Higher Education Equity Literature Database

  • Building pathways to academic success. A Practice Report

    Date: 2012

    Author: McIntyre, J.; Todd, N.; Huijser, H.; Tehan, G

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Examines expectations, experiences and skills of students entering first year UG study at USQ - based on idea these are 'less than optimal for achieving academic success'. Scopes Australian FYE literature.
    Aim: To evaluate academic outcomes of 3 cohorts of students who undertook a 5-day 'enabling program' pre-orientation at USQ called 'Building Pathways to Academic Success'.
    Theoretical frame: Descriptive reporting of evaluation data.
    Methodology: Participants = 965 students (50% = low SES/ 50% = FinF/ 50% = mature age/ 50% = low entry scores). Data gathered 2007-2009. Outcome measure = students' GPA at end of semester 1. Quant analysis of GPA scores.
    Findings:
    Students who took enabling program = less likely to fail and got higher GPAs than those who did not.

  • Building student belonging and engagement: insights into higher education students' experiences of participating and learning together

    Date: 2015

    Author: Masika, R.; Jones, J.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Focuses on connections between retention and sense of belonging in context of diversified/massified HE system. Insights gathered from retention initiatives in Year 1 Business Management course/students in UK university (from HEFCE/ PHF/ Thomas 'What Works' project). Interventions = "encouraged active learning linked to personal development plans and employability through use of an online learning resource to capture student reflection on their learning development" (p.2) in 'Developing Academic
    and Employability Skills' module. "Students were required to create a webpage and record reflections of their experiences and learning linked to ten milestones related to academic and social achievements, for example, settling in, socialising, team skills development, assignments and presentations for which students received feedback from lecturers and tutors" (p.4). Also = blog, additional group activities, formal group assignments and 'Studentfolio'
    Aim:
    Theoretical frame: Wenger's social theory of learning/ community of practice. Draw's on Liz Thomas' definition of belonging in HE
    Methodology: appreciative inquiry (Bushe, 2007) = participants discuss problems and suggest positive change (discovery, dream, design). Conducted focus groups
    Findings: Belonging to course: online communication and group work facilitated sense of belonging; in particular Studentfolio considered to facilitate feelings of encouragement and inclusion (p.6). Students formed own support-groups (Facebook). Authors consider impact of team learning on CoP theory.
    Engagement with learning together: "meaning was grounded in the actions and the significance of the actions
    in relation to the encompassing activity" (p.8)
    Core argument: Communities of Practice are important for fostering belonging and improving retention.
    Study identifies three areas of importance: 1) curricula and teaching exchange + peer-to-peer exchange = enhance student CoP (and need to be responsive to diversifying student body); 2) push message that students belong via retention initiatives, curricula, teaching (both extra and curricular); 3) institution should acknowledge range of CoPs (e.g. Facebook) and integrate into institutional practices

  • Building Student Engagement and Belonging in Higher Education at a Time of Change.

