Higher Education Equity Literature Database

  • An empirical case study of young adult carers' engagement and success in higher education

    Date: 2019

    Author: Day, C.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Despite the recognition of carers in existing Australian and international equal opportunity and antidiscrimination legislation, limited research has explored the educational implications of caregiving on carers participation, engagement and success in higher education. Moreover, even fewer studies have specifically targeted the educational experiences and related life opportunities of young adults who provide care.
    Aim: To examine the educational experiences of a sample of thirteen Young Adult Carers (YAC) and provide rich, empirical insights into the interactional effects of caregiving on YACs' academic engagement with their studies, social engagement with their peers, teachers and advisors, and progressive outcomes of success in higher education.
    Theoretical framework: Young Adult Carers at University-Student Experience Framework (YACU-SEF). YACU-SEF draws upon ten student development themes designed to target the quality and quantity of effort YACs' invest in (a) academically challenging activities, (b) within- and beyond-class activities, (c) learning and teaching-based interactions with staff, (d) broadening educational activities, (e) relationships with peers, teachers and support services, and (f) work-integrated learning experiences.
    Methodology: An empirical case study, guided by the newly developed YACU-SEF theoretical model was conducted to examine the educational experiences of 18-25 year old YACs. Twelve women and one man (N = 13) from ten universities across eight Australian states and territories voluntarily participated in this study (Mdn = 21 yrs.). The primary methods of data collection and analysis involved in the examination of YACs' 'Action(s)' and 'Outcome(s)' consisted of semi-structured individual interviews and thematic analysis (Creswell 2012) using NVivo qualitative data analysis software (QSR International 2012).
    Findings: a)Academic challenges: 1)Very few YACs managed to cope with prescribed readings and preparatory exercises, and even fewer managed to successfully complete given tasks before scheduled classes; 2)several YACs experienced challenges with complying to a prescribed study routine due to the 'unpredictable and fluid nature of caregiving' (p. 9); 3)the lack of available time and energy often led to difficulties in being able to regularly complete drafts of assignments prior to submission; 4) A majority of YACs reported challenges in attending all scheduled classes; 5)all YACs stated that their caring roles significantly impacted their ability to study effectively and maintain focus. 3 main reasons cited by YACs: Tiredness and fatigue; unexpected and persistent disruptions; time spent maintaining household functioning and providing assistance with daily living. b)Active learning: Only a minority of YACs invested time on-campus outside of scheduled class hours due to the possibility of being needed at home and the distance between their homes and universities. Nevertheless, all YACs reported regular interactions with their respective universities' online learning systems. c)Student-staff interactions: 1)The amount of contact between YACs and their teachers varied based on academic and personal concerns. 2)Most YACs reported 'infrequent and irregular contact with teaching staff' outside their classes. d)Enriching educational experiences: Two-thirds of the YACs reported minimal involvement in on-campus activities, citing insufficient resources including time and finances as the primary reasons for their lack of involvement. e)Supportive learning environment: Only a minority of YACs pursued peer-relationships that extended beyond in-class or course-specific interactions; Many YACs felt separated from peers due to their caregiving roles; Most felt like they were missing out on the normative student experiences which support integration into the university community. f)Teacher support network: Two-thirds of YACs were reluctant to seek assistance from lecturers; several described staff as being 'unavailable and unapproachable' regarding the caring circumstances. Nevertheless, there were some positive relationships with the teaching staff mentioned; More than one quarter of YACs described their lecturers as being 'helpful' and 'understanding' upon receiving approval for academic consideration. g)Support networks with student services: Very few described stable, positive and supportive relationships with liaison officers. h)Work-integrated learning: Majority of YACs reported past challenges/future fears about fulfilling requirements of integrating employment-focused learning activities into their degree programmes, due to their caregiving roles, despite recognising its importance. i)Overall satisfaction: A majority reported satisfactory evaluations of their learning experiences in universities; The remaining minority cited the inflexibility of their universities and their experiences of being 'stressful' (p. 14). j)Career readiness: YACs' voiced concerns about being underprepared to enter the workforce, due to limited participation in WIL experiences, while also describing apprehension about the possibility of their caring responsibilities delaying their entrance into the workforce or postgraduate study. k)Average grade: YACs performance, progress and grades were significantly influenced by their caring roles. l)Departure intentions: most YACs' reported that the challenges associated with studying and caregiving negatively affected their motivation to pursue their studies. Nevertheless, some suggested that their experiences had positively motivated them to persist in the face of adversity.
    Core argument: The outcomes derived from the application of the YACU-SEF point to ongoing challenges experienced by YACs' as well as potential support service gaps in higher education institutions. As the educational implications of unsupported young adult caregiving are manifold and complex, these potential gaps pose serious concerns for YACs' engagement and success in higher education.

  • An Equitable Education: Achieving Equity Status and Measures to Ensure Equality for Refugee-Background Tertiary Students in Aotearoa New Zealand. Changemakers.

    Date: 2011

    Author: Joe, A.; Kindon, S.; O'Rourke, D.

