Higher Education Equity Literature Database

  • A 'high Quality, High Access' University that Aims to Marry Excellence and Equity

    Date: 2012

    Author: Willis, S.; Joschko, L.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Works from Monash's target to increase numbers of low SES students because of belief: "under-representation in higher education is a waste of talent and a social injustice" (abstract). Examines tensions between this stated belief and ethical ways of admitting students. Monash has 50% of top 10%/very best students. Authors note this kind of statement "raises the tricky question of what we mean by 'best', and challenges us to ensure that we do admit the most academically capable students and not confuse academic talent with social advantage" (p.8). In contrast, 12.4% = low SES students (compared with 45% high SES). Monash's stated intention is to raise low SES participation to 16%, to be achieved by early identification, improved selection procedures/tools, alternative entry pathways, and targeted financial/ academic/ social support. Note there is mixed support for special entry provisions (both admissions tools and pathways). Author discuss funding/ compacts/ negotiated institutional targets (p.11-12). Notes arguments that critique use of ATAR as primary admissions criterion, but also note its strong predictive ability. They cite research that shows that students who do well at university didn't all do well at school (inverse/ contradiction to predictive ability of ATAR). Authors also discuss SES/ATAR links. Cite Monash research that shows that public school educated students get better marks than independent school-educated students (1985/ 2005/2010). Describes Monash's particular context (Go8/ metro campuses= full; regional campuses-struggle to fill places) on p.17-18
    Aim: To present evidence that students who enter via alternative provisions perform/achieve as well as other students
    Methodology: Essay
    Findings: Discusses admission of low SES dropped between 2005 and 2010 (hence target to increase to 16%). One approach = compile list of low SES schools and offer bonus points. 20% of enrolments come from SEAS or bonus point schemes - asking potential students to undertake General Aptitude Test (GAT) to select candidates in 20% SEAS.
    Also discusses Diploma of Tertiary Studies (DoTS), which "enables students who have not met normal Monash entry standards to enrol in first-year units and apply at the end of first year for admission to a bachelors degree based upon achievement in the diploma" (p.18) - 2 units = academic preparation units, remaining 6 = Yr 1 units + "strong learning skills provision" to support transitions (p.18). DoTS students are indistinguishable from other students but retention/ progression rates not great (992 students enrolled in DoTS, only 629 progressed to UG study).
    Go8 universities generally don't support progression from TAFE to university - Monash relatively strong with 7.5% TAFE pathway students. When compared against ATAR students, TAFE pathway students score consistently higher grades, and have average score of 63.2 compared against 65 for ATAR/school leavers
    In terms of employment outcomes, there are differences in SES for Monash students (82.9% for high SES, 80.6 for low SES), which is still higher than students from other universities (77.7% Victoria average, 77.5% national average, 80.5% Go8 average) and they generally earn similar wages (again above national/state/Go8 averages). However, low SES students are less likely to continue into postgraduate study (30.1% high SES/ 25.9% low SES).
    Core argument: "The effectiveness of our low SES participation strategy will in part be judged by its capacity to deliver to the university the talented students it will need in order to grow without risking its entry standards and, potentially also, graduate quality" (p.24)

  • A Call to Action: Exploring and Responding to Educational Developers' Workplace Burnout and Well-Being in Higher Education

    Date: 2019

    Author: Kolomitro, K.; Kenny, N.; Le-May Sheffield, S.

