Page 1

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

60 YEARS

AUR 1958–2018

Australian Universities’ Review

Australian Universities’Review


AUR Editor Dr Ian R. Dobson, Monash University

AUR Editorial Board Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President Professor Timo Aarrevaara, University of Lapland

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King, D.A. (2004). What different countries get for their research spending. Nature, 430, 311–316.

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vol. 60, no. 1, 2018 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

Australian Universities’ Review 2

Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

50 Dress codes and the academic conference: McCulloch’s Iron Laws of Conferences Alistair McCulloch

ARTICLES 3

Participating in a study-abroad program: Concerns and hopes of intending international students Trevor Lovett

Students’ thinking is not preoccupied with the academic side of the impending study, and many hope to develop positive and enduring friendships. 9

Measuring research impact in Australia Andrew Gunn & Michael Mintrom

This paper reviews the policy journey of research impact in Australia from the proposed, but never implemented, Research Quality Framework (RQF) to the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), considering developments from the Howard to the Turnbull Governments. 16 Optimising the efficacy of hybrid academic teams: Lessons from a systematic review process Warren Lake, Margie Wallin, Bill Boyd, Geoff Woolcott, Christos Markopoulos, Wendy Boyd & Alan Foster

This paper explores the value of utilising a hybrid academic team when undertaking the systematic review process, and shares a range of practical strategies. 25 An oral component in PhD examination in Australia: Issues and considerations Margaret Kiley, Allyson Holbrook, Terence Lovat, Hedy Fairbairn, Sue Starfield & Brian Paltridge

Based on the literature and three research projects, this paper considers a number of the key issues that would need to be addressed if an Australian institution were to introduce an oral component to the doctoral thesis examination process. 35 Alternative pathways into university: Are tertiary preparation programs a viable option? Jenny Chesters, Kerry Rutter, Karen Nelson & Louise Watson

This paper reports on a study about whether students entering university via alternative entry pathways have similar levels of achievement and attainment as students who entered via the more traditional pathway after completing Year 12. OPINION 45 Promoting learning: What universities don’t do Brian Martin

Findings from research on how people learn, mindsets, expert performance and good health are seldom incorporated into the way universities organise learning experiences.

This article draws on a long career of academic conference attendance to present two iron laws of conferences which address the relative smartness of dress of conference convenors and conference delegates. 54 Developing a sustainable academic workforce in paramedicine Peter O’Meara & Brian Maguire

There is a pressing need to develop a dedicated group of university paramedic academics. Urgent action is needed to ensure a sufficient number of paramedic academics are available to meet the educational needs of the profession. REVIEWS 57 Good Evans! What next? Incorrigible Optimist: A Political Memoir by Gareth Evans Reviewed by Paul Rodan

59 Whispering softly to me…. How to be an Academic: The Thesis Whisperer Reveals All by Inger Mewburn Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

60 English as she is spoke The Career Trajectories of English Language Teachers by Penny Haworth & Cheryl Craig (Eds.) Reviewed by Neil Mudford

62 Between paternalism and academic freedom What’s Happened to The University? A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilisation, by Frank Furedi Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

65 It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an Academic Superhero! How to be an Academic Superhero by Iain Hay Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

67 What we all know The Knowledge Illusion – Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

70 Uni-que? UNSW: Australia’s global university by Mick Le Moignan Reviewed by Neil Mudford


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Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

A new year is upon us, and hasn’t AUR been around for a

In these days of massified, or even universal access to

long time: 60 years! Former editor Simon Marginson wrote

university, so-called ‘alternative pathways’ can be extremely

the definitive history of AUR ten years ago, and I would

important for many students. ‘Alternative pathways into

urge all readers to re-read ‘The Australian Universities’

university: Are tertiary preparation programs a viable

Review: A life (so far)’ (vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 4-13). Simon’s

option’, authored by four colleagues from four universities

bright exposition reveals that AUR started life in 1958 as

in four different states/territories presents an interesting

the Federal Council Bulletin, a moniker that lasted for

history of the development of these alternative pathways,

its first four issues. Later that year, it became Vestes until

and in particular, the so-called tertiary preparation

1962, when it became Vestes: The Australian Universities’

programs.‘Alternative’ students were no more likely to drop

Review, before dropping the Latin to become simply

out than the ‘un-alternative’ students!

Australian Universities’ Review in 1988. Thinking about

Brian Martin can always be relied on to provide the rest

such matters also reminds me that I have been AUR editor

of us with ‘a good read’. In this paper, he reflects on the

for ten years: my first issue was the second issue of 2008.

absence of the use of research results on ‘…how people

This has been an honour in all regards.

learn, mindsets, expert performance and good health…’

But let us return to the present.Vol. 60, no. 1 includes five scholarly papers, a few opinion pieces and book reviews. It

in what universities do to organise learning experiences. Should we be surprised?

opens with a paper about international students and their

Alistair McCulloch states that conferences are a staple of

concerns and hopes about participating in a study abroad

academic life! In this offering, he uses his long experience

program. The students have more than academic matters

‘…to present two ‘iron laws’ of conferences which address

on their mind, and they hope to build enduring friendships.

the relative smartness of dress of conference convenors

However, it has been suggested in the literature that

and conference delegates’. Fascinating! After you’ve read

attitudes and practices in Australia might restrict students

this paper, perhaps consider David Lodge’s 1984 novel,

form achieving that goal.Trevor Lovett tells all!

Small World, the second of Lodge’s Campus Trilogy.

Andrew

Gunn

and

Michael

Mintrom

put

the

Peter O’Meara and Brian Maguire examine the

measurement of research impact in Australia under

importance of the paramedic academic workforce.After all,

the microscope. Examining policy positions from the

paramedic staff are an integral part of the Australian health

Howard Government until Abbott-Turnbull, they note

system, and there are about 6,000 students enrolled in

the controversial nature of research assessment, not to

university programs. With this many students, the authors

mention the methodological and political challenges this

say that there is an urgent need for the development of

entails. More journal ranking, anyone?

a ‘dedicated group of paramedic academics, and the

Several colleagues from Southern Cross University

knock-on requirements for funding and pathways.

explore the use of ‘hybrid academic teams’ when

And then there were book reviews! This issue we have

undertaking systematic reviews. Choosing a good team,

reviews of five recently-published books, ensuring that

communicating well, and documenting everything are

there is something for everyone in AUR. If any reader has

good places to start.

a review they’d like to submit, they should do so. In fact, if

The next paper has also been written by a diverse

anyone knows of a book that they’d like to review, perhaps

team of scholars from several universities. Margaret Kiley

I could obtain a copy for you! Until the next issue, keep

and her colleagues look at the oral component in PhD

reading. Remember, in Australian higher education, we

assessment. This aspect of assessing doctoral students is

must fight on; we have no choice!

not particularly common in Australia, but it is the way it’s

Ian R Dobson is Editor of Australian Universities’ Review, and an Adjunct Professional Staff member at Monash University, Australia.

done in Europe. This paper assesses what would need to be done in the Australian context.

2

Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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Participating in a studyabroad program Concerns and hopes of intending international students Trevor Lovett Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology, China

This small-scale narrative investigation identifies not only the concerns but also the hopes of undergraduate psychology students from a southwest Chinese university who are about to embark on a program of study abroad. While past research has tended to focus on the anticipated negative experiences international students are likely to encounter, this study enabled students to express both their hopes as well as apprehensions in regard to the intended overseas experience. Although the data confirmed a number of findings from previous studies they also revealed that the students’ thinking is not preoccupied with the academic side of the impending study. Positive and enduring friendships are something many of the respondents expect to develop. However, a further review of the literature indicated that current attitudes and practices towards international students in Australia may restrict the participants in this research from realising those goals. Keywords: friendships, international students, narrative, social exclusion

Introduction

University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia. An important consideration in this research is cross-cultural awareness.

The implementation of the Chinese open-door policy

A Western-based approach informs the structure and

in 1978 provided opportunities for a greater number of

content of the study. As a consequence the researcher

students from the People’s Republic of China to travel

remains conscious of the need for cultural and contextual

abroad and become more familiar with different cultures

sensitivity in regard to the way in which the study is

(Chiu, 1995). Overseas study therefore is now accessible to

conducted (Dimmock, 2000).

many students for whom such an experience would have previously been impossible. Contemporary study-abroad

Review of the Literature

programs offer individuals a chance to develop global awareness and intercultural understanding. However,

Rationale: This review examines previous research

despite the increased demand for, and popularity of,

related to the concerns and hopes of students, not

study-abroad programs, students understandably remain

only intending to study overseas but those, who have

unsure about their intended overseas experience (Bell,

already participated in educational programs abroad. The

2016). The following qualitative, narrative investigation

literature review identifies the findings of prior studies

addresses both the apprehensions and hopes of second-

and evaluates their relationship to the current small-

year undergraduate students, from a southwestern

scale investigation. The review specifically reveals some

Chinese university, who are about to undertake a study-

of the contested theoretical perspectives that underpin

abroad program in psychology at the Australian National

individuals’ motivations for overseas study. The general

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

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character of the review reflects the discovery orientation

deliberately drawn attention to those issues considered to

and inductive approach of qualitative work. This method

be the most relevant to the following investigation.

reduces the possibility of earlier research limiting or predicting the findings of the current study (McMillan,

Methods

2004 p. 70). Study-abroad programs are defined as those that occur

The methods used to collect and analyse data in this

outside the students’ countries of origin (Kitsantas,

study are similar to those adopted by Lovett (2014a).

2004). There is a trend by many universities both in

Although a qualitative investigation, the research does

Australia and overseas to promote international study

incorporate some statistical analysis. The meaning of the

opportunities for overseas students. The benefits for

participants’ written responses however relies on an

the hosting institutions are not only social and political

interpretive-descriptive approach (Belenky, 1992; Maykut

but also financial (Ladd & Ruby, 1999). In the United

& Morehouse, 1994).The interpretivist paradigm, in which

Kingdom for example, fees generated by international

the point of view of the actor informs an understanding

students contribute substantially to the UK’s universities’

of social phenomena, is the primary means of collecting,

budget (Brown & Holloway, 2008). Despite the

analysing and interpreting the data (Weber, 1947). Data

inevitable economic benefits of these programs, they are

are brief written responses to the research question “What

nonetheless designed to enable individuals to obtain a

concerns and hopes do you have regarding your intended

global perspective as well as intercultural competence

course of study abroad?” Each response is informed by an

and awareness (Ahn, 2014). Studying abroad has been

individual’s personal understanding and experience.

shown to increase the participating students’ self-

To infer that the concerns and hopes identified among

confidence and competitive edge in regard to future

this specific sample are typical of all Chinese students

employment (Potts, 2015).

who intend to study overseas is unjustified. Nonetheless

To identify perceived concerns and hopes of students

there are some points raised by the students in this

intending to study abroad, Bell (2014) examined some

study that could be considered generalisable (McMillan,

theoretical frameworks that explain individuals’ choices

2004). Recruiting participants for this study relied on

for taking up overseas study. One significant factor said

opportunistic sampling (Lovett, 2010) due to my obvious

to influence a student’s decision to study abroad relates

accessibility to the respondents. I teach research skills to

to future employment prospects rather than the actual

this particular cohort. The participant sample consisted

educational experience (Thirolf, 2014). Perna (2006) on

of fifty-nine, second-year undergraduate psychology

the other hand suggests that decisions are weighed up in

students involved in a 2 + 2 program between their

terms of the potential personal and educational benefits

own tertiary institution and the ANU. Two variables,

when compared to the anticipated costs associated with

identified as significant in the collection, analysis and

the study. For Chinese students in particular who choose

interpretation of the data, were age and gender. Data

to study abroad, the new environment is undoubtedly

were generated in tutorials during the second week of

going to contribute to a degree of uncertainty at both

the first semester 2017. Individuals were encouraged to

a social and educational level (Zhang, 2007). Other

be candid when responding to the research question.

preoccupations associated with participating in such

The data therefore are credible first-hand accounts of the

programs include: obtaining academic credit for the

students’ anticipated experience. To ensure participants’

overseas course, prolonging one’s graduation date, missed

confidentiality all responses were anonymous.

employment prospects, family considerations and, most

The participants’ written responses were analysed

significantly, financial constraints (Foster, 2014; Lenz &

using Ricoeur’s (1976) interpretation theory. A detailed

Wister, 2008; Shaftel et al. 2007).

examination of narratives identified specific units of

Students who study abroad not only have to deal with

meaning. This critical reading however was preceded by

the normal issues associated with being a student but

an initial cursory or naïve reading. Each student’s response

must also contend with the added pressures related to

was studied for themes, the participant’s use of particular

living in an unfamiliar cultural context as well as studying

words and any inconsistencies in what the individual had

in a different educational system and dealing with the

written.Themes are conceptual labels aligned with events

challenges of language (Campbell, 2012). The review has

and other phenomena. They are abstract constructs that

summarised and analysed some important themes related

connect the expressions in the written responses to

to international students’ intended study abroad and has

objects and images (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

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Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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Analysis A preliminary analysis described all of the participants’ responses individually. Interpretation of the responses occurs in the next stage of the study. Interpretation, although acknowledging each participant’s experiences and views separately, treats the themes collectively (Lovett, 2014b). The analysis of the data did not set out to solve a specific problem. Both a literal and interpretive treatment of the data identified the more important concerns and hopes of this student cohort’s intended study abroad. Characteristics of the students’ writing that were not discernible as standard English were edited from responses. Removing grammatical inconsistencies reflects my concerns about language and its capacity to label individuals. Imposing myself on the data is an attempt to reduce any potential strictures of participants due to language. The representation of each student’s response nonetheless remains essentially intact (Fairclough, 1992). Emerging from the data are numerous themes that are consistent among the sample. One preoccupation in particular relates to the challenges of communication. For example: I may not be able to catch up with the native learners in my study work (Female, 21). My concerns are language gaps and culture gaps (Female, 19).

Fig. 1: Concerns (Worditout, 2017) Loneliness and culture differences concern me (Female, 20). A concern of many individuals is the academic challenges they could face: I’m concerned about a lot of things. Firstly how many classes I will have per week and how I will perform in them. This is a criterion measuring how I will digest the knowledge and skills (Female, 20). My concerns are how teachers develop lectures. Will they be the same as the Chinese pattern? Are the final exams like those in China? Will we have to write a paper? Can I choose the tutors that teach the research area in which I’m interested (Female, 20)? A concern is if the exams are too hard and I cannot succeed in my final examination (Male, 20). The following responses identify what a majority of the students want to achieve from their intended experience abroad. Something not addressed in the literature and somewhat unexpected was a genuine desire among the participant sample to establish personal friendships:

A concern is that I won’t understand the lectures because of language (Female, 20).

I hope I can make some foreign friends (Female, 19).

My oral English may not be good enough to talk with foreigners (Female, 19).

I hope I can get along with many foreign people and build a solid relationship between countries (Male, 20).

I will be concerned about the academic environment, security and language barrier (Male, 20). I’m worried about language which plays a vital part in life. Even though I have studied English for a couple of years ….it’s still a little difficult for me to communicate fluently like a native speaker. I’m not certain whether others have the same problem (Female, 21). Another significant theme identified among the cohort is the question of cultural difference: I worry about the culture shock if I go abroad. Students who come from other countries may not understand Chinese culture. It might be difficult to relate to one another (Female, 19). I think about the culture differences particularly in food and communication (Female, 19). I’m concerned that cultural differences may bring about conflict (Female, 20).

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

I hope I can make some new friends in Australia with whom I can study and talk (Male, 19). Make good friends with people from all over the world (Female, 19). I wish to have a beautiful boyfriend (Female, 20). If it’s possible I’d like to make more friends who are from different countries (Female, 19). The most important thing is to make some fantastic friends (Male, 18). I want to make a pretty good friend (Other, 20). Educational aspirations predictably constitute the greatest number of responses among the sample: I hope to learn more skills and gain greater expertise (Female, 19).

Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

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To learn frontier research from another country (Male, 20).

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Males

Females Other Total

%

Academic demands

6

17

-

23

38%

Concerns

Accommodation

1

9

-

10

16%

I hope to attain a good score in my studies and learn plenty of knowledge to help broaden my horizon (Female, 19).

Cultural differences

3

16

-

19

32%

Language

4

25

-

29

49%

3

7

-

10

16%

The data identify the personal views of this

Money

student group. Both the narrative responses and the

Hopes

representations of them (Figures 1, 2 & Table 1) help to

Develop academically

7

28

-

35

59%

provide an understanding of the research focus, namely international students’ concerns and hopes about studying

To graduate

3

11

-

14

23%

Experience a different culture

-

13

-

13

22%

Be happy

1

8

1

10

16%

Make friends

7

22

1

30

50%

abroad. The study demonstrates that the preoccupations of this student cohort, regarding their intended overseas study, are numerous and varied. A literal and interpretive treatment of the data suggests that the issues of most concern, among a majority of the respondents, relate to the challenges of language and academic requirements.

W

Table 1. Student Concerns and Hopes

I want to get a master’s degree in psychology and acquire much more knowledge (Female, 19). I hope I can do well in my courses at university and get a good final score (Male, 19).

T

Study sample comprises 47 female, 11 male & 1 other student/s

Conversely academic development and establishing friendships reflect the more positive expectations of

Schapper (2012) however argue that a gap exists in the

the group. A number of themes identified in (Figures 1,

social support education institutions offer international

2 & Table 1) are consistent with previous research, for

students when the students are off campus. The

example: language, money, academic demands and cultural

researchers examined international students’ experiences

difference. However, as a social researcher and teacher the

in Australia and found that the students’ temporary

response of most interest to me is the students’ hopes of

visitor status created conditions for social exclusion.

establishing personal friendships when they are abroad.

The suggestion is that many international students have difficulty involving themselves in the cultural and social

Discussion

aspects of Australian life.

Evidence from the literature indicates that students who

found in the Melbourne example. International students

study abroad not only contend with issues one normally

comprise almost one third of all young people who live

associates with being a student, but also face challenges of

in the city. Most are postgraduate or undergraduates

educational, cultural and linguistic difference (Campbell,

under 25. Significantly the data indicate that the majority

2012). The data indicate that a priority among the

live alone. Melbourne City’s own statistics show that

participant sample is to develop strong positive personal

the international student population grew rapidly from

relationships with others during their overseas study

17,000 in 2002 to 29,000 in 2011. As a consequence,

program.To accommodate this expectation it is incumbent

the local government decided to become proactive in

upon hosting institutions, and the communities of which

developing strategies to ensure the experiences of this

they are part, to ensure international students feel included

diverse demographic are positive. Some of the plans

both socially as well as educationally. Paltridge, Mayson &

include: providing opportunities for students to engage

Evidence to support claims of social isolation can be

with the local community by connecting with libraries, arts and cultural programs as well as recreational centres. Local businesses and professional associations are also encouraged to offer internships and employment for international students (City of Melbourne, 2017). If

Fig. 2: Hopes (Worditout, 2017)

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Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

adopted Australia wide this approach has the potential to improve international students’ overall study experience vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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and contribute to their increased participation in the

who intend to study abroad. Consistent with previous

wider community: particularly in relation to establishing

research are preoccupations related to language, cultural

friendships with local Australians.

difference and the anticipated academic demands of the

The volunteer and mentoring programs developed

intended study. An unexpected theme emerging from

by Adelaide University similarly enable international

the data relates to students’ willingness to develop strong

students to meet others from all over the world: including

personal friendships with others from the host country.

locals. Students who participate are encouraged to

However, a further review of the literature shows that

become socially active and take a break from their

these aspirations could possibly go unrealised. Paltridge,

studies. According to the website many of those involved

Mayson & Schapper’s (2012) investigation indicates that

in the program have developed lifelong friendships

international students’ legal status and marginal location

(Adelaide University, 2017). Another common belief is

contributes to their social exclusion.

that homestay accommodation provides international

As a consequence, they require not only increased

students with opportunities to not only learn more

on-campus support but also a greater degree of

about the country in which they are studying but it also

acceptance among the wider community. According

gives students a chance to develop enduring friendships

to Holmes (2000) cultural stress is a consequence

with local families. This may be true to some extent

of the uneasiness that develops from interacting in

however Campbell’s (2004) study of Chinese students’

a culture different from one’s own. Kashima & Loh

homestay experiences in New Zealand revealed that in

(2006) cite previous research conducted by Furnham &

many instances it was quite the opposite.

Bochner (1986) that identifies different levels of social

In light of the findings of this study, the ANU like other

networking among international students: monocultural,

universities has a responsibility to guarantee that students

bicultural

get opportunities to fulfil the expectations they have

working with students from abroad, and in particular

and

multicultural. Personal

experience

in regard to developing positive personal relationships

Chinese students, tells me that individuals tend to

while in Canberra.

According to The International

gravitate towards the monocultural network. It is natural

Student Living Guide (2017) the primary concern of the

to assume networking with other co-nationals would

International Students’ Department (ISD) at ANU is to

be easier than either biculturally or multiculturally. It

ensure the wellbeing of overseas students who live in the

is suggested that further qualitative research into these

nation’s capital. Given the evidence of social exclusion

students’ experiences is required. Individuals need to

often experienced by overseas students within Australia it

share more of their personal stories. I would hope for the

is hoped that the expectations of this study’s participants

sake of the students who participated in this research

can be met.

that their intended study abroad becomes more than just

For a long time the issue of social inclusion has

an academic undertaking.

concerned the Australian tertiary education sector (Naylor & James, 2016). Universities obviously have a role to play

Trevor Lovett is a teacher at the Xi’an University of

when it comes to making international students feel

Architecture and Technology, China.

welcome not only on but also off campus. The current

Contact: hongkonglovett@hotmail.com

policies and practices of Australian universities, and more specifically ANU, undoubtedly promote intercultural understanding and awareness. But do these policies actually help individuals develop enduring personal friendships, something this study’s participants are looking for? I argue it should be the responsibility of teaching faculty as well as university administrators to get involved in developing activities both within and outside universities for those students who might feel socially disenfranchised.

Conclusion This study has identified some concerns and hopes of students from a south-western Chinese university vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

References Ahn, S. (2014). A good learning opportunity, but is it for me? A study of Swedish students’ attitudes towards exchange studies in higher education. Journal of Research in International Education, 13(2), 106–118. Australian National University. (2017). The International Student Living Guide 2017, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. http://anuisd.com/ international-students-guide/ Belenky, M. (1992). Bringing balance to the classroom or workplace. Paper presented at the Wisconsin Women’s Studies Conference, Preconference Workshop, Greenbay Wisconsin. Bell, R. (2016). Concerns and expectations of students participating in study abroad programmes: Blogging to reveal the dynamic student voice. Journal of Research in International Education, 15(3), 196-207. doi: 10.1177/1475240916669028 Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

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City of Melbourne. (2017). A Great Place to Study: City of Melbourne: International Student Strategy 2013–17, Melbourne, Australia. http://www. melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/health-support-services/for-young-people/ Pages/international-student-strategy-2013-17.aspx

Paltridge, T., Mayson, S. & Schapper, J. (2012). Covering the gap: Social inclusion, international students and the role of local government. Australian Universities’ Review, 54(2), 29-39. http://proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=8 0021829&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Dimmock, C. (2000). Designing the Learning-centred school: A Cross-cultural Perspective. London: Falmer Press.

Perna, L. (2006). Studying college access and choice: a proposed conceptual model. Higher Education, 21, 99–157.

Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge, Polity.

Potts, D. (2015). Understanding the early career benefits of learning abroad programs. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(5), 441–459. 10.1177/1028315315579241

Foster, M. (2014). Student destination choices in higher education: exploring attitudes of Brazilian students to study in the United Kingdom. Journal of Research in International Education, 13(2), 149–162. 10.1177/1475240914541024 Holmes, P. (2000). Strangers, sojourners, selves: The intercultural communication experiences of ethnic Chinese students in western tertiary education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Kashima, E., & Loh, E. (2006). International Students’ Acculturation: Effects of conational international, and local ties and need for closure, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30(4), 471-485. http://dx.doi.org.proxy. library.adelaide.edu.au/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.12.003 Kitsantas, A. (2004). Studying abroad: the role of college students’ goals on the development of cross-cultural skills and global understanding. College Student Journal, 38(3), 441–452.

Ricoeur, P. (1976). Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Fort Worth: Texan Christian University Press. Shaftel, J. Shaftel, T. & Ahluwalia, R. (2007). International educational experience and intercultural competence. International Journal of Business and Economics, 6(1), 25–34. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Thousand Oaks, Sage. The University of Adelaide. (2017). The University of Adelaide Peer Support Program, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide. http://international.adelaide.edu. au/student-support/connecting/pmp/ Thirolf, K. (2014). Male college student perceptions of intercultural and study abroad programs. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(3), 246–258.

Ladd, P. D. & Ruby, R. (1999). Learning style and adjustment issues of international students. Journal of Education for Business, 363-367. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/08832329909601712

Weber, M. (1947). The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. New York: Free Press.

Lenz, W. & Wister, J. (2008). Short-term study abroad with long-term benefits. International Education Journal, 17(3), 84–87.

Worditout, (2017). Hopes. Accessed 28 March 2017 https://worditout.com

Lovett, T. (2010). Cultural Chameleons: An investigation into the construction and influences of working-class identities on the formal learning of white babyboomer males. 2010 TASA Conference Paper, Macquarie University. http://www. tasa.org.au/uploads/2011/01/Lovett-Trevor.pdf

Worditout, (2017). Concerns. Accessed 28 March 2017 https://worditout.com Zhang, Z. & Brunton, M. (2007). Differences in Living and Learning: Chinese International Students in New Zealand. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(2), 124-140. doi: 10.1177/1028315306289834

Lovett, T. W. (2014a). Mentor Social Capital, Individual Agency and Workingclass Student Learning Outcomes: Revisiting the Structure/Agency Dialectic. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(11), 16-28. http://ro.ecu.edu.au/ ajte/vol39/iss11/2

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Participating in a study-abroad program Trevor Lovett

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Measuring research impact in Australia Andrew Gunn University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Michael Mintrom Monash University

The implementation of the national Research Engagement and Impact Assessment in Australia provides a timely opportunity to review attempts to improve the non-academic impact of academic research. The impact agenda represents a new phase in academic research evaluation and funding, characterised by a heightened need to demonstrate a return on public investments in research. New imperatives seek the reorientation of some academic research towards more directly driving national innovation, meeting the needs of business, and contributing to improved social and economic outcomes. This paper reviews the policy journey of research impact in Australia from the proposed, but never implemented, Research Quality Framework (RQF) to the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). Our analysis of policy developments from the Howard to the Turnbull Governments highlights the controversial nature of research impact assessment and the political and methodological challenges that have accompanied its implementation. Keywords: Higher education, research funding, research evaluation, impact and engagement, innovation policy.

The Engaged University

In the global knowledge economy, governments are keen to ensure academic research remains relevant and

Universities have always been engaged with the

produces useful impact. This is vital for maintaining

economy and society around them. However, in recent

economic competitiveness.

years perspectives on this engagement have changed.

to attain and sustain high living standards must now

Considering the history of the university, the emphasis on

encourage linking of local economic activity to the global

research and publication is relatively new. Prior to this,

knowledge economy. Given this, promoting local research

engagement with society was more often via teaching and

activity that is both excellent and relevant is an important

the granting of degrees. Many governments now expect

political objective.

All governments seeking

academics and universities to demonstrate precisely how

Assessments of research impact consider how research

they are relevant to the world outside academia (Morgan,

gains the attention and changes the actions of those

2014). This is where the wider benefits of academic

outside the academy. Such impact could be technological,

research need to be shown, rather than assumed. In this

environmental, economic or social. It could affect the

environment, the money spent on academic research

policies, strategies, and actions of businesses, governments,

needs to be justified with more rigour than in the past.

non-profit organisations, and community groups. It differs

Welcome or not, this policy shift is consistent with efforts

from impact within the academic community, such as

elsewhere in government and commercial spheres to

scholarly influence and the citation counts of published

measure return on investment.

articles.

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The inclusion of non-academic impact into the processes

reports that set the future direction of Australian research

of research assessment signifies a new phase in the auditing

and innovation policy (Commonwealth Government,

of academic work. Academic work will increasingly come

2001).This was followed by reports including Advancing

to be judged and funded on its non-academic impact in

Australia’s Abilities: Foundations for the future of

addition to its academic value. This audit culture matters

research in Australia by the Australian Vice-Chancellors’

because it has consequences for the production of

Committee (AVCC, 2003) and Backing Australia’s Ability:

academic research. For example, Welch (2016) notes the

Building our Future through Science and Innovation

subtle ‘reshaping’ and ‘distorting’ effects on Australian social

(Commonwealth Government, 2004).

science research of ever more sophisticated academic audits over the last 20 years.

These reports created support for revising how research in Australian was funded and evaluated. One rationale for

The impact agenda has progressed over the last decade.

reform rested on the criticism of the research funding

This is evident in the funding and evaluation processes in

formulae operating at the time, which privileged quantity

some European countries, which have been adapted to

of publications produced and which ‘was not providing

incorporate the non-academic impact of research (Gunn

the right incentives’ (Sheil, 2014). The view was that

& Mintrom, 2016). Various interventions are available to

such a system can be easily ‘gamed’ by researchers who

policy makers to assess the impact of academic research.

respond by publishing more. This situation further fuels

They each interact with academic knowledge production

the ‘publish or perish’ culture which can be detrimental

in different ways (Gunn & Mintrom, 2017).

to research quality and a distraction from the pursuit of

In Australia, the research impact agenda has intermittently

wider, non-academic impact.

progressed over the last 15 years and can be viewed across

In 2004, the minister with responsibility for universities,

three periods: the Howard Government years (especially

Dr Brendan Nelson MP, announced the pioneering

from 2001-2007), the Labor Governments (2007-13) and

Research Quality Framework (RQF), which would assess

the Coalition Governments (2013-).We review each period

both the quality and impact of research in one framework.

in turn. In Australia, higher education policy is largely the

In September 2005 the Government unveiled the

responsibility of the Federal Government. Analysing policy-

‘Preferred Model’ for the RQF which detailed the structure

making at this level provides insights into the factors that

of the assessment mechanisms and criteria (Department

have shaped academic research; although it should be

of Education, Science and Training, 2005). At this point,

noted that not all research is funded by the government

Australia was at the forefront of higher education policy

and there are various other influences on the direction and

design. The government was close to implementing a

content of academic research.

cyclical research evaluation process that would inform

A review of the public policy history culminating in

research funding allocations based on both university

current endeavours to assess impact is useful for several

research quality (not just quantity) and its impact outside

reasons. First, it reveals how policy makers have wrestled

the academy.

with the challenge of measuring a phenomenon that may

The ground-breaking feature of the RQF was how it

seem intangible. Second, it identifies the decisions that led

made impact an integral part of the cyclical mainstream

to the current arrangements. This allows for reflection on

evaluation of academic research. A non-academic impact

what ideas have been proposed and abandoned and which

component existed alongside this academic quality

have progressed. We can test for evidence of cumulative

component. The RQF was ahead of its time and was in

thinking. Third, it reveals political and ministerial choices

many ways controversial. It attracted several criticisms.

that have shaped policy. It is particularly interesting to

The first was the high cost of its implementation. Some

look at the motivations of ministers to explain policy goals

were concerned the high cost of the assessment process

and why some paths were not taken. Finally, it provides

would take money away from actual research.

broader insights into the context and processes of higher

However, the main criticism of the RQF concerned the

education policy development in Australia – a complex

impact component. Criticism levelled at impact tends to

space characterised by multiple, competing interests.

fall into two categories. First is the argument that impact represents the imposition of non-academic interests onto

The Howard Government (1996-2007)

the production of academic knowledge. This diminishes the purity of curiosity driven research and encroaches

In 2001 the Liberal-National Coalition Government, led by

upon academic freedom and autonomy of ‘the liberal

Prime Minister John Howard, released the first in a series of

university’. The second common criticism challenges

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impact assessment on methodological grounds. Critics

2007). As a replacement to the RQF, the Labor Government

question the extent to which impact actually can be

developed Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA), an

measured and assessed by an audit or evaluation; often

evaluation program focused on academic excellence and

claiming evaluation processes are a distraction with

the principle of peer review.

limited real positive social outcomes. Following the Howard Government reshuffle of January 2006, Julie Bishop MP became the minister with responsibility for higher education. In November 2006 and after ‘two fraught years of anxiety and speculation’ (Armitage, 2006) the minister confirmed the RQF would commence in 2008. Bishop set out the reasons for the Government pressing ahead: ‘The RQF is an important reform for Australian research as it will boost the production of high quality and high impact research and will give Australian researchers greater capacity to compete on the international stage. There is currently no comprehensive way to measure the quality or the impact of research conducted in Australian universities or the benefits to the wider community. The RQF will assess research against international benchmarks based on its quality and impact and will provide transparency about public investment in research ... Australia is also setting a pioneering course in the assessment of research impact. The introduction of a measurement of research impact in the RQF will create a world-first research evaluation measure.’ (Bishop, 2006).

