Studies in Higher Education

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 1470-174X
Publications
Article
We evaluate the information content of admission conditions for study programs’ quality by investigating its relationship with graduates’ employability. We find that study programs with larger numeri clausi are associated with a higher probability of finding a job. Additionally, compulsory admission exams seem to be informative about study programs’ quality. Namely, study programs requiring the Math exam appear to be linked with lower unemployment propensity. Cardoso et al. (2008), however, found that those programs face lower demand when compared to other studies. These paradoxical results suggest that students’ choices may be based on insufficient information on returns to higher education investment. That information failure indicates that a Government intervention may be due.
 
Article
This paper outlines and evaluates a new learning strategy implemented in the Faculty of Economics and Commerce at the University of Melbourne. The strategy is an Internet based assignment delivery and assessment system designed to (i) equip students to make link between macroeconomic theory and important real-world issues, (ii) develop positive attitudes to the subject (iii) develop deep approaches to learning (iv) develop a facility for critical analysis and problem solving and (v) develop effective study habits. Using a multi-dimensional evaluation strategy, the indications are that the new approach has succeeded in its aims.
 
Article
The aim of this paper is twofold. We want to further investigate the type of higher education institution choice using individual level data on first year students, on the one hand, and to establish the link between subsystem choice and leaving home decision, on the other hand. The analysis was performed for Portuguese higher education by means of a bivariate probit model. Results indicated gender differences in the type of higher education institution choice. Socio-economic background appeared to constrain student choices and accessibility did play a role in their decisions. When it comes to the leaving home decision, the higher the income group and the higher the parents’ literacy, the more likely students stayed at home. Students with strong preferences over leisure activities tended to leave home to attend higher education.
 
Estimated coefficients of the quadratic cost function
1
Average incremental costs across subgroups calculated at mean output level using a quadratic specification
The effects of quality and location in London
Article
Cost functions are estimated, using both random effects and stochastic frontier methods, for institutions of higher education in England. The paper advances on the existing literature by employing finer disaggregation by subject, institution type, and location, and by introducing consideration of quality effects. The findings are that, amongst undergraduates, medical students are the most costly, and non-science students the least; amongst postgraduates, those on taught courses are costly, while research students are relatively inexpensive. Provision in London is found to be more costly than that elsewhere. Estimates of economies of scale and economies of scope vary according to the choice of estimating technique. The random effects model suggests that ray economies of scale and economies of scope are ubiquitous. The stochastic frontier model suggests some product-specific economies of scale in research, but diseconomies elsewhere, and product specific economies of scope in undergraduate science, but diseconomies elsewhere. This has implications for achieving any expansion in higher education.
 
Article
Presents a personal and anecdotal account of resistance to or acceptance of 2 academic innovations in the chemistry department of a British university: the introduction of Computer Assisted Learning and the planning of a new chemistry degree program. It is argued that successful educational innovations arise from need for change perceived by individual teachers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Advanced mathematics and other theoretical sciences are often taught purely using the lecture format, which promotes passivity and isolation in students. This paper advocates the use of certain alternative teaching methods, including cooperative learning in small groups and essay-writing assignments about technical topics. The emphasis throughout is on getting students to participate more, to interact more, and to broaden their perspective. Efforts are described to implement these reforms in upper-division courses in probability theory at the University of Minnesota, and students' anonymous questionnaires are analyzed. It is argued that many of these teaching reforms can be implemented quite generally, without huge effort, and without greatly disrupting the normal flow of a course. Acknowledgements. I am very grateful to Judy Pace and to Judith LeCount for many extremely helpful discussions of these issues.
 