    Date: 2012

    Author: Thomas, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: The NAO report recognises England's good standing on retention in HE institutions internationally, but urged the HE sector to find ways of further improving student retention and completion. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) felt that a significant barrier to further progress was the lack of evidence about what actually works to improve student retention and completion. Although there is extensive research about student retention and success (Jones, 2008; Troxel, 2010; Krause, forthcoming), it is, difficult to translate this knowledge into activities that impact on student persistence and success, and institutional outcomes. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), an independent charitable organisation responded to these challenges by initiating and supporting the 'What Works? Student Retention & Success' programme. The primary purpose of the programme was to generate evidence-based analysis and evaluation about the most effective practices to ensure high continuation and completion rates through seven projects involving 22 higher education institutions.
    Aim: This report aims to provide a synthesis of the key messages, findings, implications and recommendations resulting from the projects funded through the 'What Works? Student Retention & Success' programme from 2008-2011.
    Theoretical frame: Not specified in study.
    Methodology: Project 1: A comparative evaluation of the roles of student adviser and personal tutor in relation to undergraduate student retention (Anglia Ruskin University) - Data collection method: Online survey; Participants: First and second-year undergraduate students at Anglia Ruskin University (n=722, over 10% response rate); Data analysis: Using SPSS & NVivo; Project 2: Pathways to success through peer mentoring (Aston University, with Bangor University; Liverpool Hope University; London Metropolitan University; Oslo University College; Oxford Brookes University; University of Sheffield; and York University) -Approach: Mixed-methodological approach & multiple case-study design; Data collection methods: Survey, in-depth qualitative interviews & non-participant overt observations of peer mentoring activity during 'welcome' weekend in September. Participants: Questionnaires (302 completion); Follow on survey (374 completion); Qualitative interviews: 97 peer mentors & mentees; Data analysis: Quantitative data - SPSS; Qualitative data - grounded theory approach. Project 3: 'Belonging' and 'intimacy' factors in the retention of students (University of Leicester) - Data collection methods: Questionnaire surveys, individual interviews & analysis of video diaries of first- and second- year students involved in a longitudinal student experience project carried out by GENIE, the university's Centre for Excellence for Teaching and Learning; Participants: current first- and third-year students from medical, Biological Science and English courses, as well as students who have withdrawn from their courses. Project 4: Dispositions to stay: the support & evaluation of retention strategies using the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) (Northumbria University, with the University of Bedfordshire & the University of Manchester)- Approach: Analysis of relationship between scores on the ELLI & student retention & success & the student experiences of using ELLI. Project 5: HERE! Higher education retention and engagement - Mixed-methods approach; Data collection methods: Six large-scale transition surveys, 17 interviews & three focus groups; Participants: Over 3000 first-year students & staff at partner institutions. Project 6: Comparing and evaluating the impacts on student retention of different approaches to supporting students through study advice and personal development. Data collection methods: Surveys, focus groups & interviews; Participants: First-year undergraduate students at an academic school (Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University) & across an entire institution (University of Reading). Project 7: Good practice in student retention: an examination of the effects of student integration on non-completion (University of Sunderland, with Newcastle University & University of Hull). Primarily qualitative methodological approach; Data collection method: Cross-institution survey & analysis of retention performance data; Participants: Mature students, first year students, part-time students & local students.
    Findings: Project 1: Key finding - 42% (n=237) participants have considered dropping out on at least once, and 46.6% (n=110) of this group have considered dropping out more than once; 59% (n=153) considered leaving due to internal reasons (personal circumstances/self-doubt on personal ability to succeed in HE); 35% (n-196) considered withdrawing prior to or following assessment, or following a failure. Project 2: Key finding: i)Transition period: Majority of students were concerned about making friends when starting university. Transitional peer mentoring provides a means for students to quickly gain a sense of 'belonging' (p. 77); Longer term pastoral mentoring provides ongoing, long-term support for students who require it. ii)Following transition: Peer mentoring works by assisting students to make the most of the available academic opportunities at university. iii)Academic support - belonging & peer mentoring: Peer mentors can help students on how to 'learn to learn' (p.78) at a higher level. iv)Benefits for mentors: Develop valuable transferable employability skills (self-management, leadership & communication skills). v)Challenges of peer mentoring: From students' perspective: Institutional issues & communication problems vi)Writing peer mentoring: Provide a specialised service to improve students' overall academic portfolio vi)Challenges of writing peer mentoring: Balancing expectations of both parties, that are often different. Project 3: 6 key themes/messages which play a significant role on establishing students' confidence and sense of 'belonging' throughout their course: Personal tutors & other staff relationships; departmental culture & curriculum methods; managing expectations; central services; social spaces; clubs and societies. Project 4: Key finding: Strong learning relationships between students & staff is a key factor in promoting motivation, engagement; a significant statistical relationship was evident between student success (as measured by a grade point average) and two of the ELLI dimensions, critical curiosity and meaning making. Project 5: Key findings: a) Approximately one third of first-year students have experienced doubts sufficiently strong to make them consider withdrawing at some point during the first year; b)Doubters are more likely to leave than non-doubters; c)Doubters reported poorer quality experience than students who have not doubted; d)Students usually report more than one reason for doubting; e)The primary reasons for doubting are associated with students' experience of the programme; f)There were four main reasons cited by doubters for staying: 'support from friends and family', 'adapting to the course/university', 'personal commitment & drive', 'future goals, particularly employment'; g)The primary times for considering leaving are immediately before & after Christmas; h)Students reported different degrees of doubting; i)Some student groups (part-time students, students with disabilities & female students) appear more likely to doubt than others. Project 6: Key finding: providing structured support, fostering engagement, managing expectations, enabling a sense of belonging are all central in helping institutions to retain their students; students are more likely to engage with the study support and personal development available from the institution if they are easily accessible and students feel there is a reason to engage; the building of relationships, particularly between personal tutors and their tutees, helps retain students; staff members who operate as personal tutors want to feel valued in the role and rewarded for it; holistic models of study advice and personal development are effective in making students feel they are supported towards success, whether these models are delivered across the university (Reading) or locally in an academic school (Oxford Brookes). Project 7: Key findings on the effect of student integration on retention: a) integration of the social and academic elements of university life is key to the integration of students into the school and wider university community; b)early imposition of structures upon students by staff appears effective in giving a sense of continuity and purpose; c) teams and groups working collaboratively on academic tasks enhance their social opportunities; d) integrating social and academic elements of university life encourages students to build relations with each other and with staff and to engage with the curriculum.
    Core argument: In HE, belonging is critical to student retention and success. However, the implications are often not addressed in institutional priorities, policies, processes & practice. A mainstream approach to improving the retention and success of all students should be implemented.

  • By Chance or by Plan?: The Academic Success of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education

    Date: 2018

    Author: Wong, B.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Higher class students are more likely to get a first-class degree in the UK than 'non-traditional' students (working-class, minority ethnic, and/or mature students)
    Aim: To explore the experiences and trajectories of 'high achieving non-traditional students' (HANTS) so as to "potentially amplify the collective experiences that have contributed to their educational achievements for a wider range of students" (p.1).
    Theoretical frame: Bourdieu: field, habitus and capital
    Methodology: In-depth narrative case study with first-in-family HANTS (n=30); interviews explored educational biographies and lived experiences of higher education and pathways to academic success. Participants = in final year of study and on course to get a first class degree at two London-based post-92 universities. Details of participants on p.4
    Findings:
    Academic study skills = students' reading and/or previous educational experiences (e.g. via Access course) provided resources to help cope with transition to undergraduate study (with several students attributing their 'success' to an enjoyment of reading and ability to 'write well'), leading the author to posit "it is conceivable that regular reading, even as a hobby, can benefit students in their degrees, especially in the social sciences" (p.5).
    Proving themselves = students generally not academically successful at school. Common uniting experience among participants is a desire to prove themselves and to others that they could do it, or "a strong desire to respond and reclaim their worth and dignity through education, namely, a good degree" (p.6). Students also aware of credential creep. The idea of second chances = often greeted with additional motivation/ desire to succeed.
    Supportive people: cited as important (see p.7) - includes family, friends, peers, mentors