‘ERA does not feature the controversial “impact” measure that was a feature of the RQF, involving lengthy, time-consuming, written descriptions. This would have eaten up researchers’ precious time, as well as requiring detailed and painstaking attention on the part of assessors. The “impact” measure would have taken Australia on a path that led away from accepted international best practice – just when we need more than ever to ensure that our researchers have international standing.’ (Carr, 2008) The ERA was implemented and, with modifications, would go on to produce three full rounds of national evaluation by research discipline in 2010, 2012 and 2015 (Nicol et al., 2016). The criteria within the ERA meant researchers could continue to be oriented towards their academic peers, rather than be required to consider beneficiaries of their research outside the academy. Although the RQF would not be implemented in Australia, the global trend of governments redefining research policy towards the ‘instrumentalisation’ of knowledge and making universities more responsive to the needs of economic and industrial actors continued

Policy was guided by the underlying assumption that

(Albert, 2003). In this process, the RQF proposal would

the Government represents the public interest. Moreover,

prove to be valuable to policy makers in other countries.

it was the duty of government to ensure academic

For example, the RQF heavily influenced policy makers

research produced wider benefits; thus delivering a

in the United Kingdom (UK) who were developing the

return on the investment made by taxpayers. Australian

next generation of the Research Assessment Exercise.

universities, it was argued, would also benefit from being

The funding council in England commissioned the report

more competitive on the global stage. However, the extent

Capturing Research Impacts: A review of international

to which the Government can effectively represent the

practice (RAND Europe, 2009) to help policy development

public interest in higher education has been debated.

which featured the RQF as a source of ‘policy transfer’,

This is because there are a range of stakeholders in higher

where policy makers learn from comparable systems in

education, not necessarily fully represented by, or in

other countries.

agreement with, government policies.

Although

the

impact

agenda

in Australia

had

stalled, it remained present on the political and policy

The Rudd–Gillard–Rudd Governments (2007-2013)

landscape. For example, in 2011 the Focusing Australia’s Publicly Funded Research Review noted the need for increased evidence of the broader economic, social and

The federal election of 2007 brought an end to the

environmental benefits of publicly funded research and

Howard Government, and the RQF. In the Kevin Rudd-led

recommended that a feasibility study be undertaken

Labor Government, Senator Kim Carr took responsibility

on options for assessing them (Department of Industry,

for higher education. One of Carr’s first actions as minister

Innovation and Science, 2011). In 2012 the Excellence in

was to cancel the RQF implementation, on the grounds

Innovation for Australia (EIA) Trial, a substantial pilot by

there was no methodology or international recognised

the Australian Technology Network involving the Group

model to base it on. Research impact, Carr argued, would

of Eight, was undertaken. This trial sought to measure the

require universities to write long impact essays which

innovation benefits of research and act as a precursor

would be difficult to assess by verifiable standards (Carr,

to a possible future component in the national research

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evaluation process informing the allocation of funding. Using case studies, the EIA trials revealed considerable non-academic impact across a wide range of university research disciplines (ATN & GO8, 2012). Although it did not feature in the ERA, the impact agenda in Australia continued to develop through other activities of the Australian Research Council (ARC). In June 2013 a federal government discussion paper considering

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While there has been some criticism from the UK higher education sector of the administrative burden of the number of case studies that have been required, it should be possible to measure impact without making it overly burdensome. …. Sometimes we need to learn from the experience of others and adapt. Innovation and impact in rankings have the potential to tell a compelling story about our ability to transfer knowledge created in our universities to industry – about the economic and social impacts’. (Birmingham, 2015).

the wider benefits arising from university based research

During the ten years since the RQF was proposed, the

was published (DIICCSRTE, 2013). However, its release in

UK developed and implemented an impact agenda into its

the finally weeks of the Labor Government meant it was

funding and evaluation model. For an Australian minister,

too late for any policy action.

it would now be easier to design a workable policy and build a consensus to implement it as the UK provided

The Abbott–Turnbull Governments (2013–)

a fully worked out model. The UK benchmark indeed addresses some, if not all, of Kim Carr’s impact concerns

The Liberal-National Coalition returned to government

of a decade earlier.

following the election of 2013, led by Prime Minister Tony

The pace of policy change now quickened. In November

Abbott. In October 2014 the Government revealed the

2015 the Watt Review published 28 recommendations

Industry Investment and CompetitivenessAgenda blueprint

(Watt, 2015) and in December the Australian Government

which argued that public research grants should prioritise

announced the National Innovation and Science Agenda

research projects which are more relevant to industry,

(NISA), which contained new measures to assist in

serve economic competitiveness and deliver business

improving the commercial returns of publicly-funded

outcomes. The blueprint argued: ‘Australia performs well

research. The NISA sought to encourage collaboration

on many measures of research excellence but cannot

between universities and business, and to better translate

rely on research expertise alone. Our future prosperity

research outcomes into economic and social benefits

depends on our capacity to turn research into commercial

(Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). In March 2016

outcomes that lift innovation, help successful Australian

the Engagement and Impact Steering Committee, with

businesses grow, and boost Australia’s productivity and

supporting working groups, was formed ‘to develop a

exports’ (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

process that uses clear and transparent measures of non-

2014 p. xix). Reports such as this, which emphasise the

academic impact, and industry and end-user engagement,

need for a return on investment in research, reaffirmed the

to assess our nation’s university research performance and

Government’s position that publicly funded research is

inform future funding structures’ (Birmingham, 2016).

expected to contribute to innovation.

In May 2016, the minister responded to the Watt Review

To inform future thinking, in July 2015, the Minister for

recommendations (Department of Education and Training,

Education and Training, Christopher Pyne MP appointed

2016), several of which were closely aligned to the NISA,

Dr Ian Watt AO to conduct a review of research policy

and agreed to commission a national assessment of

and funding.

university research engagement and impact. The chair of

Following Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minster

the ARC then released a Consultation Paper detailing the

in September 2015, Senator Simon Birmingham became

proposed mechanisms and criteria (Australian Research

the minister responsible for higher education. This

Council, 2016a). The Paper made reference to the impact

marked a new direction in higher education policy, as

component of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework

many of the reforms attempted by Christopher Pyne were

(REF) – revealing two-way policy transfer, with Australia

shelved. With a new minister open to new ideas, and the

now learning from the UK experience.

Coalition in office, the conditions for reviving the impact

In November 2016, with the consultation completed,

agenda were favourable. Birmingham indicated this in an

Senator Birmingham confirmed pilots would take place

address to the Business/Higher Education Round Table in

in 2017 to measure the impact of university research and

November 2015:

their engagement with business and industry. He said the

‘Unlike our Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), the UK approach includes evidence of the impact of UK research, through its case study methodology.

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pilots were about ‘testing how we can measure the value of research against things that mean something, rather than only allocating funding to researchers who spend

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their time trying to get published in journals’ (Birmingham, quoted in Australian Research Council, 2016b).

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It must be remembered that engagement and impact are not the same thing. The experience of the UK, and

The Engagement and Impact (EI) Assessment pilots

the responses to the consultation paper, show that they

involved a selection of ten broad discipline groups being

are often viewed differently. Academics are perhaps more

tested for either the ‘engagement’ or ‘impact’ component of

amenable to engagement, seeing this as an acceptable

the assessment. Participating universities made their pilot

addition to their work; whereas impact can be met with

submissions to the ARC in May 2017, which were assessed

hostility.

throughout June by five panels comprising of academics

For example, the Australian Academy of Technological

with specific discipline expertise, industry representatives

Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) response to the

and other end-users of research. Almost 300 submissions

consultation highlighted the difficulties in assessing

were made by the 39 universities who participated,

research impact, as opposed to engagement. Their

generating extensive data. The panels provided a rating

submission argued that attempting to measure impact

and feedback on each unit that universities submitted.

involves long time lags and a diversity of indicators across

Following this, the methodology tested in the pilot, as well

disciplines. They concluded: ‘While it is only readily

as data and feedback from the experts and universities

possible to “assess” research impact, research engagement

involved, were reviewed to inform the design of the first

can be “measured”. ATSE has strongly recommended that

full assessment. The national rollout of the EI assessment

the proposed NISA process focus primarily on research

will be undertaken as a companion to the 2018 round of

engagement, not impact’ (ATSE, 2016b).

the ERA (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017).

This difference between engagement and impact relates

For the purposes of the pilot, research engagement

to another fundamental methodological debate. This is

is defined as the ‘interaction between researchers and

also evident in responses to the consultation paper, where

research end-users (including industry, Government, non-

it asked:‘If case studies or exemplars are used, should they

governmental organisations, communities and community

focus on the outcomes of research or the steps taken by

organisations), for the mutually beneficial exchange of

the institution to facilitate the outcomes?’ (Australian

knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a

Research Council, 2016a p. 8). In other words, should the

context of partnership and reciprocity’.This is assessed by

evaluation focus on the ‘ends’ or the ‘means’ of achieving

metric indicators and a narrative statement. Alternatively,

engagement and impact? Responses to this varied. For

research impact ‘is the contribution that research makes

example, the Australian Academy of the Humanities

to the economy, society and environment, beyond the

(AAH) expressed concern with a focus on the outcomes

contribution to academic research,’ to be assessed by

as ‘causality and attribution are notoriously difficult

qualitative information (impact studies) supplemented

to pinpoint’, while advocating a focus on ‘facilitation

with quantitative data, where available (Australian

processes would not only be more manageable, but,

Research Council, 2016c).

importantly, it would also serve to highlight the distinct

This distinction highlights the novelty of the new

stages of research pathways to impact: result of research

Australian approach. The UK system, for example, is

process; outcomes of research; and coverage of the

only concerned with impact. Considering engagement

research’ (AAH, 2016). The submission by the Early and

and impact as two distinct entities disentangles two

Mid-Career Researcher Forum of the Australian Academy

different, but obviously related phenomena. These

of Science also endorsed a focus on facilitation processes

clear demarcations between interactions with the

as it would be easier to implement because immediate

‘non-academic world’ (engagement) and non-academic

data can be collected.They also argued such an approach

benefits that can be identified and verified (impact)

would overcome time lag issues and improve incentives

help communicate what does, and what does not count,

(EMRC AAS, 2016).

in the evaluation. Moreover, considering both, means

While this focus on the ‘means’, and not the ‘ends’, of

the evaluation captures a wider range of academic

engagement and impact may be easier to assess, others

activities. It may also mitigate for Australian researchers

have argued research evaluation must be consistent and

some of the confusion UK researchers first experienced

robust. For example, a learned society of mathematicians

understanding the UK impact agenda. The absence of an

pointed out the ‘ERA measures outcomes so this

engagement element in the UK system, and the initially

assessment process should only measure outcomes too’

narrow definition of impact have been a source of

(AMSI et al., 2016). Further methodological weaknesses

frustration and an area for potential future policy revision.

were highlighted by the Australian Sociological Association

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Measuring research impact in Australia Andrew Gunn & Michael Mintrom

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(TASA) who ‘are concerned that focussing on “steps taken

the contentious nature of higher education policy making

by the institution” could be more susceptible to gaming

in Australia. It also reveals the difficulty of designing

and manipulation and could result in superficial measures

an audit mechanism that is valid and that encourages

of impact. By contrast steps taken by researchers to create

researchers to take an interest in enhancing the impact

impact would be useful to capture in the assessment’

of their work beyond the campus. The greatest policy

(TASA, 2016).

challenge has been agreeing to a methodology and

Although a nurturing environment that fosters impact and engagement is of importance to their realisation,

building a political consensus around it. The

controversy

and

methodological

challenges

an assessment of the presence of such an environment

associated with impact assessment have ramifications for

does not measure actual outcomes. Moreover, although

realisation of a fully-functioning assessment system. For

engagement may be regarded more favourably by

government ministers, building a political consensus, both

academics, it may not produce the substantiated benefits

within and outside parliament, for such a system is difficult

of impact. Returning to first principles, the objective of

as it is often met with resistance. For policy designers and

government policy is to see a return on investments made.

public managers developing a system, efforts must be

This requires verification there are outcomes, not just

made to ensure it is robust, credible and acceptable to a

processes. It is for this reason the UK research evaluation

substantial portion of the academic community.

and funding systems has focussed on impact. These

debates

illustrate

the

complex

As the assessment of impact and engagement is rolled design

out across Australian higher education in 2018, it will be

considerations and methodological choices facing higher

instructive to monitor future developments within the

education policy makers.They also highlight the differing

debates set out here. As one long and winding process

positions taken on the best way forward by different parts

reaches its end, others are only beginning.

of the sector. It reinforces the need for the pilot year.The pilot year provided an opportunity to test the robustness

Andrew Gunn is a postdoctoral researcher, specialising in

of a wide range of indicators and methods of assessment.

higher education, at the School of Education, University of

It also has increased the likelihood that the right balance

Leeds, United Kingdom.

will be found between metrics and peer review, therefore

Contact: a.s.gunn@leeds.ac.uk

addressing the concerns of organisations including the Australian Technology Network (ATN, 2016). This is

Michael Mintrom is a professor of Public Management at

important, as Universities Australia has noted: ‘As impact

Monash University, Australia, and an Academic Director at the

can only be subjectively assessed rather than objectively

Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

measured, as is the case with engagement, it is essential that the assessment criteria is (sic) robust and transparent’ (Universities Australia, 2016). The pilots have also mitigated a criticism made of the ill-fated RQF – that the Government was implementing a potentially burdensome and expensive new assessment system in the absence of any pilot data to demonstrate its advantages and justify its costs (Shewan and Coats, 2006 p. 465). The pilots can also be viewed as a way for the sector to ‘take ownership’ of and ‘co-develop’ the reforms. Here, the Government can be seen as paying respect to the ‘self governing’ status of institutions of higher education. Piloting and engaging with the sector also increases the likelihood that the fully-implemented system will work as intended.