Article
Discusses and critically examines 5 methods for deciding the priorities in professional continuing education (S-centered approach, task analysis, Delphi technique, critical incident survey, and behavioral event interview). It is suggested that in order to organize a continuing education program for practitioners that is based on identified competencies, greater use of distance learning facilities, particularly those adopting an initial problem-solving approach, must be encouraged. To be effective, distance criteria must be convenient, systematic, competitive, concise, relevant, individualized, and systematic and should include indices of self-assessment and areas of speculation. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
A questionnaire completed by students at 25 British and Irish medical schools showed substantial differences among the schools on dimensions such as the perceived intensiveness of the course, the level of student involvement in curricular affairs, and vocational vs "scientific" orientation. Only minor differences were noted with respect to schools' administrative flexibility, the extent to which concepts and factual detail were emphasized, and the enjoyability of the courses. Profiles of the schools as perceived by the Ss are described. (6 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The successful experience of Purdue University in using students' ratings of teacher effectiveness, by means of the Purdue Rating Scale for Instruction and the Purdue Instructor Performance Indicator, is discussed. 18 general conclusions are given concerning the relation of student ratings to difficulty of course, sex of student or instructor, teacher's years of experience, student's grades or achievement test scores, etc. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Discusses different kinds of professional knowledge (e.g., generalizability, explicitness), the 4 modes of knowledge (replication, application, interpretation, and association) suggested by H. S. Broudy et al (1964), and contexts of knowledge use (e.g., research publications, personal action). Based on the discussion, a 7-step reconceptualization of the relationship between higher education and the professions is presented. Appendices outline areas of knowledge and know-how. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Discusses shortcomings associated with student evaluations of university courses designed to contribute to course improvement. It is suggested that for these evaluations to lead to genuine improvement, evaluative criteria employed by students must be reconciled with those employed by teachers who administer courses. A list-format approach to course evaluation, involving the distillation of a large number of student perceptions to a limited number of priority problems for student/teacher discussion, is described. Results from 2 evaluations of a course are presented as an indication of the extent of improvement that can be generated by the technique. Guidelines for compiling appropriate list formats and calculating apparent problem magnitudes are appended. (5 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Discusses the presence of a "legitimization crisis" in higher education in Great Britain, characterized by an inability to meet expectations of society and the lack of a generally recognized, coherent, and secure foundation. It is suggested that, historically, the idea of higher education has focused on the freeing of the student's mind through the acquisition of objective knowledge in a relatively nonconfining environment, a concept that has been undermined epistemologically and sociologically. It is concluded that any attempt at legitimizing higher education must recognize and counter this undermining of its conceptual foundation. (94 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Administered a questionnaire to 9,630 university students that was designed to evaluate the teaching performance of Ss' professors. The teaching approaches and attitudes to teaching of those staff who were rated by students as superior teachers were surveyed. Student descriptions of the teaching strengths of 5 individuals selected by students as superior teachers are presented along with biographical information about the teachers. The selected teachers represented a wide variety of teaching contexts and fields, including engineering, government, regional and town planning, clinical surgery, and operative dentistry. Results from an analysis of these 5 teachers' perceived strengths indicate that, despite the diversity of teacher characteristics and teaching contexts, common elements of superior teaching were evident. Commonalities included competence in subject matter, ability to communicate knowledge in a variety of classroom contexts, commitment to facilitating student learning, and demonstrated concern for the individual student. (12 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Presents a discursive historical account of the development and implementation of a self-instructional introductory zoology course comprising 5 major instructional components: a textbook/course manual, an audio-visual film/tape program, a specially equipped laboratory for practical work, a general teaching session, and small group tutorials. The course was evaluated in terms of student attitudes and learning performance. Although detailed results are not provided here, the authors report that there was strong student preference for the self-instructional course over a conventional one, that achievement on tests, assignments, and final examination was superior, and that more students from the self-instructional group went on to take subsequent zoology courses. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The literature on class size and student performance is reviewed. Student performance and class size in a large modular course was studied over a period of 10 years, involving over 5,000 modules and 250,000 student grades. The hypothesis that students would perform less well in larger classes was confirmed. A small but highly significant negative relationship between module enrolment and grades was found and students in larger classes stood significantly lower chances of getting good grades. Subject areas varied widely in the strength of the relationship between class size and performance. As class size increased markedly during this period and performance was worse in larger classes it was hypothesised that overall student performance would have declined during the period studies. This hypothesis was not confirmed: overall student performance improved. Possible explanations of this paradox are explored.
 
