style distributions of two 2006 cohorts: 2.1 – all first-year; 2.2 – all third-year (source: Tucker 2007).  
Graphs showing Kolb learning style distributions of two 2006 cohorts: 2.1-all first-year; 2.2-all third-year (source: Tucker 2007). 
This paper investigates the relationship between learning style, as determined by Kolb's Learning Style Inventory, age and one measure of academic performance in design assignments for two cohorts of first- and third-year architecture students. The paper focuses on the results of a cross-curriculum learning style survey conducted as part of a project aimed at resolving the learning difficulties of students collaborating in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural team assignments. The research was conducted to determine how learning style differences in heterogeneous teams might be addressed through pedagogy. In light of evidence in student cohorts of learning style changes towards the learning styles of design teachers as students progress through their studies, this paper demonstrates how these changes reflect a statistically significant relationship between learning styles and academic performance in design assignments.
 
Two dimensional representation of the "Supervisor/Student Alignment Model" showing outcomes for four combinations of student's state and supervisor's approach, and hypothetical line of alignment over the course of candidature.
Postgraduate research student supervision is examined with the aim of developing a model of the supervisory relationship to improve practice by encouraging a more proactive role for students. The term "competent autonomy" is defined and argued to be a universal objective of the PhD. A tentative "supervisor/student alignment model" based on the development of this objective is proposed. It draws upon some features of earlier models but stresses the need for a dynamic alignment of supervisory style with the student's degree of development. Operationalised as a tool and tested empirically, it was found to encourage students to periodically reflect on and discuss their needs as competent autonomy is developed. Feedback is presented from a group of PhD students with whom the tool has been used at approximately 6 monthly intervals for up to three years to deliver supervision aligned to their dynamic needs.
 
Background information on PDRs in Australia (N = 1005-1010)
Concerns with postdoctoral research training and employment outcomes are growing at an international level. Recent studies of postdoctoral and other contract researchers in various countries emphasize common issues associated with these appointments, including the absence of any systematic definition of postdoctoral research positions, lack of policy and data on postdoctoral researchers, and increasing dissatisfaction among postdoctoral researchers with the nature of their position and with their future employment prospects. These issues are explored further in the study reported here, through an interview-based investigation of the views of both postdoctoral researchers and postdoctoral supervisors with regard to the nature of postdoctoral research positions and the career development support provided within those positions. Key findings include substantial variation in the functions of postdoctoral researchers, and in the perceived purposes of such positions. Despite a widespread perception among both postdocs and their supervisors of limited employment opportunities in academia or research positions, there was a consistent focus among both parties on the postdoctoral period as providing preparation for such positions.
 
In this study of learning to research on a higher degree programme in Education, half the sample of 18 students reported that the experience of learning changed them as people. The lived experience of learning of these students was analysed using an approach based on a Variation Theory of learning. The critical aspects of this object of learning and the relevance structure and dimensions of variation related to this change were identified and are illustrated in individual cases of learning. The critical aspects relate to epistemological stance, perception of others' perspectives, the (relational) nature of learning, interpretation (reflexivity) and perception of professional practice. It is contended that change in relation to these aspects of a person's world is related to change in one's own person, and that learning to research on a professional doctorate is congruent with this object of learning.
 
The psychodynamics of learning and teaching at a time of changing funding arrangements and priorities are explored and discussed through students' accounts of their experience of university. The contextual, organizational and socio‐political characteristics implicated in these psychodynamic processes are considered. Among the psychodynamic issues that emerged from students' accounts were organizational distancing, expressed in the physical and symbolic distance between students and teachers as well as a perceived distance between lecturers and their teaching responsibilities, and transference evident in the students' struggle between dependence and independence.
 
Most postgraduate research students face the task of presenting an oral seminar on their proposed research early in their candidature. Those of us who work with international postgraduate research students know that they can find this task daunting, and the literature both in Australia and abroad confirms that these students often lack confidence in this task. This paper presents findings of a small case study which compared the influence of observing a seminar performance of a peer to that of a senior academic on the confidence, or self-efficacy, for seminar presentations of participants in a bridging program for international postgraduate research students at an Australian university. Participants responded to a 19-item questionnaire which measured self-efficacy for four areas of seminar presentation: speech, display, content, and presenter presence. The results indicated that the use of a peer model performance was the more effective pedagogical method for enhancing student confidence in this context.
 
