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Seminar Series - Rethinking the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in terms of Students' Engagement with Academic Knowledge

Date: 17 October 2012 Time: 12.30 - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: B.89 County South

Dr Paul Ashwin

here@lancaster, the higher education research and evaluation centre

Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University

Rethinking the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in terms of Students' Engagement with Academic Knowledge

In this seminar I will consider the extent to which students' engagement with academic knowledge can be used to develop an alternative way of thinking about the quality of teaching and learning in higher education. In doing so I will draw on the findings of the Pedagogic Quality and Inequality in University First Degrees Project ( that I worked on with Monica McLean (University of Nottingham) and Andrea Abbas (Teesside University). This project involved a longitudinal investigation of sociology and related social science degree courses in four universities that are differently positioned in national higher education league tables. Its main objectives were to evaluate what sociology-related social science students valued about their university education; to investigate differences in curriculum and teaching in different universities; and to contribute to debates about what is good quality teaching in the social sciences.

Based on the findings of the project, I will argue that the knowledge, skills and dispositions that students learn at university should define the quality of the education that they have received. In the project we could discern a potentially benevolent cycle: the key to a good quality university education is students' level of engagement with the knowledge of the discipline they are studying; the level of engagement depends on the level and direction of the students' effort, which is engendered by good teaching. This cycle means that students' engagement with academic knowledge and the teaching that supports such engagement need to be central to how the quality of undergraduate courses are defined, improved and measured.


Who can attend: Anyone


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