    Location: Canada

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    Context: The increase in "expectations for educational developers to be agents of change for teaching and learning cultures, communities, and practices at individual, departmental and institutional levels (Gibbs, 2013; Green & Little, 2016; Kenny et al., 2017)" combined with ever-changing expectations for patterns of work that place educators at 'the edge of chaos' or in the 'zone of complexity' (MacDOnald, 2013) and contribute to stress, fatigue, and burnout (1). Furthermore, "Research confirms that high levels of burnout in academic environments may relate to lower psychological and physical well-being, as well as dissatisfaction, and employee turnover (Sabagh et al., 2018)" (1). Increased interest in workplace well-being from a variety of organisations, higher education included; "Workplace well-being has been characterised through four key dimensions: (a) work satisfaction, (b) organizational respect, (c) employer care, and (d) work life integration (Hyett & Parker, 2015)" (2).
    Aim: To fill the gap in research exploring stress, burnout, and well-being within the context of educational development through the examination of concepts of burnout and workplace well-being among educational developers across the international landscape.
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Thematic analysis of purposefully sampled survey responses (n = 210) informed by several dimensions of psychological well-being (Forgeard, Jayawickreme, Kern, & Seligman, 2011; Goodman, Disabato, Kashdan, & Kauffman, 2018; Keyes, 2002) and a workplace well-being questionnaire (Hyett & Parker, 2015). Overarching research questions that informed our research design were:
    - What are the primary factors that promote and hinder workplace well-being among educational developers?
    - What strategies are being used by educational developers to cope positively with stress, anxiety, and/or burnout in the workplace?
    - What strategies have already been implemented in the workplace or should be implemented in the future to support the well-being of educational developers?
    Findings: Characteristics around four themes that both enhanced or hindered participants' sense of well-being: a) colleagues, b) manager/director, c) institution/senior administration, and d) workplace. Themes that emerged around the strategies that the study participants had implemented to deal with stress, anxiety, and burnout in the workplace: a) Activities, b) Social Connection, and c) Self-Care and Help-Seeking Strategies. Strategies suggested for future support to well-being and ability to flourish in the workplace: supportive administrative and institutional practice; effective center leadership and management; and attention to wellness in the workplace
    Core argument: Educational developer well-being is a cultural issue that spans multiple organizational levels; there is a need for further amplify conversations related to burnout, as well as examine and promote workplace well-being for educational developers.

  • A child of change: The establishment of the Open Foundation Programme in 1974

    Date: 2005

    Author: May, J.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Explores 'layers of context' underpinning decision to start Open Foundation from historical perspective. May argues that OF "was set up in response to a variety of international, national and local influences, and as a reflection of educational ideas that were flowing from overseas at the time", particularly the Open University (p.51). OF = intention to implement educational ideals and manage change (p.52)
    Methodology: Discussion
    Discussion: Globalisation: cyclical transition from A phase (good times, prosperity) to B phase (austerity, depression) - see Wallerstein (2000). Notes that during Whitlam age, there was an oil crisis (1973) = severe economic disruption, particularly for industrial centres like Newcastle. OF was established as phase B set in. Notions of lifelong learning were also rising in prominence, connected to ideas about 'the knowledge-based society', based on Freirean notions of education as a right, a social good, economic benefits.
    Author discusses the influence that the Open University in the UK had on the development of less-selective/ 'open' programs. Notes the history of OU (p.55) and how it was carefully followed/reported in campus newsletters. May reports a study by Katz & Magin (1971) who examined the attitudes/perspectives of staff from 3 universities (UON, UNSW, UNE). Their study found that 54% of all staff favoured more selective student admissions policies. UON staff were particularly fond of increased selectivity (see p.58). In 1970, UON commissioned research and recommended that a new department (Department of Community Programmes) be set up. Dr Brian Smith = first director and was creator of OF (had been mature student, specialised in adult education in WA, had taught for OU). OF also made possible by Newcastle community, which had previously petitioned for autonomy from UNSW in 1965, and by local changes away from heavy industrial work = 'reskilling of workforce' needed. Trial run of OF in 1974 = 80 students (it was believed that market would quickly even out at 100 students). By 1978, 224 students were enrolled

  • A Comparative Look at the Challenges of Access and Equity: Changing Patterns of Policy making and Authority in the UK and US Higher Education

    Date: 2005

    Author: Douglass, J.A.

    Location: USA

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    Context: Compares and contrasts approaches to equity and access to HE in UK and USA. Author notes that there are two main reasons for WP: 1) increase SES mobility for more equitable society; 2) 'bolster economic development'. Author identifies 7 general phases (not strictly chronological):
    1) restructuring of HE to less elite network (broadly, focus on class in UK; on race in USA)
    2) establishment of new public institutions
    3) expansion of scholarships and government financial aid for studying = first 3 phases = 'build it and they will come' framework (p.89)
    4) purposeful interventions to encourage/ motivate/ attract under-represented groups
    5) development of systems approach to enrolment
    6) establishment of institutional admissions procedures to target under-represented students
    7) "increased politicization of admissions issues and the emergence of new policy regimes created or heavily influenced by the government and, in the case of the US, influenced by court decisions" (p.90) (purposeful target setting, e.g. 50% New Labour target in UK)
    Overview of differences between US and UK systems on p.92-3
    Aim: To compare access/ equity issues in UK and US HE
    Theoretical frame: None explicit
    Methodology: Critical discussion
    Findings: Three major themes:
    Shift in admissions policies/ practice from internal decision making to external-publicly accountable processes
    Cultural differences between UK and USA
    Organisational differences between UK and USA: "In both the US and the UK, issues of access, participation, and representation have grown in their political saliency" (p.111).
    Core argument: Despite different sources of power and authority exist between UK and USA, = 'convergence' in policy goals to widen participation. Offers useful historical overview of both countries and an overview of US context/ HE system