Conclusion The

meandering

political

process

driving

the

implementation of research impact assessment highlights

14

References AAH (2016). Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper Australian Academy of the Humanities, June 2016. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities. Albert, M. (2003). Universities and the market economy: The differential impact on knowledge production in sociology and economics. Higher Education, 45(2), 147-182. AMSI et al. (2016). Response to the ARC Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper. Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, the Australian Mathematical Society, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers.  Armitage, C. (2006, November 15). Research framework goes ahead. The Australian. ATN (2016) Research Engagement and Impact Assessment pilot supports university-industry collaboration. Canberra: Australian Technology Network. Retrieved from https://www.atn.edu.au/news-and-events/latest-news/researchengagement-and-impact-assessment-pilot-supports-university-industrycollaboration/ ATN & GO8 (2012). Guidelines for Completion of Case Studies in ATN/Go8 EIA Impact Assessment Trial. Canberra: Australian Technology Network. ATSE (2016a). Engagement for Australia: Measuring research engagement

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between universities and end users. Melbourne: Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Retrieved from https://www.atse.org. au/Documents/reports/research-engagement-australia.pdf

Department of Education, Science and Training (2005). Research Quality Framework: Assessing the quality and impact of research in Australia, The Preferred Model, September 2005. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

ATSE (2016b). Response to the Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper, June 2016. Melbourne: Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Retrieved from http://www.atse.org.au/ Documents/submissions/engagement-impact-assessment-consultation.pdf

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2011). Focusing Australia’s Publicly Funded Research Review, Maximising the Innovation Dividend: Review Key Findings and Future Directions. October 2011. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Australian Research Council (2016a, May 2). Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper. Canberra: Australian Research Council. Retrieved from http://www.arc.gov.au/sites/default/files/filedepot/Public/ARC/ consultation_papers/ARC_Engagement_and_Impact_Consultation_Paper.pdf

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2014). Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda: An action plan for a stronger Australia, October 2014. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https:// www.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/industry_innovation_ competitiveness_agenda.pdf

Australian Research Council (2016b, November 21). Media release: Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training. 2017 pilot to test impact, business engagement of researchers. Canberra: Australian Research Council. Retrieved from http://www.arc.gov.au/news-media/mediareleases/2017-pilot-test-impact-business-engagement-researchers Australian Research Council (2016c). EI: Pilot Overview. Canberra: Australian Research Council. Retrieved from http://www.arc.gov.au/ei-pilot-overview AVCC (2003). Advancing Australia’s Abilities: Foundations for the future of research in Australia. Canberra: Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee. Birmingham, S. (2016, March 10). Experts named to measure value of university research. Retrieved from http://www.senatorbirmingham.com.au/ Latest-News/ID/2991/Experts-named-to-measure-value-of-university-research Birmingham, S. (2015, November 17). Speech: Senator Simon Birmingham’s Keynote Address at 2015 B/HERT Awards Dinner – Melbourne. Retrieved from http://www.bhert.com/events/2015-11-17/Minister-for-Education-andTraining-Simon-Birmingham-Keynote-Address.pdf Bishop, J. (2006, November 14). Department of Education, Science and Training Media Release: Australian Government endorses Research Quality Framework. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http:// w3.unisa.edu.au/rqf/docs/mediarelease14nov06.pdf Carr, K. (2007, December 21). Ministers’ website for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Media Release: Cancellation of Research Quality Framework Implementation. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://archive.industry.gov.au/ministerarchive2011/carr/MediaReleases/ Pages/CANCELLATIONOFRESEARCHQUALITYFRAMEWORKIMPLEMENTATION. html Carr, K. (2008, Mar 26). Senator Carr – In search of research excellence. Science Alert. Retrieved from http://www.sciencealert.com/senator-carr-in-search-ofresearch-excellence Commonwealth of Australia (2017, August 16). Engagement and Impact Assessment pilot complete. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.innovation.gov.au/event/engagement-and-impact-assessmentpilot-complete-0 Commonwealth of Australia (2015, December 7). National Innovation and Science Agenda. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http:// innovation.gov.au/page/national-innovation-and-science-agenda-report Commonwealth Government (2001). Backing Australia’s Ability: An Innovation Action Plan for the Future. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Commonwealth Government (2004). Backing Australia’s Ability: Building our Future through Science and Innovation. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Education and Training (2016, May 6). Turnbull Government response - Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/ node/40706

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DIICCSRTE (2013). Assessing the wider benefits arising from universitybased research, discussion paper June 2013. The Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. EMRC AAS (2016). Engagement and Assessment Impact consultation paper submission. Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum of the Australian Academy of Science. Gunn, A. & Mintrom, M. (2017). Evaluating the non-academic impact of academic research: design considerations. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 39(1), 20-30. Gunn, A. & Mintrom, M. (2016). Higher Education Policy Change in Europe: Academic Research Funding and the Impact Agenda. European Education, 48(4), 241-257. Morgan, B. (2014). Research impact: Income for outcome: Australia and New Zealand are experimenting with ways of assessing the impact of publicly funded research, Nature, 511(7510), S72-S75. Nicol, M., Harvey L., & Byrne, A. (2016). The evolution of Australia’s national research assessment exercise. The Academic Executive Brief pp.5-7. Elsevier. Retrieved from https://academicexecutives.elsevier.com/sites/default/files/ AEB_2016_ARC.pdf RAND Europe (2009). Capturing Research Impacts: A review of international practice. Retrieved from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rereports/year/2009/ capturingresearchimpactsareviewofinternationalpractice/ Sheil, M. (2014). On the verge of a new ERA. Nature, 511(7510), S67-S67. Shewan, L. G., & Coats, A. J. (2006). The Research Quality Framework and its implications for health and medical research: time to take stock? Medical Journal of Australia, 184(9), 463. Retrieved from https://www.mja.com.au/ journal/2006/184/9/research-quality-framework-and-its-implications-healthand-medical-research-time TASA (2016). Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper Response from The Australian Sociological Association (TASA). Retrieved from https://www.tasa.org.au/engagement-impact-assessment-consultation-paperresponse-australian-sociological-association-tasa/ Universities Australia (2016, June 28). Universities Australia Submission to the Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper. Canberra: Universities Australia. Watt, I. (2015). Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements: Report November 2015. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/node/38976 Welch, A. (2016). Audit Culture and Academic Production Re-shaping Australian Social Science Research Output 1993–2013. Higher Education Policy, 29(4), 511–538.

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Optimising the efficacy of hybrid academic teams Lessons from a systematic review process Warren Lake, Margie Wallin, Bill Boyd, Geoff Woolcott, Christos Markopoulos, Wendy Boyd & Alan Foster Southern Cross University

Undertaking a systematic review can have many benefits, beyond any theoretical or conceptual discoveries pertaining to the underlying research question. This paper explores the value of utilising a hybrid academic team when undertaking the systematic review process, and shares a range of practical strategies. The paper also comments on how such a hybrid team sits in a continuum of cooperation, coordination and collaboration. Key recommendations include choosing a great team, communicating well, documenting everything, and being explicit – for the benefit of your research team, and the readers of your systematic review. Keywords: teams, collaboration, systematic reviews, protocols

While much has been written about the process-related

School of Environment, Science and Engineering and the

elements of undertaking a systematic review or meta-

School of Education liaison librarian.This hybrid team was

analysis (Booth et al., 2012; Durlak, 2008; Gough et al.,

based across two campuses. This was the first experience

2012; Littell et al., 2008; Machi & McEvoy, 2012; Ridley,

of participating in the systematic review process for many

2012), few publications discuss the practical elements,

of the team members.

especially when undertaking such a process for the first time, and with a hybrid team. During 2015, a

Systematic reviews

multidisciplinary team at a regional Australian university undertook a funded research project, using a systematic

The systematic review was planned as the first stage

review framework. While the results of that review have

of a multi-phase research project, and was intended to

been published (Lake et al., 2017), this article documents

inform the direction of future research. The project team

and shares discoveries made by the team about practical

agreed on a commitment to an evidence-based approach,

elements, in the hope of supporting others who may be

and elected to use a systematic review framework.

contemplating such an activity.

While the evidence-based practice movement originated

The core elements of a systematic review underpinned a

within the health and clinical sciences (Evidence-Based

research project that investigated alternative mathematics

Medicine Working Group, 1992; Sackett et al., 1996), the

pedagogies for students with poor mathematics skills, in

approach has since been adopted and adapted for use

a higher education setting. The multidisciplinary project

within the majority of professional disciplines (Booth,

team comprised five academics from both the School

2003; Borrego et al., 2014; Davies, 1999; Webb, 2001). An

of Education and the School of Environment, Science

increasing number of institutions, such as the Campbell

and Engineering, as well as a research assistant from the

Collaboration (2016) and the Evidence for Policy and

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vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPICentre, 2017), also support evidence-based research across a range of disciplines. In addition to publishing systematic reviews, such institutions generally produce a range of training materials and resources, designed to support those undertaking systematic reviews. Supplementary

resources, including

the

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‘The combination of expertise with methodology, interest in the construct or process, comfort with the group approach, and diversity of perspectives and life experiences will foster the analytical approach desired to learn the essential attributes and multiple facets of the construct or process under study.’ The team was brought together to tackle a specific

Preferred

problem, drawing on the collective expertise and skills

Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-

of individuals. In this way, an essential discipline was

Analyses (PRISMA, 2015) checklist and PRISMA flow

brought to the endeavour built around: the team shaping

diagram (Moher et al., 2009), were also used throughout

a ‘meaningful common purpose’; the team identifying

this research and review process.

a performance goal (the provision of a systematic

While the processes of systematic reviews and meta-

review report) flowing from the common purpose; a

analyses are clearly defined in the literature (Cochrane

‘mix of complementary skills’; a strong commitment to

Collaboration, 2016; Glass, 1976; Higgins & Green, 2011;

completion (the funding and reporting requirements

Oxman & Guyatt, 1993), this clarity does not necessarily

were

extend to researcher and practitioner understanding,

(Katzenbach & Smith, 2013, pp. 38-39). Given the team’s

especially

and

diverse nature, communication within and amongst

frameworks have only recently been adopted. Evidence of

the team members was critical. In the early stages of

confusion about both terms and processes can be found

the project, the team members identified, discussed

in discussion posts on many academic or researcher

and documented decisions around communication,

networks (Gray, 2016). Dawe (2016, para 1), for example,

team member roles and responsibilities, and practical

recently noted that:

protocols.

in

disciplines

where

these

tools

‘I’m working with an academic at the moment who insists he is doing a Systematic Review. I’ve looked at his question and it seems to me that what he’s trying to do is a literature review that has some well-structured search documentation. I’ve sent him information on Systematic Reviews but he still insists that a SR is what he’s doing.’

time-bound);

and

mutual

accountability

The role of the project leader, a senior academic, was fundamental to the progress and success of the project. This role involved providing significant input into identification of suitable funding options, proposal writing and the overall mentorship of the group. The project leader brought this hybrid group together, actively mentored the research assistant, monitored timeframes,

During the early stages of the research project, similar

and provided critical input into the writing and editing

misconceptions were experienced by the project team.

process. In short, the team leader met the five conditions

In order to provide clarity and structure, therefore, the

that Hackman (as cited in Coutu, 2013, p. 29) identifies as

following definition was adopted from the Centre for

being essential to fulfilling and maintaining an effective

Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (2013, para 3):

team: bringing clarity; providing compelling direction;

A systematic review answers a defined research question by collecting and summarising all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria … A meta-analysis is the use of statistical methods to summarise the results of these studies.

providing design and structure; supporting the team; and providing expert coaching. The other team member roles were defined as follows. Funding allowed the appointment of a research assistant, and greatly facilitated the timely progression of both the review and its documentation as a written

The team approach

report. The research assistant worked closely with the librarian during the searching process, undertook

Effective teamwork (Gates & Hinds, 2000;Van Landingham,

the scanning and reading of the literature, developed

2015) underpinned the review process. This was vital

inclusion/exclusion criteria, analysed the literature,

given the hybrid nature of the team. Each team member

created the draft report documents and sought feedback

brought significant skills and/or expert knowledge

at every stage of the process. The project librarian

to the project, in terms of discipline content, project

worked with the team to refine the research question,

management, or professional expertise. The advantage

and develop and conduct the necessary searches. The

of this approach, according to Gates and Hinds (2000, p.

librarian also managed the discovered literature, and

102) is:

assisted in writing and editing.The librarian and research

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assistant worked particularly closely through most stages

or input was required from each team member at each

of the review project.

stage. Identifying preferred communication approaches

The discipline experts provided input and feedback

and strategies early in the process was an effective way

throughout the entire process – assisting with the

of ensuring the process, and this included documenting

formulation of the research question, providing known

communication protocols. Thus, emails were used to

resources, analysing the literature, and writing and

circulate working documents, to request input or feedback

editing the project report and associated publication.

and to send deadline reminders. As well as face-to-face

All team members had previously been involved in

meetings, virtual meetings were conducted by Skype as

research projects, and all provided some form of

required. The team identified the importance of knowing

mentoring and coaching from their own disciplinary

how team partners operated most efficiently, including

perspectives throughout the project. However, this was

knowing their communication and working preferences.

the first experience the majority of team members had

As the project progressed through the various stages

of the formal systematic review process. In addition to

of the systematic review – the formulation of the

successfully completing the project, the team members

research question and search strategies; the retrieval and

gained insight and skill in the process, and all discovered

management, as well as the analysis and review of the

the benefits of working within an effective hybrid team.

literature; and the writing – the team members reflected

Working in collaboration with the librarian, for

upon and documented their discoveries and challenges

example, the research assistant learned more about

pertaining to the process of undertaking a systematic

systematic and structured approaches to both searching

review (Appendix A). As noted by Lakhani et al. (2012),

and managing information. In reverse, the librarian

a key attribute of effective teams is reflection. Critical

gained greater insight into the review and analysis of

reflection underpinned each stage of this project,

the literature, and experience in the use of analysis

from the formulation of the research question to the

tools such as NVivo™. As part of refining the research

successful submission of the commissioned report and

question, and the writing of the report and paper, the

associated publication.

librarian also gained content knowledge. In observing and participating in the systematic literature searching stage,

Protocols

the academics discovered practical strategies, approaches and frameworks not previously utilised.

A critical feature of a systematic review (and, indeed of

The collaborative approach to the review and analysis

a structured literature review) and any associated meta-

of the literature also demonstrated the effectiveness

analysis, is the need to record all the protocols associated

of using a hybrid team within such a setting. Once the

with the project. As noted by Evans and Chang (2000, p.

initial review framework was in place – created by

2), an underlying purpose is to ensure that such reviews

the research assistant – the discipline knowledge and

can be validated or replicated:

review experience of the academic team members was invoked. Specifically, each academic chose a number of the identified research studies, according to their area of expertise, and used the draft framework to review those studies. Results were then compared with the initial review. This approach tested the validity of the review

‘… systematic reviews should be conducted with the same rigour as any research endeavour. Like primary research, these reviews follow a predetermined plan which should be clearly documented. This documentation of the methods used, means systematic reviews can be replicated by other reviewers. It also allows the review methods used to be subject to appraisal.’

framework, addressed the issue of potential bias (Littell et al., 2008), and allowed for the development of the final

Protocols can be made publicly available: submitted to

inclusion/exclusion criteria. The diversity of the team

protocol registries such as PROSPERO (Centre for Reviews

allowed for an iterative approach to determining inclusion

& Dissemination, 2017); published in relevant journals

and exclusion criteria, in that it avoided the risk of group

such as Systematic Reviews (2017) or the JBI Database of

thinking, and encouraged active questioning (Katzenbach

Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports (2017);

& Smith, 2013).

or published in systematic review databases such as the

Communication within the team proved to be a critical

Cochrane Library (2017).

element of the project (Lakhani et al., 2012), as different

Clearly documenting the functional and operational

team members had varying roles and responsibilities

protocols of a research project also assists in its smooth

at different phases of the project. In addition, feedback

progression within a team environment. Protocols can

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relate to practical aspects of the research, such as file

possible to consider the use of Google Scholar as the

management, software resources or searching, whereas

default database for performing a systematic review.

other protocols may, for example, be more conceptual,

However, as Evans and Chang (2000) indicate, and as most

and be associated with communication, ethics or

of the team members were aware, systematic reviews

confidentiality issues, or concern selected inclusion/

need to be replicable, a characteristic that is impossible

exclusion criteria (Appendix A). The underlying lesson

with Google Scholar due to the search algorithms and

is to document protocols in as much detail as possible,

database structure that they employ (Giustini & Boulos,

especially at the time decisions are made, and have

2013). Clearly, the hybrid nature of the team and the

this documentation available to team members. This is

specific skills and knowledge of members such as the

particularly important when working within a team,

librarian, helps to ensure that flawed approaches to the

or working on longer-term projects. While it is easy

systematic review were avoided in its early stages.

to assume that specific decisions or outcomes will be

Furthermore, if the research team includes higher

remembered, memories can become vague soon after

degree

the event. Furthermore, new team members or outside

researchers, collaborating with a librarian during the

research

students

or

less

experienced

researchers wanting to check project details at a later date

literature searching stage may also have ongoing benefits,

will be grateful.

including training and/or up-skilling of those involved.