(Continued). How confident are you that you will be able to:
Descriptive statistics for ABC sub scales by sex in the Health Care data set.
Summary of statistically significant factor differences. The product of the student-teacher dyad Substantially under the student's control
Results for confirmatory factor analysis for the 4 models, ordered by the ECVI statistic.
Article
The Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC) scale has been shown to be valid and can be useful to teachers in understanding their students, enabling the design of more effective teaching sessions with large cohorts. However, some of the between-group differences have been smaller than expected, leading to the hypothesis that the ABC scale many not be unidimensional and that inherent subscales may be behaving in different ways, reducing the size of anticipated ABC effects. This study aimed to analyse the factor structure of the ABC scale. Pre-existing data sets were combined into a large composite data set (n = 865) of undergraduate student respondents to the ABC scale. Exploratory factor analyses using SPSS, and confirmatory factor analysis in AMOS, were carried out. A reduced, 17-item ABC scale can be considered as having four factors, grades, verbalising, studying and attendance. From the data sets, the discriminative power of the factor structure has been confirmed, with the results providing further criterion validity of the ABC scale.
 
Article
This paper argues that, using Eric Ashby's earlier writing on academic freedom and autonomy and Burton Clark's more recent essay on the different modes of co-ordination, the current British Government has unnecessarily terminated the University Grants Committee and in its overreliance on market forces in higher education is threatening the future academic integrity of British universities. (The public sector is not dealt with in this paper.) Ashby sees academic freedom as an “internationally recognized and unambiguous privilege of university teachersd which must be protected whenever and however challenged. In contrast, “the question as to what constitutes autonomy in universities is anything but unambiguous, and the patterns of autonomy which satisfy academics are very diversed. In exploring autonomy issues, it is helpful to know whether the Government is intervening in procedural or substantive matters. The former (e.g. pre-audits, controls over purchasing, personnel, capital construction) can be an enormous bother to academe and sometimes even counter-productive to efficiency, but still do not usually prevent universities from ultimately achieving their goals. In contrast, Governmental actions that affect substantive goals affect the heart of academe. What is needed in this sensitive area, then, is a suitably sensitive buffer mechanism which can reconcile the Government's legitimate need for accountability and the universities' vital need for maximum autonomy consonant with that accountability. Burton Clark points out that there are in fact four major modes of co-ordination: political, bureaucratic, academic and market-driven; and that most systems of higher education partake of all four of these modes, though in differing amounts in different times and places. On the basis of Clark's categories, I judge that the widely-heralded success of the University Grants Committee from its establishment in 1919 into the early 1970s rested mainly on its strong ability to tap the academic modes of co-ordination; but that it could be faulted for inadequate sensitivity to market forces. The current Government reforms, however, in terminating the UGC and creating a Universities' Funding Council which is supposed to operate more on contracts than grants, are an over-reaction to the earlier problems. Competition without heavy doses of what Edward Shils has termed the “academic ethicd may lead to piecemeal fragmentation of the academic integrity of British universities.
 
Article
The paper describes a level and method of appraisal which combines traditional academic and professional criteria with a range of comparative and contextual criteria drawn from the needs, demands, expectations and characteristics of an institution's markets. It is suggested that, as higher education enters a period of stringent questioning about its purposes and practices, this method of ‘portfolio analysiss can generate answers and arguments which recognise and reconcile a variety of perspectives, notably those of students, academic staff, educational managers, employers, and local and central government. Such ‘appraisal for justifications may well be the soundest and safest foundation for institutional policies at a time of centralised educational planning.
 
Structural components of academics' experience of teaching development
Developmental strategies associated with different developmental intentions
Article
This study undertook a phenomenographic analysis of academics' ways of approaching their growth and development as a university teacher. The focus of the study is on the meanings and intentions underlying different ways of going about developing as a teacher, and how this relates to the ways in which academics understand the nature of teaching development and being a university teacher. Five different approaches to developing as a university teacher emerged, varying from a focus on building up a better knowledge of one's content area, in order to become more familiar with what to teach, to continually increasing one's understanding of what works and does not work for students, in order to become more effective in facilitating student learning. The approaches experienced by academics, and the meanings and intentions associated with them, are seen as constituting constraints on their potential for developing as a teacher. Implications for academic development are discussed.
 
