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How Do Students Rate Textbooks?

A Review of Research and Ongoing Challenges for Textbook Research and Textbook Production

Petr Knecht and Veronika Najvarová

This article argues in favor of including students in textbook research. As teachers decide which textbooks to use in their classrooms, they are the ones who influence textbook development. The article presents a research review of students' evaluations of textbooks, demonstrating that inviting students into the debate may result in interesting stimuli for improving textbooks. The article also discusses suggestions based on student feedback.

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Student Mobility and Internationalisation

Rationales, Rhetoric and 'Institutional Isomorphism'

Vered Amit

Drawing on interviews with Canadian and Australian officials, this article examines the frame of student mobility within the broad discourse of internationalisation. Difficulties in definition and admitted shortfalls in achieving progress even on the more easily articulated benchmarks of student mobility, do not seem to staunch the enthusiasm of a variety of officials for the idea of internationalisation. This article will examine some of the contradictions framing these institutional discourses of internationalisation. These include the gaps between institutional claims and their substantiation, between lauding the internationalism inculcated by student mobility programmes and the more mixed motivations or engagements of student clients, and between claims for the entrepreneurial potential of internationalisation as against the uncertainty of its outcomes. I argue that a long-standing Western view of travel as a vehicle for self-cultivation and transformation combined with competitive efforts to keep up with perceived trends in the fields of post-secondary education are producing a momentum that is elusive even as it threatens to bulldoze its way across important institutional practices and procedures.

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Invisible labour

Do we need to reoccupy student engagement policy?

Sarah Hayes

The ‘academic orthodoxy’ (Brookfield 1986) of student engagement is questioned by Zepke, who suggests that it supports ‘a neoliberal ideology’ (2014: 698). In reply, Trowler argues that Zepke fails to explain the mechanisms linking neoliberalism to the concepts and practices of student engagement (2015: 336). In this article, I respond to the Zepke-Trowler debate with an analysis of student engagement policies that illuminates the role of discourse as one mechanism linking neoliberal values with practices of student engagement. Through a corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis, I demonstrate a persistent and alarming omission of human labour from university policy texts. Instead, the engagements of students and staff are attributed to technology, documents and frameworks. Student engagement is discussed as a commodity to be embedded and marketed back to students in a way that yields an ‘exchange value’ (Marx 1867) for universities.

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The Contemporary Turn

Debate, Curricula, and Swedish Students' History

Thomas Nygren

In 2010, a proposal for a new history syllabus was criticized in the Swedish media for emphasizing contemporary history at the expense of ancient history. This study shows how contemporary history has increasingly been the focus of the guidelines developed by UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the national curricula, and students' work since the 1950s, while graduating students had generally rather chosen to focus on the early modern era up until the 1930s. Although history and civics were given status as separate school subjects in 1961, students' work in history continued to focus on contemporary subject matter. This study shows that the dominance of contemporary history in students' history is by no means a new phenomenon.

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Vera Kuklina, Sargylana Ignatieva and Uliana Vinokurova

This article explores the role of higher education institutions in the development of indigenous cultures in the Arctic city of Yakutsk. Although indigenous cultures have historically been related to traditional subsistence activities and a rural lifestyle, the growing urbanization of indigenous people brings new challenges and opportunities. The article draws on statistical data, as well as qualitative data from the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Peoples of the Northeast (ILCPN) at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) and the Arctic State Institute of Culture and Arts (AGIKI): annual reports, focus groups, interviews, and participant observations. The article argues that students and graduates contribute to the creation of a new image of the city as one in which indigenous cultures can find their own niche.