  • A Comparison of the Academic Experiences and Achievement of University Students Entering by Traditional and Non-traditional Means

    Date: 2001

    Author: Cantwell, R.; Archer, J.; Bourke, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Set against the backdrop of discourses about the changing 'character' of universities and their cohorts (more mature-aged students entering via 'non-traditional' methods such as enabling programs) in the 1990s and early 2000s. Uses 'equity' as a way to frame these changes.
    Aim: To compare "the performance of undergraduate students from three non-traditional entry modes with that of students from the traditional mode." (p. 222)
    Methodology: Statistical analyses/comparison of cohorts from three 'tertiary prep'/enabling courses: Open Foundation and Newstep at the University of Newcastle; Tertiary Preparation Course offered by TAFE (Technical and Further Education) system; and 'traditional' students entering via the high school system (Higher School Certificate) who all entered the University of Newcastle between 1996 and 1998 (N = 8503).
    Findings: Analyses of 'achievement' showed that females performed better than males; older students performed better than younger students; and Newstep students performed significantly worse than students who came directly from the HSC. All three cohorts of students performed worse than students from an HSC background. Further, area of study affects achievement: Business and Science students achieved lower while Engineering students achieved higher. Socio-economic status was not a significant predictor of achievement. The analyses also showed that older students take a lower load than younger students; that Open Foundation students take a lower load than other students; that female students take a lower load than male students and that overall students take lower loads in the earlier years of their degrees than the later years. Business students take a lower load, while Education and Health students take higher loads.
    Core Argument: Because students who enter university via enabling programs likely have no other entry pathways, their slightly lower performance indicates the utility of the program. Non-traditional entry (via an enabling program) combined with maturity is successful, yet, combined with youth, is relatively unsuccessful. "Equity objectives and academic objectives relating to the admission to university of adults through non-traditional modes have been largely achieved." (p. 233). This work suggests that rather than the entry pathway into undergraduate study (comparing enabling students against 'traditional' students), differences in achievement are related to learner characteristics, with females performing better (in terms of Grade Point Average) than males and older students performing better than younger students

  • A decade of Transition Pedagogy: A quantum leap in conceptualising first year experience

    Date: 2015

    Author: Kift, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Set in context of increasing student numbers, increased numbers of equity students (ref to Martin indicators). Discusses attrition rates and cost of drop out. Set in bounded context of first year experience (FYE)- notes how this is diverse and individually experienced and outlined as collection of challenges: "Consequently, the FYE bears a heavy burden if it is to cut through and mediate these complexities. It may be trite to say, but the first year must be foundational. It must lay down the learning platform for an end clearly in sight. It should foster a critical sense of belonging and student identity, through involvement and connectedness with the student's university and discipline experiences. It should facilitate the delivery of just-in-time, just-for-me tailored support, especially for time-poor students whose differing social and cultural capital on entry demands the equitable unpacking of the 'hidden' rules and expectations of and for learning success" (p.54).
    Aim: To review transition pedagogy (TP) framework
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Review essay
    Findings:
    TP = developed out of UniMelb's FYE longitudinal reporting, starting in 1995, + inaugural FYinHE conference. Curriculum had not been a focus of much of FYE-focused reviews/ research, leading to predominant deficit approach [assimilationist]; most = "disparate and siloed co-curricular, or "first generation", approaches" (p.57). Sally Kift was awarded ALTC fellowship in 2016 to explore whole-of-institution, whole-student framework for first year curriculum design and transition support under organizing framework of TP (p.57). TP = three features:
    1. Intentional curriculum focus for commencing students
    2. Whole-of-institution philosophy
    3. Enabling capacity of academic and professional staff partnerships
    Scopes reviews that have validated TP (p.61-2)
    Notes growth in research on 'second year slump'
    Claims TP was right time-right place work; it "hit a sweet spot in the sector" (p.64)
    Notes complexity created by deregulation (p.65), equity, and technological developments/ virtual environments (p.66)
    Core argument: "The FYE bears the burden of being many things to many stakeholders but, at its core, its remit is student learning and success. In the spirit of social inclusion and widening participation, the FYE also speaks to social justice, equality and equity" (p.69).

