Learning, teaching and assessment in Higher Education

The centre has a well-established international research profile in the area of enhancing learning, teaching and assessment in higher education.

Paul Ashwin’s research is focused on examining ways of conceptualising learning, teaching and assessment in higher education.  His work in this area includes two books: he is the lead author on the recently published Reflective Teaching in Higher Education, which supports research-informed university teaching, and Analysing Teaching-Learning Interactions in Higher Education which focuses on ways of conceptualising teaching-learning processes in higher education that support a consideration of both structure and agency.

As part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Higher Education Funding Council, England funded Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), Paul Ashwin and Jan McArthur are working on a project that will examine Knowledge, Curriculum and Student Agency in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in the UK and South Africa. This project builds on a previous ESRC funded project looking at pedagogic quality and inequality in undergraduate Sociology degrees, which Paul Ashwin worked on with Monica McLean, University of Nottingham and Andrea Abbas, University of Bath. Paul Ashwin described some of the findings from this project in a keynote entitled 'Why would going to university change anyone?’

Mantz Yorke has an international reputation for his work on students' experiences of higher education, covering areas such as student success, employability, assessment and retention.

Jan McArthur has conducted and published research on assessment and feedback within higher education.

Carolyn Jackson's work on doctoral viva examinations is just one example where real changes in practices have occurred as a result of the research and publication. A number of universities have implemented a recommendation that vivas should be recorded in case of appeal, and that they should be chaired by an independent person.

A further example of influence of the Centre's provision of research-based evidence on the enhancement of learning, teaching and assessment can be seen in the regular keynote addresses and masterclasses offered by Centre members. Paul Trowler’s keynote speech on the enhancement of student engagement is one example. 

For those engaged in change agency, our approach offers a theoretical lens to help them see their context in a more illuminated way, and to predict likely outcome with more accuracy. Paul Trowler has also written about change processes and implementation of change in higher education.

Other examples of research-based evidence used by policy-makers and change agents to inform innovations include Carolyn Jackson's empirical study about laddism in higher education. At the doctoral level, there is international comparative work led by Sue Cranmer and Paul Trowler on pedagogies and learning at the doctoral level in face-to-face, blended and e-learning modalities. This work is being conducted collaboratively with the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Ann-Marie Houghton has conducted research on the theme of the inclusive curriculum in higher education and this work has been disseminated nationally and internationally. Read more about inclusive curriculum design and delivery.