Search protocols specifically need to be recorded as

More efficient or effective search strategies may be

part of the standard systematic review process. There

utilised with future literature searching, and researchers

are examples in the published literature – be they

may consider using the systematic review process (or

journal articles or those systematic reviews available

elements thereof) in future research projects. Indeed,

within specific databases – to guide a team regarding

one of the project team members now encourages

presentation. These can also be used to gather examples

his higher degree students to take a more structured

or ideas, or to identify formal guidelines or requirements.

approach to their literature searching, and to actively

Depending on the discipline or topic area being

collaborate with their liaison librarian.

investigated, a number of frameworks such as PICO

In addition to those resources found using deliberate

(Problems, Interventions, Comparisons and Outcomes),

searches related to subject or content, other literature

SPIDER (Sample, Phenomenon of Interest, Design,

will also be utilised, for example that deal with research

Evaluation, Research type) and STARLITE (Sampling

methods or theoretical perspectives. Such literature may

strategy, Type of study, Approaches, Range of years, Limits,

provide contextual information, or may add clarity to

Inclusions and exclusions,Terms used, Electronic sources)

a concept or concepts, even though it may not relate

have also been developed to assist researchers structure

directly to the specific research question. Furthermore,

their searches (Booth, 2006; Cooke et al., 2012; Schardt et

within any project, yet more literature will be discovered,

al., 2007).

either serendipitously or via recommendations from

It became apparent in this study that the development,

team members, colleagues or supervisors (Conn et al.,

evolution and recording of search protocols represented

2003; McManus et al., 1998). The expert knowledge of

a specialist domain of the librarian. While the team

academic team members is utilised in both the provision

reviewed and approved, collectively, the search strategies

and evaluation of such material. Where such literature

proposed by the librarian and articulated through the

is directly relevant to the research question, should it

protocols, it was clear that the librarian’s specialist

have been retrieved as part of the formal searches

input to the project in this regard was vital. The value of

already undertaken? If so, does the search strategy need

including expert searchers in collaboration with content

to be adapted? If it is determined that a search strategy

experts, especially when undertaking systematic reviews,

does need to be modified, this should occur early in the

is well documented (Beverley et al., 2003; Dudden &

process, ideally before any reviewing of documents is

Protzko, 2011; Federer, 2013; Harris, 2005; McCluskey,

undertaken. Where such additional resources introduce

2013; McGowan & Sampson, 2005; Papaioannou et al.,

new ideas or concepts, rather than adding clarity or

2010; Zhang et al., 2006). The involvement of a librarian

context, the search strategy and research focus would

in this team was essential in ensuring appropriate advice

need to be re-examined.

and guidance on efficient and effective search strategies,

To support the information management stage of

as well as how to record and manage them. For those

the research process, there are a number of specialised

inexperienced in structured literature searching, it is

database programs designed to both manage references

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and to assist with the referencing process. EndNote™ is one such program, and was used by this research team (Peters, 2017). The geographically dispersed nature of the research team added additional challenges in terms of managing the project literature, and although EndNote™ offers synchronisation between desktop and online

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‘A working group’s [which comprises almost any gathering of workers in an organisation] performance is a function of what its members do as individuals. A team’s performance includes both individual results and what we call “collective work products”. … Whatever it is, a collective work product reflects the joint, real contribution of team members.’

versions, specific protocols needed to be considered

Following this, Katzenbach and Smith also note that

in the creation of and access to the EndNote™ library

a team is characterised, first, by shared leadership roles.

(Appendix A).

While the hybrid team described here initially started with

Similar protocols were developed during the analysis

singular leadership, as the process of the review rolled out,

and review stage of the project. As with information

it became clear that, for example, the librarian needed to

management tools, there is a range of programs that can

take a leadership role, especially in her field of expertise.

assist with the analysis process, especially within the

In that context, she defined structures and processes,

qualitative research environment. For this project, the

brought clarity and focus, and provided support and

research assistant undertook the initial review of the

mentoring (cf. Coutu, 2013). The project success hinged,

studies using EndNote™ and NVivo™, and developed a

in part, on allowing this emergent leadership. In support

review framework using Microsoft Excel™. Throughout

of this, Lakhani also notes that ‘designated team leaders

this critical appraisal stage, the framework was tested

and shared leadership have both been shown to be large

for both practicality and potential bias, and inclusion/

contributors to interdisciplinary team effectiveness’

exclusion criteria were finalised and documented

(Lakhani et al., 2012, p. E262). Balanced against this is

(Appendix A).

individual and mutual accountability. An essential role of

Whether the systematic review is being submitted

the team is to bring informed discussion, consideration

to a formal evidence-based institution or to a journal or

and, eventually, consensus to the process – in short,

conference, protocols around the writing process also

the team needed to provide input to critical decisions

needed consideration (Boland et al., 2014; Booth et al.,

around the search protocols, and then provide consensual

2012; Phelps et al., 2007; Thody, 2006). Within the team

agreement to these.

setting, will one member of the team write the review,

Continuing

with

Katzenbach

and

Smith’s

with input and editing from team members, or will

characterisations, the project maintained clarity regarding

different team members be responsible for nominated

the team purpose, and worked towards its collective goal

sections? Who will undertake proof-reading and editing?

or work product, that is, the systematic literature review.

Who will monitor the manuscript for a consistent writing

All team discussions were focussed on that outcome, once

style? Such questions reflect the importance of clear

the research direction was agreed upon.The path towards

definition and communication of team roles.

this outcome, however, required the encouragement of ‘open-ended discussion and active problem-solving

Can a hybrid team successfully complete such tasks?

meetings’, again as per Katzenbach and Smith (p. 36).The end product, the literature review, once embedded in a technical report to the funding body and published as an

Much of what is described above may appear to be

academic paper (Lake et al., 2017) provided the essential

straightforward, and may, some will claim, simply be the

performance measure.

bread and butter of academic activity. However, such

While it was noted at the beginning of this paper that

activities take on an added level of complexity when

the team was brought together in a way that mirrored

undertaken within a hybrid team environment. It became

Katzenbach and Smith’s (2013) ‘essential discipline’, and it

apparent when considering both the roles of the team

appears that this discipline worked, it is admitted that the

members, and the activities undertaken during the project,

bringing together was not deliberate. What was intended,

that consideration needed to be given to the criteria and

however, was that the team was assembled to meet the

characteristics indicative of successful teams. Katzenbach

critical challenges of this project. The focus by the team

and Smith, for example, identify seven characteristics

leader was on the tasks required within the project rather

that differentiate a team from a working group. This is

than the discipline of the team per se. Nevertheless, the

important, they argue, in that it focuses on performance

team functioned well, operating as a ‘small number of

results (Katzenbach & Smith, 2013, p. 37):

people with complementary skills who are committed

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COOPERATION

COORDINATION

COLLABORATION

Low trust – unstable relations

Medium trust – based on prior relations

High trust – stable relations

Infrequent communication flows

Structured communication flows

Thick communication flows

Known information sharing

‘Project’ related and directed information sharing

Tacit information sharing

Adjusting actions

Joint projects, joint funding, joint policy

Systems change

Independent/autonomous goals

Semi-independent goals

Dense interdependent relations and goals

Power remains with organisation

Power remains with organisations

Shared power

Resources – remain own

Shared resources around project

Pooled, collective resources

Commitment and accountability to own agency

Commitment and accountability to own agency and project

Commitment and accountability to the network first

Relational time frame requirement – short term

Relational time frame medium term – often Relational time frame requirement – long based on prior projects term 3-5 years

Figure 1. An integrated view of cooperation, coordination and collaboration in research projects (used with permission Keast & Mandell, 2011) to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and

with Coordination, since the project was not geared, in this

approach for which they hold themselves mutually

early phase, towards systems change (in shaded rows in

accountable’ (Katzenbach & Smith 2013, p. 39). Is this

column three). Consideration of these categories, however,

unique to a hybrid team conducting a systematic review?

may be useful to researchers considering a hybrid team

Unlikely. Indeed, other writings about team success focus

approach, particularly where a longer-term project is

on other aspects of the team. Gratton and Erickson (2013)

being considered since, ideally, some effort will need to be

for example, discuss behaviour – leading by example,

made towards collaboration in this network sense.

provision of the ‘gifts’ of mentoring and coaching,

This project team began in a medium trust relationship,

building relationships, drawing both task and relationship

where several team members already had an experience

skills amongst the team members, and building on prior

of working together and were prepared to accommodate

(‘heritage’) working relationships.

and

understand

the

nature

of

their

colleagues’

In this study, the researchers had worked together

communication and working preferences. Upon analysis,

previously, and two were the research assistant’s PhD

it appears that the team is evolving towards a high trust

supervisors. Some of the academics had also worked with

relationship evidenced by stable relations within the team

the project librarian. The project built upon this network

structure and thicker communication flows as the project

of prior relationships, and was also able to draw upon

develops.While communication started as project related,

the elements of cohesion and mutual respect, other key

the use of protocols as outlined above has supported

attributes of interdisciplinary teams (Lakhani et al., 2012).

tactical information sharing based on interdependent goals. In the longer time-frame it is hoped to establish the

Is a hybrid team a collaboration?

team’s actions as committed to systems change, since the nature of the longer-term project is to improve the system

The literature on teams and team development discussed

in which mathematics learning takes place. This team,

above suggests further comment on the relationship

like others in such projects, will need to consider how to

between the hybrid team structure and collaboration,

reconfigure this unique team structure such that resources

specifically, where the hybrid team structure sits in a

are pooled and committed to such system change and,

continuum of cooperation, coordination and collaboration

hence, accountable to the collaborative network first and

of people working together (Keast & Mandell, 2011).

foremost. Based on the current working relationship and

Figure 1 outlines the features of each of the three

what it has provided already, this is certainly achievable.

categories in terms of both relationships and resources, of people working together in active team networks

Conclusion

of three or more people. It can be argued that in the systematic review stage, the protocols and decision-

Undertaking a systematic review and associated meta-

making processes of this hybrid team were more aligned

analysis has been a highly rewarding experience for

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this multidisciplinary and geographically dispersed team. In addition to the discoveries made regarding the underlying research question, the team members have

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Centre for Reviews & Dissemination. (2017). PROSPERO: International prospective register of systematic reviews. Retrieved from https://www.crd.york. ac.uk/prospero/

also learned a great deal about the practical processes

Cochrane Collaboration. (2016). What are systematic reviews? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egJlW4vkb1Y

involved when utilising a systematic review framework.

Cochrane Library. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.cochranelibrary.com/

The entire process has been grounded in reflection on

Conn, V. S., Isaramalai, S. A., Rath, S., Jantarakupt, P., Wadhawan, R., & Dash, Y. (2003). Beyond MEDLINE for literature searches. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 35(2), 177-182. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2003.00177.x

the nature, development and effectiveness of hybrid teams, and where such teams may sit within a continuum of cooperation, coordination and collaboration. The purpose of this paper has been to share both practical and conceptual discoveries, in order to encourage and support others who may be considering undertaking such a review – within any discipline in the higher education setting. Key recommendations include choosing a great team, communicating well, documenting everything, and being explicit – for the benefit of your research team, and for the readers of your systematic review. The authors of this paper work at Southern Cross University, Australia. Warren Lake is a PhD candidate in the School

Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435-1443. doi:10.1177/1049732312452938 Coutu, D. (2013). Why teams don’t work: An interview with J. Richard Hackman. In HBR’s 10 must reads on teams (pp. 21-34). Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press. Davies, P. (1999). What is evidence based education? British Journal of Educational Studies, 47(2), 108-121. Dawe, L. (2016). aliaHEALTH -Expertsearching - Systematic Review vs. Systematic Literature Review [Email]. Dudden, R. F., & Protzko, S. L. (2011). The systematic review team: Contributions of the health sciences librarian. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 30(3), 301-315. doi:10.1080/02763869.2011.590425

Liaison Librarian. Bill Boyd is the Professor of Geography in

Durlak, J. A. (2008). Basic principles of meta-analysis. In M. C. Roberts & S. S. Ilardi (Eds.), Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology (pp. 196209). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

the School of Environment, Science & Engineering. The other

EPPI-Centre (2017). Retrieved from http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk

authors are from the School of Education: Geoff Woolcott is

Evans, D., & Chang, A. (2000). Appraising systematic reviews. Changing Practice: Evidence Based Practice Information Sheets for Health Professionals (Supplement 1), 6p.

of Environment, Science & Engineering. Margie Wallin is a

an Associate Professor; Christos Markopoulos and Wendy Boyd are Senior Lecturers; and Alan Foster is an Associate Lecturer (Teaching Scholar). Contact: margie.wallin@scu.edu.au

References Beverley, C. A., Booth, A., & Bath, P. A. (2003). The role of the information specialist in the systematic review process: A health information case study. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 20(2), 65-74. doi:10.1046/j.14711842.2003.00411.x Boland, A., Cherry, M. G., & Dickson, R. (2014). Doing a systematic review: a student’s guide. London: Sage. Booth, A. (2003). Bridging the research-practice gap? The role of evidence based librarianship. New Review of Information and Library Research, 9(1), 3-23. doi:10.1080/13614550410001687909 Booth, A. (2006). “Brimful of STARLITE”: Toward standards for reporting literature searches. Journal of the Medical Librarians Association, 94(4), 421-429. Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2012). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review. London: SAGE. Borrego, M., Foster, M. J., & Froyd, J. E. (2014). Systematic literature reviews in engineering education and other developing interdisciplinary fields. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(1), 45-76. doi:10.1002/jee.20038 Campbell Collaboration. (2016). Campbell Collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/ Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology. (2013). Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: a step-by-step guide. Retrieved from http:// www.ccace.ed.ac.uk/research/software-resources/systematic-reviews-and-metaanalyses

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Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group. (1992). Evidence-based medicine. A new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association, 268(17), 2420-2425. Federer, L. (2013). The librarian as research informationist: A case study. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 101(4), 298-302. doi:10.3163/15365050.101.4.011 Gates, M. F., & Hinds, P. S. (2000). Qualitative researchers working as teams. In S. D. Moch & M. F. Gates (Eds.), The Researcher Experience in Qualitative Research (pp.94-108). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Giustini, D., & Boulos, M. N. (2013). Google Scholar is not enough to be used alone for systematic reviews. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 5(2), 214. doi:10.5210/ojphi.v5i2.4623 Glass, G. V. (1976). Primary, secondary, and meta-analysis of research. Educational Researcher, 5(10), 3-8. doi:10.3102/0013189x005010003 Gough, D. A., Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (2012). An introduction to systematic reviews. London: SAGE. Gratton, L., & Erickson, T. J. (2013). Eight ways to build collaborative teams. In HBR’s 10 must reads on teams (pp. 55-74). Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press. Gray, H. (2016). A meta analysis of the literature or a literature review. What is the difference? What do you prefer for your PhD candidates? Retrieved from LinkedIn Higher Education Teaching and Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/ groups/2774663/2774663-6123303560869400577 Harris, M. R. (2005). The librarian’s roles in the systematic review process: A case study. Journal of the Medica Library Association, 93(1), 81-87. Higgins, J. P. T., & Green, S. (2011). What is a systematic review? In Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 (pp. Section 1.2.2): The Cochrane Collaboration. Retrieved http://handbook.cochrane.org.