  • Calculating Student Aspiration: Bourdieu, Spatiality

    Date: 2015

    Author: Gale, T.;Parker, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Reports on study of aspirations (low SES secondary school students in regional Australia)
    Aim: To find explanations that 'transcend Bourdieuian accounts' of aspiration - to distinguish between historicising and spatialising aspriations
    Theoretical frame: Draws on Appadurai's (2004) concept of navigational capacity. Uses two analytical categories: doxic and habituated aspriations.
    Doxic = 'desirable' - "state of immediate adherence" (Bourdieu, 1990: 68) or "a belief that escapes questioning" (Gale & Parker, 2015: 85) = ritualised experiences
    Habituated = 'possible' - related to habitus: "designates a way of being, a habitual state, a predisposition, tendency, propensity or inclination" (Bourdieu, 1984: 562) which reflect biological/ historical conditions = reproduction
    Aspiration as future-oriented (p.88): navigational capacity develops out of navigational nodes between past and future (based on 'map of norms' (Appadurai, 2004: 69) which create an 'archive of experiences' (p.89)
    Gale & Parker also draw on de Certeau's (1984) notion of 'map' and 'tour' knowledge: map = knowledge from above (familiarity/ 'big picture') = "appreciation of the end from the beginning" (and therefore can see other routes). Tour = knowledge of operations (knowing way around a space)
    Key question: What is a 'reasonable possiblity' for aspiring? Answer is based on individual's structural limits based on resources and capital available
    Core arguments:
    - Aspirations are a matter of policy (part of demand-driven system and 20/40 targets);
    - Aspirations are historically informed (doxic/ habituated aspirations);
    - Aspirations are future oriented (navigational capacity - map v. tour knowledge);
    - Aspirations are connected to/part of politics of recognition (aspirations are situated in/ by social contexts within which people live; 'spatial turn'; mis/non-recognition of marginalised groups and their futures).

  • Can VET Help Create a More Inclusive Society?

    Date: 2016

    Author: Buddelmeyer, H.;Polidano, C.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Social inclusion in Australia and "greater risk of becoming socially excluded through lack of qualifications" (p.2), especially for disadvantaged learners (see p.2 for definition of 'disadvantaged'). Cites work by authors (Scudella et al., 2009) that analysed HILDA data to cross-reference social exclusion with education levels. They found that the divide between early school leavers and people who hold some form of certification (above Cert II level). Cert III/ finishing high school is important for avoiding exclusion - attaining higher qualifications "only marginally reduces the risk of exclusion further" (p.3). Study estimated by 12% of social exclusion can be directly explained by education/ skills, but material domain (earnings) also significantly impacted by education level, meaning that overall 30-40% of social exclusion can be explained by education/ training.
    Methodology: Literature review
    Discussion: Authors are clear that VET cannot offer a 'silver bullet', but they offer the case of the Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG), which changed the way that VET was funded, to show how increased access to VET improved the social inclusion factors for students (Leung, McVicar, Polidano & Zhang
    2014). The VTG increased VET enrolments by 35% in 2011, and particularly for Indigenous students. For students aged 15-19, there were clear benefits: with much higher likelihood of being employed full-time 6 months after completing a course. Employment outcomes were less significant for older students.
    Differences between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students (McVicar & Tabasso 2016): non-disadvantaged students have higher post-training employment rate. People with low level English = 45% less likely to be employed. Biggest completion/ employment gap found with Indigenous students; however, this doesn't explain employment gap for other groups: "These results suggest that improving the completion rates among disadvantaged students is not likely to bridge the employment gaps that appear soon after completion and that efforts may be better directed at early career preparation" (p.6).
    For older students, Coelli, Tabasso and Zakirova (2012) found that VET improved chances for older students to move into full-time employment. Buddelmeyer, Leung, McVicar & Wooden (2013) found that VET increased likelihood of people moving from casual to ongoing employment over 12 months post-graduation, which is more so the case for men (6.4% compared with 1.6% for women).
    For pathways into higher education, Polidano, Tabasso & Zhang (2014) found that students taking VET in schools gain a TER of around 6 points lower than those who do not take VET subject, and they have a 12% lower chance of getting an offer from a university because of the ranking system: "current subject-scaling arrangements in Victoria that adjust for differences in the difficulty in attaining the middle ranking in a subject may be a key reason. In particular, scored VET subjects appear to be scaled down more than general subjects. This is because there is a relatively high proportion of lower-achieving students in these subjects who do not apply for university but who concentrate their effort in VET subjects, possibly to attain a vocational qualification" (p.9)
    Core argument: Policy recommendations:
    1) Reforms to open access to VET need to target disadvantaged students
    2) "When time, energy and resources are scarce, and if the goal is to increase social inclusion, efforts should be focused on school completion and articulation to certificate III level, rather than on increasing university enrolments" (p.10).

  • Can't be what you can't see': The Transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students in Higher Education.