Although governments and universities worldwide recognise the value of study abroad as a means to prepare graduates to live and work in a globalising world, there is a wide gap between the rhetoric and reality. The reasons for this are complex, but one factor, not often discussed, is the role academics play in study abroad. This paper explores academics' perceptions of study abroad in universities within two higher education systems: Australian and Czech. Findings from both countries are considered across four themes: academics' perceived value of study abroad; ‘internationalising’ academic staff; academics' concerns about student equity and integrating study abroad into the curriculum at home. The implications for practice and further research are discussed.
 
Average grant income from external sources per person for initial mentees and controls in the years 1999-2004
Response rates for questionnaires Response rate
This paper discusses and comprehensively evaluates a mentoring scheme for junior female academics. The program aimed to address the under-representation of women in senior positions by increasing participation in networks and improving women's research performance. A multifaceted, longitudinal design, including a control group, was used to evaluate the success of mentoring in terms of the benefits for the women and for the university. The results indicate mentoring was very beneficial, showing that mentees were more likely to stay in the university, received more grant income and higher level of promotion, and had better perceptions of themselves as academics compared with non-mentored female academics. This indicates that not only do women themselves benefit from mentoring but that universities can confidently implement well-designed initiatives, knowing that they will receive a significant return on investment.
 
This article offers an unconventional cost–benefit analysis of three academic development initiatives at a large Australasian university: a three-day foundation course for new academics, a series of one-on-one teaching consultations and a two-year postgraduate certificate program. Weaving together qualitative, quantitative and arts-based methodologies, I examine the pros and cons of each mode, arguing that higher education research is enriched rather than diminished by hybrid strategies that challenge the status quo.
 
Changes within the higher education sector have had significant effects on the identity of the individual academic. As institutions transform in response to government-driven policy and funding directives, there is a subsequent impact upon the roles and responsibilities of those employed as educational professionals. Academic practices are changing as multiple roles emerge from the reshaping of academic work. Institutional pressures to produce specific research outputs at the same time as teaching and undertaking managerial/administrative responsibilities are creating tension between what academics perceive as their professional identity and that prescribed by their employing organisation. Reconciling this disconnect is part of the challenge for academics, who are now seeking to understand and manage their changing identity. Narratives obtained from research in a university with a polytechnic background and an institute of technology (aspiring to be a university), provide some subjective reflections for examining this issue.
 
A principal consideration in recent cross-sector educational reforms in Hong Kong is ensuring that undergraduate programmes prepare students for the future workplace, a factor that has made the capstone a central feature of the new four-year curriculum. This paper discusses a study that explored the final-year student experience based on a final-year project (FYP). Both recent graduate and final-year student feedbacks reveal some uncertainty and a lack of confidence over successful transition that graduates attribute to an overtly research focus in the current design of FYPs. Inviting comment from senior academics allows a fuller picture of the rationale behind, and administrative considerations in, conducting a capstone experience. This formative study highlights specific features in designing a capstone experience and the need for academic engagement in order to support the desired outcome of graduate employability.
 
To investigate the effects of different kinds of curriculum, the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) and a short form of the Approaches to Studying Inventory (ASI) were administered to 225 2nd-year students at six different schools of occupational therapy. Their curricula were classified as problem-based, subject-based or hybrid. Their scores on the scales of the CEQ and ASI were closely related, insofar as they shared more than half of their respective variance. Problem-based curricula were associated with higher scores on the scales of the CEQ concerned with appropriate assessment and emphasis on independence. With the ASI, problem-based curricula were associated with lower scores on all of the scales concerned with a reproducing orientation, and with higher scores on the scale concerned with a deep approach. These findings suggest that the implementation of a problem-based curriculum has desirable effects on the quality of learning, and these are at least in part mediated by students' perceptions of their academic environment.
 
The Australian government has set ambitious targets for increased higher-education participation of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. There is, thus, a pressing need to explore how best to empower these students with what they require to progress and succeed at university. The paper draws on a literature review and qualitative data from a national study in which 89 students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and 26 staff were interviewed. The paper argues that demystifying academic culture and discourses for these students is a key step institutions and staff can take in assisting students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to progress and succeed at university. A recurring theme to emerge from both the literature and interviews with students and staff was that teaching the discourse empowers and enables students to learn, has a positive impact on their sense of belonging and ultimately helps them succeed in higher education.
 
The purpose of this research was to develop and test a multicausal model of the individual characteristics associated with academic success in first-year Australian university students. This model comprised the constructs of: previous academic performance, achievement motivation, self-regulatory learning strategies, and personality traits, with end-of-semester grades the dependent variable of interest. The study involved the distribution of a questionnaire, which assessed motivation, self-regulatory learning strategies and personality traits, to 1193 students at the start of their first year at university. Students' academic records were accessed at the end of their first year of study to ascertain their first and second semester grades. This study established that previous high academic performance, use of self-regulatory learning strategies, and being introverted and agreeable, were indicators of academic success in the first semester of university study. Achievement motivation and the personality trait of conscientiousness were indirectly related to first semester grades, through the influence they had on the students' use of self-regulatory learning strategies. First semester grades were predictive of second semester grades. This research provides valuable information for both educators and students about the factors intrinsic to the individual that are associated with successful performance in the first year at university.
 