Article
The article explores how different kinds of social science students from two universities, Woodside and Hillside, access and experience a variety of research cultures in those universities. Previous research on research students has noted considerable differences between science and non-science students, with the latter much more likely to work as lone scholars meeting regularly only with their supervisors. Though other researchers have examined academic cultures and their transmission, more generic peer cultures and research training cultures have not always formed part of these studies. The research involved interviews with 26 home and international students, studying both full- and part-time. Four focus group discussions were also conducted. The data suggest that international students and part-time students have the most difficulty in accessing peer cultures and academic cultures. However, international students are much more favourably disposed towards research training cultures than other students. Some evidence of gender differences affecting student experiences was found but was not as widespread as other differences. The article ends by suggesting some practical changes that could be made in universities to provide more equal access to research cultures by all research students.
 
Article
In this article, the difficulties some Australian university students experience in academic learning environments are explored. Particular attention is given to the experiences of students whose difficulties are often portrayed as intrinsic to them, and who are diagnosed as having learning disabilities or 'disorders'. In so doing, dominant neuro-psychological perspectives on students' learning 'problems' are challenged, broadening the discussion to include sociocultural explanations of students' difficulties. Research that foregrounds these students' own accounts of their problems is reported, identifying a number of tests of time, association and dissimulation that they experience in coming to terms with the particular institutional requirements of university life. At the very least, these explanations draw attention to the need for university teaching scholars to also be learners, and to consider their own practices in the construction of learning difficulties for their students.
 
Article
In the first section the paper records some of the important changes that have been forced on British universities. These changes are referred to under the signs of ‘performances and ‘accountabilitys. An attempt is made to analyse these signs as they figure in current policy discourse. The next section proposes an analysis of post-industrialism, which is both more cautious than the technocratic celebrants and more pessimistic. This analysis figures the work of Jean-François Lyotard and Jacques Derrida, relating it briefly to the modernity/post-modernity debate. Finally, predicated on a different reading of ‘post-industrialisms, the paper sets out some positive conclusions concerning the future role of the university.
 
Article
There has been an increasing emphasis on employability within the higher education curriculum. Supervised work experience, particularly in the form of a placement year, has been an established means of providing experiences which are intended to enhance employability. This study examines a relatively neglected but important aspect of supervised work experience, i.e. the return from the placement organisation to the final year of the degree programme. This transition was examined using a discourse analytic methodology. Recently graduated students (n = 9), whose principal programme of study was psychology, and who had undertaken a placement were interviewed. This interview data was analysed with the aim of identifying relevant linguistic repertoires which gave meaning to the experience of the return from placement. Two repertoires were identified: an 'acquired powers' repertoire and a 'two realms' repertoire. The first repertoire constructed the experience of placement learning in terms of a range of individual knowledge, skills or values acquired from the placement experience, and which were deployed in particular areas of the final year. The second repertoire constructed a separation between the academic and practical arenas, which was enforced by academic staff, who limited and controlled the opportunities for students to utilise their experiences of placement. These findings are discussed in terms of the shifting social identities of students, following a placement and alienated experiences of education, contingent on the subject positions occupied by students and academic staff.
 
Article
Recent work on student learning has identified three main dimensions of study strategy—personal meaning, reproducing, achieving. University teachers commonly favour the first, deplore the second and tolerate the third. This paper argues that teachers can and should use definite teaching strategies available to them which will enable students to use all three study strategies in support of each other and not in conflict with each other. The curricular consequences of such an approach and its effect on teacher and student attitudes are discussed.
 
Article
As modular degree courses assess students at regular intervals, changes in their performance during the course of their first degree can be studied. This article presents the findings of a longitudinal study of undergraduate achievement within a modular first degree course, based on analyses of the academic records of a cohort of students who graduated from the modular degree programme at Oxford Brookes University. The typical pattern of progress featured a fall in achievement at the end of the first year and the beginning of the second year, leading to low mean achievement at the beginning of the second year. This was followed by linear, term by term improvement during the second and third years, when results potentially contribute to degree class. There is also a 'step up' in the mean level of achievement between the second and third academic years. Variations in the pattern of progress, linked to age and social class were identified, and further variations were observed in the patterns of progress followed by individual students.
 