    Date: 2014

    Author: Kinnane, S.; Wilks, J.; Wilson, K.; Hughes, T.; Thomas, S.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Examines transition into HE for Indigenous students (processes, data, issues, pathways, enablers, constraints, opportunities
    Aim: To identify "what constitutes successful transition to higher education from a range of Indigenous community contexts and diverse university settings" (Exec Summary)
    Theoretical frame:
    Methodology: Mixed: quantitative = online survey/ qualitiative = telephone interviews (n=65 personnel and students from 26 universities; 92% = Indigenous; all students = Indigenous). Literature review of transitions into HE for ATSI students.
    Findings: Identified 4 groups = particularly under-represented and relatively little focus given to these people: women as primary carers, young men, people in the prison system, and people with disabilities. 'Successful transition' = on spectrum from personal to community terms + measures used by universities and government agencies. Data shows growth of transition programs, which "increasingly involve a regionally and contextually responsive mix of partnerships between universities, Indigenous community leadership, philanthropic and not for profit organisations, and new policy developments at the university executive level" (Exec Summary)
    Project offers 14 elements of 'leading practice' = framework of leading practice:
    1) Enhancing Indigenous education contexts in teacher and pre-teacher training
    2) Outreach/ aspirational programs
    3) Targeted community outreach + intergenerational trauma and resistance to transitions to university
    4) Preparedness pathways/ enabling programs (within universities)
    5) Targeted student case management and skills development/ evaluation of student performance
    6) Mentors and tutorial assistance
    7) Blended delivery for remote students
    8) Finances and employment pathways )scholarships and cadetships)
    9) Life cycle approach and professional pathways
    10) Policy contexts and strategies = responses to Bradley review and Behrendt review
    11) Whole of university = governance
    12) Building on foundations of Indigenous Engagement Centres (IECs) + engagement strategies
    13) Value and role of Indigenous knowledges (via IECs)
    14) Cross cultural competency + changing normative cultures
    IECs are central
    Core argument: "Targeted pathway programs that rely on family and community support, while mutually enhancing wider community relationships through breaking down myths and barriers and achieving outcomes, are increasingly effective" (Exec Summary). Ripple effect = measurement of 'success'. Early intervention and targeted support = 'crucial enablers'

  • Capabilities and Aspirations

    Date: 2005

    Author: Nathan, D.

    Location: Bangladesh

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    Context: Explores 'capacity to aspire' thesis from economic perspective: "The capability set reflects the person's ability to live different kinds of lives and to choose between one or another kind of life" (p.36) - looks at 'ways of living' as combination of being and doing = how increased income can develop new capabilities/ changes 'capability set'. However, making something possible does not necessarily bring about changes expected or desired (e.g. Micro Finance Initiatives for poor Chenchu women).
    "Aspiration relates to how people want to be in the future, for which reason people use their existing capabilities differently from a situation where they do not have this aspiration" (p.36).
    Uses examples of hunter-gatherers/ 'swiddeners' to exemplify different approaches to meeting needs/ production. The way labour is used to meet demand/fulfil aspirations changes in order to develop new capabilities. Changes in ways that education is viewed requires a reallocation of resources. Differences between men and women in this article exemplify how capacity to aspire is unevenly distributed and are a matter of group interaction/development

  • Care as a threshold concept for teaching in the salutogenic university

    Date: 2019

    Author: Kinchin, I.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Higher education as a stressful environment for staff (due to managerialism and economic pressures) and students
    Aim: To "present three crucial, interconnected ideas that I believe can, in combination, help to shift perspectives towards a more productive trajectory" - care, pedagogic health and salutogenesis - to "promote a more proactive and less reactive education sector" (p.1-2)
    Theoretical frame: Assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari): set of operating conditions, concrete elements of composition, agents that connect concrete elements together... assemblage as 'language of lines' (Youdell & McGimpsey, 2015), whereby lines = rhizomatic/ non-linear development.
    Care: cites Noddings/ Tronto, Clouder (2005); connections to threshold concepts (Meyer & Land); Jung (2016) -need for self-care in care-giving and care-receiving. Turns specifically to teachers and care, and relational care in particular: "The interaction to support these relations is an essential component for the salutogenic functioning of the student as part of the dialogue of care" (p.4). Cites Nilsson et al. (2015): caring teachers need to know when to care and when not to care (see p.4). Care = part of 'messy narratives' (Mooney Simmie, Moles & O'Grady, 2019) that are erased in student feedback/ teaching metrics.
    Salutogenesis: Antonovsky (1987): focus on health and maintenance of wellness, rather than focus on illness - based on idea of 'sense of coherence': 1) comprehensibility; 2) manageability; 3) meaningfulness:
    - "Comprehensibility - does the environment make sense? Are changes explicable and predictable?
    - Manageability - are the resources available to manage the demands posed by the environment?
    - Meaningfulness - are the challenges presented worthy of investment and engagement? Do I care?" (p.5)
    Pedagogic health: model of pedagogic frailty (Kinchin & Winstone, 2017; 2018); four dimensions of teaching environment that impact on practice:
    - "The focus of the teaching discourse and whether it concentrates on the mechanisms and regulations that govern teaching, or on the underpinning theories and values that direct our personal perspectives.
    - The degree of authenticity within teaching and assessment practices, and the alignment of the pedagogy with the nature of the discipline.
    - The nature of the research-teaching nexus and how this is made explicit in our teaching.
    - The degree to which teachers perceive their proximity to and influence on the decision-making processes and management of teaching" (p.6)
    Continuum between pedagogic frailty and pedagogic resilience. Author notes critique of term 'resilience'
    Methodology: Essay
    Core argument: Salutogenic university = based on assemblage of care, salutogenesis and pedagogic health. This is worthy aspiration because it would move "away from a simplistic view of teaching as a linear causal intervention that can be described as a list of competences and which assumes standardised knowledge to be assessed for the sole benefit of an audit culture - that is neither caring nor healthy" (p.7).
    Each assemblage will be locally and contextually dependent - there's no one-size-fits-all model
    Concept maps can be used to create 'tracings' of the rhizomatic discourses and practices at play.
    Community and dialogue = "health indicators of a salutogenic university" (p.9)

