CHERE working papers

CHERE@LU invites its members and guests to publish in our ‘CHERE@LU Working Paper Series’. By widely sharing our work, we make it easily accessible. We aim to engage the wider audience and include various publics into our knowledge co-production process.

The CHERE Working Paper Series is designed to communicate work-in-progress that may eventually be published as a journal article or book chapter. Whilst your paper will be categorised as 'unpublished' on the University repository, please note that some journals do not admit papers that have been published as working papers and may consider these as ‘prior publication’. It is the author's responsibility to check that publication in the Series will not risk their chances for future publication in a journal or book.

Read more about the Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation (CHERE).


Jonathan Vincent, Editor-in-chief

Process of submission

If you would like to submit a working paper for the series, please email Jonathan.

Paper 8: Toni Dismore - Athena Swan Awards: Are they an indicator of institutional gender equality

The Athena Swan Charter is a gender equality framework that includes academic staff representation as well as their career progression and working environment. The granting of an institutional Athena Swan award indicates a commitment to addressing gender inequality, with plans, policies and processes in place to support this. AdvanceHE and others have put forward the case for Athena Swan making a positive impact on gender issues, although the awards have not been without criticism. In particular, there is a reported unequal burden of work placed on female staff to support the Athena Awan process, and arguably a lack of meaningful institutional change. This paper looks at the AdvanceHE Athena Swan award holders as well as the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) staff data to see if holding an Athena Swan award is correlated with variables associated with academic gender balance and career progression. The findings suggest that at least in terms of representation across academic staff, holding an Athena Swan award can be an indicator of gender equality. However, awards are not necessarily an indicator of gender equality in terms of career progression. Moreover, institutional size is significant in the attainment of Athena Swan awards, with larger institutions more likely to hold a higher status award than smaller ones.

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Paper 7: Suraj Shrestha - Financing higher education

Financing higher education: A comparative critical policy and trends analysis in the US, UK, China, and India through cost-sharing and Marxian theories

Financing higher education is a heavily debated contemporary topic and has evolved increasingly in the US, UK, China, and India. This research aims to compare and critically analyse policy and trends in financing higher education in these countries. This comparison and critical analysis comprise, firstly, of contemporary sources of financing higher education in these countries; secondly, their gross enrolment ratio and trends in the number of inward international students; and thirdly, trends in their public and private expenditure (as percentage of national GDP) -- relating to cost-sharing theory through the lens of Marxian theory. Comparative research with both qualitative and quantitative approaches is adopted, and an indirect observation method is employed. Document analysis is used as a tool to collect data from the published secondary sources over the period from 2010 to 2020 available on public domain.

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Paper 6: Onur Orkut - Uta Hagen’s ‘Respect for Acting’ as Curriculum Text and Social Class: A Multimodal (Inter)Active Critical Discourse Analysis

Presented as a “play for reading” this paper critically analyses renowned actor and acting teacher Uta Hagen’s seminal book “Respect for Acting” (1973) using Bourdieu’s taste and social class theory in Distinction (1984) and utilising the methodological framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2010) and Multimodal (inter)action analysis (Jewitt et. al., 2016, p114). Uta Hagen’s book remains a key reading material in UK Drama Schools. The paper works on a meta level and argues with and imaginary Uta Hagen as conceived by the author as part of their experience as a reader of her book and as a practitioner of her techniques introduced in the book. The argument then extends to other readers, acting students in drama schools. The paper proposes that the technique offered in the book as part of the curriculum in these schools is exclusive of those who have low volume of capital in Bourdieusian terms and proposes that acting lecturers and students should approach the curriculum of Respect for Acting more critically, specifically from a socio-economic perspective. Stylistically, it aims to challenge the reader mirroring the way that Respect for Acting challenges its readers.

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Paper 5: Amon Ezike - Using Technology to bridge cultural gaps among English Speaking International Students in UK Higher Education

This empirical paper investigates the cultural challenges faced by English speaking international students studying in the UK, with particular reference to Nigerian students and how technology could possibly aid in bridging the cultural gaps. Data sources includes interviews with Nigerian students studying in the UK. The study found there was a contrast in the teaching methods despite the international students being able to speak and understand the English language. Factors such as the style of teaching, way of life, perception and the curriculum were amongst the cultural challenges they faced. The findings emphasise the need for UK institutions and policy makers to understand and address the challenges faced by international students during their educational journey. Based on the findings it might be useful for institutions to investigate and invest in technologies that can provide centralised information applications and enable peer mentoring in order to facilitate integration. Further work can be conducted to determine other technologies that can be used to further mitigate the cultural gaps.