The academic award restructuring of 1991 established a trial period for academic staff appraisal for the purposes of staff development. The trend in Australia towards more formal performance management for academics has occurred during a period of substantial change to the structure of higher education and institutional management, and brought debate on whether appraisal, for either summative purposes (where performance assessment is for remuneration or promotion purposes) or formative purposes (where the emphasis is on planning personal development), is appropriate for academic staff. Arguments have been put forward for the benefits of appraisal processes with primarily developmental intent. Thus far there have been reports of the characteristics and processes of appraisal schemes, but less data on outcomes; in particular, little evidence to indicate the extent to which schemes lead to worthwhile staff development. This paper reports selected findings of a study of the evolving appraisal scheme of The University of Melbourne. The study was conducted after the scheme's second year of operation by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education which played an advisory role in an internal review of the scheme. The findings reveal some uncertainty among staff about the intentions of the scheme, and tensions between summative and formative purposes, perhaps not surprising given the contentious issue which staff appraisal has been in higher education. Nevertheless, positive outcomes were identified, but possibly too few to claim that the scheme was fully achieving a developmental objective. These findings raise questions about the effectiveness of academic staff appraisal nationally and suggest that it is time to reconsider the policy linkage between appraisal and staff development.
 
The current business landscape has created the impetus to develop management graduates with capabilities that foster responsible leadership and sustainability. Through the lens of Gitsham’s (2009) 3C model (Complexity, Context and Connection) of graduate capabilities, this paper discusses the experience of implementing the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education at the Graduate School of Management, La Trobe University Australia. The case highlights that universities should use both a top down and bottom up approach and engage students in the implementation process. The analysis also shows that educational institutions face similar challenges to business organizations in terms of resource limitations, inertia, and resistance to change. While significant inroads have been made at the course and discipline level, more work needs to be done. The use of the UN PRME as a guide for delivering sustainability-focused management education has provided an opportunity to structure the change process, and to provide support through partnerships.
 
Academics are expected to publish. In Australia universities receive extra funding based on their academic publication rates and academic promotion is difficult without a good publication record. However, the reality is that only a small percentage of academics are actively publishing. To fix this problem, a number of international universities and other higher education institutions have implemented interventions with the main aim being to increase the number of publications. A comprehensive literature search identified 17 studies published between 1984 and 2004, which examined the effects of these interventions. Three key types of interventions were identified: writing courses, writing support groups and writing coaches. The resulting publication output varied, but all interventions led to an increase in average publication rates for the participants. Yes Yes
 
Universities in Australia are becoming increasingly concerned with their reputation as ‘engaged’ institutions. Yet there is significant confusion about what this idea of ‘engagement’ means and no clear way of measuring or reporting it. In part, this is because of the nature of engagement itself which is dependent on local context, partnerships and communities. This presents a difficulty for academic staff undertaking engaged work within institutions and stresses the need for institutions to develop internal processes that clearly articulate definitions of engagement, set out performance expectations and provide processes for the reward and recognition of the scholarship of engagement. In a sector increasingly concerned with the outputs of research as measurable by publication bibliometrics and grant income, the sometimes difficult to measure outcomes of engaged work can become relegated and dismissed. As part of a project to articulate performance expectations in the area of the scholarship of engagement for academic promotion at the University of Wollongong, researchers undertook an extensive international literature review to learn what had been done in this area previously and to identify issues of concern. This paper sets out the findings from this review, considers the implications of engaged scholarship for academic promotion and suggests some possible ways forward for institutions and staff working in this area.
 
Academic development has had an approximately forty-year history within Australian higher education, paralleling the major expansions and changes in the sector, both nationally and internationally. Its principal concerns have been the improvement of teaching and the professional development of the academics who teach. The history of academic development has gone largely undocumented and unexamined at a national level, in Australia and elsewhere. However, as university teaching has increasingly become important in relation to quality in higher education, academic development has become a central player in the work of universities. It becomes of particular importance at this time to garner a more thorough understanding of the continuities as well as the discontinuities in the meanings and practices of university teaching and in the work of those whose role has been to support its development. This article presents a discussion of two key themes identified from a set of oral history interviews conducted with early leaders in academic development in Australia. These themes offer different insights into issues and understandings of academic development in today's university. The first concerns a perennial issue in academic development - the struggle to define academic development's emerging ethos in relation to research and service to the broader university's endeavour. The second theme represents an issue that has been forgotten or marginalised in the official accounts of academic development but which lives on in the 'lore' of the field - the role of activism in the shaping of university teaching and academic development. 2010 HERDSA.
 