    Location: New Zealand

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    Context: Refugee-background students in NZ
    Aim: Advocate for the recognition of students from a refugee-background as an equity group, both within government policy in NZ and within tertiary institutions in NZ. In order to emphasise their inclusion for equity funding and other targeted support.
    Conclusions: 1) HEB students may have unique barriers to achieving success within and participating in HE (outlined on page 7 of the report). 2) These barriers can be, and have been, compounded by policy changes that have restricted pathways to tertiary education for refugee-background students. 3) Students may have a fear that they will be stigmatised if they identity as refugees; but research finds that being labelled as such is a worthwhile risk if the outcome addresses institutional disadvantage. 4) Recognising people of refugee-backgrounds as an equity group - and the measures that come with that recognition - will enable more numbers of HEB students to enrol and achieve success in HE.
    Methodological comments: Study could be seen as removing the agency of HEB students ability to identify as refugee: assumes that labelling them as such will produce more positive benefits without considering this label from a subjective standpoint of the students, themselves.
    Core argument: Recognises the specificities of the HEB student; and argues that they should be considered as an equity group in order to assure their participation and success in HE.

  • An evolving approach to developing academics' understandings of transition for first year students. A Practice Report

    Date: 2014

    Author: Egea, K.; Griffiths, N.; McKenzie, J.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Australian higher education context - FYE program based on Kift's transition pedagogy. Describes UTS FYE project: activities, forums, coordinator, grants "to design curriculum based activities linked to one or two of the First Year Curriculum Principles" (p.105)
    Aim: To describe an FYE program at UTS to "engage and support academics"
    Theoretical frame: Transition pedagogy (Kift, Nelson & Clarke, 2010)
    Methodology: Description
    Findings: Since 2011, 75 grants have been given. Also, a learning community (CoP) has developed: "staff perceptions of transition and transition pedagogies have evolved as part of growing conversations on transition at the university" (p.104),
    Core argument: Offers example of approach "to building academic engagement in transition and transition pedagogies, through a supportive process of evolving and growing conversations on transition" (p.107)

  • An exploration of factors associated with student attrition and success in enabling programs

    Date: 2017

    Author: Morison, A.; Cowley, K.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Attrition levels in enabling programs (EP). Authors note EP students tend to be from low SES/ first in family backgrounds
    Aim: To "investigate the factors that impacted the attrition of students from EPs and compared their experience with those students who successfully completed an EP" (abstract)
    Methodology: Qualitative; phenomenological interviews with students (n=16; 8f, 8m/ 9 mature) around a critical incident. 11/16 students had completed the EP at UON; 2 of the 5 who did not complete returned and later completed (13/16 = completed).
    Findings: Common themes in interview data:
    Time pressures: balancing study with life and work, time management challenges, more demanding than expected
    Personal circumstances: stage of life appeared significant - lack of maturity/ commitment and ambition = mentioned by younger participants; family commitments/ lack of family support mentioned by older participants. Also, work commitments impacted on priorities, related to seasonal work patterns
    Support services: limited used of support services amongst students who withdrew. Participants noted differences in support offered in enabling compared with undergraduate studies. Mention of inadequate supports in evenings.
    Student engagement: completing students mentioned peer support

  • An exploration of how first year students are inducted into their discipline's academic discourses

    Date: 2018

    Author: Nallaya, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: There is an existing variance in proficiency in academic literacies amongst 'commencing students in HE as a consequence of the historical and social contexts of a discipline and academic abilities, language skills and cultural backgrounds of students' (Elton, 2010; Goldingay et al., 2012), which is crucial because academic literacies play an important role in higher ed success, including participation and engagement. Academic literacies are typically in operation within 'sites of discourse and power', such as higher ed institutions and are generally understood by advocates at the level of epistemology and identities. However, a body of extant research suggests that in order for students to effectively 'master' academic literacies, they need to be made aware of what these practices are so that they are able to acquire and employ these conventions in their study program (58). An increase in diverse students within higher ed institutions has made this even more of an imperative. Further, data suggests that 'both academic literacies and professional communication are important skills that need to be scaffolded and developed in study programs so that students will be proficient in their discipline's literacies' (58).
    Aim: To examine how first year students are inducted into their disciplines by identifying lecturers and students' insights free from prior assumptions about how the development of academic literacies occurs in a study program.
    Theoretical frame: Academic literacies approach which are understood as distinct skills/practices (as opposed to texts) that students can master which are devoid of "language and communication...that are privileged, expected, cultivated, conventionalised or ritualised" (Duff, 2010, p. 175).
    Methodology: Phenomenography (a qualitative approach that is used to identify the different ways a group of people experience and understand a phenomenon). The study participants were comprised of 'students and lecturers from the Bachelor of Teaching (MBET) program in the research context. Open-ended questions were asked in the interviews and participants were encouraged to speak freely and give concrete examples about their experience of the phenomenon which was: how MBET students developed their disciplinary academic literacies' (59). The main objective was to understand how the participants 'made meaning' from the phenomenon.
    Findings: '1) there was disparity between different stakeholders' expectations about the learning and teaching needs of students in Higher Education; 2) not all first year students had the expected academic literacies to engage in the discourses of their discipline; 3) scaffolding of disciplinary literacies was not being undertaken consistently; and 4) lecturers were uncertain about the level of scaffolding that should be provided to first year students' (57).
    Core argument: The development of academic literacies through scaffolding by students should be a deliberate goal of lecturers at higher ed institutions.