  • A dialogue between partnership and feminism: deconstructing power and exclusion in higher education,

    Date: 2017

    Author: Mercer-Mapstone, L.; Mercer, G.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Increase in focus on students as partners (SaP) as an area of active student engagement in higher education and complexities surrounding inclusivity and power. The situation of both students as partners pedagogy and feminist studies in "similar radical processes of challenging, questioning, destabilising, deconstructing, and empowering" (1).
    Aim: To uncover insights by exploring SaP through a feminist lens; to explore specifically:
    (i) what feminist theories might add to SaP
    (ii) embedded binaries and what they reveal about power relations within the language of SaP
    (iii) ways of writing about SaP that are inclusive.
    To "step away from dominant understandings, incite acts of self-reflection, and open possibilities for future research and practice by questioning the boundaries and binaries that currently shape the institutions of higher education" (1).
    Theoretical frame: Feminist theory and SaP pedagogical theory
    Methodology: dialogue
    Findings: Parallel between the analysis of power and exclusion in feminist and SaP theories, as well as the uncovering and embrace of marginalised knowledges and alternative narratives. Oppositional and hierarchical structures that organise gender as well as education. Common application of words such as: "'troublesome', 'disruptive', 'challenging', 'blurring', 'difficult', 'destabilising', 'effortful', 'provocative', 'unpredictable', 'radical potential', 'irreversible', and 'threatening'" to both feminist and SaP theories (4). Power of language within both theories, for instance, the 'unnamed' dominant perspective i.e. the masculine and academics - infers an implicit assumption of men or academics as the general, the dominant, the norm against which the Other is defined (5). "Aspects of rigorous or scholarly writing are, historically speaking, masculinist - linear, dense, and impenetrable" (6).
    Core argument: "SaP and feminism thus seem to be seated in similar and radical processes of challenging, questioning, destabilising, deconstructing, and empowering" (6). Teaching and learning are processes that rely on critique, inquiry, and deconstruction of the processes of domination and oppression prevalent in education and society.

  • A forgotten cohort? Including people from out-of-home care in Australian higher education policy

    Date: 2015

    Author: Harvey, A.; Andrewartha, L.; McNamara, P.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Lack of participation of OOHC students in Australian higher education, and Australia lags behind other countries like the UK. Need for policy reform - add OOHC as specific equity group to be monitored. In 2013, approximately 40,000 children in care (broad term to describe lots of forms). Students in OOHC = lower school achievement and "Patterns of educational disruption and disengagement at school level are a precursor to inadequate preparation for higher education" (p.183). Also, limited national data available on OOHC children, for example reasons for being in care. However, Australia has little systematic data collection in process to track higher educational outcomes of OOHC students. Equity framework = partly responsible for lack of responsiveness from Australian HEIs. OOHC = overrepresented in existing categories, especially Indigenous (who are 10 times more likely to be in care than non-Indigenous children), regional and low SES categories.
    Aim: To argue "that policy reform is required to improve the participation of people from out-of-home care backgrounds in Australian higher education" (p.182)
    Methodology: Essay
    Discussion: Lack of Australian data collection and legislation/ policy to track OOHC children through to higher education. After substantial research in UK, OFFA now recognises OOHC as distinct university target group and all universities encouraged to add care leavers into access agreements: "Much of this improvement in access to English higher education has arguably resulted from the inclusion of care leavers as a distinct equity category, with student participation being monitored, analysed and supported" (p.190). Similar patterns could be achieved in Australia with amendments to student equity framework: "A revised framework might therefore include other marginalised groups such as people from refugee backgrounds, incarcerated students, and other agreed cohorts" (p.190)
    Core argument: People from OOHC contexts are not formally recognised as an equity group in Australian higher education policy, and this absence "is concerning given the manifest nature of their educational disadvantage, the level of their likely under-representation at university and the historic importance of policy in determining national and institutional resource allocations" (p.192). Reform of the national equity policy is needed.