University workloads, their impact on staff and how they can be managed, are the subject of considerable research and discussion. This paper addresses strategies to deal with the impact of workloads on teaching practices in higher education. In particular, it aims to discover the implicit theories and tacit assumptions that underlie perceptions of what constitutes quality teaching in the social sciences. Using an ethnographic approach, the research revealed that the strategies used by staff are linked to how they identify themselves: as researchers or ‘good’ teachers, and highlights a mismatch between the value academics place on quality teaching and what is rewarded by universities. The paper illustrates that strategies rely on assumptions about the nature of time, and the links between time and quality. Academics have little opportunity for critical reflection on teaching practices in order to be responsive to the changing contexts of higher education.
 
Multivariate tests of course variables: Faculty of Arts, 1998-2000
Courses from the fourth quartile with the highest percentages of FNS and F, 1998-2000*
This paper situates the topic of student assessment and the moderation of assessment within a broader context of policy debates about the quality of teaching and learning in universities. The focus and discussion grew out of a research project that aimed to investigate factors related to academic success and failure in a Faculty of Arts. The study, initially, identified a range of student demographic and biographical factors significantly related to academic success and failure. However, there was also evidence of pronounced differences in grading practices between different components (courses, programs, schools) within the institution. The paper explores the implications of such inconsistencies for the institutional mechanisms and processes that have typically been advocated as sufficient safeguards of quality. It concludes that the tendency of governments and other stakeholders to now champion performance indicators, along with the shifting focus towards quality ‘outcomes’, are likely to increasingly throw the strengths and weaknesses of institutional assessment practices into stark relief.
 
Students' beliefs, attitudes, experiences and responses towards assessment reflect the ecology of their specific context. The study examines Hong Kong tertiary students' conceptions of assessment using focus group interviews and the content analysis technique. Using six focus groups, 26 Hong Kong university students were interviewed. Hong Kong tertiary students associated assessment with lifelong high-stake examinations. The assessment determined an individual's personal value or worth and achievement was an obligation one had towards one's family. As a legitimate tool for selecting the best candidates for educational and career opportunities, assessment provided upward social mobility, but also served the function of monitoring and surveillance to shape people's behaviour according to societal expectations. Resilience was reflected in both self-regulative agentic responses of effort, persistence and gaming strategy and passive escaping from the oppressive assessment system. The general emotional reaction towards assessment was negative; and participants cast doubts on the assessment validity, accuracy and the limited utility confined by academic-only content. In addition to the portrayal of the Chinese student as an effective, persistent learner, this study shows that Chinese students are very aware of the negative, controlling impact of assessment on their lives.
 
The study focused on academic staff in a post‐1987 university, that is, a former college of advanced education which had been awarded university status as a result of the Australian Government's decision to have a Unified National System of universities. The focus of attention was motivation and self‐efficacy for teaching and research. The effect of faculty of affiliation, level of appointment, gender, qualifications, and research productivity on staff's self‐reported attributions for teaching and research were examined. Tutors, staff with bachelor degrees, academics with low research productivity, and women had higher teaching motivation. One faculty was lower in both research motivation and self‐efficacy, and associate professors and professors had high levels of research efficacy. Men and women had the same level of research motivation and self‐efficacy. Staff with higher degrees and greater research productivity were more motivated and self‐efficacious about research. The results suggest the need to understand more clearly how each individual's research motivation and self‐efficacy is constructed and to determine the best method of increasing motivation and self‐efficacy for teaching and research.
 
Australia is now the third largest provider of education to overseas students. Between 1994 and 2000 the number of overseas students taught by Australian universities increased by 150% to 107,622. It is estimated that 41% of the recent growth in international education has been in offshore enrolments, with each of Australias's 38 universities now providing offshore education. This paper reviews recent Australian literature on transnational teaching and presents an overview of a study with academics who teach transnationally and who are drawn from nine Australian universities. The study covers the professional development and teaching experiences of these academics and their perceptions of the induction/orientation and ongoing professional development needed to suppport the delivery of quality trans-cultural education offshore.
 
