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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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Eva Infante Mora, Davydd J. Greenwood and Melina Ivanchikova

This special issue is devoted to a study of an action research-based reform of a US university study abroad programme to make it a genuine intercultural immersion experience. The four-year collaborative reform process combined participatory organisational redesign, the development of a comprehensive active learning approach and the teaching of intercultural competence through ethnographic immersion and community engagement in Seville, Spain. The case is an example of the development of intercultural competencies through guided behavioural change, of action research to reform higher education programmes and of active learning combined with formative and summative evaluation. The reader will learn about the experiences of the staff, faculty and mentors in the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)-Sevilla study abroad programme and those of the sponsoring US universities as they together achieved a fundamental reform of a decades-old study abroad immersion programme. This special issue has many authors because this was a collaborative action-research project with continuous group work and brainstorming. The authors’ names are placed in the sections where the authorship is clear, but, as befits a collaboration, many of the ideas are the result of the combined thinking of all the authors. Authorship of the various sections has been allocated mainly to clarify for readers the most relevant author to contact to learn more about particular dimensions of the process. The guest editors took on the editorial duties on behalf of this larger group.

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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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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.

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Relocalising academic literacy

diversity, writing and collective learning in an international Master’s programme

Nana Clemensen and Lars Holm

This article contributes to the continuing discussion about academic literacy in international higher education. Approaching international study programmes as temporary educational contact zones, marked by a broad diversity in students’ educational and discursive experiences, we examine the negotiation and relocalisation of academic literacy among students of the international master’s programme, Anthropology of Education and Globalisation (AEG), University of Aarhus, Denmark. The article draws on an understanding of academic literacy as a local practice situated in the social and institutional contexts in which it appears. Based on qualitative interviews with eleven AEG-students, we analyse students’ individual experiences of, and perspectives on, the academic literacy practices of this study programme. Our findings reveal contradictory understandings of internationalism and indicate a learning potential for students in allowing a more linguistically and discursively diverse dialogue on knowledge production in academia.

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Introduction

Constructing and practising student engagement in changing institutional cultures

Lisa Garforth and Anselma Gallinat

This introduction sets the theoretical and historical context for this special issue on student engagement. Drawing on literatures about audit culture, governance and change in higher education institutions, and theories of practice, institutions and organisation, it sheds light on the current era of English higher education. The Browne Review led to the withdrawal in 2010 of the majority of the government teaching grant for English universities, and it tripled tuition fees in 2012. In the post-Browne era, ‘engagement’ emerged as an organising concept linked in multiple ways to other objects and discourses, in particular university league tables and measures of student satisfaction; and it was swiftly and often unreflexively translated into visions for developing learning and teaching. This special issue focuses on this specific shift in policy and discourse, exploring institutional change and everyday experience, and reflecting on the power and limits of policies.

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Capacity-building projects in African higher education

Issues of coloniality in international academic collaboration

Hanne Kirstine Adriansen and Lene Møller Madsen

This article studies issues of coloniality in so-called capacity-building projects between universities in Africa and Scandinavia. Even fifty years after independence, the African higher education landscape is a product of the colonial powers and subsequent uneven power relations, as argued by a number of researchers. The uneven geography and power of knowledge exist also between countries that were not in a direct colonial relationship, which the word coloniality implies. Based on interviews with stakeholders and on our own experiences of capacity-building projects, this article examines how such projects affect teaching, learning, curriculum, research methodology and issues of quality enhancement. We analyse the dilemmas and paradoxes involved in this type of international collaboration and conclude by offering ways to decolonise capacity-building projects.

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Junaid Rana

My Ethnography of the University (EUI) course 'Muslims in America' introduces undergraduate students to the racialisation of Islam and Muslims in the U.S. at large, and in the University in particular. In this article, I describe how an anti-racist pedagogy coupled with student ethnographic research can yield a rich learning process. Beginning with one of the key debates in the scholarship on Muslims in the United States, I introduce students to the productive ways in which a multiracial history of American Islam can inform their ethnographic research. Additionally, I elaborate the potential for student research to transform university policy. The University offers a valuable ethno- graphic site for the critical study of the history and place of Muslims in U.S. society, politics and culture.