  • A fourth generation approach to transition in the first year in higher education: First year in higher education community of practice (FYHECoP)

    Date: 2014

    Author: Penn-Edwards, S.; Donison, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Students' transitions into undergraduate study and 'third generation' transition pedagogy. Authors argue that a new approach is needed; "we contend that there is a need for a less insular approach which moves beyond the boundaries of the higher education institution" (p.32)
    Aim: To argue that institutional approaches to transition move to a 'fourth generation' approach (characterised by university-community partnerships); to argue for a First Year in Higher Education Community of Practice (FYHECoP)
    Theoretical frame: Higher education institutions as 'of the people, for the people' (p.32); community of practice (Lave & Wenger)
    Methodology: Essay
    Discussion: Authors discuss the typical approach to transition taken by universities, layering in examples of community partnerships:
    Stage 1. Student pre-enrolment (Entry Programs situated predominantly in a community-school context in preparing students for entry; Access and Outreach Programs) - short discussion of enabling programs;
    Stage 2. Enrolled student (situated in a higher education institute context, albeit some disciplines have necessary work experience - Work Integrated Learning - within the professional community context) - discussed around institutions solving community-based problems, and university students learning; working in community and collaboration between higher education and community; and
    Stage 3. Graduate (who moves fully into the community-employment context) - e.g. careers fairs hosted by universities.
    4th generation FYHECoP should be:
    - Responsive
    - Respectful
    - Transparent

  • A Framework for Transition: Supporting 'Learning to Learn' in Higher Education

    Date: 2007

    Author: Wingate, U.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Focus on learning to learn for first year transition to higher education/ dominance of remedial, study skills approaches to supporting students/ critique of 'skills' approaches.
    Aim: To propose a 'comprehensive framework' for supporting students to develop metacognitive practices to help with their transitions into university study
    Theoretical frame: Holistic view of higher education
    Methodology: Essay
    Discussion: Framework developed on basis of two components of learning to learn so as "to raise students' awareness of conceptions of learning and knowledge, and of the expectations placed on them that are different from their previous educational experiences": 1) personal development/ understanding the student's experience/ reflective practice; 2) class time and lecturer input.
    Author proposes four contexts where the framework can be applied: pre-induction, induction, personal tutorials, classrooms. The framework should be subject/discipline-specific. Detail of framework on p.401-402.
    Core argument: Learning to learn = "giving students epistemological access, making them independent learners and making them competent in constructing knowledge in their discipline" (p.403)

  • A Guide for Educators in Higher Education: Responding to Diversity for Positive Academic Outcomes

    Date: 2015

    Author: Scevak, J.; Southgate, E.; Rubin, M.; Macqueen, S.; Douglas, H.; Williams, P.

    Location: Australia

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    Project description:
    This project investigated the influence of first in family (FiF) status, socioeconomic background and other demographic contributors to the academic outcomes of students at a regional Australian university. This project is set in the context where for many students in these groups, university is experienced as challenging because previous educational and life experiences have not prepared them for studying in higher education. Australian research on FiF university students is limited in number and in the scope of variables that may impact on achievement and university experience. Research suggests that FiF students were more likely to be enrolled in particular degrees (Education, Economics and Science), be older, and come from a rural background. Therefore, in the context of limited empirical work looking at FiF, this project sought to answer these Research Questions:
    1. Do First in Family students differ from non-FiF students in demographics, entry pathway to university, enrolment status, degree type enrolled in, social connections, help seeking, worry about expenses and engagement with university studies?
    2. Do First in Family students come from lower socio-economic backgrounds than non-FiF students?
    3. Are there differential levels of academic success measured by Grade Point Averages (GPAs) amongst First in Family and non-FiF groups enrolled in the same programs and what student and program characteristics relate to this?
    Conceptual and/or methodological framework:
    This project employed a quantitative research design and surveyed 983 undergraduate students enrolled in five broad disciplinary areas: Applied Health, The Sciences, Engineering, Business & Commerce and Medicine. The survey asked questions relating to demographic information, social lives, pathway into higher education, socioeconomic status and social class and FiF status. Data were examined to determine whether there were any differences between equity group and non-equity group students. A series of ANOVAs were conducted using categorical variables and Multiple Regression analysis was conducted to identify predictors of academic success. Retrospective and current data on the participants' outcomes (GPA, progression, enrolment status) were included in the analysis.
    Key findings:
    Being First in Family appears to have strong links with social class and economic variables:
    - FiF students were more likely to be female (69%) and older than non-FiF students;
    - FiF and non-FiF students did not differ in entry pathways to university study;
    - There were no significant differences between FiF and non-FiF students in full time or part time enrolment. Similarly, there were no differences between FiF and non- FiF enrolment in degree type (Business/Commerce, Engineering/ Construction Management, Sciences, Allied Health), year level of study (Year 1-4) or hours attended;
    - FiF students were significantly less confident than non-FiF students in using Blackboard;
    - FiF students worried significantly more about living and educational expenses;
    - FiF students did not differ from non-FiF in number of hours enrolled in university study, number of hours spent in independent study, approach to learning (surface/deep), seeking student help, degree satisfaction, integration into university and First Year GPA and Second Year GPA; and
    FiF students scored significantly lower than non-FiF students on coping with the academic workload, complexity of course material, intention to continue with the course, seeking resource help, and academic skills confidence.