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Writing for Student Audiences

Pitfalls and Possibilities

Heather Streets-Salter

When historians privilege writing to and for one another over all other kinds of writing—especially in a period when the humanities in particular are under siege at public universities around the country—do we run the risk of making ourselves irrelevant to anyone but ourselves? This article explores the stakes involved when historians shift the focus of their scholarly work toward alternate, non-academic audiences. In this case, I will focus my attention on writing for university and secondary student audiences through textbooks and reference works. On the one hand, I argue that writing for students has its pitfalls, because it is devalued in the historical discipline relative to monographs and articles based on archival research. As such, investment in such writing can prove detrimental to achieving tenure and promotion. On the other hand, I argue that writing for students allows us to reach a much larger audience than our peers. In addition, writing for student audiences forces us to think carefully about the accessibility of our writing as well as the link between research, telling stories in writing, and teaching. As such, I argue that writing for students may allow historians greater visibility and relevance in the public at a critical time, given recent cuts in higher education budgets.

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2012 Quebec Student Protests

Some Observations on Motives, Strategies, and Their Consequences on the Reconfigurations of State and Media

Audrey Laurin-Lamothe and Michel Ratte

The first part of this article reports the main events of the 2012 student protest in Quebec leading to the government’s adoption of Bill 12. It highlights the major ideological conflict generated through the liberal managerial mutation of the academic institutions as a key to understand more clearly the student’s claims. Rapidly, the standard strike was transformed into a massive mobilization that produced many protests and other forms of resistance. The response given by the government to these unprecedented acts of resistance was Bill 12, to be understood as a symbolic coup d’état with voluntarily disruptive media effects whose aim was to make people forget the massive rejection of a pseudo tentative agreement in relation to Higher Education reform. The bill was also supported through the abusive and twisted use by the government of a series of buzzwords, like “bullying” and “access to education”, which were relayed by the media. The authors also discuss the issues surrounding the traditional conceptions regarding the analysis of discourses, mobilizing Orwell’s concept of doublethink and the notion of selfdeception inherited form Sartre.

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Instructive Ritual

The Arab Student Union and the Communitas of the Palestinian Israeli Educated

Lauren Erdreich

In spite of state efforts to limit public nationalist ritual of the Palestinian Israeli community, one ritual system, as this article details, is kept intact by the Arab Student Union (ASU). Based on an ethnographic study of the Hebrew University ASU, I show how this ritual system is instructive in a specific, educated Palestinian Israeli identity. Instruction revolves around the root paradigms of a specifically Israeli Palestinian-ness and of the national responsibility of the educated. The instructive ritual system arouses communitas of the educated Palestinian community through instruction carried out in the context of sacralized space and time and by means of the use of ritual art and events, the recruitment of ritual commentators, and the intermeshing of ethos and world-view. This ritual system can be understood as an indigenous Palestinian Israeli pedagogy for liberation.

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Geoff Payne

Most undergraduates’ main, hands-on involvement in student engagement is completing satisfaction surveys, such as the U.K. National Student Survey (NSS), whose findings make significant contributions to university policy formation. It is therefore important that these surveys produce reliable and valid data, but previous and current NSS versions fail to do this. This article compares the U.K.’s model of ‘satisfaction’ with that of the U.S. National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Whereas the NSS treats the student as a passive consumer, the NSSE treats the student as an active participant who shares personal liability for some of the educational outcomes. The NSSE’s greater use of factual rather than opinion questions, allowance for variation in types of students and student effort, and wider interpretation of ‘student engagement’ are seen as more fit for purpose and less influenced by the ideologies of neoliberalism and managerial control.

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Megan Thiele, Yung-Yi Diana Pan and Devin Molina

Karl Marx’s revolutionary call, ‘Workers of the World Unite’, resonates with many in today’s society. This article describes and assesses an easily reproducible classroom activity that simulates both alienating, and perhaps more importantly, non-alienating states of production as described by Marx. This hands-on learning activity gives students the opportunity to experience and process these divergent states. In reflecting, students connect their classroom experience to societal forces surrounding wage labour. A quasi-experimental design implemented across eight sociology classes at two U.S. university campuses – one two-year and one four-year college – points to the effectiveness of the activity. Evidence suggests that students are better able to grasp Marx’s theory of alienation, retain the knowledge over time and apply it to their own lives with this experiential learning activity.