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Silvia Rief, Antonino Palumbo, John Craig, Dorothy Sheridan, Barry Stierer and Gabriela Edlinger

Myra H. Strober (2011): Interdisciplinary Conversations. Challenging Habits of Thought

Review by Silvia Rief

Hans Radder (ed.) (2010): The Commodification of Academic Research: Science and the Modern University

Review by Antonino Palumbo

Gabriela Pleschová (ed.) (2010): IT in Action: Stimulating Quality Learning at Undergraduate Students

Review by John Craig

Les Back (2010-11): Academic Diary, http://www.academic-diary.co.uk/

Sally Fincher, Janet Finlay, Isobel Falconer, Helen Sharp and Josh Tenenberg (2008-11): The Share Project, http://www.sharingpractice.ac.uk/homepage.html

Review by Dorothy Sheridan and Barry Stierer

Sabine Hikel (ed.): Leaving Academia: Offering Resources for Academic Leavers and Accounting for the Phenomenon of Brain Drain in Academia, http://www.leavingacademia.com/

Review by Gabriela Edlinger

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Barbara Madeloni

Neoliberal policies in teacher education marginalise faculty voice, narrow conceptions of teaching and learning and redefine how we know ourselves, our students and our work. Pressured within audit culture and the constant surveillance of accountability regimes to participate in practices that dehumanise, silence and de-form education, teacher educators are caught between compliance and complicity or the potential and risks of resistance. Written from my lived experience within the neoliberal regime of teacher education, this article examines the vulnerabilities, fears and risks that shape our choices, as well as the possibilities for ethical, answerable action.

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Helle Bundgaard and Cecilie Rubow

This article discusses the teaching of anthropological fieldwork during a period of comprehensive educational reforms in Danish universities. We trace widely held conceptions of fieldwork among master’s students of anthropology and the efforts they make to live up to what they assume to be classic fieldwork. We argue that the ideals of classic fieldwork too often fail to support the learning process when fieldwork is squeezed into the timeframe of the curriculum and show how fieldwork as part of an educational programme can be mentored by online feedback. Our suggestion is that cooperative reflection during fieldwork can improve the quality of the empirical material and the analytical process significantly.

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Daniel Newman, Peter Wells, Paul Nieuwenhuis, Ceri Donovan and Huw Davies

This article considers electric cars as socio-technical experiments in meeting mobility requirements. There have been numerous trials and government incentives to promote such vehicles, but with a notable lack of success. The article thus seeks to address an urgent need to understand such “transition failure,” which may ultimately impact upon how progress is measured in sociotechnical transitions. Presenting results from a recent research project, it is suggested that shared usage models hold greater potential for achieving sustainable personal mobility. It is concluded, however, that multiple niche experiments present a highly complex situation in which cumulative learning is problematic.

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Qualifications frameworks for the European Higher Education Area

a new instrumentalism or 'Much Ado about Nothing'?

Berit Karseth

The purpose of this article is to explore the development of qualifications frameworks as a key element in the Bologna Process, which aims to develop a European Higher Education Area by 2010. By setting up descriptors of learning outcomes, a European qualifications framework is intended as an instrument that enables Europe to coordinate and exchange qualifications. Furthermore, the article analyses the proposal of a national qualifications framework in Norway and institutional responses to it. Despite general support for the idea of a framework, the analysis shows that the institutions question the possibility of a qualifications framework that fits all types of educational programmes.

With reference to curriculum theory the article concludes that the idea of a qualifications framework based on measurable learning outcomes represents a turn towards an instrumental curriculum approach in higher education, in contrast to a traditional curriculum approach which foregrounds disciplinary content and its mastery. Drawing on institutional theory the article also questions the possible impact of qualifications frameworks in higher education.

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Gina Hunter and Nancy Abelmann

Welcome to this special issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences. As guest editors, we are delighted to be able to share the experiences of the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI, www.eui.uiuc.edu), a multi-disciplinary course-based initiative that fosters student research on their own universities and is

housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). EUI is at once a pedagogical approach, a teaching community and a digital archive. EUI also works as a research agenda committed to student engagement with university practice and policy – and thus to institutional critique. In this editorial introduction, we provide an overview of EUI’s history, innovations, organisational structure and guiding values. We also introduce this issue’s authors – faculty members, an administrator and a former student – all of whom have taught with EUI and have documented here the ways in which taking the university as a research subject transformed their courses and teaching, and in some cases, their programmes and learning.

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Sheila Trahar

Transnational higher education (TNHE) is a term used for a range of international activities but most commonly it describes programmes where students are located in a different country from the degree-awarding institution. Partnership models include distance learning, dual degrees, franchising and ‘flying faculty’, where academics from the degree-awarding institution fly to another country to teach a programme there. TNHE partnerships are established between institutions for several reasons, not least because of the increase in marketisation of higher education together with the reduction in public funding in many contexts. Interrogating how ‘commercial imperatives nest with academic integrity’ (Sidhu and Christie 2014: 2) is important as many TNHE partnerships are established between ‘Northern’ universities, in particular from Anglo-Celtic countries such as Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.A., and those from the ‘South’ or the ‘East’. Care needs to be taken, therefore, in exercising academic integrity in learning, teaching and assessment in contexts with different academic traditions from those of the degree-awarding institution.

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Jo Lindsay

Contemporary undergraduate courses in research methods are challenging to teach because of the wide scope of the subject matter, limited student contact hours and the complexity of supervising research projects undertaken by novices. Focus group assignments within class offer an interesting and enjoyable way for students to develop and apply research skills and reflect on the process of being both a researcher and a research participant in social science disciplines. Using focus groups enables deep learning, formative assessment and the development of reflexive research skills. This article discusses the use of focus group assignments as a key assessment tool in a Sociological research methods course taught at Monash University, Australia. The use of focus groups as a teaching tool is further assessed through analysing the reflections and evaluations given by students participating in the course.

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Sarah Amsler

This article considers the role of experiments in learning in movements to democratise higher education ‘under the rule of capital’ (Gutierrez, Navarro and Linsalata 2017). It focuses on the emergence of a new generation of ‘free universities’ in the United Kingdom, situating these in a historical tradition of educational experimentation and a current context of global movements for autonomy from the state, capital and dominating epistemologies. It argues that free universities can contribute to transforming the relationship between knowledge, university and society, but that these contributions are often invisible within the logic of the dominant institutional systems. Conceptualising the projects as struggles for autonomy renders these contributions visible and valuable for educational reformers working both within and independently of the university.

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Annika Strauss

This article puts forward an experiential teaching method for becoming aware of, getting access to, and giving meaning to the sensory experiences that constitute and shape learning processes during social anthropological fieldwork. While social anthropologists use all their senses in the field, the preparation and processing of fieldwork are limited to certain senses. In accordance with the academic habitus, it is common to discuss theoretical texts pre-fieldwork and almost exclusively rely on making meaning of written fieldwork material afterwards. While cognitively produced textual sources and techniques of verbalisation (e.g. presentations) are extensively focused on, the body, emotional and sensory experiences are often overlooked in academic discourse and practices. The proposed experiential method integrates the dimensions of sensory experiences in classes, colloquiums and workshops, and brings into practice a teaching approach that includes the analysis of embodied knowledge and stresses its importance as an ethnographic source.