  • A Matter of Expectation: The Transition from School to University English

    Date: 2007

    Author: Green, A.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: 'Managing' transitions from school to undergraduate English studies; author argues for centrality of subject construct, pedagogical assumptions, and expectations between students and teachers for understanding educational transitions. Themes from the literature foreground engagement with reading (particularly in terms of shifts in volume and difficulty of texts); mismatches in practices/ approaches to reading; secondary (wider) reading. Further challenges = shift to independent study, influence of assessment from A-levels, nature of contact with teaching staff
    Aim:
    Theoretical frame: Bourdieu's notions of habitus and reproduction
    Methodology: Surveys and interviews conducted with sixth-form students, sixth-form teachers and lecturers, first-year undergraduate students and university lecturers
    Findings:
    A-level students broadly have an idea that undergraduate English will be different; 75% reported feeling confident or very confident with A-level students but only 37% reported feeling confident about doing English at university, which "makes clear that many sixth-form students have a distinct, but unformed sense, of how sixth-form and university studies differ" (p.123). Some students described a sense of anxiety about studying without the structured guidance of A-level assessment objectives (AO codes; see Baker, 2017). Moreover, the focus on set texts, rather than 'literary study' at A-levels = constraining; "This atomistic approach to the teaching of English, and of literature in particular, inevitably exacerbates the difficulty of moving into the faster-paced, more broadly based and theorised literary study expected at university" (p.125).
    Discussion of shifts between two levels of study and habitus; author notes that Bourdieu's notion of habitus is somewhat deterministic, with change enacted through external 'sanctioned' (pedagogic) action; however, author argues that rather than a uni-directional shift, this is actually dialogic, as students use their prior experience to make sense of their future/ current experience
    Core argument: English A-levels creates sets of habitus that are incongruent with the practices, conventions and expectations (dispositions etc.) for undergraduate study; "It leads us towards the conclusion that post-16 study, alongside a range of other societal influences, builds a set of limitations within students, which are likely to prove determining factors in their ability to engage effectively with higher-level English studies" (p.125).
    Limitations of A-levels = "remain limitations only if they are perceived as the end rather than as the beginning of students' further learning" (p.126)
    Assessment objectives = form of reproduction

  • A method to advise students of their mathematical currency

    Date: 2004

    Author: Egea, K.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: This paper focuses on identifying students' partial mathematical ability on entry into Bridging Mathematics through the use of a computer-based, self-administered diagnostic test which is then used to direct students to "appropriate remediation strategies" (p. 390). The test encourages students to reflect on their own mathematical position, therefore 'empowering' them. Bridging students tend to underestimate their mathematical ability, are anxious and have low self-esteem. Acknowledges that diagnostic testing is seen by some Bridging educators as 'punitive' and may run counter to the purpose of Bridging education, however, the computer test was developed with reference to research and tested on users to avoid this 'negative approach'. The Maths Fitness Test provides adaptive pathways based on student responses to each question and was designed to support the Unilearn Mathematics course (QLD TAFE) a self-paced bridging course.
    Aims: Evaluates Maths Fitness Test
    Methodology: Detailed description of the test and how it works + evaluation. Evaluated by students, mathematicians and educational psychologists.
    Findings: The test was found to be effective in reducing levels of anxiety often encountered in students in face-to-face interview and testing situations. The cognitive and affective measuring capabilities of the test were found to be useful.

