At the beginning of the semester, 42.6 per cent of undergraduates enrolled in a lower division, general education global studies course at a comprehensive state university in the Midwestern United States reported that they ‘didn’t know’ what the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was, and 85 per cent believed that, in general, trade with other countries created jobs. Analyses of data show that those who did not rely on TV or radio for their news sources were less likely to know what NAFTA was, but their knowledge transformed by the end of the semester. Results demonstrated the necessity for general education courses focused on global issues in an era when students do not rely on traditional sources for news information.
Don’t know much about NAFTA
The continued importance of a global issues general education course
Carol D. Miller
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom offer insights into a number of features of undergraduate study – independent study projects, the development of political attitudes, the graduate attributes agenda, general education courses in global studies and the attainment gap between students with different types of entry qualifications.
Examining the graduate attribute agenda in Australian universities
A review of (continuing) problems and pitfalls
Peta S. Cook
Graduate attributes refer to an amalgamation of cognitive, personal, interpersonal and social skills, abilities and qualities that students are expected to develop and apply during and after their degree programme. They have been widely adopted across higher education in Australia and internationally. In this article, I review some of the continuing problems of graduate attributes in the Australian higher education sector some twenty years after their introduction, including the concepts of employability and work readiness, the processes of mapping and resourcing and whether graduate attributes are generic. This examination foregrounds the ongoing pitfalls of graduate attributes in relation to their purpose, contextualisation and implementation. While there remains potential positive student and institutional outcomes from graduate attributes, the continuing problems of resourcing and the diversity of roles and purposes that universities serve for students and communities, are being overlooked.
‘I feel really good now!’
Emotions and independence in undergraduate supervision
Within Swedish higher education, there is an explicit focus on the importance of independence, not least in relation to degree projects, which makes it a significant issue within supervision. What student independence comprises and how it may be achieved, however, is rarely discussed, even though the expectations of independence may be a stressful aspect of degree projects for students. This article examines the role emotions may play in undergraduate supervision in relation to student independence through analysing recorded supervision meetings and focus group interviews with supervisors. Based in a theoretical framework centred on the concepts affective practices, anticipated emotions and anticipatory emotions, it discusses how supervisors handled students’ expressions of fear, anxiety, joy and relief, and how anticipated emotions could be used as a didactic tool.
Tribute to Joyce Canaan
For my dear friend, colleague and comrade Joyce. I write this with great sadness. Joyce fought a strong and brave battle against cancer for nearly two years, hoping that the treatments would finally end so she could get on with her life. This was my hope, too, because Joyce has so much ‘unfinished business’ – the book to complete, the articles to write and her contribution to the struggles of the land movement in Brazil to make. In a truly Freirean sense, she was building a movement with this community of farmers, teachers and academics. Joyce struggled against capitalism and its many violences and oppressions – imperialism, racism, sexism, ableism. ‘Fuck them all,’ she would say. ‘Fuck them all and let us build a better world’.
Major factors in the development of political attitudes
Hailey L. Huckestein, Steven M. Mikulic, and Jeffrey L. Bernstein
When studying the political development of young people, level of education matters. However, instead of concentrating on the amount of education and how it affects one’s political attributes (vertical effects of education), we consider the effects of characteristics of one’s education, specifically one’s college major, among people with similar levels of education (horizontal effects). Our study demonstrates that the discipline in which one majors affects one’s political development, over and above the expected self-selection effects. While our results are modest, they suggest that there is much to be gained from exploring horizontal variations in education and its effects on political attributes.
‘We are not all equal!’
Raising achievement and aspiration by improving the transition from the BTEC to higher education
In my role as programme leader of the BA (Hons) Criminal Justice and Criminology, I observed that students who entered with A-levels were more likely to achieve a 2:1 or 1st class degree than students from other routes of entry. Analysis of five cohorts showed that less than half of entrants with Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualification achieved a 2:1 classification, compared to over 90 per cent of A-level students. In the interests of equity, this phenomenon deserved further investigation. I set out to identify issues in the transition to higher education that may cause BTEC students to struggle to adapt to academic study and any skills deficits that may ultimately lead to underachievement. As a result of the study, a toolkit was devised to smooth the transition, raise aspiration, enhance self-esteem and improve outcomes.
Maria Karaulova, Patrick McGovern, and Tim Battin
Qiongqiong Chen (2017) Globalization and Transnational Academic Mobility: The Experiences of Chinese Academic Returnees Singapore: Springer, 143 pp., ISBN 9789812878847
Brian Caterino (2016) The Practical Import of Political Inquiry London: Palgrave Macmillan, 117 pp., ISBN 973319324425
Morten Levin and Davydd J. Greenwood (2016) Creating a New Public University and Reviving Democracy: Action Research in Higher Education New York: Berghahn Books, 220 pp., ISBN 9781785333217
How has mobility become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education?
A brief overview of the history of a policy idea
This article addresses why and how mobility has become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education, aiming to reconstruct, in a historical perspective, the gradual conceptualisation of mobility as a policy idea. This process began with the discussion of academic mobility in the 1970s, when the European Communities had as yet no responsibility in the field of education, which resulted in the Erasmus Programme. In the late 1990s, the Bologna Process strengthened the discussion, substantially contributing to a consideration of mobility as a policy tool and the establishment of a mobility strategy. In connection with the EU research policy, the integration of doctoral studies into the Bologna Process is specifically analysed. The article concludes with some open questions, including the potentially negative consequences of the instrumentalisation of higher education for the concept of mobility.
‘I’m like a snail carrying my entire house with me’
Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life
Lisbeth Kristine Olesen Walakira and Susan Wright
EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.