Healey's (2005, 2007) adapted model of the research-teaching nexus.  
Research and teaching are supposed to be closely related in universities. Among academics the belief in a symbiotic relationship is strong. However, it is unclear what form this relationship can take. Several authors have presented categories and dimensions to clarify this relationship and the aim of this project was to contribute to this discussion by understanding what academics’ ideal research‐teaching nexus would look like. The ideal images of 30 academics were investigated using a mental visualisation assignment. Respondents were encouraged to describe in detail what for them the linkage between research and teaching would look like in the ideal situation. Five profiles of the research‐teaching nexus could be distinguished: teach research results; make research known; show what it means to be a researcher; help to conduct research; and provide research experience. These profiles are related to dimensions proposed earlier in the literature on the research‐teaching nexus.
 
Summary of research process and findings.
Despite ongoing equity initiatives, there is still a clear discrepancy in regards to access to higher education for potential students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. This paper reports on an action research initiative that has developed a model of engaged outreach as an alternative approach to traditional university outreach. Engaged outreach uses the principles of higher education community engagement to develop stronger relationships between universities and their local communities for the purposes of increasing aspiration and access to higher education. The project was designed using a reflective, collaborative process with local Pacific Island immigrant communities living in an area of high social deprivation in southeast Queensland, Australia. Research progressed in three key stages, which together form the basis of the proposed model of engaged outreach. While it is acknowledged that the success of engaged outreach will depend on its implementation as a long-term strategy, preliminary results from this pilot project suggest that it demonstrates real potential to address this important but seemingly entrenched issue in Australian higher education. 2010 HERDSA.
 
The paper begins with a brief account of the transformation of research degree studies under the pressures of global capitalism and neo-liberal governmentality. A parallel transformation is occurring in the conduct of research through the use of information and communication technologies. Yet the potential of ICTs to shape practices of surveillance or to produce new student-supervisor relations and enhance the processes of developing the dissertation has received almost no critical attention. As doctoral supervisor and student, we then describe the features and uses of a web-based open state archive of the student's work-in-progress, developed by the student and accessible to his supervisor. Our intention was to encourage more open conversations between data and theorising, student and supervisor, and ultimately between the student and professional community. However, we recognise that relations of accountability, as these have developed within a contemporary "audit revolution" (Power, 1994, 1997) in universities, create particular "lines of visibility" (Munro, 1996). Thus while the open-state archive may help to redefine in less managerial terms notions of quality, transparency, flexibility and accountability, it might also make possible greater supervisory surveillance. How should we think about the panoptical potential of this archive? We argue that the diverse kinds of interactional patterns and pedagogical intervention it encourages help to create shifting subjectivities. Moreover, the archive itself is multiple, in bringing together an array of diverse materials that can be read in various ways, by following multiple paths. It therefore constitutes a collage, which we identify as a mode of cognition and of accounting distinct from but related to argument and narrative. As a more "open" text (Iser, 1978) it has an indeterminacy which may render it less open to abuse for the technologies of managerial accountability.
 
This paper describes a terminological approach to the teaching and learning of fundamental concepts in foundation tertiary units in Statistics and Accounting, using an online dictionary-style resource (TermFinder) with customised termbanks for each discipline. Designed for independent learning, the termbanks support inquiring students from non-English-speaking backgrounds – including international students – in their understanding of the key concepts of their discipline. Two quasi-experimental studies of the use of these termbanks are reported here, showing the difference that they made in the performances of first-year students studying Statistics and Accounting, when compared with those from the previous year before the termbanks were available. In both units, the exam results for the experimental cohorts were significantly better than those of the cohorts in the preceding year. Higher success rates and raised levels of engagement with terminological questions were registered for all students, Australian domestic and international. Individual study patterns emerged in the trial of the accounting termbank, with international students making early use of the termbank with its translation equivalents in Mandarin Chinese, and Australian students more inclined to use it close to the final exam. The testing of the customised termbanks, developed collaboratively by lexicographers and academic staff, vindicates their use in large, diverse classes and their value to students as resources for independent learning. That apart, the research affirms the value of focusing on terminology and the nexus with disciplinary concepts in introductory courses.
 
The Honey and Mumford Learning Style questionnaire was applied to undergraduate students at the first and third year level courses in Nursing, Optometry and Podiatry in the Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Health Science, and to students in the post-graduate courses in Nursing and Nutrition and Dietetics. With one exception, there were no significant differences between first and third year student results for any learning style of course. The mean scores from all courses fell within the normal range defined by Honey and Mumford, but some differences were identified in the preferred learning style across the different disciplines. The implications of these findings are discussed with respect to the use of different teaching techniques such as structured lectures, practical exercises, case discussions and role-play, as the findings may be used to predict the type of instructional techniques which would be most effective. Recommendations are made on the most appropriate of these techniques for different health science courses.
 