  • Care in Academia: An Exploration of Student Parents' Experiences

    Date: 2013

    Author: Moreau, M.P.; Kerner, C.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Set in context of WP in England (post-New Labour policies) + rhetoric of social mobility and fairness. Focus on student parents/ people with caring responsibilities. Cites data from Student Income and Expenditure Survey (2009): 8% f/t and 36% p/t students = parents (see p.218). Invisibility of care in HE = systemic/ institutional level - universities = 'greedy institutions'
    Aim: "to shed light on the experiences of student parents, with a view to contribute to the theorisation of the relationship between care and HE" and to "discuss the relative invisibility of student parents in the policy and physical spaces of HE" (p.216).
    Theoretical frame: Draws on social constructivist/ feminist theories; discourse (Foucault)
    Methodology: Qualitative: 10 x case study English universities (funded by Nuffield Foundation) - 6 unis = pre-1992, 4 = post-1992; audit of university websites = great variability in provision for parents. Interviews with staff (n=20) and with students with at least one child under 11 (n=40 - half = UG; 29/40 = f/t; average age = 35; 9= single parents; 12 = international students; 1/3 had children under 5; 2 = male)
    Findings: Problematises the conflation of student parents and mature students (not all mature students = parents and vice versa). 9/10 universities do not collect information on student parents. Analysis of institutional imagery (Leathwood and Read, 2009) = dominantly depicts students as "young, smiling and (presumably) 'unencumbered' women" (p.219).
    Time-related difficulties for student-parents: many = 'time-poor' and talked of 'balancing act', "through which they aimed to dedicate enough time to the needs of their family, to their studies and to the other activities
    and people that matter in their lives" (p.219). Example of 'Katherine' - 'you can never win' = juggling responsibilities/duties, but does not internalize as issue at individual/organizational level.
    Discussion of parenting and what counts as motherhood: p.220 - makes comparison between parenting and academic 'bottomless' work: "Expectations in terms of mobility and availability risk conflicting with parental commitments" (p.220). Strategies developed by parents to balance study and parenting discussed on p.221. Describes 'family unfriendly' institutional practices, such as giving timetables very late (authors also note that many student parents also work). Discussion of domestic work/ care at home (p.222) and lack of 'me time'
    Financial difficulties for student-parents: exacerbated by lack of support for childcare costs in addition to other financial pressures (see work on risk for working class students: e.g., Archer, Hutchings and Ross, 2003). Some students considered themselves better off as a student (e.g. single parents; see p.225).
    Health/ emotional impacts: mixed feelings (guilt, depression, sleep deprivation, feelings of 'missing out' or 'not fitting in'). Children often driving force to enter/ remain at university (role models) = see p.227; "Being a student is then articulated as a way of being a 'better' parent in the longer term, even though it implies compromising
    the ideal of the 'good' mother in the shorter term" (p.228).
    Core argument: Student parents = largely invisible in the academy. This paper adds further rich description to the experiences of 'non-traditional' students, and describes struggles of a group "characterised by some intense organisational and moral work as they try to reconcile the demands of being a parent and a student" (p.229). Has major gender implications. HE = site of struggle and resistance for these students.

  • Care leavers in Australian higher education: Towards evidence-based practice

    Date: 2016

    Author: Harvey, A.; Andrewartha, L.; Luckman, M.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: The educational disadvantage of care leaver students is extreme and well-documented. Among the few care leavers who actually transition to Australian universities, many encounter significant and specific challenges that require dedicated academic, financial and broader resources. Despite being committed to supporting care leaver students, university equity practitioners still struggle in meeting the needs of students due to the absence of a strong evidence base. Specifically, the inability to identify individual care leaver students restricts the ability of universities to develop 'appropriately targeted resources' (p. 16) and to effectively allocate them.
    Aim: Highlight the specific needs of care leaver students and suggest three ways that evidence can be gathered to inform and improve higher education practice.
    Theoretical framework: Not specified in study.
    Methodology: Mixed-methods approach - 11 semi-structured interviews with representatives from major-out-of-home care service providers across Australia; a survey of senior equity representatives from the 37 public universities in Australia (response rate: 76%); a desktop review of available data on care leaver higher education outcomes; a review of national & international literature on the educational outcomes of care leavers (from 2000-2014)
    Findings: A number of barriers that can limit care leavers' access to and experience of higher education include: disrupted school-level education due to placement instability; emotional trauma; homelessness; financial issues; a sudden transition to independence at around 18 years of age; low educational expectations & aspirations; poor birth parent & carer educational attainment; lack of on-campus mentorship and support. The findings also reveal a 'paucity in institutional data' that impedes practitioners' ability to implement effective care leaver strategies. Only one respondent in the equity practitioners survey confirmed the collection of individual care leaver data and outlined a program specifically designed to support this group.
    Recommendations: Three methods for Australian universities to identify care leaver students: 1)Collecting data at a national level through a revised national higher education student equity framework, which specifically designates students of care leaver status. 2)Identifying care leavers through the state-based tertiary admissions centres (TACs): Clearing houses for university applications 3)Universities could develop processes for care leavers wishing to disclose their status via revised enrolment forms, student service use & other voluntary methods. Types of support that can be offered with confidentiality maintained: tuition fee waivers, residential scholarships, and online delivered social and academic support.
    Core argument: Reforms to strengthen the evidence base for care leavers in Australia is an essential precondition to improve Australian higher education practices. New mechanisms to identify individual care leaver students, identify their experiences and needs and monitor their academic progress are necessary to achieve progress in the number of care leavers transitioning to higher education and receiving individual support regularly.

