Adjusting the lens: Knowledge, capability and self-authorship in graduate narratives

Date: 1 June 2015 Time: 12.30pm - 2.00pm

Venue: B89, County South

Professor Jenni Case, University of Cape Town (Visiting Academic)

In this seminar, Jenni Case draws on a study which interviewed in depth nearly all students (36) in a class of senior engineering students at a South African university in the early 2000s.  Students were then contacted again a decade on from this experience and most of the original respondents (30) were interviewed telephonically.  Even though small scale, such longitudinal studies have the potential to bring new insights to the literature on the purposes and outcomes of higher education, offering perspectives that are not confined to those typically captured ‘in the moment’ with university students.  Here participants are able to look back on their university experiences from some distance, and also to locate these within the broader developments in their working and personal lives.

A range of different theoretical lenses have been brought to bear on these data in a series of analyses over the last while, and here Jenni brings them together to compare the contributions of these different perspectives:

  • A focus on knowledge and curriculum, informed by the sociology of knowledge of Muller, Young, and others.
  • A focus on capabilities, informed by the work of Walker and McLean (building on Nussbaum and Sen).
  • A focus on self-authorship, informed by the work of Baxter Magolda and colleagues.

This work emphasises the point made by Ashwin and others, that a range of theoretical perspectives will be needed in a field like higher education research, as different lenses illuminate particular aspects of the sociocultural world.  The seminar will conclude with a position though that seeks to draw these together under an umbrella of social realism.



Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation, Educational Research