A process for mapping and embedding graduate attributes within programs and courses 
Sample survey results as reported for music courses
Action learning cycle: planning, enacting, reviewing and re ̄ecting on the mapped curriculum 
Graduate attribute scale scores for ®rst and ®nal year students 2001 and 2003 
Graduate attribute scales for 2001 and 2003 comparing ®rst-year music with ®rst-year UQ scores. 
With increasing importance being placed on the development of generic skills in higher education, institutions are espousing, as part of their mission and objectives, which generic skills their graduates achieve, and teachers are being required to document how their courses and programs support the development of those skills and attributes. The mapping of opportunities for development of graduate attributes in the planned curriculum thus plays an important role in relation to quality assurance and reporting processes, and embedding these opportunities in curricula may ensure alignment between the espoused curriculum and the taught curriculum. But are these processes enough to ensure that what is espoused and enacted through the curriculum is aligned with what students experience and learn? This issue is addressed here through a case study of a team of university teachers at one Australian institution who went beyond the mapping and embedding of graduate attributes in their courses of study, and engaged in a process of action learning to create a valid and living curriculum for the development of graduate attributes. Yes Yes
 
Reading is an essential activity for learning at university, but lecturers are not always experienced in setting appropriate questions to test understanding of texts. In other words, their assessments may not be ‘constructively aligned’ with the learning outcomes they hope their students to exhibit. In examination conditions, questions may be set with insufficient time for re-reading available texts, thus drawing more on students' powers of recall than on deeper learning and comprehension. Previous research has been undertaken on reading comprehension generally, but no research has yet explored the interaction of factors such as text availability (re-reading of texts), text layout, question type and respondents' language background. This study explores the correctness of 50 participants' responses to a set reading task based on an expository text, and participants' confidence in giving those answers, in relation to four factors: the effects of question type; text availability; text layout; and language background. The main findings are that non-native speakers of English have more difficulty and less confidence in answering implicit questions and that reviewing the text has a significant effect on response correctness for implicit questions. The form of text layout did not show a significant effect, however. Our results have implications for lecturers who set readings and questions for comprehension and others who use reading comprehension as part of their ‘hidden curriculum’. Further research in this area is required to determine more precisely the effects of language background.
 
Teaching awards are now common practice in higher education. However, few award applicants and their writing guides have investigated their experience of writing a teaching award application, a writing process recognised as different from that required in research publication. To systematically research and analyse their personal experiences two successful Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation applicants (Robyn and Thea) and their guide (Coralie) undertook a process of self-inquiry from an autoethnographic perspective. This paper presents a narrative constructed by Coralie, Robyn and Thea to bring into one story their individual autoethnographies. This collective narrative takes the reader beyond the scholarly discussions of benefits and concerns about teaching award schemes prominent in the literature to date, to uncover a previously hidden view of award application writing. From this new viewpoint writing a teaching award application is seen as a process which moves the applicant from a position of certainty and comfort (‘homeliness’), through a period where ‘things fall apart’ as the applicant's sense of ‘unhomeliness’ (disorientation and confusion) increases, to a time where ‘things fall together’ as a newfound sense of ‘homeliness’ that represents growth in the individual as a teacher and a writer. Applicants develop a clearer understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as educators and the confidence to challenge their previous pedagogical practices. As writers they develop attitudes and skills to recognise and to set aside familiar, but limiting, writing strategies.
 
The article continues a critical discussion of phenomenography by raising some issues on the status of interview data in such research. It is argued that it is doubtful if and in what sense the interview data generated in much of the empirical work within this tradition can be assumed to refer to “ways of experiencing”, the core object of research in phenomenography. In general, it would seem that the data must be understood as indicative of accounting practices — ways of talking and reasoning — that interviewees, for one reason or another, find appropriate when being asked questions. Very little, if anything, is gained in analytical terms by an initial commitment to a position in which the researcher connects utterances to experiences rather than to discourse, since the latter is what is in fact analyzed. It is also argued that in some important respects discursive practices must be seen as preceding experience, and that experiential accounts given by individuals are grounded in discursive patterns.
 
Personal-social dynamics of group work at university: A combined sociocultural and socio-cognitive perspective  
This paper examines the mediating role of students' goals in group work at university. Research on cooperative and collaborative learning has provided empirical support for the cognitive, motivational and social benefits of group work but the antecedents of motivation and ongoing management of emerging motivational and socio-emotional issues have received less attention. A theory of self-regulation that incorporates students' personal goals and perceptions of context, combined with a sociocultural perspective on co-regulation of individuals and contexts, can help understand why and how some groups resolve their social challenges while others are less successful. An empirical study highlighted the mediating role of students' goals in their appraisals of group assignments, perceptions of various aspects of the contexts, and in turn regulation strategies to achieve their goals. Qualitative differences were found in the regulation strategies of students with positive and negative appraisals.
 