Article
This article presents a phenomenographic study that investigates students' approaches to achieving understanding. The results are based on interviews, addressing physiological phenomena, with 16 medical students in a problem-based curriculum. Four approaches - sifting, building, holding and moving - are outlined. The holding and moving approaches describe variations in deep-level processing. The moving approach is characterised by an intention to continuously refine understanding in an open-ended process. The student strives for a change in perspective and deliberately creates actions that are rich in variation and challenge. The holding approach is characterised by an intention to reach a final goal. This is achieved by high degrees of structure and control in the learning act. Understanding is sometimes sealed, 'held on to' and can be threatened by new input and other students' viewpoints. The study also shows how students deal with details when constructing understanding of wholes.
 
Article
The University of Ottawa in Canada offers a peer-mentoring program (whereby an experienced student provides support and guidance to another student) and an associated training program for all peer mentors through its Student Academic Success Service. In addition to the formal training, some peer mentors receive feedback and support through an electronic journal system that records communication between mentors and their supervisor, a paid employee of the university. As a transcript of the interaction between those peer mentors who use the journal and their supervisor, and a record of the mentor's competency development, the journals provide a rich source of data. This project used an in-depth content analysis of 192 journals in order to assess the learning process experienced by the mentor. Using reflection-on-action as a theoretical framework, this study explores the processes involved as peer mentors reflect on and assess their own practices, and examines the role of dialogue, in the form of feedback provided by the supervisor, in this learning process.
 
Article
In an interdisciplinary approach to improve faculty members' pedagogic competences in higher education at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), an action research type of programme proved helpful in meeting the participants' needs and interests. After an introductory session, individual projects were initiated, in which the participants undertook different approaches to action research by reflecting on their own teaching situation. As an ongoing evaluative process between individual inquiry-based phases of lecturing and reflective plenary sessions, the programme tried to offer deeper insights into the participants' own practical ‘theoriess of what they intend to accomplish in the classroom and how they want to achieve these goals. Moreover, through its co-operative design, the action research approach played an important part in organisational development.
 
Article
Distance or open learning in higher education is now closely associated with computer-mediated communication (CMC). Distance education, however, is not only a question of new technology, but of pedagogy and learning, and of the implications of new technology for these. For the doctoral distance student, a further issue may be one of identity - as a student registered with one institution, while (often) working as a professional at another. Taking as data e-mail messages sent by PhD students over the first 2 years of a (largely) distance programme, it is suggested that while one important contribution of e-mail is clearly the speed and ease of its use, this contribution is more than maintenance of a communication channel. Not only can message-senders remain in touch almost constantly, they can also take steps to obtain support, can inscribe their multiple identities within their messages, and can adapt the medium for their own needs. These can have particular value for professionals studying part-time on distance programmes.
 
Article
This article reports part of an Australian longitudinal study which examined the patterns evident in the relationships Ph.D. students and supervisors developed and the ways they worked together. The participants were 21 Ph.D. students and their main supervisors. Data were collected via interviews conducted between 1995 and 1998. Three interviews were conducted separately for each student and supervisor. This report focuses on the allocation of supervisors to students and continuity of supervision in relation to students' progress and satisfaction with supervision. From this small sample it appears students who felt involved in supervisor selection, whose topics were matched with their supervisor's expertise and who developed good interpersonal working relationships with supervisors were more likely to make good progress and be satisfied. This was more likely when supervisors were experienced and senior academics or the student had two active supervisors. Disruptions caused by a temporary change of supervisor created problems and delays. Suggestions to overcome this are made.
 
Article
Previous work has suggested that students taking postgraduate taught courses may adopt a reproducing orientation to studying because of a heavy curriculum and the pressure of examinations. The present study found no basis for this notion in a comparison of undergraduate and postgraduate students over a range of course units. It is concluded that postgraduate students are as capable as undergraduate students of adopting appropriate orientations in their studying.
 
Article
The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Australia has burgeoned to the extent that in the 1990s more than half of Australian universities have introduced the award and more than 550 students have enrolled. A survey of EdD provision found that, although literature provided by universities indicated that the awards were professional in orientation, the structures of the awards were typically academic: coursework plus thesis with the majority being one-third coursework. The nature of the awards was likely to be academic in the majority of cases. Questions raised by these findings underpinned the rethinking of the nature of professional doctorates via an argument that placed the context of the professional as central, with the culture of academia being less central. The reconceptualisation is explored further through a consideration of policy issues including the nature of programmes and the relations between academics and professionals.
 