  • An Exploration of Important Factors in the Decision-Making Process Undertaken by Foundation Degree Students with Respect to Level 6 Progression

    Date: 2018

    Author: Schofield, C.; McKenzie, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Decision making for higher education for associate degree students (Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) and Foundation Degree (FD), which are often delivered in Further Education (FE) colleges. History of FDs: began in 2000 as part of Labour government widening participation (WP) agenda: typically delivered over 2 years at Level 4 and Level 5. Sustaining employer engagement in designing curriculum "has not always been easy" (p.828). Post Dearing report, enrolments in FDs grew, and HNC/D enrolments decreased; also, increased growth in FE colleges delivering/validating own top-up courses with partner universities. All = described as College-Based Higher Education (CBHE). Students in CBHE = more likely to be 'non-traditional'. Authors scope literature on students' decision-making; reference to Greenbank's (2009) concept of 'satisficing', "whereby students may have some basic criteria for their choice and undertake a search until they fid the first match" (p.828) because of lack of 'hot' knowledge; mature age students' decisions are more likely to be based on logistics and practicalities (geographic, financial, work). Familiarity with FE college is also cited as an explanation for why students elect to do a CBHE course (because they also offer a qualification in their own right)
    Aim: To "examine previously unexplored territory regarding what factors are important to CBHE students when faced with the choice of continuing their education at college or moving to a university" (p.828)
    Methodology: Case study of one FE college; questionnaires for Level 5 (n=43; final year of associate degree) and Level 6 students (n=22 in final year of bachelor degree) + follow-up focus group (n=13) - see p.831 for details of questions and participant cohort.
    Findings: Primary reason for choosing associate degree = course subject, followed by proximity, largely related to family ties - especially school drop off/commute to college; second reason = recommendation. Gender differences = women rated course modules and local/personal commitments as more important than the men. Reasons for staying in college = familiarity with teaching staff; feeling settled. Students who were going to move to university said they would do so for a 'fresh start' (but generally these were younger students with no family commitments). Age significantly correlated with reputation of institution.
    Level 6 students gave three main reasons for electing to top-up to Bachelor level: postgraduate potential, familiarity and educational interest. 86% of Level 5 students were considering topping-up; 7% were going to take a break; 7% moving into employment.
    Core Argument: Course type and content = most important factor for students making decisions about how to progress their associate degree studies

  • An exploratory study of the factors associated with an initial testing process: Testing the test

    Date: 2015

    Author: James, T.; Conradie, H.; Saint, R.; Browne, M.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Diagnostic testing in enabling education; the 'closed model' and diagnostic testing used by STEPS at CQU. Authors argue that enabling courses are designed to help students become 'academically literate' and better equipped to complete undergraduate education. Authors note that many STEPS students are mature age.
    Open entry - authors cite Hodges et al. (2013): "Open entry models allow all students, over a set age, to enrol in the program no matter their prior educational or skill level. The underlying assumption explained by Hodge et al. (2013) is that the "student should try the program if they think they might be able to do it and if they might be interested in tertiary study." (no page number for Hodges quote; cited on p.5). Authors go on to say "On the other hand, closed entry models only allow those who have demonstrated a sufficient academic standard to enrol in their program. The assumption is that students want to enter must demonstrate their capacity to meet the academic requirements of the program" (p.6).
    Authors note that closed entry system has implications for staff workload "due to the considerable time and effort required from a number of the staff to mark, review and interview prospective students" (p.6). Diagnostic testing of maths and literacy "to determine if a student is in an appropriate state of readiness" (p.6) - emotional and cognitive commitment to studies
    Aim: To determine "the relative utility of the current STEPS entrance testing methods in terms of (a) differentiating students who successfully completed the STEPS program from those who did not, and (b) the
    efficacy of the combined set of testing methods in predicting success or failure respond" (p.8); to respond to 2 Research Questions:
    1. Can we predict students' success/non-success from their initial testing results and the responses they provide during the interview process?
    2. As well, within the existing testing process, what elements can be identified as contributing to students' success/non-success? (p.6)
    Methodology: Mixed methods study: quantitative data = from diagnostic testing results; qualitative data from students' writing (taken from T1 and T2, 2012 at Bundaberg campus; n=140: 87f, 53m; aged 18-74 yo). 20/140 students did not start the course; 40 /140 students completed 3 or fewer courses. Only 46% completed the full four subjects. Students who did not meet the criteria were not included in the sample.
    Findings: Authors argue that their analysis supports the validity of the diagnostic testing.
    Three of six test measures show significance between scores and likeliness to continue/succeed: "This result may be an indication that if students are more competent in literacy and mathematics prior to entry, they will be more likely to engage successfully with the new knowledge presented through the program" (p.10)
    Tests on math, comprehension and confidence = not statistically significant.
    Evaluation of qualitative/ students' written piece was not significant, but when taken into account in interview process it is useful.
    Core Argument: Students who score higher in diagnostic = more likely to succeed in course; literacy test is most useful for predicting future success