Descriptive statistics for seven subscales of ASI-S
Correlations among ASI-S subscales and academic results
The short form of Entwistle's (1981) Approaches to Studying Inventory (ASI-S) was administered to 503 mature-aged students, most of whom identified themselves as disadvantaged and were returning to study after many years absence. Analysis of the 503 responses showed that internal consistency estimates for the seven subscales of the ASI-S were generally low, but that confirmatory factor analysis could recover two major dimensions corresponding to deep and surface orientations to learning. To examine the predictive validity of the ASI-S with this population, results for a mathematics unit which they were studying were regressed on factor scores. Results of the structural analysis indicated that the deep orientation was unrelated to academic progression in mathematics but that high scores on the surface orientation were associated with poor academic performance ( = 0.092). These findings indicate that broad learning orientations are fundamental and can be identified in a group of students returning to study after a long absence. The study also emphasises the importance of examining the particular study context when evaluating the effect of learning orientations. The effect of deep and surface orientations may be positive or negative depending on the subject area and the learning context.
 
Public relations educators are frequently challenged by students' flawed perceptions of public relations. Two contrasting case studies are presented in this paper to illustrate how socially-oriented paradigms may be applied to a real-client project to deliver a transformative learning experience. A discourse-analytic approach is applied within the case studies as a technique for identifying changes in students' understandings of the ideological structures, power relations and knowledge systems that underpin public relations and for determining whether transformative learning has taken place. The discourse engagement and normative/critical/ethical paradigmatic orientations examined in this paper provide conceptual foundations for developing civic responsibility that needs to be underpinned by salient social theory.
 
Reflection is not a new concept in the teaching of higher education and is often an important component of many disciplinary courses. Despite this, past research shows that while there are examples of rich reflective strategies used in some areas of higher education, most approaches to, and conceptualisations of, reflective learning and assessment have been perfunctory and inconsistent. In many disciplinary areas, reflection is often assessed as a written activity ‘tagged onto’ assessment practices. In creative disciplines, however, reflective practice is an integral and cumulative form of learning and is often expressed in ways other than in the written form. This paper will present three case studies of reflective practice in the area of Creative Industries in higher education – Dance, Fashion and Music. It will discuss the ways in which higher education teachers and students use multimodal approaches to expressing knowledge and reflective practice in such a context. The paper will argue that unless students are encouraged to participate in deep reflective disciplinary discourse via multi-modes then reflection will remain superficial in the higher education context.
 
This paper describes a phenomenographic study of undergraduates' experiences of information literacy when researching an essay in a first-year environmental studies course. Three hierarchical categories were identified that represented students' experiences: (i) seeking evidence; (ii) developing an argument; and (iii) learning as a social responsibility. The critical variation that delimited the categories included students' focus on learning, focus on the essay task, use of information in the course, use of information in the essay, use of contrasting perspectives and development of argument. Strategies for designing curricula are suggested based on the educationally critical aspects that the study reveals, and the nature of information literacy as a 'generic' skill is questioned. The study has significance for students, teachers, librarians, academic skills advisers and academic developers in higher education.
 
This paper presents the views of students, from a range of schools and disciplines, on the effectiveness of current assessment feedback practices at Flinders University. We also report on a workshop on feedback with teachers. Overall, individual written comments were found to be the most useful form of feedback. However, there was significant variation with the level of satisfaction with feedback and the relative usefulness of different forms of feedback across the different schools and disciplines. This research suggests both the need to improve the effectiveness of such feedback and to tailor the forms of feedback offered to students according to the distinctive teaching and learning environments in different schools and disciplines. To that end, innovation and further research on feedback are justified, and some suggestions are offered.
 
Increasing numbers of educational institutions are adopting an online approach to teaching and learning; however, little regard has been given to the prerequisite personal and technical qualities required for academic achievement and satisfaction within this environment. In recognition of this, researchers have been exploring the design, development and testing of diagnostic tools to assess student readiness for online learning. This study builds on previous work by the authors to further validate their diagnostic tool for assessing Tertiary students' readiness for online learning (TSROL) which has four subscales: 'Technical skills', 'Computer self-efficacy', 'Learner preferences' and 'Attitudes towards computers'. Factor and reliability analyses revealed that Technical skills and Computer self-efficacy possessed good reliability and validity, and 'Attitudes towards computers' fair reliability and validity. However, 'Learner preferences' required revision as it possessed poor reliability and validity. Analysing the demographic data revealed that older students had lower Technical Skills and computer self-efficacy than younger students. The TSROL can be improved by adopting a more multidimensional interpretation of the Learning preferences and Attitudes towards computers subscales.
 