Article
Drawing on Bourdieu's theory of social practice, the author challenges common‐sense notions of objectivity and subjectivity which inform assessment practice, and argues for assessment as a socially situated interpretive act. A case study of an engineering community of practice at a South African university illustrates the multiple subjectivities that shape assessors' interpretations of student performance. This case study contributes to an understanding of academic professional judgment as a ‘double reading' – an iterative movement between different modes of knowledge which comprise the objective and the subjective. The author concludes with a brief discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of this for how academic communities of practice come to judge and how these judgments are validated. Of all the oppositions that artificially divide social science, the most fundamental, and the most ruinous, is the one that is set up between subjectivism and objectivism. The very fact that this division constantly reappears in virtually the same form would suffice to indicate that the modes of knowledge which it distinguishes are equally indispensable to a science of the social world. (Bourdieu, 1990, p. 25)
 
Article
A typical evaluation instrument used in the USA is subjected to critical analysis with reference to two paradigms of teaching, the transmission model and the engaged-critical model. This analysis reveals that the evaluation form is not representative of all conceptions of teaching, but is more consistent with the transmission paradigm. As a prescriptive cultural and educational artifact, the survey instrument implicitly militates against alternative models of teaching. The article questions the ‘neutralitys of a document that purports to transcend different disciplines, epistemologies, teaching methods, conceptions of learning, and institutional use.
 
Article
This paper explores first-year university and polytechnic students' attitudes to degrees and careers in science and technology (S/T) and the factors influencing their choices to pursue S/T or turn to alternative non-S/T areas. Students' choices and decision-making patterns provide pointers for those in schools, higher education, industry and government who wish to understand why some students are deterred from studying S/T and who may be interested in making changes which could encourage under-represented groups to pursue S/T further.
 
Article
Co-operative education involves teaching students both through formal lectures within educational institutions and placement in appropriate industrial undertakings. At the Hong Kong Polytechnic, one form of co-operative education is sandwich courses. Because of the difficulty in locating appropriate and adequate placements, and the seeming ineffectiveness of the industrial training experienced, some of the departments are reverting from sandwich courses to full-time studies, or offering the option of full-time/sandwich modes. This change of structure has not been evaluated. A study was carried out to evaluate the academic and non-academic values of the system and the needs of local industries, using the building services engineering (BSE) course as a starting point. The opinion of the BSE Department staff, industrial sector, current and past students in the course were surveyed. Recommendations were discussed.
 
Academics' conceptions of how students develop generic graduate attributes  
Interactions between outcome spaces  
Article
In recent years universities have attempted to articulate the generic outcomes of the educational experiences they provide, beyond the content knowledge that is taught. These outcomes have come to be known as generic skills or generic graduate attributes in Australia, although they are also referred to by a range of other terms. Akin to some aspects of a mission statement, universities have claimed that these are the core outcomes of higher education and that every graduate of every degree will possess these. A recent phenomenographic investigation into academics' conceptions of these generic attributes revealed that, far from a shared understanding of such attributes as core outcomes, academics hold a variety of disparate understandings of the nature of generic attributes and their place amongst the outcomes of a university education. This variation is described in the Conceptions of Generic Attributes model. The present article extends this model by considering the way academics understand the teaching and learning of such attributes. The various pedagogical intentions and understandings identified in the present analysis are related to the conceptions of graduate attribute outcomes reported in the earlier study. The relationships between these two aspects of academics' understandings of generic attributes (what it is that is taught/learnt and how it is taught/learnt) are seen to be internally consistent. The conceptions identified in this analysis provide a way of making sense of the range of curricula approaches reported in the literature. Moreover, these integrated conceptions of generic graduate attributes provide a tool to support current attempts to implement systematic curriculum reform in universities.
 