  • An institutional approach to English language proficiency

    Date: 2016

    Author: Murray, N.; Hicks, M.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Increasing diversification means that HEIs are responding to concerns about language proficiency (see DEEWR Good Practice Principles...). Argues that shifting regulation is forcing HEIs to reconsider positioning and provision of language in institutions, so that they need to "articulate a systematic process for [supporting students adequately] along with a sounds rationale and conceptual framework" (abstract). Also, imperative is connected to employability agenda (p.171) - discusses the additional language requirements that LBOTE students are expected to meet in professions including nursing, teaching and accountancy. Argues that these additional requirements "reflect poorly on their graduating universities by raising questions over the rigour and quality of degree programmes that have allowed them to successfully graduate despite being unable to demonstrate a facility with the language deemed to be sufficient to enter professional practice" (p.171). Educating Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act legislates/ enforces entry requirements. [see https://internationaleducation.gov.au/Regulatory-Information/Pages/Regu…]
    Aim: Paper describes attempt to do so in UniSA, based on Murray's 3-part conceptualisation of English proficiency in university: general proficiency, academic literacy, professional communication (see Murray 2010)
    Findings: Describes conceptual underpinnings and practical implications of embedding English language into disciplines, curriculum and into core subjects so that all students (not just LBOTE) would benefit. Acknowledges that subject tutors = highly unlikely to be able to assess students' language/literacy needs (even if supported to explicitly unpack understandings of disciplinary lang/lits) = see p.176. Discusses implementation of PELA (in keeping with Principle 7 of Good Practice Principles). UniSA adopted the Academic English Screening Test developed by Uni Melb. Note issues with implementation using Moodle (students don't know how to save and proceed; think they have finished after finishing one task of three). Students self-elect to do diagnostic and if viewed as 'at risk' are offered 8 x 30 min face-to-face support sessions and additional ALL feedback on already-marked assignments (no grade offered). Also credit-bearing and non-credit bearing proficiency courses offered (negotiated with schools/ programme directors). Implementation took 3 years and was driven by language expert and head of CTL [presumably by authors]. Concession had to be made = teething problems with students self-electing to take test + technological issues
    Core argument:
    Draws on Murray 2010 a lot. Notes security concerns with language assessments: even if biometrics are used to ensure students are really who they claim to be, students still "often train fro tests and in doing so develop effective strategies for obtaining the scores they require for university entry without necessarily developing the kind of substantive, more productive underlying skills that give them the capacity to cope with the language demands of their programmes" (p.177). Notes that students also enter via enabling programs "that use their own in-house measures to assess students' English language competency - measures that can be highly ambiguous but which are often accepted by receiving institutions that know little of what those scores represent in real terms" (p.177). Also notes that tables of language equivalency (language proficiency) that universities use for admissions purposes have "dubious validity at best" (p.177)

  • An investigation of Indigenous participation in a business degree program

    Date: 2010

    Author: Fitzgerald, L.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Indigenous/ non-Indigenous staff and Indigenous student perceptions: how participation can be increased in enabling/ business degree program. Works from idea that Indigeneity = own knowledge system of "values and ways of knowing regarding the land, law, ceremonies, language and familial relationships" (p.20, attributed to Keenan, 2010), which differ to normative epistemology of universities. Offers international picture of Indigenous participation/ lack of parity. Scopes literature that examines embedding on Indigenous culture and knowledges into curriculum. Business courses/ faculty = strong case for this focus in terms of facilitating Indigenous participation in commercial world (see Willmett, 2009). Describes context as Indigenous enabling program specifically for business/ located in business faculty through 1) bursaries and scholarships and market to Indigenous students; 2) extra tutorial support/ academic support. At time of writing = 1 week winter program (July, for Year 10-12 high school students) and 4-week summer program.
    Theoretical frame: Organisational climate and culture, dimensions of reward orientation, task support, SES support to gauge 'comfort level' and 'sense of community'
    Methodology: Qualitative paradigm. Mixed methods: online survey, interviews, focus groups. Participants = 9 enrolled students (completed the survey), face-to-face interviews with 5 of these students + interviews with 15 staff (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) involved in enabling programs in other faculties. Focus group = 3 Indigenous students. Survey= "students' perceptions of how well the School taught students how to study and do research and how well it supported them in their learning... what the School valued and to what extent students' Indigenous backgrounds and the school's relationship with Indigenous communities were valued" (p.26). Interviews/ FG = experience of studying, accessing help, reasons for low participation, sense of belonging
    Findings: Attitudes to Indigeneity: mostly attributed to self-identification as Indigenous and knowing Indigenous Australia. Entry to university = difficult for some (quote from participant 'Carl' = how much/ what percentage Indigenous are you?). Author points to "the sense of shared discomfort and embarrassment stemming from
    ignorance about Indigenous Australia" (p.28).
    Reward orientation: the high ranking/ high achievement of business school in UNSW = perceived as excluding many Indigenous students (with numeracy considered a constraint).
    Support: participants perceived insufficient levels of support
    Lack of sense of community for Indigenous students (but faculty scored highly in terms of multiculturalism because of high proportion of international students)
    Core argument: Recommendations for increasing Indigenous participation: need to engage more with Indigenous issues and communities, consider mentoring; make the enabling program more substantial (longer with focus on maths; more task support

  • Analysing the professional development of teaching and learning from a political ethics of care perspective

    Date: 2014

    Author: Bozalek, V.; McMillan, W.; Marshall, D.; November, M.; Daniels, A.; Sylvester, T.