  • A Policy of Vulnerability or Agency? Refugee Young People's Opportunities in Accessing Further and Higher Education in the UK

    Date: 2015

    Author: Gately, D.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: UK, specifically in terms of how refugee education has fared through austerity cuts
    Aim:
    - Broadly: austerity cuts to social welfare services have impacted on refugee support services: impact on education access particularly?
    - Specifically: how did a voluntary-sector intervention capacitate the autonomous decisions and actions of young people (18-29) with refugee status in relation to their education choices, given funding to this service was cut in 2011
    Findings:
    - Take 'autonomy approach' which moves beyond the dominant assumption around refugees that is rooted in a discourse of vulnerability, beyond problematisation, which often shapes top down policy and which can lead to dependence and passivity
    - Poverty of refugee youth can be a barrier to accessing education: issues meeting their basic needs need to be addressed
    - Confusion regarding tuition fees is also problematic
    - Isolation and lack of support to access education
    - Autonomy: ability to formulate strategic choices and control decisions effecting central life outcomes: lack of access to information about education restricts this autonomy
    Implications:
    - Terminating funding for targeted initiatives will have a detrimental impact on the education choices and opportunities for refugee young people: will limit their ability to make strategic decisions about their future education, and restrict their potential for education-orientated self-determination
    Advice is so important: refugees need access to relevant educational advice, and currently they are frequently given inaccurate or confused information about education which has long term implications

  • A real rollercoaster of confidence and emotions': learning to be a university student

    Date: 2008

    Author: Christie, H.; Tett, L.; Cree, V.; Hounsell, J.; McCune, V.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Non-traditional students' transitions into elite higher education from further education, specifically the role of emotions. Learning at university = "a profoundly reflexive and emotional construct, that entails the undoing of earlier learning as students enter a new environment with different subjects, learning approaches and teaching styles" (p.567). In policy discourse = assumption/ dominance of idea of learning as cognitive process - leading to/ fuelling deficit notion of students (failing because of individual attributes/ deficiencies). Literature has little to say about affective dimensions of learning. Links to literature on learning identities: "biographical studies suggest that learners have inherently 'fragile' identities: they follow 'fractured' and 'disrupted' pathways though formal education; their engagement with new learning environments is often uncertain; and their disposition to learning, and eventual success (or failure), is affected by a range of psychological factors" (p.569)
    Aim: To illustrate how becoming a university student = emotional process
    Theoretical frame: Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger) + culture shock for non-traditional students
    Methodology: Draws on a longitudinal project examining teaching and learning experiences of non-trad students moving from FE to HE. Draws from interviews with Year 1 students studying humanities and social sciences who had entered directly from FE. Emotions = not explicit focus of interview schedule
    Findings: Initial interviews = strong sense of excitement but followed by 'learning shock' - including loss of 'secure identity' built from FE studies. Second interviews = bewilderment and dislocating due to loss of past sureties, due to: lack of knowledge about university and lack of supportive relationships, resulting in loss of prior learning identities. Many students had anticipated differences in teaching and learning. Students' security = threatened by lack of knowledge about university. Students also had insecurity about academic standards and not knowing what is expected (e.g. problems with deciphering reading lists). When students worked out that "learning was intrinsically related to the quality of communication and relationships in daily practice", their confidence increased and the security of their identities developed. Study groups helped remove isolation, with emotional underpinnings. Discussion of emotional consequences of belonging and memberships
    Core argument: There are significant emotional gains, suggesting "that it is the emotional gains produced
    through learning that helped students to form a (learning) relationship to the university, and enabled them to engage in the identity work necessary to become members of a new learning community" (p.573).
    Main findings:
    1) "many non-traditional students work with distinctive - and class-based - understandings of what it means to fully belong to a community of practice in an elite university"
    2) "while learning how to be a university student was an emotionally demanding process for all of the students in this study, it was also bound up with the very particular nature of the pathways they had taken through higher education" (p.579)

  • A scholarship of social inclusion in higher education: why do we need it and what should it look like

    Date: 2015

    Author: Forsyth, H.; Cairnduff, A.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Points for debate. Acknowledges that Uni Syd has "further to go" than other universities on basis of position/privilege. Discussion threaded with vignettes from teachers and schools [from outreach??] Social inclusion based on some members of community less likely to go to university (ref to James et al. 2008); positive impact on health, well-being, community (ref to Dickson & Harmon 2011); value of community partnerships (but more needed on evaluation). Cultural capital most common theoretical vehicle but still deficit views persist.
    Aim: "seek to develop the habit of taking a scholarly approach to social inclusion, incorporating into our strategy, processes of discovery, reflection and sharing our findings and experiences" (p.219).
    Core argument: Authors argue it is time "to take a cross-disciplinary, scholarly approach to the question of connections between educational opportunity, social and economic disadvantage and university-based knowledge" (p.221).