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Papaioannou, D., Sutton, A., Carroll, C., Booth, A., & Wong, R. (2010). Literature searching for social science systematic reviews: Consideration of a range of search techniques. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 27(2), 114-122. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00863.x Peters, M. D. J. (2017). Managing and coding references for systematic reviews and scoping reviews in EndNote. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 36(1), 19-31. doi:10.1080/02763869.2017.1259891 Phelps, R., Ellis, A., & Fisher, K. (2007). Organizing and managing your research: A practical guide for postgraduates (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications. PRISMA. (2015). Citing and using PRISMA. Retrieved from http://prismastatement.org/PRISMAStatement/CitingAndUsingPRISMA.aspx Ridley, D. (2012). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students (2nd ed.). London: SAGE. Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M. C., Gray, J. A. M., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: What it is and what it isn’t. BMJ, 312(Jan 13), 71-72. doi:10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71 Schardt, C., Adams, M. B., Owens, T., Keitz, S., & Fontelo, P. (2007). Utilisation of the PICO framework to improve searching PubMed for clinical questions. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 7, 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6947-7-16 Systematic Reviews. (2017). Retrieved from https://systematicreviewsjournal. biomedcentral.com/ Thody, A. (2006). Writing and presenting research. London, England: Sage Publications. Van Landingham, M. (2015). Promoting teamwork, from within and from afar. In R. Dingwall & M. B. McDonald (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of research management. London, UK: Sage UK. Retrieved from http://search. credoreference.com/ Webb, S. A. (2001). Evidence-based social work theory and practice: Historical and reflective perspective. British Journal of Social Work, 31, 57-79. Zhang, L., Sampson, M., & McGowan, J. (2006). Reporting of the role of the expert searcher in Cochrane Reviews. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 1(4) doi:10.18438/B85K52

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Appendix A Practical considerations when undertaking a systematic review Communication

What documentation format will be used - Word documents, spreadsheets, OneNote or Evernote files or NVivo™ memos?

What are the team members’ preferred means of communication? How do individual team members respond to requests for input or comment or review? Is the absence of a reply to be taken to indicate implicit agreement?

Where will the project documentation be stored, and who can access this? How will documentation be shared? Via email, cloud drives?

Are team members responsive to deadlines?

How will version control of files be organised? Can older versions be restored?

If urgent responses are required, should the request be issued via email, or by other more direct means (where possible)?

Can files be viewed and edited simultaneously? Can changes be annotated with date and editor information?

Should meetings be regular or scheduled as required? Protocols

Which team members will have full write access and which will have read only access to files?

Is it required or recommended that the protocol be publicly registered or published?

How regularly will files be backed up; where will backup files be stored; who will be able to access them?

How will the project protocols be documented for the team, and what level of detail/granularity is recorded?

What software packages (and versions) will be used in the management of records and the analysis of the data?

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If any project files are confidential, how will security be maintained?

What file/folder structure will be put in place? How will changes to a folder structure be communicated and managed?

Has a research data management plan been considered?

Will file/folder naming conventions, such as prefixes, be developed and documented?

How will time frames and time lines be managed? Will project journals or logs be used? Discovery and searching What database(s) will be used, and why? What database(s) will be deliberately excluded, and why? Will a database Thesaurus tool be used to identify relevant terms or formal subject headings? If so, will the associated Scope Notes be recorded?

How will resources be shared with team members who do not have full access to the literature library / database? If standard fields are to be used for non-standard content, how will this be documented? Will possible differences in layout / presentation / structure between desktop & web-based versions of the selected software impact on project processes?

What search terms / synonyms / phrases will be used?

Will a temporary library be used while the research question and associated search strategies are tested and refined?

What Boolean or proximity operators will be applied to the search terms?

Reviewing and analysing

What filters/limits will be applied and why? Will detailed search results and associated dates be recorded? Will Google Scholar be used, in addition to structured databases, to identify key literature? Will the difficulty of replicating searches in Google Scholar (due to changing algorithms) be considered? Will Google Scholar or Google be used to locate grey literature? What limits will be applied? Will site / domain name filters, or language / region filters be used?

How will inclusion / exclusion criteria and associated justifications be documented during the review process? Will each study be reviewed by more than one coder/rater/ reviewer, in order to reduce bias? How will the literature be allocated to reviewers? If using a software package, will it allow multiple user access? What privileges are available for different users, for example editors and viewers? Is the analysis software compatible with reference management software and/or word processing software?

Will resources found by serendipity or by direct recommendation be included?

What text analysis or visualisation tools are available within the analysis software?

Does such additional literature enhance or clarify concepts already identified in the review process, or does it bring new ideas? If new ideas are introduced, how will this impact on the review process?

Does the analysis software allow searching across all fields?

Should such additional resources have been retrieved within the formal searches already undertaken? Will the search strategy be adapted to include such resources?

Writing and referencing

At what stage during the review process is it feasible / manageable to update or adapt search strategies? Will saved searches and/or search alerts be created, so newly published resources can be identified throughout the project lifecycle? How will additional resources be recorded and managed, in relation to the formal search results? Managing the literature What database or reference management software will be used? Who will be the database administrator? Is simultaneous access to the library/database available? Which team members require access? How can the team ensure that members have the necessary skills to utilise the requisite software? Will all team members be able to add new records to the database, or will citations/documents be sent to designated team members for inclusion?

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What export formats are available from the software? Are training resources and technical support provided? Who will have the primary responsibility for writing reports or publications? Will different team members write different sections? Who will edit? Who will check for consistent style? If referring to commercially available products (such as databases or reference management software) do they stipulate the use of trademarks or symbols (for example EndNote™)? If the preferred journal has a word count that does not allow for the inclusion of all analysis tables, do they offer alternatives such as online supplements? Are there specific referencing requirements for included resources, for example ‘Citing and using PRISMA’ (PRISMA, 2015)? Which referencing style does the journal or publisher use? Are associated style files provided or available, for use with reference management software? Will individual references be checked, especially when using reference management software and their associated style files? Will the CrossRef database be used to verify or check references?

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An oral component in PhD examination in Australia Issues and considerations Margaret Kiley Australian National University & University of Newcastle

Allyson Holbrook, Terence Lovat & Hedy Fairbairn University of Newcastle

Sue Starfield University of New South Wales

Brian Paltridge University of Sydney

While there has been considerable research on doctoral examination there is little that examines the various roles of the oral component and what issues one might consider if introducing or revising that aspect of the thesis examination process. This matter is of particular importance in Australia where it is not usual to have an oral component as part of the final assessment. However, there are a number of Australian institutions considering the introduction of an oral component. This paper, based on the literature and three research projects initiated by the Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact (SORTI) at The University of Newcastle, Australia, addresses a number of the key issues that would need to be addressed if an Australian institution were to introduce an oral component to the doctoral thesis examination process. Keywords: Assessment, doctoral, examination, oral examination, viva voce

Introduction

2010). The published research relates to issues such as purposes (Jackson & Tinkler, 2001), methods (Golding,

In the last 15–20 years there has been considerable

Sharmini, & Lazorovitch, 2014) and outcomes (Lovat,

international research related to the examination of

Holbrook, Bourke, Fairbairn, Kiley, Paltridge, & Starfield,

doctoral theses (see for example Holbrook & Bourke,

2015) with a substantial number of works relating to

2004; Lovitts, 2007; Mullins & Kiley, 2002; Powell & Green,

the oral component of thesis examination as identified

2003; Prins, de Kleijn, & van Tartwijk, 2015; Wellington,

by Crossouard (2011). It is this final issue, the oral

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examination, that is the focus of this paper, particularly as

While the national review of Higher Degree by Research

in most cases in Australia there is not an oral component

(HDR) education in Australia, colloquially called the

as a standard part of the PhD examination process.

ACOLA Review (McGagh et al., 2016) found that: ‘Many

In light of the existing research this paper specifically

stakeholders considered that the Australian research

addresses the first of the two issues raised by Lovat et al.

training system would benefit from greater emphasis

(2015) in the conclusion to their paper, where they argue

being placed on the assessment of the candidate and

that two things seem clear from the debate. The first is:

the skills gained, rather than focus predominately

‘the Australian and UK [United Kingdom] processes seem

on the assessment of the thesis’ (p. xvi) no specific

to have something to learn from each other’ (p. 19). The

recommendation was made regarding the introduction of

second is: ‘an incorporation of the requirement for an

an oral examination. It is suggested that this is, in part, a

individual definitive report from each examiner, with a

response to the critical literature around the quality of

Viva as an additional and related component, would seem

oral examinations in some countries.

to constitute a process that offers the best form of quality

However, Gould (2016) suggests that, as the doctorate

assurance’ (p. 20). They also note that the latter: ‘offers a

develops into new forms and with pressures for some

means of closure and/or celebration’ (p. 20) – a theme

forms of standardisation globally, alternative examination

that also arises in the work of authors such as Jackson

processes might need to be implemented. For example,

and Tinkler (2004) and Crossouard (2011) and which,

with the increase in the number of candidates submitting

we argue, merits separate consideration from assessment

a Thesis with Published Papers and those undertaking

considerations per se.

Professional and Practice-based Doctorates might other

The proposal to address the issues related to the oral

forms of examination be appropriate?

component of thesis examination in Australia arose from

In light of additional or alternative forms of assessment

data collected in an extensive multi-project research

this paper considers the key issues related to the more

program detailed later in this paper. Addressing the issue

extensive use of an oral component in thesis examination in

of the oral component of examination is particularly

Australian universities. Such considerations address issues

important given that Australia is one of very few countries

arising from the literature that outline the educational

that currently does not have some form of final oral

positives and negatives of some form of oral component

assessment as a standard part of the doctoral examination

and build upon earlier and more modest suggestions by

process other than in Practice Doctorates, those involving

Kiley (2009). On consideration of the various issues it may

the visual and performing arts, or where an examiner

well be that a suitable argument could be put forward

specifically requests an oral. This can be explained

to convince those countries that currently have an oral

historically by Australia’s geographic location, as can the

that it could be discontinued or substantially revised.

historical situation for New Zealand (NZ). Partly because

Alternatively, institutions in Australia that do not currently

of this isolation, a particularly robust system of using

have an oral assessment may choose to introduce such

external examiners and written reports developed for

a practice. These decisions would need to be based on

both countries, one that allowed for the involvement of

sound educational and ethical considerations, with some

international experts without the need for assembling

of those outlined below.

in one place, in the way that the oral component has traditionally required. As time went on and different global circumstances evolved processes have changed. For example, in NZ most

Therefore, this paper asks what key issues need to be addressed when making a decision as to whether an oral component should be introduced as standard practice in Australian doctoral examination?

of the universities that had traditionally not had an oral component have recently introduced this to the overall

Setting the scene in Australia

examination process. ‘Should Australia also introduce an oral component?’ has therefore become a prominent

With approximately 8,000 Higher Degree by Research

question for researchers and administrators in the area

graduates per annum (McGagh, 2016 p. 2), in broad

of higher degrees by research. In 2007, there was a

terms, keeping in mind that each institution has its own

move by the Group of Eight (eight of Australia’s most

idiosyncrasies, it has been usual for the PhD, rather than

research-intensive universities graduating a substantial

the Practice Doctorate, in Australia to have the written

percentage of the country’s PhD candidates) to consider

thesis as the only item assessed in the final examination.

introducing some form of oral examination (Lane, 2007).

Generally, the thesis is sent out to a number of experts

26

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in the field whose reports are then collated and a final

deemed to have passed. Usually, the candidate is then

recommendation made by the university concerned. It

told the names of those examiners who have agreed to

is not uncommon for oral components to be included

their names being divulged. Many institutions allow the

at various stages of the candidature, for example, at

examiners to choose to remain anonymous.

confirmation of candidature or a mid-term review, however, an oral component is rare in the final examination. Taking the

into

account

Australian

Graduate

Research Principles,

Good

Practice

developed

by

the Australian Council of Graduate Research (ACGR, 2016), and referred to by

Despite the lack of an oral component as standard practice in most PhD examinations in Australia, it is important to note that it

...the oral component ‘rarely, if ever, rendered [a] substantially different result from the one reflecting the individual judgements already made, and/or agreed on by the examiner panel beforehand’

most universities, in terms of

is common for Australian universities to allow the thesis examiners to request an oral but most Deans of Graduate Research report that such requests are very rare.

the formal examination, the

In light of the above, can

candidate might (or might not) be given some opportunity

it be argued there is a more general need for an oral

to discuss potential examiners some time prior to

component in connection with the qualification? The

submission. However, in many cases, the candidate will

Australian Qualifications Framework Council (2013, p. 64)

not be told the final choice of examiners. Furthermore,

suggests that one of the many qualities, doctoral graduates

in most instances, examiners do not know the names of

should have is:

the other examiners. Most universities have clear policies on conflict of interest between examiners, candidates and supervisors and strive to ensure that confidentiality is maintained throughout the examination process. Recognising the variations across institutions, the examiners, usually with no interaction with one another

‘Communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions, [and] communication skills to present cogently a complex investigation of originality or original research for external examination against international standards and to communicate results to peers and the community.’

or the supervisory team or the candidate, independently return their reports with their recommendations to

Hence a logical case can be made that in alignment

the university (Lovat et al., 2015). The options for

with this framework an oral component would support

recommendation vary across universities but a pattern

the assessment of the communication component. On

of ‘accept as is’, ‘accept with revisions’, ‘revise and

the other hand, analysis of data from England and New

resubmit for re-examination’, or ‘fail’ would be typical.

Zealand suggests that the oral component ‘rarely, if ever,

On receipt of the reports by the university, various

rendered [a] substantially different result from the one

processes are put in place whereby the reports and

reflecting the individual judgements already made, and/

their recommendations are discussed to determine a

or agreed on by the examiner panel beforehand’ (Lovat et

consolidated report. In many cases, the supervisor will

al. 2015, p. 16).

be given the opportunity to comment on the reports

From the above it is clear that there are a number of

but without necessarily playing a part in the final

outstanding issues related to the oral component and

determination. Except in the case of ‘fail’, it is common

they comprise the focus of this paper. In particular, we

practice in many universities that an overview of the

examine some of the underlying intentions of the oral

reports will be forwarded to the candidate who, if

exam in England and NZ, given the considerable similarity

changes are required, undertakes to make these changes

to the overall Australian system, through considering

under the guidance of the supervisor and/or academic

some of the espoused benefits of an oral component and

unit. If re-examination is required, the revised thesis is

various practices engaged in during an oral exam. The

generally re-submitted to the original examiners where

focus on the possible introduction of an oral component

possible and the process begins again. In the case of

in Australia particularly addresses the ACOLA review of

revisions, the supervisor (and perhaps Head of School or

Higher Degree by Research Training in Australia (McGagh,

delegate) sign off on the revisions. Once all the required

2016) where the concern was expressed that the

changes are complete and the final version of the thesis

Australian system examines the research but questions

submitted to the university library, the candidate will be

whether the researcher is also examined.