  • Career boundaries and employability perceptions: an exploratory study with graduates

    Date: 2019

    Author: Santos, G.

    Location: Portugal

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    Context: The study investigates the views of graduates on employability barriers and career boundaries within the context of a crisis economy, Portugal.
    Aims: The study sought to extend the focus within the Higher Education literature on human capital variables (individual characteristics and aptitudes) as a key aspect of employability to structural-contextual factors, such as labour market conditions.
    Methodology: A qualitative study in which five focus group interviews were conducted with 30 graduates enrolled in business and management masters programmes at a public Portuguese university. The study had the following research questions: RQ1) Which type of career boundaries are perceived as most important for graduate employability?, and RQ2) How is graduate employability affected by those career boundaries? (p.3).
    Findings: The study found a range of diverse issues affected graduate employability, categorised as: (1) Organizational and work- related boundaries (for those already in employment to advance their careers) - constraints included to lack of job autonomy and training by the employment);
    (2) Contextual and labour-market boundaries economic crisis
    (3) Personal-related boundaries - not wanting to move geographical locations for a job and work-life balance; and
    (4) Cognitive- cultural boundaries these related to the cultural rationales that people adopted in order to make sense of their specific employability opportunities (13). For example, participants discussed that professional internships were being misused by employers, and raised the importance of family ties and personal recommendations in securing employment.
    Core argument: Graduate employability and career progression is affected by a range of factors (not just human capital variables), such as organisational and workplace factors, labour market conditions and socio-cultural norms (for instance, the expectation that women will stay home and take care children regardless of their educational qualifications). Consequently, graduate employability cannot be the sole responsibility of the individual. The efforts of other stakeholders - governmental entities, Higher Education policy-makers and employers are critical.

  • Career development needs of low socio-economic status university students

    Date: 2011

    Author: Doyle, E.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Introduction of Demand Driven System post-Bradley review in Australia; equity in higher education. Author argues that attending to career needs of low SES cohort = of utmost importance (p.56)
    Aim: To highlight the career needs of low SES university students as an area that requires further research and clarification; more specifically, identifying if the career needs of low SES university students are different from students who dont have a low SES. If so, how can a university careers service meet these needs effectively? (p.56). Author notes that there has been a persistent lack of attention to minority sub-groups, meaning there are problematic assumptions about ideal circumstances that careers advice is based. Low SES career advice needs are different from higher SES peers because of differences in work, work experience [and role models], which are further exacerbated by financial resources impeding take up of work placements/ acquisition of necessary resources. Also, low expectations from school and community can contribute to differential needs.
    Careers services in higher education = one-to-one advice considered to be most effective (permitting tailored advice). However, research shows that the students who would benefit most are the least likely to seek careers advice.
    Strategy to overcome lack of take-up = embedding careers counseling in curriculum.
    Literature reports relationship between careers advice and retention rates (but variation in this finding)
    Theoretical frame: Systems theory framework (Patton & McMahon, 2006): approaches a person as being interconnected with their external surroundings, as a part of the larger system (p.57), such as reinforcement from family, friends, community. Second pertinent theory = person-centred theory (Carl Rogers) focusing on relationship builder between advisor and student.
    Methodology: Essay
    Findings: Targeting careers services to low SES students supported by some, but considered pointless by others (including Crozier et al., 2008), who argue that there is too much homogeneity in the low SES category
    Should be done early in study
    Should involve low SES students in designing and implementing targeted careers services
    Low SES students generally have lower awareness of careers services and/or tend not to prioritise careers-focused activities.
    Low SES students prefer to seek advice from family and friends
    To target careers services, careers advisors should consult more with community/ student body to get a better sense of the needs of the students, keep up to date with labour market information to give up-to-date information and undertake employer visits, extend availability of careers support beyond enrolment (two years beyond advised) and facilitate networking between employers and students (via job fairs)

  • Carefree conferences? Academics with caring responsibilities performing mobile academic subjectivities

