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    Better information on teaching is required to redress the balance with research

Better information on teaching is required to redress the balance with research

How universities allocate resources – and how academics allocate their own time – between research and teaching is a perennial problem in higher education. The labour market for research is intensely competitive and truly global; while the market for academics focused on teaching is notable by its lack of competition. An obvious result is that academics’ promotion prospects depend […]

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The Publishing Trap! A game of scholarly communication

In a complex, evolving scholarly communications environment, it is more important than ever for researchers to have access to information and support resources relating to copyright and intellectual property rights. However, many among the academic community continue to view copyright as something of a problem and difficult to engage with. Experimenting with new ways to communicate and critically examine […]

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    Book Review: Disrupt This! MOOCs and the Promise of Technology by Karen Head

Book Review: Disrupt This! MOOCs and the Promise of Technology by Karen Head

In Disrupt This! MOOCs and the Promise of Technology, Karen Head draws on a “view from inside” of developing and teaching a first-year writing massive open online course (MOOC) to critically interrogate the claim that such technology will fundamentally “disrupt” educational structures. This is an eloquent and intricate analysis that shows how personal experience and practice can add nuance to questions regarding the […]

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    The use of games and simulations in higher education can improve students’ cognitive and behavioural skills

The use of games and simulations in higher education can improve students’ cognitive and behavioural skills

In recent years there has been a surge of interest in how games and simulations might be applied to higher education learning. Dimitrios Vlachopoulos and Agoritsa Makri have reviewed the literature on the subject and here outline the positive learning effects of games and simulations; from cognitive outcomes such as improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to behavioural outcomes […]

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    There are clear reasons for the increasing award of first-class degrees. A lowering of standards isn’t one of them.

There are clear reasons for the increasing award of first-class degrees. A lowering of standards isn’t one of them.

Recent HESA figures revealing yet another increase in the award of first-class degrees have provoked predictable consternation among commentators. Liz Morrish provides some clarity and insight into why student achievement has risen sharply in recent years. The higher education system, and its culture of metrics and key performance indicators, has constructed a student who is a consumer with anxieties which […]

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    Academic excellence still paramount but students clearly favour greater diversity in admissions and faculty recruitment

Academic excellence still paramount but students clearly favour greater diversity in admissions and faculty recruitment

Mirroring debates in the US, members of universities in the UK are increasingly concerned with the diversity of students and faculty in higher education institutions. Drawing on a methodology developed at Dartmouth College, John Carey, Katie Clayton, Simon Hix and Yusaku Horiuchi present a fascinating analysis of the results of a 2017 survey of the views of LSE undergraduates […]

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    Following the success of the learning technologist, is it time for a research equivalent?

Following the success of the learning technologist, is it time for a research equivalent?

With so many scholarly communications tools and technologies now available, how do academics decide which are most appropriate for their research? Andy Tattersall suggests it might be time for a research equivalent of the learning technologist, a role that has helped drive innovations in teaching underpinned by technologies. The research technologist would be embedded within the university department, make […]

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    Undergraduate researchers report only moderate knowledge of scholarly communication: they must be offered more support

Undergraduate researchers report only moderate knowledge of scholarly communication: they must be offered more support

Undergraduate students are increasingly participating in the scholarly communication process, mostly through formal research experiences. However, Catherine Fraser Riehle and Merinda Kaye Hensley, having surveyed and interviewed university students, reveal that undergraduate researchers have only moderate levels of confidence in their knowledge of scholarly communications, especially publication and access models, author and publisher rights, determining the impact of research, and […]

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    University students are buying assignments – what could, or should, be done about it?

University students are buying assignments – what could, or should, be done about it?

‘Contract cheating’, whereby students pay companies to complete assignments on their behalf, threatens to seriously undermine higher education standards. Philip M. Newton and Michael J. Draper consider what might be done to tackle this issue, including the Quality Assurance Agency’s suggestion of deploying the UK Fraud Act (2006). While questions remains as to whether the Fraud Act is likely […]

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    Why students should not be taught general critical-thinking skills

Why students should not be taught general critical-thinking skills

It’s natural to want children and graduates to develop a set of all-purpose cognitive tools with which to navigate their way through the world. But can such things be taught? Carl Hendrick argues that general critical thinking skills cannot be so easily transferred from one context to another.