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An oral component in PhD examination in Australia Margaret Kiley et al.

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The oral exam aka the Viva (voce)

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thesis, with the oral component reinforcing this decision rather than altering it. Examples of variation may exist

Within the international literature, one finds a plethora

but the comparative study results suggest they are rare.

of practices related to the oral component of doctoral

So what then is the point of spending money and time on

examination. In parts of Europe and Scandinavia,these take

something that might not necessarily impact substantially

the form of a ‘public defence’, sometimes as a very public

on the final result?

and arguably ritualistic event once the final determination has been made. In this paper, we restrict our attention to

Data sources

what we describe as the Viva voce (or simply the Viva), an integrated part of the examination process normally

The data sources for this paper, in addition to the

restricted to the candidate and the examination panel, a

published literature, came from work undertaken by The

process most germane to the tradition in England (see for

Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact

example B Carter & Whittaker, 2009; Morley, Leonard, &

(SORTI). The Centre undertook a program of research,

David, 2003; Smith, 2014; Tinkler & Jackson, 2000, 2004;

the intention of which was to: ‘try and understand better

Trafford, 2003). Moreover, with the introduction in NZ of

the nature and form that doctoral examination takes,

an oral component, there is also some research emerging

including aspects that are easily measurable and those

from that country (S. Carter, 2008; Kelly, 2010).

that are not…., including what mindset and intentions

While a range of views has been put forward regarding

examiners appear to take into the process’ (Lovat et al.,

the purposes of the Viva in the UK, paraphrasing Tinkler

2015, p. 6). The three studies in the program followed

& Jackson (2004), in Chapter 2 (p. 16) of their book, they

the same methodology, both quantitative and qualitative,

suggest, in order of frequency, that the oral component:

allowing comparisons to be made between countries

• ‘Examiners to check the candidate’s understanding and ability…;

and between models of doctoral examination, that is, those with an oral component and those without. The

• Clarifies weak areas…;

first two studies focussed on Australia while the third

• Serves as a means of authentication…;

collected reports from two countries with a comparable

• Allows examiners to further extend the candidate

examination system to Australia but with the addition of

and their research…;

an oral – New Zealand and England. This latter study also

• Provides an opportunity for the candidate to defend the thesis…;

incorporated interviews with 82 experienced examiners from Australia, New Zealand and England.

• Causes the PhD to be located within a broader context…;

In all cases, examiner reports were de-identified, converted to a standardised text format in terms of page

• Tests the candidate’s oral skills…;

and line length (text units) and coded in QSR N6 qualitative

• Allows for a final decision to be made on borderline

software following an established coding framework. The

cases…;

standardised format allowed translation of the coding into

• Acts as a ‘rite of passage’/ritual’.

IMB SPSS for quantitative analysis based on text units. (For

These various purposes address a mix of areas, for

example,

organisational

and

ethical

a full description of the methodology see Holbrook &

matters

Bourke, 2004; Bourke, Hattie & Anderson, 2004). In the case

(authentication), educational issues (broad context

of the third study involving the Viva, the coding framework

and defending thesis), administrative considerations

was extended to capture all reference to the Viva and a

(decision-making and finalisation), and assessment (check

new framework established to code the de-identified and

understanding, clarification and skills).

transcribed interviews. Additionally, in the third study, a

Of interest, work by Green and Powell (2005) focuses

sub-set of reports was analysed, using a linguistic analysis

particularly on the Viva as a rite of passage rather than a

approach ‘to better understand the evaluative language

form of examination, particularly as they note from Tinkler

used in the reports’ (Starfield et al., 2015 p. 130).

and Jackson (2004 p. 29) that 32 per cent of UK candidates

With respect to the interviews (often undertaken by

were informed of the outcome of the assessment process

Skype or phone) those with New Zealand examiners

before going into the Viva. This is in line with a section of

revealed that most had examined theses both with and

the research reported above in Lovat et al (2015). In other

without an oral component. While some NZ universities

words, it seems that the decisions about the quality of

have had an oral component for a number of years it

the work are made during the examination of the written

is only relatively recently that an oral component has

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become common practice across the country. However,

adequately describes this assessment event? Should it

of the Australian examiners interviewed some had taken

be termed ‘examination’, with an appropriate adjective

part in systems with an oral component but most had not

(e.g. ‘oral examination’) in order to distinguish it from

taken part directly in the oral examination process.

the examination of the written thesis? Or, is it even an

When Lovat et al. (2015) reported on the interviews, they

commented

‘examination’, given the findings reported earlier by Lovat

that, unsurprisingly, interviewees

et al. (2015) and particularly in light of the work by Clarke

were more supportive of the system which they knew

(2013 p. 250) where she suggests that, at the doctoral level:

best. So, English examiners generally reported positively

• ‘each assessment is of a single candidate, rather

on the Viva, NZ examiners, who were experiencing the

than a cohort of students, and by definition the

introduction of an oral, were generally in favour of the

candidate will have produced a unique output;

new system, and Australian examiners who had not

• the examiners are different; they have been chosen

engaged in an oral exam could not quite see its value.

explicitly for their expertise in the candidate’s

However, those examiners in Australia who had engaged

research areas....

in oral components, perhaps as candidates or academics

• each subject or field has particular expectations of

in overseas universities: ‘Saw it as beneficial in terms of

what a successful doctoral graduate should have

greater closure but did not believe it made any tangible difference to the judgement that individual examiners brought to the event’ (Lovat et al., 2015 p. 19).The findings from the studies are outlined, plus the literature provides

achieved... • each university has its own unique regulations and guidance... • each candidate has his/her own strengths and weaknesses...’

the basis for the following.

These points suggest that at the doctoral level what we

Considerations related to revising or introducing an oral component into the doctoral examination process

consider examination is somewhat different from what we understand examination to be at the coursework level. A second consideration relates to candidate preparation for the oral. For example, in most of the UK literature related

In light of the literature related to procedures in the oral

to thesis examination and research supervision, there is

component, we outline in the following sections in three

extensive discussion of opportunities for the candidate to

main categories, issues that an institution might need to

practise for the Viva situation. Examples include: ‘Practice

consider if revising their oral examination or considering

runs’ organised by supervisors; and, opportunities for

the introduction of an oral component to the thesis

candidates to give one another mock or simulated Vivas

examination process. These categories are considerations

(e.g. via video and examples on You Tube). These learning

relevant to: preparation for examination; the actual

opportunities are additional to regular seminars in the

process of the oral component; and, the completion of

department, as well as presentations at national and

the oral component.

international conferences (Sharmini, Spronken-Smith, Golding, & Harland, 2014). Wellington (2010) suggests

Considerations relevant to preparation for examination

regarding preparing candidates one needs to consider: ‘the importance of the process to students as well as the

A substantial number of considerations highlighted in the

outcome; their need and desire for formative feedback and

literature relate to preparation for the oral component,

evaluation; and the affective aspects of the event’ [italics in

with the main ones being: nomenclature; candidate

original] (p. 83). This, he suggests is particularly important

preparation; sequence; access to examiner comments; who

when one appreciates that candidate misunderstanding

attends/audience; participant roles; costs; organisation

and/or lack of knowledge of the purpose, processes and

and reporting.

policies relating to the Viva can contribute to the levels

Nomenclature is a seemingly simple issue of an oral component, and yet, as the following indicates, a number

of anxiety often reported in the literature (for example Bassnett, 2014; Crossouard, 2011).

of issues need to be addressed. Is it a defence in the sense

A third consideration relates to the sequencing of the

of the European model (Hartley, 2000) or similar to the

oral component. A number of universities in Australia

US model (Lovitts, 2007)? Is it a Viva voce, the term used

have a pre-submission seminar. In most cases these

in the UK (Wellington, 2013), the oral as often used in

seminars are not seen as part of the final examination

NZ (S. Carter, 2008) or is there another term that more

process, but, could they be? Would it be possible to use

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such a process more formally to address aspects of skills

organised for candidate and examiners, rooms booked and

not accessed through examination of the written thesis

so on, and then one of the reports does not arrive, what

only? What would it take to develop that into part of the

happens? Alternatively, it might be argued that examiners

thesis examination process?

could be more likely to return reports on time if they are

On the other hand, where the oral takes place after

aware of such related issues.

the examination of the written thesis, there is a question

Another consideration related to an oral component

as to whether the oral component proceeds even when

concerns the audience. Wellington (2010 p. 77) found

it is clear from the reports on the written thesis that

from his focus groups with candidates in the UK regarding

the examiners are suggesting a revise and resubmit, or

the Viva that: ‘By far the largest areas of doubt or even

possible fail. For example, according to comments from

ignorance [of candidates] relates to rules and regulations

NZ colleagues, if the initial reports suggest a revise and

for the conduct of the viva’ along with duration and who

resubmit, then the candidate is invited to undertake the

attended the Viva and their role. As suggested above, the

changes recommended by the examiners, resubmit and

European public defence has a rich history of public

then proceed to the oral component. The decision to

engagement, whereas the UK Viva is more of a private

proceed, regardless of the result, implies three things. First

affair with the candidate, internal and external examiners

is that the candidate might perform so well in the oral that

and, when invited by the candidate, the supervisor. In

they will reverse the earlier decision of the examiners.

some cases, universities in the UK are now including a

The second suggests that the oral is considered integral to

chairperson but where this is not the case the internal

assisting the candidate in making the required revisions,

examiner takes on the role of chairing the event. The NZ

with the third being that institutions are simply following

model most frequently includes the candidate, at least one

through on a mandatory process. Moreover, postponing

examiner, a neutral chairperson, and the main supervisor.

the oral until after revisions and resubmission tends to

The role of the supervisor in the oral component

suggest that the institution considers the oral component

is one of the most debated issues, and the focus is

as an additional process to the original examination.

primarily on the nature of their contribution and impact

Linked with the decision to proceed, or not, is whether

on proceedings. While there is considerable variation in

the candidate has access to examiners’ comments on the

whether a member of the supervisory team is required to

written thesis prior to the oral component. In England, it

attend, or invited to attend with the candidate’s agreement,

appears that, in the majority of cases, the candidate does

where they do attend, the supervisor is usually there as an

not see the reports prior to the Viva, whereas, in NZ, the

observer but do they, should they, have other roles?

opposite is generally the case. Colleagues report that in

In a similar vein what is the relevance and impact of

some cases the reports were given to the candidate up

others who might be included, particularly related to

to ten days in advance of the oral in order to allow them

cultural diversity and health? In some situations, for

to prepare. Again, there are implications related to these

example in various NZ universities, the candidate can

practices. It might be argued that where the candidate

invite a friend to attend, but this is as an observer only. An

does not know the issues to be raised from examination

example, which might illuminate this issue, comes from

of the written work, the institution considers it more of

Chen (2012) where she describes the process in one

an examination whereas, with an opportunity to prepare,

Canadian university which is a semi-public event wherein

it might be seen as more of a rebuttal, a practice that is

the candidate can invite a small number of colleagues,

in keeping with academic practice when applying for

family and friends to attend as observers, with a total

research grants and similar competitive processes.

number of participants being about 10-12 persons. In some

Of course, whether the candidates are able to see the

situations, the decision regarding participation is critical

reports on the written thesis prior to the oral component

in terms of addressing student diversity, for example,

assumes that the reports have been received, and in a

those requiring particular cultural considerations and/or

timely manner. While anecdotes abound of the examiner

various health issues.

reading the thesis ‘on the train’ to attend the Viva, Carter

Decisions regarding the participants in the oral

and Whittaker (2009 p. 174) surmise that:‘Reports may or

component highlight issues related to the purpose of this

may not be required to be submitted prior to the viva and

component of the doctoral examination. For example, in

may or may not be shared between the examiners.’

the European ‘public’ oral component, there has generally

There are also many organisational issues in relation to

been agreement that the thesis has passed prior to it;

the reports. For example, if a date is set for the oral, travel

this is quite a different process from the practice to be

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found in the UK model. This leads to the question: could

workload cost of the time involved for all participants and

the written thesis be passed but the candidate fail the

administrators along with the emotional cost, as outlined

oral component, not because it was determined that it

in much of the literature on the Viva.

was not the candidate’s own work, but due to lack of a candidate be required to re-sit the oral component

Considerations relevant to the process of conducting the oral component

only? This is where there is considerable discussion

A number of issues are deserving of consideration in

as to whether it is the thesis or candidate that is being

the conduct of the oral component, for example: Is

examined and extends to consideration of different, if

there a structure or agenda for the event and, if so, who

possibly overlapping, sets of criteria.

manages it? Does the candidate give a presentation at

communication skills or other? In other words, could

Another issue related to ‘who should be present?’

the commencement of the oral session? Is there an ideal

concerns whether there should be an internal examiner

length of the oral component? Can various participants

involved, or only external examiners. The Australian

be involved through Skype/teleconferencing? Does the

Qualifications Framework Council (2013) requires that, at

questioning cover the thesis topic only or range more

the PhD level, each thesis be examined by at least two

broadly across related disciplinary areas? Finally, what

examiners external to the institution and who have an

does it mean for all concerned when the examiners and

international reputation in the relevant field.

At the

same time, this requirement allows for a third examiner who could be internal to the university in question. Hence lingering questions include: What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an internal examiner? If there is an internal examiner, what

candidate come face-to-face?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an internal examiner? If there is an internal examiner, what is their role? For example, in many English universities the internal examiner chairs the oral examination process, whereas in some NZ universities the internal examiner ensures that all the required changes are suitably addressed.

is their role? For example,

The literature shows that it is not uncommon for the examiners to meet together prior to the oral session in order to determine an agenda or order of questions that lead from the simple, introductory style of question to

more

complex

levels

of analysis and synthesis (see for example Carter, S.,

in many English universities

2008; Smith, 2014; Trafford

the internal examiner chairs the oral examination

2003). This tends to lead to a more coherent and unified

process, whereas in some NZ universities the internal

session. Another form of structure in the pre-Viva meeting

examiner ensures that all the required changes are

reported by Trafford (2003, p. 115) is where ‘examiners

suitably addressed. In other cases the internal is seen as

quickly establish their respective ‘seniority’ and extent

someone who can explain the institutional circumstances,

of examining experience, while clarifying ‘content’ or

anomalies and policies.

‘methodological’ roles’. Or, as Carter & Whittaker (2009, p.

Related to the involvement of an internal examiner, the

173) suggest: ‘the pre-viva meeting can be an interesting

NZ system faced a particular issue whereby there was

contest in which examiners can seemingly examine each

considerable pressure to maintain the international nature

other.’ Trafford (2003), from his research on over 25 Vivas

of the doctoral examination process and yet introduce a

in the UK, classified the questions into different phases of

practical and financially viable oral system. Therefore,

the oral with questions that:

as a minimum the written thesis is generally sent to an

• address issues such as resolving research problems,

examiner at one of the other NZ (or if need be Australian) institutions, as well as to an international examiner. For the oral component, it is often the NZ examiner who attends the oral, not the international examiner, although with technology it is not uncommon for the international examiner to be involved by Skype or similar.

content, and structure; • concern the research question, choice of topic, location of study; • allow the candidate to discuss the implications, awareness of, the wider literature; and, • defend ‘doctorateness’.