Self- and peer-assessment are being used increasingly in higher education, to help assign grades to students' work and to help students to learn more effectively. However, in spite of this trend there is little in the published literature on how students view these methods. In this paper we present an analysis of the views of a large number of students (N = 233) who had just experienced self- and peer-feedback as part of one of their subjects. It is a rarely questioned commonplace in the literature that in order to gain benefit from peer and self-assessment schemes students first need training in the specific scheme being used; ideally they will play a role in devising the scheme. The intervention reported here, which involved a large (N = 233) group of students, included no such measures. The results show that students felt, nonetheless, that they benefited from the intervention. The results also present prima facie evidence that training or other measures to further involve the students in the peer and self-assessment scheme might be beneficial. Our analysis of students' views revealed eight general dimensions under which are grouped twenty higher order themes. The results both support and extend previous research and give a more detailed picture than previously available. The general dimensions found were: Difficult; Gained Better Understanding of Marking; Discomfort; Productive (including learning benefits and improved work); Problems with Implementation; Read Others' Work; Develop Empathy (with assessing staff); and, Motivation (especially motivation to impress peers). The practical implications of these findings are discussed.
 
This paper describes the development and validation of an item bank designed for students to assess their own achievements across an undergraduate-degree programme in seven generic competences (i.e., problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, creative-thinking skills, ethical decision-making skills, effective communication skills, social interaction skills and global perspective). The Rasch modelling approach was adopted for instrument development and validation. A total of 425 items were developed. The content validity of these items was examined via six focus group interviews with target students, and the construct validity was verified against data collected from a large student sample (N = 1151). A matrix design was adopted to assemble the items in 26 test forms, which were distributed at random in each administration session. The results demonstrated that the item bank had high reliability and good construct validity. Cross-sectional comparisons of Years 1–4 students revealed patterns of changes over the years. Correlation analyses shed light on the relationships between the constructs. Implications are drawn to inform future efforts to develop the instrument, and suggestions are made regarding ways to use the instrument to enhance the teaching and learning of generic skills.
 
In response to changing government philosophy concerning higher education, including increased institutional autonomy alongside greater pressure for accountability and internal renewal, Dutch universities have developed a system for external quality assessment under the aegis of the Association of Dutch Universities. Its evolution and results to date are reported. (Author/MSE)
 
This paper is concerned with the reconstruction, at the departmental level, of a university assessment policy that required a shift from norm-referenced assessment to criterion-referenced assessment (CRA). As such, it provides an account of a change process driven by a centralised policy imperative and yet implemented and driven also from a bottom-up process. A wide range of data was gathered using action research methods. Individual and focus group interviews were conducted with staff and students, participant journals were kept and successive drafts of criteria and standards, and samples of students' responses were collected. The data suggested that a top-down policy can be successfully combined with a departmental-driven process, if financial and time considerations are addressed and a collaborative process amongst staff is sustained. The use of action learning, as a tool for change, appeared to assist participants to begin to own a top-down policy.
 
Criteria for assessment of reflective capacity
Many university teachers in the social sciences and humanities, especially those interested in emancipatory educative practices, wish to see their students develop a capacity for critical reflection, considered essential for the development of higher-order thinking. However, critical reflection is rarely precisely defined nor are clear indications given about how teachers can develop appropriate criteria for assessing how well students reflect. This paper offers a framework for identifying indicators of a capacity for critical reflection in the social sciences, as well as demonstrating how criteria can be developed for assessing students’ capability for critical reflection, including making distinctions between reflection on values, beliefs and assumptions. It is argued that offering clear criteria can assist in providing guidance to both students and teachers in developing critically reflective capacities.
 
It is often claimed that the active involvement of students in classroom assessment enhances both learning and personal satisfaction. This article reports two initiatives in classroom assessment. The first involves the use of e‐mail as a teaching and learning tool and the second involves engaging student groups in preparing their own assignments. These initiatives are explored in the context of a data communications subject offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate students at the School of Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering of Queensland University of Technology. Surveys were conducted to gain an insight into student attitudes to the use of e‐mail and to the way the assignment tasks and assessment methods influenced their learning. The results of these surveys are presented and discussed.
 
Top-cited authors
John B Biggs
  • The University of Hong Kong
Lakmal Abeysekera
  • Monash University (Australia)
Phillip Dawson
  • Deakin University
Gerlese Åkerlind
  • Australian National University
Ronald Barnett
  • University College London