Being an air-traffic controller is not easy. At the heart of the […]

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    Academic labour markets in Europe vary widely in openness and job security

Academic labour markets in Europe vary widely in openness and job security

Having examined the organisation of Europe’s academic labour markets, Alexandre Afonso outlines the main differences between countries across the continent. There is greatest variance in two particular areas: the extent to which they are open to outsiders, and the job security they provide for recent PhD graduates. This has obvious consequences for the mobility of academics across Europe and […]

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    Using Twitter as a teaching tool can boost engagement and enrich classroom debate and discourse

Using Twitter as a teaching tool can boost engagement and enrich classroom debate and discourse

Social media offers great opportunities for teaching. Wasim Ahmed and Sergej Lugovic have reviewed the literature on the use of Twitter in the classroom and have noted its benefits to both students and teachers. Not only can it increase participation and engagement, particularly among more introverted students, but it can also be used to bring new, popular resources into […]

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Cost-benefit analysis of the Teaching Excellence Framework

As the Higher Education and Research Bill gets its second reading in the House of Commons, Dorothy Bishop revisits the costs and benefits of one of its primary components, the Teaching Excellence Framework. Based on the government’s own analysis, the system is designed to separate winners and losers with potentially devastating effects for the losers. The outcome will depend crucially […]

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    Book Review: The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age by Sonia Livingstone and Julian Sefton-Green

Book Review: The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age by Sonia Livingstone and Julian Sefton-Green

Based upon fieldwork at a London school, The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age is a new study of how adolescent learning and identities are being shaped by the digital world, both within and beyond the classroom. This instructive book from Sonia Livingstone (LSE, Media and Communications) and Julian Sefton-Green (LSE, Media and Communications) offers valuable insights that will be of use to those […]

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    It’s time to teach — but which time is it? Tracing academic practices through more appropriate time metrics.

It’s time to teach — but which time is it? Tracing academic practices through more appropriate time metrics.

Academics may be well aware of mounting time pressures but is standard clock-time useful for understanding academic work? Alexander Mitterle, Carsten Würmann, and Roland Bloch look at how teaching is understood in relation to time in German universities. They report how the SWS, a figure related to an individual course frame, can be understood as a quantifiable time classification, but one […]

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    How do students access the resources they need? Survey finds only one in five obtain all resources legally.

How do students access the resources they need? Survey finds only one in five obtain all resources legally.

Laura Czerniewicz presents an overview of findings from a study on the practices of university students accessing learning resources at a research-intensive university in South Africa. There is a grey zone in the access of resources that is now simply part of normal life in a new communication and information order. The students’ perspectives raise critical issues for new models of […]

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    Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.

Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.

A series of studies across countries and disciplines in higher education confirm that student evaluations of teaching (SET) are significantly correlated with instructor gender, with students regularly rating female instructors lower than male peers. Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark argue the findings warrant serious attention in light of increasing pressure on universities to measure teaching effectiveness. Given the unreliability […]

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    How to think like a neoliberal: Can every decision and choice really be conceived as a market decision?

How to think like a neoliberal: Can every decision and choice really be conceived as a market decision?

Kean Birch reflects on a classroom exercise introducing students to the reach of market-driven actions in everyday life. He finds the exercise is also helpful for his own engagement with an intellectual tradition with which he disagrees. According to Hayek, Friedman and Becker, every decision and choice can be conceived as a market decision. But in the process of negotiating and renegotiating every action in […]

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    Peer review of teaching and the TEF – We need more than a tick-box exercise to improve the quality of teaching.

Peer review of teaching and the TEF – We need more than a tick-box exercise to improve the quality of teaching.

Improving teaching in universities is a worthy aim, but how will the Teaching Excellence Framework recognise and reward quality? Marty Chamberlain looks at how teaching is currently assessed. Peer review of teaching tends to operate superficially when it is decoupled from formal staff development and employee feedback processes. Further complicating matters, in professions underpinned by tacit knowledge, experts tend to rely on personal and […]

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