  • A second chance at learning but it's not quite higher education': Experience of a Foundation Degree

    Date: 2011

    Author: Fenge, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Experiences of mature age students in a foundation degree (FD) in health and social care. FDs are generally taught in Further Education (FE) colleges in the UK (part of larger intention to unify the system and widening participation) - see p.376-8 for further description of the blurring of the divide between FE and HE.
    Aim: To explore students' learner identity/ sense of themselves as 'second chance learners'; to broadly evaluate a particular foundation degree
    Theoretical frame: Weick's (1995) model of sensemaking, which is "retrospective, social and ongoing, and focused on and by extracted cues in our social environment" (p.385). Also Bourdieu: 'General Theoretical Framework' (from 'Distinction', 1984); specifically field, habitus; foundation degrees= sub-field of field of HE
    Methodology: 'Exploratory study'; interpretive; interviews with students on FD program (n=6; convenience sample): 5f, 1m; 3 aged 31-40, 2 over 40, 1 under 30. Thematic coding.
    Findings: Number of themes
    1) 'Second chance learners': all participants had previous unsatisfactory experiences with education: "perceptions of under-achievement, limited opportunity and not realising their potential", and they viewed their participation in the FD as "getting a second bite at the apple" (p.380). Students' desire to return to education = 'creative adaptation' (see Reay, Crozier & Clayton, 2010).
    2) Motivation: flexibility to study part-time and balance work and study = 'the practical option', suggesting FD = "have a role to play in providing progression routes for those already within the workforce who wish to combine learning with their working lives" (p.382). Students also mentioned wanting to 'prove to themselves that they could do it'
    3) 'Not quite higher education': most students saw FE as a route to 'getting a taste of' HE; FD not seen as 'threatening' as a full degree program (possibly significant in terms of being 'non-traditional' students; see Bowl, 2001). Also, common perception that FE=better for their needs as mature students. Fear of failure seemed to fuel students' belief that they needed more help. However, the location of study (in FE) could contribute to confusion about what an FD is (a 'taste of HE' rather than an academic qualification; significance = NVQs are privileged in the fields of health and social care)
    Relevance: Exploring HE in FE offers insights into mature age students and their reasons for returning to study. "Educational disadvantage can be seen to be perpetuated in two ways: individuals exclude
    themselves from future possibilities by seeing themselves as not worthy of HE and institutions erect barriers to guard against students that are depicted as outside their realm of experience, or 'other'" (p.387).

  • A socially just curriculum reform agenda

    Date: 2016

    Author: Shay, S.; Peseta, T.

    Location: South Africa

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    Context: Editorial for TinHE. Starts with comment about 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement in South Africa (2015) - focusing on globalised system that is "increasingly characterized by inequality" (p.361). Special issue = focused on socially just curriculum reform, with a shared "concern about the ways in which curricula are deeply implicated in the processes of producing and reproducing inequality" (p.361)
    Editors draw on Fraser's notion of 'parity of participation' and mis/recognition
    Miller (2016) = brings instrumentalist drivers for curriculum reform into foreground - with calls for inter-disciplinary research to 'solve' big problems glossing over epistemic tensions
    Anwaruddin (2016) focuses on role of curriculum in relation to inequality in Second Language Teaching Education
    Hordern (2016) = recontextualisation can lead to misleading knowledge values
    Coleman (2016) = recontextualisation of academic knowledge/ literacies from professional context and into curriculum
    Winberg et al. (2016) - looks at engineering curricula and epistemological flows/ semantic waves
    Luckett et al (2016)= uses post-colonial theory to examine entry to privileged/white university in South Africa
    Abbas et al. (2016) = examines societal transformative potential of curriculum and pedagogy, particularly through acquisition of disciplinary knowledge
    Clegg (2016) = looks at what reframing curriculum could look like/ do (social realist perspective)