Article
Recent changes in the relationship between the state and the universities have caused many to doubt the continuing aptness of describing British universities as autonomous institutions. However, university autonomy was always exercised within a political context which, to varying degrees, prescribed its boundaries. Furthermore, an analysis of autonomy should make a distinction between the autonomy of the individual universities and of their academic staff. The argument is that, in the past decade, the link between institutional and individual autonomy within the British university system has been broken. A decline in the autonomy of the dons has been matched by an actual enhancement of the autonomy of the universities as institutions. The state has established parameters which are managed by the funding councils. It is within the framework of these parameters, and the managerial strategies of the funding councils, that the universities now exercise their autonomy.
 
Article
If a curriculum in higher education is understood to be an educational vehicle to promote a student's development, and if a curriculum in higher education is also understood to be built in large part around a project of knowledge, then the issue arises as to the links between knowledge and student being and becoming. A distinction is made here between knowing as such and coming to know, with the focus on the latter. It is argued that the process of coming to know can be edifying: through the challenges of engaging over time with disciplines and their embedded standards, worthwhile dispositions and qualities may develop, the worthwhileness arising through the formation of 'epistemic virtues'. Examples of such dispositions and qualities are identified, with differences between dispositions, on the one hand, and qualities, on the other hand, being observed. Educational implications of understanding the nurturing of student being in this way are sketched, with a set of 10 principles offered for curricula and pedagogy. It is suggested, finally, that the clarifying of the relationship between knowing and being is not only a value-laden but also a pressing matter.
 
Article
This paper isolates and quantifies the effect of different teaching methods for teaching mathematics and statistics to large first year groups of business students with very diverse mathematical backgrounds. One set of students was split into medium sized groups, each of which was taught rather like a school class. The other set had a large formal lecture together with small tutorial sessions. The reactions of students and staff were sought, and the course work and examination marks of the students were studied to determine the influence of the teaching methods. Other factors such as age, sex, particular tutors, mathematical background and general academic ability were taken into account. Student and staff opinion came down overwhelmingly on the side of the school-type classes, and this method of teaching gave significantly higher examination results, but had no significant effect on the course work marks. Other important influences on the marks were identified. Although this was an opportunistic study rather than a planned experiment, the results are sufficiently marked to be of interest and to provoke further study.
 
Article
This article considers the impact of a major government initiative to reward and promote excellence in teaching and learning in higher education. The proposal to create Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in England's universities and colleges of higher education was first announced in 2003. A two-stage bidding process took place over most of 2004 and the chosen centres were established from April 2005. The article reports the findings from interviews with 24 staff involved in a total of 25 bids from 14 institutions (including one further education college taking part in a collaborative bid). It shows how members of staff from different types of institution came to understand the initiative, how they responded to its requirements, how the bidding process itself shaped the proposals, and the individual and institutional effects of both failure and success in the bidding rounds.
 
Article
This article examines sex segregation in higher education in Norway. The extent to which parent's education and occupation and students' grades have an impact on the choice of male and female dominated subjects is analysed. The analysis uses a framework which integrates socialisation and rational choice perspectives. The data used are from a retrospective survey referring to the autumn of 2000. It was found that grades in mathematics affected the choice of subject field in higher education, but the effect is much stronger among men than women, indicating that rational choice theory serves as a better explanation of the former's behaviour. It was also found that gender atypical choices were most common, among both men and women, if their parents had experienced higher education. Socialisation factors and same-sex influence are important, but the results offer no simple explanation where the youth copies the same-sex parent.
 
Article
We examined the effects of individual learning (group A), co-operative learning (group B), co-operative learning with instruction (group C), and non-attendance (group D) on achievement in an introductory psychology course for 72 university students. The effect of learned resourcefulness on workshop attendance also was examined, as previous research has shown that people possessing low resourcefulness scores are more likely to drop out of programmes promoting academic achievement. Participants completed Rosenbaum's Self-Control Schedule (SCS) measuring learned resourcefulness skills prior to group assignment and the Co-operative Learning Questionnaire (CLQ) assessing the use of group processing skills at the 3-week follow up. At different times, groups A, B, and C attended a workshop on academic self-management skills. These groups were asked to use the self-management skills described to help them prepare for the forthcoming test in psychology. Groups B and C members selected a partner to study with, but only group C members received an additional workshop on group processing. In support of previous research, students having low SCS scores were found to be more likely to drop out from the study than students having high SCS scores. Also, participants working with a partner showed academic benefits. Students receiving instruction (group C), however, used more effective group processing strategies than students who did not receive instruction. Nonetheless, students' use of group processing strategies was positively related to resourcefulness regardless of whether instruction was provided.
 