    Location: South Africa

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    Context: Teaching and learning professional development for higher education educators in South Africa; professionalization agenda in higher education with regard to teaching and learning
    Aim: To use Tronto's political ethics of care as an evaluative framework to evaluate a model of T&L professional development because it "provides valuable moral elements and perspectives on human interaction which can be used to evaluate higher education practices" (p.447-8).
    Theoretical frame: Tronto's five components of political ethics of care: attentiveness, responsibility, competence, responsiveness and trust. Care = understood as "holistic and as a broad, public and political activity" (p.449)
    Methodology: 'Insider research'; data = reflective data generated through planning the professional development activity that the authors ran as a retreat for senior academics. Each author used Tronto's 5 elements of care as a heuristic to examine their own reflections/ experiences
    Findings: Discussed using 5 elements of care
    Attentiveness/ caring about: authors recognised that teaching and learning (and the people involved) require attention and care (for students, for each other). Assumption that lack of care = moral failure. Attentiveness planned for in activities such as pre-retreat needs assessment survey, and an openness to share lives.
    Responsibility/ taking care of: not obligation; alternative, non-official space of possibility and disruption of new managerial norms.
    Competence/ care-giving: illustrated = time/ energy spent finding a suitable model for the professional development, concern for meaningful impact, and how learning is taken forward. Competence also evident in piloting of professional development model, and in team-teaching approach. Resources (lack of) have made the competence more difficult to sustain as initial money ran out.
    Responsiveness/ care-receiving: illustrated through collecting of/ working with feedback from participants.
    Trust: discussion of issues with how trust evolved between team members
    Care of self
    Integrity of care: "good care is dependent both upon the integration of all of the elements as a whole and the quality of each one of the elements themselves. Care involves more than good intentions" (p.456).
    Core argument: "The political ethics of care thus provides a holistic framework to make judgements about how well professional development practices and processes are able to meet identified needs. It provides a way of establishing where imbalances between the elements may be impacting on how well care is practiced" (p.457).

  • Analysis of Equity Groups in Higher Education 1991 - 2002

    Date: 2004

    Author: James, R.; Baldwin, G.; Coates, H.; Krause, K.L.; McInnis, C.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Report based on commissioned research to examine performance of equity group students in HE between 1991-2002 using HE Student Statistics Collection (5 groups: not including indigenous students). Performance = measured according to 5 indicators: access, participation, retention, success, completion
    Methodology: Statistical analysis. Two phases of research. Phase 1 answered this question: "How has the performance of the five equity groups in higher education changed over the last twelve years (1991-2002)? How does it compare with the performance of the overall student population?" (p.2). Phase 2 answered: "Do the current definitions of the equity groups include those in the Australian population most disadvantaged in accessing and participating in higher education?" (p.3)
    Findings: Most significant equity gaps = access rates (thus participation rates): "where the greatest breakthroughs remain to be made and are the major equity challenge for the higher education system" (p.10)
    Recommendations: General: special emphasis should be placed on low SES, with recognition of particular effects of low SES and R&R
    Universities should be required to monitor and report performance of equity groups
    Low SES: should be measured by parents' occupational status (for mature age students: parents' occupation status when MAS were at secondary school). More emphasis in equity policy framework needed on low SES/ fields of study with lowest representation and more attention to access for low SES students needed. Low SES presented as National, State and Urban= "leads to potentially misleading information" (p.xiii) - a national SES classification should be adopted
    Rural & Remote: continue to be significantly underrepresented and needed special consideration in equity policy framework. Classification methods also needed updating
    Disability: need to offer a list of examples when asking students to self-identify as having a disability
    NESB: should no longer be considered an equity target group; "universities should be encouraged to develop focused programs for specific groups of recent immigrants in their local areas, as part of their responsibility for community service and engagement" (p.xiv).
    WINTA: keep targets for women in Engineering and IT; set targets for men in nursing, society and culture and education and identify as equity group if patterns remain unchanged.
    Suggests universities being required to target particular schools in locales: "It is possible to conceive universities being rewarded for raising the higher education access rates of particular schools within their student catchment areas. The benefit of this approach is that it would encourage institutional equity programs to confront one of the root causes of inequity in higher education, which is competitive selection methods" (p.58).