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Paper 4: Elizabeth Cook - The importance of trust and authenticity among stakeholders involved in higher education data infrastructure redevelopments

Full title: The importance of trust and authenticity among stakeholders involved in higher education data infrastructure redevelopments: An Australian critical discourse study

Governments require higher education providers (HEPs) to be transparent in their use of public funds and have developed specialised higher education (HE) data infrastructure to enable the data transfer from HEPs to government departments. In 2018, Australia’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment launched Transforming the Collection of Student Information (TCSI) to enhance HE data infrastructure for student data transfer. This critical discourse study explores the discourses, discursive strategies and perspectives surrounding TCSI. Findings included HEP issues and concerns that the interviewees believed were inadequately addressed or ignored despite the Department’s claims of extensive engagement with HEPs to achieve mutually beneficial objectives. This study highlights the importance of trust and authenticity among stakeholders involved in major HE data infrastructure redevelopment projects and is the first known study of its kind in this context. Recommendations for TCSI and similar projects are provided, and broader implications for data infrastructure are discussed.

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Paper 3: Olga Rotar - A missing element of online HE students’ attrition, retention and success: an analysis through a systematic literature review

Online learning has facilitated higher education in many ways and made it more flexible and available for learners with multiple responsibilities. In spite of these benefits and rapid developments of online education, available information regarding graduation rates suggests that the vast majority of online learners drop out. This paper provides a review of the 30 empirical studies that investigate factors that influence online students’ experience in online higher education reported for a period of 10 years, from 2009 to 2019. The paper discusses the results of the analysis against the existing theoretical model of students’ attrition, retention and progress. The results of the literature review suggest 15 factors that can influence students’ online learning experience. These factors are grouped into four main sections: (a) student factors; (b) course/programme factors; (c) social factors, and d) support factors. Identified factors are discussed against existing theoretical models and a missing element in the considered models is highlighted.

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Paper 2: Anoud Abusalim - Modern Family or Game of Thrones: A Systematic Analysis of Second Language Writing Publications in Web of Science from 2002-2017

This paper responds to recent discussions about disciplinarity in SLW and its professionalising prospects that were recently explored in the edited volume Professionalising Second Language Writing (2016). By employing bibliometric methods to review Second Language Writing (SLW) original research articles published in Web of Science (WoS) from 2002-2017, this paper contributes an understanding of the organisational and institutional contexts in which SLW research takes place. Employing a conceptual framework that is derived from Silva and Leki’s (2004) work on the historical disciplinary roots of SLW in “Family Matters” and Matsuda’s (2016) edited book on professionalising SLW. This paper examines:

  1. SLW research topics in order to shed more light into its disciplinary roots.
  2. the different academic units that produce its research to better understand its organisational contexts and how they influence its research.

The examination concluded that 43.7% of all published research in WoS examines instructional materials, which could suggest how SLW research focuses on pedagogical matters. 21% of the published SLW research in WoS is produced in colleges or departments of education, whereas 20% is produced in Language Centers and Departments. SLW’s pedagogy-centred research suggests that its disciplinary growth has expanded beyond its parent disciplines, especially with the increasing role of education departments in producing SLW research. It also seems to suggest that in spite of the expanding organisational contexts for SLW, teacher-centred research remains the primary focus. Finally, the paper concludes by emphasising the need for SLW practitioners to expand the conversations about professionalising SLW outside the North-American context and to consider the various organisational realities that surround SLW research.

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Paper 1: Helen Meek - ‘Thanks For All The Support’ - An Evaluation Of Gender Bias In PhD Supervision

Gender inequality continues to exist in all areas of Higher Education. This manifests itself in the area of student evaluation of teaching where female tutors are often evaluated lower than males. There is little research relating to the evaluation of PhD supervision. Student acknowledgements in PhD theses at a pre-1992 university in the North West of England are analysed as a means of evaluating supervision. Findings support previous work on acknowledgements in terms of the types of individuals and organisations acknowledged. However, despite some evidence of gender differences, it was concluded that acknowledgements could not be treated as a mechanism for evaluating teaching. Further research would be required to explore the impact of gender bias in PhD supervision.

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