Article
Educational change is a complex process which is only just beginning to be understood. As a result, there is yet to be developed a model of educational change that is sufficiently general to allow transfer to a range of environments but specific enough to be able to be translated into action. However, there is a large body of research based knowledge which, coupled with experience gained in the field, can be used to generate strategies for effecting change in higher education. This paper describes the implementation of one such strategy and the outcomes.
 
Article
Students' learning outcomes on an educational psychology course which involved studying three textbooks were compared between a constructivist class without a final examination and a traditional class concluding with an examination. The constructivist group ( n = 16) studied the coursebooks with the help of writing assignments, discussed their assignments in groups and wrote an essay. The control group ( n = 23) read the books on their own, attended lectures and took an examination. Learning outcomes were investigated (1) as the students' subjective learning experiences; (2) as changes in the students' learning conceptions; and (3) as measured by a traditional examination in which the students had to answer two questions. Although the constructivist group students did not have to take the examination as a basis of their course grade, they were asked to answer the questions in order to provide research material. All students in both groups described their learning in terms of knowledge acquisition. The constructivist group students emphasised the development of their thinking more than did the students in the control group. They also developed more constructivist conceptions of learning. Examination answers were longer in the control group, but the answers of the constructivist group students included more classifications, comparisons, evaluations and generalisations and their SOLO (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome) level was higher than in the control group. It is concluded that a constructivist learning environment seems to produce higher-level learning outcomes more efficiently than traditional teaching.
 
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University and college courses are frequently evaluated in order to help lecturers improve the course in subsequent years, but there are also other reasons why courses might be evaluated. After listing these the article describes the system of course evaluations which have been developed in the Australian National University. Suggested sources of data are given, from which lecturers may make informed judgements about changes needed in their courses or teaching. The article also gives examples of questions used for gathering these data.
 
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Although the coursework master's degree is becoming the principal conduit for the delivery of continuing education to the professions, it is one of the least understood or researched academic levels in higher education. Furthermore, little is known of coursework master's graduates' experience of research or research supervision following the completion of a thesis as the final assessment of their degree. This article measures graduates' experience of research and research supervision following the completion of a master's degree. The article also examines the relationship between coursework master's graduates' experience of research supervision, completing a research thesis and their development of research capabilities. The findings are considered in the context of the appropriateness of a thesis as the most suitable form of assessment for coursework master's degrees.
 
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Dissatisfactions with current teaching of English are caused by a misalignment between recent theoretical understanding of the subject and teaching methods which remain largely concerned with interpretations of texts. A model of student-centred learning is described, which offers specific answers to four problems: student motivation, the acquisition of methods appropriate to the discipline, how to transfer authority from texts and teachers to the student, and the issue of accountability and staff appraisal within the English department. It is argued that a shift to student-centred learning allows students and staff to share a common concern for the nature of the discipline, and to recognise and make productive use of the theoretical dissensions within it. Some salient features of a method of student-centred learning in English are described.
 
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The paper describes an empirical enquiry into the nature of academic disciplines. It focuses on the main similarities and differences within and between six academic disciplines—physics, history, biology, sociology, mechanical engineering and law—and concludes by suggesting a possible way of portraying different research styles.
 
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The article presents a short case-study in which the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is used in the process of structuring a curriculum development team's preliminary course planning. Previous claims that NGT acts to support initial course development through modifying group dynamics, rapidly identifying central curriculum design issues and facilitating experience exchange seem warranted in the instance we present. We describe the use of the NGT procedure as we have employed it and discuss its strengths and limitations in the context of immediate and longer-term curriculum planning of a CNAA BEd degree.
 
Top-cited authors
Alf Lizzio
  • Griffith University
Keithia Lynne Wilson
  • Griffith University
Ella R Kahu
  • Massey University
Sue Cranmer
  • Lancaster University
Denise Jackson
  • Edith Cowan University