  • Appreciating Aspirations in Australian Higher Education

    Date: 2011

    Author: Sellar,S.; Gale,T.; Parker, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Analyses new [uncritical] emphasis on notion of aspirations ('raising aspirations'). Draws on Raco's (2009) concept of 'politics of aspiration' that position people as citizens who are responsible for making consumer choices that maximise opportunities (aspiration as entrepreneurialism). Contrast = 'politics of expectation'. Works from Anderson et al. (1980) 4 As: conditions for university entry (Availability, Aspiration, Accessibility, Achievement).
    Aim: To critique application of aspiration as a neo-liberal wolf in sheep's clothing
    Critiqued assumptions: 3 problematics with 'aspiration': 1) aspiration implies offensive and normative judgements and assumptions about 'best' pathways and employment - those who don't aspire to HE have lower aspirations; 2) ignores stratification of HE system (less advantaged students 'diverted into lower status institutions': "increasing desire for HE in order to attract underrepresented groups does not ensure that they will have equitable access to different parts of the system once the enter, or that their participation will necessarily provide satisfactory social and economic returns" (p.38); 3) no evidence that underrepresentation is due to 'low' aspirations (underpinned by middle-class ideologies).
    Theoretical frame: Appadurai (1996, 2004). Appadurai (1996) argued that global movement has created new diasporic public spheres which have dramatically increased and diversified our resources for self-conceptualisation and imagining futures.
    Methodology: Case study of Australian HE
    Findings: Case study of Australia: tracks changing place of aspiration from 1980s to 2011; acknowledges changing aspirations of government for national economic future (p.40) - details numbers of students/ groups of students needed to meet 20/40 targets. Competition of qualified aspirants could be decentred in future - 'raising aspirations' = strategy for widening participation through early outreach. Aspiration has become a public issue due to insufficient demand for places (to meet targets). Notes use of aspiration in third way politics (New Labour, UK) - from where Raco's thesis was derived.
    Rising prominence of imagination: Appaduraian notion (rising prominence of imagination in every life) due to rise of modernity and globalisation (through media-suggested possibilities), which permits new ways of imagining ourselves and our worlds. "Understanding the relationship between aspiration and HE demands attention to both the increasing prevalence of imagination in the production of group identities and cultural practices and the inequitable distribution of capacities to realise these new imaginaries" (p.45). Aspiration conceived of only in economic terms = appears "relatively autonomous set of individual preferences and choices" (p.45) but conceals imagined worlds (Appadurai, 1996) or social imaginaries (Taylor, 2004). Fraser (1997) - raising aspirations without challenging dominant forms of recognition (epistemological privilege) "is an affirmative remedy for injustice that leaves its underlying causes intact" (p.47).
    Core argument: How can HEIs "better appreciate the aspirations of the different communities they serve...?" (p.48) - creating public spaces of debate about shared imaginaries for/through HE.

  • Are lecturers who show emotions perceived as understanding? How culture and teacher's display of emotion are related to students' judgments about a teacher's personality

    Date: 2019

    Author: Mendzheritskaya, J.; Hansen, M.

    Location: Germany

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    Context: Cross-cultural perceptions of lecturers' display of emotions. Authors cite work that argues that positive display of emotions has a positive influence on student learning. Literature review = 1) impact of lecturers' emotions on students; 2) situational factors that impact on lecturers' emotions and impact on students' learning, which is clearly cultural in terms of how the emotions (esp. cultural impact on displays; 3) specific focus on culture, but mostly from school contexts. Gap identified as: "there is a lack of research regarding the connection between teacher's display of anger and pity - the two emotions that have been reported to be experienced most frequently by teachers in the case of students' failure - and the perception of the teacher's personality by students" (p.3). Authors posit these hypotheses:
    "H1: Students in Russia will differ from students in Germany in their perception of a lecturer's personality after reading a vignette in which the lecturer gives negative feedback to his or her student.
    H2: Independent from culture, a lecturer displaying anger while providing negative feedback will be judged by students less positively than a lecturer displaying pity.
    H3: The perception of a lecturer displaying anger or pity will interact with the cultural-educational context of the
    students" (p.4)
    Aim: To explore "how culture influences students' perception and interpretation of their lecturers' display of emotion... [specifically] how a university lecturer's display of emotions while giving negative feedback to students on their achievement in different cultural-educational contexts affected students' perception of the lecturer's
    personality" (abstract).
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Online survey of university students in Germany (n=148) and Russia (n=136) - see page 5 for details of participants. Various statistical analyses used (MANOVA for effects
    Findings:
    H1 = partially supported (Russian students rated lecturer's conscientiousness much lower/ lecturer's understanding much higher than German students)
    H2 = supported: "when negative feedback was delivered with pity, the lecturer was perceived
    as most conscientious, cautious, and understanding, and least conscientious, cautious, and understanding when the negative feedback was delivered with anger" (p.6)
    H3 = partially supported; "when no emotion was shown by the lecturer, students in Germany rated the lecturer as being more conscientious in comparison to their counterparts in Russia" (p.7)
    Authors posit that students in Russia are more likely to observe a display of emotion than their German counterparts
    Core argument: Authors argue their findings" are relevant for educational practice, as higher education becomes increasingly internationalized and lecturers and students from a variety of cultural-educational backgrounds are in contact every day" (p.8).

  • Are Low SES Students Disadvantaged in the University Application Process?

    Date: 2015

    Author: Cardak, B.;Bowden,M.; Bahtsevanoglou, J.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Focuses on university admissions/ application processes, in particular examining differences between high and low SES students. Based on VTAC data (2011 VCE). Works from other research that suggests low SES students are less likely to participate in HE
    Aim: To develop an economic model to explain student behaviour and decisions regarding university applications by exploring the number of changes to admissions portfolios post-ATAR
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology:
    Findings:
    - High SES students "seem to construct application portfolios that are more attentive to the application process and ultimate admission" (p.63). They also make more changes to their application portfolios than low SES students;
    Students who make more changes to their application portfolio get more benefits from the opportunity to revise, therefore high SES get more benefits than low SES;
    - NESB student portfolios are more ambitious or aggressive (p.58);
    - Students applying for p/t study/ deferred offer have less ambitious portfolios;
    - Students from independent schools/ Catholic schools and adult schools submit more aggressive portfolios;
    - Low SES students are not as active in window between ATAR and finalizing application; aka - do not take advantage of window to update it;
    - Authors suggest these differences occur because high SES understand the university application procedure better than low SES students, which is partly a consequence of different knowledge sources/ unfamiliarity at home/ cultural capital
    Core argument: More needs to be done at school to help students better understand process and options: "policy actions should be taken towards the end of high school to improve student understanding of university application processes and thereby outcomes for low SES students" (p.2)

  • Are universities responding to the needs of students from refugee backgrounds?