    Date: 2019

    Author: Henderson, E.; Moreau, M.P.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: Academics with caring responsibilities, navigating the 'mobility imperative', specifically attending academic conferences. Authors frame the article against two competing imperatives: the internationalisation of higher education and the obligation to diversify the workforce. Discussion of importance of conferences in academic on p.2: "Conferences demand a particular kind of mobility, which is temporary and transient and also broadly infl exible, as they usually require people' s physical presence in a particular place at a particular time". Academic mobility = understood as "a criterion of excellence which is assessed in institutional academic recruitment processes" (p.3), particularly for ECR and people trying to crack into higher education. Authors note how, with the exception of invited keynotes, conference attendance is not necessarily valued, but it is expected: "Conferences can perhaps be understood as wallpaper in the academic profession, upon which publications and grant applications are framed and hung" (p.3).
    Aim: To "focus on one such contradiction where the academic mobility imperative clashes with the inclusion imperative: we explore how expectations of freely mobile academics intersect and conflict with the concurrent expectations that the profession should accommodate a diverse body of academics, with specific reference to academics with caring responsibilities" (p.2); to discuss mobility, caring and conference attendance as "a prism
    through which to consider the hidden assumptions of the academic profession at large" (p.2)
    Theoretical frame: Care as "as multifaceted, dynamic and shifting" (p.6), relational, as a political phenomenon, intersecting with power, associated with femininity, the normalisation of which authors challenge. Feminist post-structural stance/ discourse and identity.
    Methodology: Draw on two research projects ('In Two Places At Once': Author 1; 'Care and Carers': Author 2) - see p.5 for details. Interview data from both projects = discourse analysis, looking for examples of "a discursive negotiation of the carer/academic role, i.e. where both roles were mentioned, and where dominant discourses of the mobility imperative and care expectations were reflected" (p.7)
    Findings:
    Academic-carers performing mobile academic subjectivities - conflicting discourses: examines how academic-carers negotiate the demands of two 'greedy institutions' (Coser, 1974; on p.7): the family and academia. Flexibility (as much heralded aspect of academic work) = depends on position and roles and comes at a cost (temporal, financial, psychosocial).
    Negotiating discursive contradictions: participants in both studies described negotiating their mobility/ navigating constraints to mobility (in terms of time - planning forward - and distance - how far is too far?). Authors make reference to Perlow's (1999) notion of 'time famine', with reference to justifying leaving the family for work and the counter-demands made by partners. Framing of conference attendance in terms of options/ choices (cost-benefit analysis), and the idea that conferences offer "opportunities to ' indulge' in performing a single-focus academic identity" (p.10)
    Core argument: "Where there is a mobility imperative, there is also mobility inequality" (p.3), particularly when the 'ideal' academic = conceived as 'carefree'. Conferences = constitute an interruption to the care routine, particularly as they do
    not occur in a regular pattern, and each conference requires its own tailor-made solution for care" (p.4) - but they are not without pleasure.

  • Carelessness: A hidden doxa of higher education

    Date: 2010

    Author: Lynch, K.

    Location: Ireland

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    Context: Carelessness = exacerbated by regimes of 'new managerialism, which is underpinned by Cartesian rationality/ dualism. In context of increasing marketization, moral legitimacy = new aspect to commercialisation of academy (surveillance, performance), leading to "change in the cultural life" of university and in self-regulating practices and 'feelings of personal inauthenticity': "There is a deep alienation in the experience of constantly living to perform, particularly when the performance is experienced as being of questionable educational and scholarly worth" (p.55), and creates conditions for compliance. Surveillance is essentially gendered (women = disproportionately surveyed by men). Women = less likely to get promoted: partly because of patriarchal networks and partly because women are "disproportionately encouraged to do the 'domestic' work of the organization, and/or the care work (e.g. running courses, teaching, thesis supervision, doing pastoral care), neither of which count much for individual career advancement even though they are valuable to the students and the reputation of the university" (p.55). Women are also marginalized by politics of knowledge with publication (more likely to publish on women's issues and in less well-established publications) - editorial boards are disproportionately male. New forms of management = represented as care neutral and has allowed "a particular 'care-less' form of competitive individualism to flourish" (p.57) = 24/7, responsibility-free and permanently available. Stretched time = endorsed at senior levels, and accompanied by declining sense of responsibility for others (particularly students).
    Methodology: Essay
    Themes:
    Care ceiling: senior management positions = 'care-free zones', representing the "pinnacle of masculinized citizenship" (p.57). Women = care's 'footsoliders' (see Lynch et al., 2009). People without visible care duties are implicitly expected to have 'total time for the organisation'. This provides models for newcomers who are being inculcated into academy (e.g. postgrads). This was not created by neoliberalism but it has been exacerbated.
    Cartesian rationalism: separation of mind/ emotions and body, so that education = educating autonomous, rational subjects and governed by positivist ontologies. Author claims moral status ascribed to carelessness = emerged more recently. Prioritisation of cognitive domain = evident in Bloom's taxonomy (focus on cognitive domain; lack of take up of/ indifference to affective domain)
    Doxas of academy: caring and emotional labour has long been derided by traditional academics - academia = based on assumption that people have time and space to think and write, and time to travel and present.
    Neoliberalism: the new focus on economic citizenship has a "deep disrespect for the relationally engaged, caring citizen" (p.62), privileging competitive individualism and "subordinat[ing] and trivialize[ing] education that has no market value" (p.62)
    Core argument: Carelessness in modern HE = considered 'morally worthy'. All staff who have limits (imposed or decided) on their capacity to work = disadvantaged with idealised neoentrepreneurial subjectivities: "Women and men who cannot work unpaid hours are likely to be severely disadvantaged within the academy" (p.58). Care = only recognized when professionalized. "To be a successful academic is to be unencumbered by caring" (p.63).

  • Caring and Empowerment: A teacher educator's reflection on an ethical dilemma

    Date: 2000

    Author: Sumison, J.