    Date: 2010

    Author: Earnest, J.; Joyce, A.; deMori, G.; Silvagni, G.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Sfrb students in Australian universities - little known about transition programs linking students into tertiary study. Addresses 'paucity of research' on learning styles/ needs of sfrb (specifically African and Middle Eastern). Draws on research (Earnest, Housen & Gillieatt, 2007) who suggest that educational institutions = safe and spaces of hope. Locates discussion around sfrb in context of increased diversification (draws on Northedge, 2003). Notes importance of early engagement + focus on health needs
    Aim: To report on needs analysis undertaken with sfrb in Victoria and WA; to examine needs of sfrb in tertiary education, document links between experiences and personal outcomes, propose student-based recommendations
    Methodology: Qualitative: in-depth interviews and focus groups: "The needs analysis was used to identify problems, concerns and issues faced by students from refugee backgrounds, so that weaknesses could be considered" (p.160). In-depth interviews with 10 participants in WA= 6 m, 4 f - from Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Eritrea. 7 = over 25 years old and studying education, health promotion, public health, commerce, environmental health science, engineering, nursing and social work. VIC = 3 x focus groups with 14 participants (9m, 5f) from Afghanistan and Oromia/Ethiopia
    Findings: Having a sense of direction = many students described feeling confused about university because of "mixed messages about enrolment, their qualifications and entrance requirements" (p.162) and a lack of support. Preparation = students had positive and negative experiences (some had done preparatory courses and those who hadn't felt disadvantaged). Participants noted differences in teaching styles between prior education experience in own cultures/countries (e.g. no tutorials, group work, presentation assignments, too many ongoing assessments). Difficulties with education and learning: due to fragmented educational histories, FinF (responsibility and pride), language competency, differences from/with other students, learning to use the internet and technology, using campus service. Notes role of academic staff and support systems (varied opinions - some were perceived as supportive; others = lacking empathy and understanding). Academic staff = little cultural understanding of sfrb (prejudice, low expectations of students). With regards to language: "The majority of the participants felt that student support does exist, particularly for academic writing, but many academic staff who facilitate these services often do not have a grasp of the specific subject material" (p.167)
    Core argument: Very little research on sfrb in university. University "can be a culturally alienating place" (p.169) and lack of tailored programs impede active participation of sfrb. Student-driven recommendations =
    1) need for guidance and encouragement to attend university
    2) more assistance, especially in Year 1
    3) offer bridging/ preparatory courses
    4) increase financial support
    Core argument: "While there are existing services available for all students, including teaching and learning centres, life skills, counselling and employment services, these services remain underused and often students are unaware of them" (p.169).

  • Are we all on course? A curriculum mapping comparison of three Australian university open-access enabling programs

    Date: 2019

    Author: O'Rourke, J.; Relf, B.; Crawford, N.; Sharp, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Enabling education in Australia - comments made on unmapped/ diverse nature of field. Authors note that standardising the field is difficult because of 1) the diversity of programs offered and 2) the lack of knowledge about enabling curricula. Literature review includes brief discussion of 4 aspects of curriculum: enacted curriculum, intended curriculum, experienced curriculum, hidden curriculum (Arafeh, 2016)
    Aim: To 1) explore "the unique challenges associated with teaching and learning in enabling programs", 2) respond to lack of research into curriculum design in enabling, 3) to add more to knowledge about enabling education (all p.9). Specifically, to focus on the 'intended curriculum' of 3 enabling programs (ECU, TAS, UON)
    Methodology: Curriculum mapping, adapted from Cuevas & Feit (2011) and Arafeh (2016): mapped alignment of program outcomes with learning outcomes for each unit + information about assessment task + mapping learning items to assessment. Mapping also recorded according to explicit and implicit outcomes
    Findings: Units mapped generally aligned with learning outcomes and program attributes.
    Rare measurement of abstract concepts such as 'academic integrity', 'understand the learning environment', 'ethical conduct'
    Core Argument: Authors offer 6 principles for intended curriculum in enabling programs:
    - "Principle one: Enabling curricula foster the development of a foundational level competence in key academic writing, research and communication.
    - Principle two: Enabling curricula foster the development of a foundational awareness of salient knowledge across relevant academic content areas.
    - Principle three: Enabling curricula foster the development of a foundational understanding of academic integrity and ethical conduct requirements in the university context and more widely.
    - Principle four: Enabling curricula foster the development of a foundational ability to successfully engage with the university teaching and learning environment.
    - Principle five: Enabling curricula foster the development of a foundational ability to work in teams, specifically to effectively collaborate and contribute within small groups in order to develop academic skills.
    - Principle six: Enabling curricula foster the development of a cross-cultural and international outlook, specifically the ability to engage productively and harmoniously with diverse cultures considering alternative cultural perspectives." (p.19)

  • Are You Able To Learn?': Power and Access to Higher Education for African Refugees in the USA.

    Date: 2011

    Author: Perry, K.; Mallozzi, C.

    Location: USA

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    Context: US higher education and participation of refugee students in context of increasing humanitarian intake (at the time of writing). Authors foreground the heterogeneity of the refugees in America, including diversity in people from the same country. Authors argue that educational opportunities are pursued with permanent residency as a driving factor. Refugee policy promotes quick employment (within 180 days) which thus represents a barrier for refugees wanting to access further education (see also Koyama, 2013; 2015)
    Aim: To undertake a discourse analysis to examine instantiations of power and identity in the narratives of two Congolese students. Specifically, the authors respond to these research questions:
    "1. What do Congolese refugees' narratives reveal about issues of access to adult and higher education in the USA?
    2. How does an individual's worldview (i.e. mutually shaped identity, experiences, practices, and perspectives) interact with issues of access to education?
    3. How do the refugees' worldviews interact with their host community at a variety of contextual levels (local, higher education, regional, national, global)? How might their worldviews shape opportunities for success in formal and informal educational contexts?" (p.250)
    Conceptual framework: Language and discourse/ narrative analysis (Gee, 2011); post-structural views of power
    Methodology: Narrative data drawn from larger ethnographic study of educational opportunities for refugees in US city (see p.51 for specific details). Two students = focus of this paper (Dikomo -widowed single mother- and Katoto - young single man)
    Findings: Authors present close linguistic analysis of the narratives of the two students.
    Dikomo focused on how she advocated to the Refugee service to gain access to education (although they questioned her capacity to undertake further education) and after gaining some proficiency and confidence with English language. Table 1 (p.254) offers analysis of how Dikomo's language signifies identity and politics in her world. Dikomo's identification of herself as a single mother suggests that education is a necessity for her (to model to her children, to help her children avoid a pathway to poverty). Dikomo expressed shock that the refugee service would question her desire to engage in further education ("Wow!"), perhaps because it challenged her self-identification as a knowledgeable educated person. The questioning also stands in contrast to the meritocratic discourses distributed in the orientation classes that she attended: "The resettlement agency's resistance to helping her with
    higher education negated Dikomo's knowledge, which shows a chink-in-the-armor of a meritocracy-based worldview, because not all hard work gets rewarded, just the right kind of hard work - perhaps done by the right kind of person. Without Dikomo's advocacy for herself, the agency's reluctance to help with education would have created a barrier to Dikomo's economic security" (p.255).
    Katoto - fled to Kenya as a young boy and received some education/ gained some English language in a refugee camp but he left before he received his high school diploma. When he arrived in the US he took ESL classes and then enrolled in a community college so he could gain access to university. He was frustrated that his prior qualifications were not recognized by the college, and taking the college courses was using up his financial aid money (without counting towards his degree). He worked full-time as a caretaker while studying. Analysis of Katoto's narrative suggests that he was critical of the work the refugee agency was doing - it was ticking off basic needs and encouraging him to get a job but not helping with access to higher education. Katoto's narrative suggests he was seeking to resist the low expectations the state and refugee agency had of him, and he recasts his trouble with recognition (that he didn't have his diploma) as "like a battle" (see p.258). Table 2 (p.258) offers analysis of how Katomo's language signifies identity and politics in his world
    Core argument: The two narratives signalled how migration intersects with issues of access and power, and how refugees' educational ambitions are invisible to people in power, "or - even worse - that those in power may question, doubt, or ignore such experiences and aspirations" (p.259). Narratives indicate the contrasting messages that refugees receive (especially in orientation classes, which promote a meritocratic view of 'work hard and you will get the good life' but which conceals the lack of engagement from the state in supporting access to higher education)/ pushing refugees into quick work through a discourse of self-sufficiency narrowly conceived in terms of employment. These narratives suggest that there are significant challenges related to gatekeeping, particularly in terms of the organisations tasked with facilitating resettlement for newly arrived refugees. Authors question how far refugees can get with self-advocacy in this context.

  • Aren't we there yet?

    Date: 2012

    Author: Ruebain, D.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Viewpoint from Chief Executive of Equality Challenge (the body tasked with advancing equality and
    diversity in higher education) - equality stubbornly remains a problem in universities.
    Methodology: essay
    Discussion: Inequality = based on two incorrect assumptions: 1) there is a 'correct' identity and 2) cultural norms = unchangeable, which lead to irrational judgments and the othering of non-normative identities. Discusses developments in racial equality in general. However, this equality is not as deep as it should be; Ruebain notes that although the representation of BME students in English HE has improved, graduate/ employment outcomes for BME students are lower than for white students. Equality legislation in HE that has responded to the broader societal/cultural shifts illustrates progress. Author makes the case that in the context of increasing globalization and competition, this is the perfect time to focus on equality and diversity: "If organisations are able to manage and harness diversity through fostering a culture that can flexibly meet different requirements and which values difference, then they are more likely to be competitive, have a more satisfied and productive workforce and importantly, be attractive to both staff and students in what is a globalized working and learning environment" (p.5). Notes how chronological age can function as a form of discrimination/ discriminatory behavior. Also, HEIs have been competing to demonstrate how welcome and embracing they are.
    Core argument: Paradigm shifts have already happened in recent history, we need to continue "to ensure a high-quality, world-leading HE sector" (p.6)