    Location: Australia

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    Context: Ethical dimensions of teaching in teacher education - author starts by reflecting on a tense exchange she had with a student about not extending a deadline any further, leading to the student leaving her office in tears.
    Theoretical frame: Toms' (1997) notion of deliberative relationships, transparency of practice, and presence
    Methodology: Reflection on ethical dilemma: "How to enact my commitment to professional practice grounded in an ethos of caring (Noddings, 1984) for my students, without being drawn into the abyss of endless and ultimately disempowering emotional labour that caring can entail (Bateson, 1989)?" (abstract)
    Discussion: Author frames the article around the imperative to explicate the ethical dimensions of such dilemmas, not least because 'authentic' teacher education is about "foster[ing] a similarly reflective ethos in student teachers" (p.169), and because she fears that "the escalating constraints and expectations I encounter in my work as a teacher educator may eventually compromise my personal and professional integrity" Ip.169). She draws on Noddings (1984) to offer a definition of care as "a desire for the other's well-being" (Noddings, 1984, p.19; cited on p.171), which "implies a willingness and ability to be available to others, to give generously of oneself to others, and to distance oneself from one's own needs and desires" meaning that "caring embodies an ethical, but problematic, ideal" (p.171). This is challenging in teaching contexts: "As Noddings (1984) explains, when we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities, caring can become an additional burden, and when we become overburdened, there is a risk that we `will cease to care' (p. 12)" (p.171). Caring can add complexity and guilt to our (professional/ personal) lives, which are "inescapable risks of caring" (Nodding, 1984, p.18; on p.171).
    Author reviews literature on feminist ethics of care, citing Acker & Feuerverger's (1996) notion of the 'caring script' which reinforces gendered stereotypes about women's roles (see p.171-2): "In a university environment, where caring is not traditionally valued or rewarded, basing one's professional practice on an ethic of caring can perpetuate the collective disadvantage experienced by women and continue to preclude them from positions of influence and power" (p.172).
    Author describes the conflict she feels about wanting to take on a relational ethics of care (as per Noddings) but not perpetuate gendered division of labour that generally disadvantage women, or become a martyr to students' needs, and expresses concern about her discomfort with "implicit assumptions that their needs must always take precedence over my needs" (p.172), and she rejects notions of teaching as a form of sacrifice. Author is also skeptical of the efficacy of professional ethical standards in helping to resolve dilemmas; instead she views these standards as consisting of "`motherhood' principles, they appear to over-simplify the moral complexities of professional practice and encourage a false belief that the path ahead is fully charted" (p.173).
    Author reflects on the possibilities for collective/ mutual empowerment and support offered by Bateson's (1989) ideas about care, framed by questions about what is reasonable ("How much care is needed and how much human effort needs to go into caretaking?" p.142, cited on p.174) and what alternatives are available (are there other kinds of care, p.141, cited on p.174). Working from these ideas, the author posits: "My vision is that in such a context we could jointly create a community in which students and university teachers alike support each other by creating relationships that honour the connections and the space we all need to more effectively continue to develop our capacities, insights and talents so that we might come closer to fully realising our personal and professional potential" (p.174).
    Lessons for practice
    Deliberative relationships: emerge from reflective practice and shared responsibility - caught in the pause between impulse and expression, Toms encourages people to evaluate whether the expression will serve the long-term obligations of the relationship (see quote on p.175). Toms also advises that we "must only promise students what we can give without rancor" (1997, p.16, cited on p.175).
    Transparency of practice: explaining what we are doing/ what we think we are doing - aka, to care but not get caught in the gendered 'caring script'. She also shares the pleasures of writing and invites others to share their constraints and responsibilities.
    Presence: genuine, honest, authentic engagement between teachers and students - being open with students that teachers are still learners, that they don't know everything, demystifying some of the ways that powerful social structures work [similar to Freire's notion concientisation]. Presence can also mean giving full attention in interactions and actively listening to others.

  • Caring and Higher Education

    Themes:

    lensResearch
    lensLiterature Review
    lensOpen Access Bibliography
    lensHigher Education

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    This blog post is part of the Gonski Institute for Education’s open access annotated bibliography (OAAB) series, a project led by Dr Sally Baker. OAABs offer a snapshot of some of the available literature on a particular topic. The literature is curated by a collective of scholars who share an interest in equity in education. These resources are intended to be shared with the international community of researchers, students, educators and practitioners. The literature has been organised thematically according to patterns that have emerged from a deep and sustained engagement with the various fields.

  • Caring as 'threshold concept': transforming students in higher education into health(care) professionals

    Date: 2005

    Author: Clouder, L.

    Location: United Kingdom

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    Context: The study highlights that within health care work, caring can be perceived as a 'threshold concept'. This is because the perceptions that health care students have of health care work change as they begin their careers and encounter experiences that challenge their initial perception, including in ways that can sometimes cause them discomfort.
    Aims: The author provides a discussion of some of the moral and ethical dilemmas that students face upon entering employment as a health care worker. The author refers to the accumulation of new experiences as 'troublesome knowledge', which challenges students' preconceived ideas of health care work.
    Methodology: Data are drawn from two different research projects:
    - A three year study focusing on the professional socialisation of occupational therapy students - interviews were conducted with 12 occupational therapy (OT) students over the duration of their undergraduate degree. Participant observation and documentary analysis of course material was also adopted to develop an awareness of the context in which students undertook their studies.
    - An action research project investigating the use of online discussion forums - the capacity of such forums to enable peer support among undergraduate physiotherapy students undertaking clinical placement for the first time was examined.
    Findings: Students have a diverse range of challenging experiences, among them the burden of responsibility for making decisions for patients, finding that the 'care' element in institutional policy or other health care professionals is lacking, and balancing worries they have about being responsive to patients with their own wellbeing. Students might also question their own capacity to care if they feel they are detached from the experiences of patients. The study asserts that "going through the caring threshold has something to do with being touched personally by events so that students connect with those for whom they care as a human being" (see p. 512). As such, having an awareness of ones' own feelings can affect the professional identity of students, and help them to better cope with the distress experienced by patients, and demonstrate empathy. In this way, the "threshold refers to the point of entry into or out of a space that is 'transformative' and therefore liminal in nature" (p. 513).
    Core argument: The author argues for a revisit of how students are prepared during their studies to undertake work as a health care professional, including in terms of developing emotional capacity and nurturance of a personal framework for caring.