In addressing the various issues above one is confronted

At the other end of the spectrum, examples were

by the considerations of the cost involved: cost for

found of beginning with Examiner 1 who worked their

examiners and candidates to attend, cost of organising, the

way through the thesis, asking questions and airing

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concerns, and then handing over to Examiner 2 for the

second issue concerns the reliability of the technology

same process. Having a neutral chairperson who has had

and a third, and more major consideration, concerns ‘who

some training, as in some NZ universities, can ensure

is the person at a distance’? Could it be that the candidate

that a coherent agenda is developed. In NZ, in many

has returned home or moved to undertake work and so

cases, the chairperson is often from a different discipline

is using Skype or equivalent to respond to examiners

from that of the candidate and is quite explicitly not one

who are located at the other end of the connection in the

of the examiners. While in the UK it is still not common

university where they undertook their degree? Or, might

to have a neutral chair, there is research to suggest that

be it best practice to ensure that the candidate is present

this situation, along with the private nature of the Viva,

with the chairperson, at least, even if the other examiners

could lead to the unprofessional behaviour by some

and supervisors are the ones who are connecting from

examiners. For example, Pearce (2005) provides four

outside the university through technology?

scenarios based on her research and experience. These

When the process of examination involves the written

are: the nitpicker; the jealous colleague; foul play; and,

thesis only, the examiners are confined to the content of

the good Viva where: ‘a good viva is not necessarily an

that document. If there is an oral component, however, a

“easy” one’ (p. 9). In her ‘good viva’ scenario Pearce

relevant issue is whether the examiners’ questioning can

(2005, p. 9) reports that:

range across related topics beyond those of the written

Both examiners are so experienced and successful that they do not need to ‘prove’ themselves (either to the candidate or to each other) and the candidate is himself mature enough to accept that criticism of part of his thesis is not a criticism of the whole thesis (Emphasis in original).

thesis in order to assess the candidate’s appreciation of the field more generally. A further issue for consideration concerns the personality of the examiners. While in the Australian system the examiners do not meet with the candidate, or with one another, and where examiners can request that

Wallace (2003, p. 106) presents a particularly negative

their names not be divulged to the candidate, might there

picture when reporting on candidates’ experiences

be different expectations of behaviour if the examiner is

of the Viva, where she categorises experiences in the

face to face (even via Skype), rather than participating

following way:

only as the author of a written report? How examiners

An ordeal (‘torture’); a humiliation (‘they burst into howls of laughter’); a trial (‘court martial’); a process intended to break her (‘army training’) ...an inquisition or interrogation; a means of bringing the candidate’s thinking into conformity with that of the examiner.

differ in behaviours between an oral and a purely written scenario is unknown.

Considerations relevant to the actions following the oral examination

The length of the oral is often another issue for

Two issues that would benefit from consideration

discussion, with the general view being that it should be

regarding the conclusion and follow-up to the oral

‘as long as is needed’. For example, in the UK, Gibney

examination are: how, and with whom, is the final decision

(2013) reported in the Times Higher Education that: ‘the

reached and, who should write the final report?

viva…can last anything from 90 minutes to a gruelling five

From the literature, the candidate and the supervisor (if

hours.’ Given an already over-burdened academic regime,

present) are usually asked to leave the room once they have

the thought of a Viva routinely going for five hours might

addressed the agreed questions. In some cases, however,

be considered to be administratively unviable regardless

the supervisor can be invited to remain in the room while

of any specific views on the value of such an experience

the examiners deliberate. Whatever the process, the role

for the candidate and the examiners.

of the supervisor would need to be thought through

Particularly in Australia, given geographic distance from

clearly. Once an agreement has been reached, usually the

much of the locus of Western scholarship, the role that

candidate, with the supervisor, is invited to return, after

technology might play is an important issue. While many

which the examiners report the recommendation that

see the possibilities of using Skype or equivalent in order

they are going to make to the university and, where it is

to enable the overseas examiner to participate, there are a

a positive outcome, generally congratulate and share in

number of issues to be considered. One is the simple issue

initial celebrations.

of time differences, particularly for Australian candidates

It is clear from the literature that in the UK and NZ

where an examiner is in Europe, the UK or North America

the final report from the oral examination is forwarded to

with time differences of anything up to 12 hours. A

the relevant institutional office for various administrative

32

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and educational purposes. Questions arise concerning the

on the doctoral examination process for many years through

actual report. For example, should it be: a combination of a

SORTI.

final summative report written by the chair and signed off by the panel, with the initial individual reports appended?

Hedy Fairbairn is a member of SORTI and has been the

Or, should the report be comprised of edited comments

Project and Data Manager on four ARC Discovery Projects

from the reports of the written thesis integrated into the

looking at doctoral examination, both nationally and

report arising from the oral? Or, might there be other

internationally.

alternatives that meet the needs of candidates, examiners and the institution and would these practices vary if the

Sue Starfield is a Professor in the School of Education and

candidate has seen the reports on the written thesis prior

Director of the Learning Centre at UNSW Sydney, Australia.

to the oral component and has had the opportunity to Brian Paltridge is Professor of TESOL at the University of

respond, as is generally the case in NZ?

Sydney, Australia and author of The Discourse of Peer Review

Conclusion

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

This paper has built on earlier research by the author team

References

(Lovat et al 2015) and literature that has identified a range of issues, inconsistencies and problems with doctoral examination processes within and between systems in Australia, England and New Zealand. Among some of the foci of more recent research arose the issue of the need for, or desirability of, an oral component to examination, a practice that is common in the UK, a growing trend in New Zealand but almost entirely absent from the Australian system. The spectrum of considerations span the preparation for, conduct, and aftermath, of the oral component in thesis examination and address such issues as nomenclature, student preparation, sequence, access to examiner comments, who attends, participant roles, costs, organisation and reporting. By addressing these issues from a sound, educational research perspective, we might be able to come up with some way of answering Gibney’s (2013) query in her article Are PhD vivas still fit for purpose? where she asks: ‘So what could be done to improve the process?’ Margaret Kiley has worked in the areas of doctoral education for many years and is an adjunct at the Australian National University and holds a conjoint position at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

ACGR (2016). Australian Graduate Research Good Practice Principles, http:// www.ddogs.edu.au/resources Australian Qualifications Framework Council. (2013). Australian Qualifications Framework. Retrieved from Adelaide, South Australia: Bassnett, S. (2014). Cavalier attitudes lead to uncivil practices in the conduct of vivas. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www. timeshighereducation.com/comment/opinion/cavalier-attitudes-lead-to-uncivilpractices-in-vivas/2013263.article Bourke, S., Hattie, J., & Anderson, L. (2004). Predicting examiner recommendations on Ph.D. theses. International Journal of Educational Research, 41(2), 178-194. Carter, B., & Whittaker, K. (2009). Examining the British PhD Viva: Opening new doors or scarring for life? Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 32(1-2), 169-178. Carter, S. (2008). Examining the doctoral thesis: A discussion. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45(4), 365-374. Chen, S. (2012). Making sesne of the public PhD dissertation defense: A qualitative multi-case study of Education students’ experiences. (PhD), McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Clarke, G. (2013). Developments in doctoral assessment in the UK. In M. Kompf & P. Denicolo (Eds.), Critical issues in higher education (pp. 23-35): Sense. Crossouard, B. (2011). The doctoral viva voce as a cultural practice: the gendered production of academic subjects. Gender and Education, 23(3), 313-329. Fraser, G., & Rowarth, J. (2007). Preparing candidates for oral examination. In C. Denholm & T. Evans (Eds.), Supervising doctorates downunder (pp. 243250). Melbourne: ACER. Gibney, E. (2013). Are PhD vivas still fit for purpose? Times Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/are-phd-vivasstill-fit-for-purpose/2003341.article

Contact: Margaret.kiley@anu.edu.au Professor Allyson Holbrook is Director of the centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact (SORTI), a current member of the ARC College of Experts and recipient of

Golding, C., Sharmini, S., & Lazorovitch, A. (2014). What examiners do: What thesis students should know. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(5), 563-576. Gould, J. (2016). Future of the thesis. Nature, 535, 26-28.

several grants investigating doctoral education. Terence Lovat is Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and Honorary Research Fellow at the

Green, H., & Powell, S. (2005). Doctoral study in contemporary higher education (11-12). Berks: SRHE & OUP. Hartley, J. (2000). Nineteen ways to have a viva: Appendix 2. PsyPag Quarterly Newsletter, 35(June), 22-28.

University of Oxford, UK and has been involved in research vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

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Holbrook, A., & Bourke, S. (2004). An investigation of PhD examination outcomes in Australia using a mixed method approach. Australian Journal of Educational and Development Psychology, 4, 153-169.

Prins, F., de Kleijn, R., & van Tartwijk, J. (2015). Students’ use of a rubric for research theses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-23. doi:10.1080/02602938.2015

Jackson, C., & Tinkler, P. (2001). Back to Basics: A consideration of the purposes of the PhD viva. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 26(4), 355-366.

Sharmini, S., Spronken-Smith, R., Golding, C., & Harland, T. (2014). Assessing the doctoral thesis when it includes published work. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. doi:10.1080/02602938.2014.888535

Kelly, F. (2010). Research Note Reflecting on the Purpose of the PhD Oral Examination. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 45(1), 77-83.

Smith, P. (2014). The PhD Viva: How to prepare for your oral examination. Hamps: Palgrave MacMillan.

Kiley, M. (2009). Rethinking the Australia doctoral examination process. Australian Universities’ Review, 51(2), 32-41.

Starfield, S., Paltridge, B., McMurtrie, R., Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Fairbairn, H., . . . Lovat, T. (2015). Understanding the language of evaluation in examiners’ reports on doctoral theses. Linguistics and Education, 130-144.

Lane, B. (2007, August 29, 2007). Pressure on PhDs to meet grade. The Australian. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ story0,25197,22324208-12332,00.html Lovat, T., Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Fairbairn, H., Kiley, M., Paltridge, B., & Starfield, S. (2015). Examining Doctoral Examination and the Question of the Viva. Higher Education Review, 47(3), 5-23. Lovitts, B. (2007). Making the implicit explicit: Creating performance expectations for the dissertation. Sterling, Va: Stylus. McGagh, J., Marsh, H., Western, M., Thomas, P., Hastings, A., Mihailova, M., & Wenham, M. (2016). Review of Australia’s Research Training System. Report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies. Retrieved from http://www. acola.org.au./ http://acola.org.au/index.php/projects/securing-australia-sfuture/saf13-rts-review Morley, L., Leonard, D., & David, M. (2003). Quality and equality in British PhD assessment. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 64-72. Mullins, G., & Kiley, M. (2002). ‘It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize’: How experienced examiners assess research theses. Studies in Higher Education, 27(4), 369-386. Pearce, L. (2005). How to examine a thesis. London: Society of Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Tinkler, P., & Jackson, C. (2000). Examining the Doctorate: institutional policy and the PhD examination process in Britain. Studies in Higher Education, 25(2), 167-180. Tinkler, P., & Jackson, C. (2004). The Doctoral Examination Process: A handbook for students, examiners and supervisors. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. Trafford, V. (2003). Questions in doctoral vivas: Views from the inside. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 114-122. Wallace, S. (2003). Figuratively speaking: Six accounts of the PhD viva. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 100-108. Wellington, J. (2010). Supporting students’ preparation for the viva: their pre-conceptions and implications for practice. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(1), 71-84. Wellington, J. (2013). Searching for ‘doctorateness’. Studies in Higher Education, 38(10), 1490-1503. doi:10.1080.03075079.2011.634901 Wisker, G. (2012). The good supervisor: Supervising postgraduate and undergraduate research for doctoral theses and dissertations (2nd ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Powell, S., & Green, H. (2003). Research degree examining: Quality issues of principle and practice. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 55-63.

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Alternative pathways into university Are tertiary preparation programs a viable option? Jenny Chesters University of Melbourne

Kerry Rutter & Karen Nelson University of the Sunshine Coast

Louise Watson University of Canberra

During the past three decades, the student populations of Australian universities have become more heterogeneous as the higher education sector expanded and new alternative entry pathways were established. Broadening access to university study and, therefore, to professional and semi-professional occupations, provides avenues for social mobility. In this paper, we examine whether students entering university via alternative entry pathways, and in particular, on-campus tertiary preparation programs, have similar levels of achievement and attainment as students who entered via the more traditional pathway after completing Year 12. Our analysis is conducted on data from one regional university and our results show that students who were not eligible to enrol on the basis of their secondary school results were no more likely than traditional students to discontinue their studies. Keywords: higher education; alternative entry; retention

In the latter part of the twentieth century, Australia, like

additional support to these non-traditional students

many other nations, transitioned into a post-industrial

(Pitman, 2017; Thomas, 2014). The expansion of higher

economy, shedding jobs in manufacturing and creating

education sectors in Australia and other Anglophone

jobs in the services sectors, fuelling demand for a more

countries such as the UK and the US is associated with

educated population with higher levels of skills and the

more heterogeneous student populations in terms of

capacity for lifelong learning (Gale & Tranter, 2011; Ryan

family background, previous level of education, life stage

& Watson, 2003). To meet rising demand for university

and motivation (Gale & Parker, 2014; Schuetze & Slowey,

degrees, the Australian Government expanded the higher

2002). However, as Walker, Matthew and Black (2014)

education sector by increasing the number of universities

note, social background is not the only barrier to the

and introducing alternative entry pathways. In 2010,

successful completion of university study with students

the government introduced equity targets to encourage

from non-traditional backgrounds requiring additional

universities to provide more opportunities for students

support throughout their studies to overcome feelings of

from a wider segment of the population and to provide

alienation (see also Thomas, 2014). To assist in preparing

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Alternative pathways into university Jenny Chesters et al.

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a more diverse student population for the rigours of

and 2015, the percentage of students from low SES families

academic life, universities have developed enabling

increased from 16 to 18 per cent (DET, 2016; Edwards

programs to upskill students who did not complete

& McMillan, 2015). Furthermore, several researchers

secondary school or who completed secondary school

provide evidence that although the expansion of the

without the required level of achievement.

higher education sector led to an increase in the number

In this paper, we analyse administrative data provided

of students from low SES families attending university,

by a regional university in Australia to examine the

there is also evidence of increased stratification within

association between pathway into university and

the sector (Gale & Tranter, 2011). Thus, expansion of

achievement and retention. After providing an overview

the higher education sector may not have achieved an

of the context and the results of previous research, we

important social justice goal of ensuring that individuals

introduce the data and then present and discuss the

from disadvantaged families have access to the same

results of our analysis.

opportunities as their peers from more advantaged families (Pitman, 2017).

Higher education in Australia

Since 1990, domestic students have been required to make a contribution to the cost of their tuition through an

The Australian higher education sector expanded after

income-contingent loan scheme. In the original scheme (the

1989 when colleges of advanced education and institutes

Higher Education Contribution Scheme), all students made

of technology were ‘re-invented’ as

new universities,

an equal contribution regardless of their degree program.

through rebranding or mergers with other colleges,

However, after several changes, contributions now differ

institutes or universities (Moodie & Wheelahan, 2009).

between discipline groups. Currently, Higher Education

Since then, the Australian Government has implemented

Loan Program (HELP) loans are interest-free (although the

several policies aimed at widening participation. In 2010,

outstanding balance is adjusted to account for inflation

the government uncapped quotas for Commonwealth

on an annual basis) and are repaid via the taxation system

supported students, which led to a dramatic increase in

once the student’s income reaches a designated threshold.

commencing-student numbers as universities scrambled

In addition, to ensure that students from low SES families

to maintain market share, and introduced a Higher

are not deterred from undertaking university study for

Education Participation Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

financial reasons, students from low-income families and

which provided specifically targeted funding to promote

independent students with low incomes have access to a

the participation of under-represented groups (Devlin,

means-tested scheme of income support.

2013; Hodges et al., 2013; Pitman, 2017; Thomas, 2014).

Financial constraints are just one of the many

Consequently, many students with no or low ATARs

interrelated factors that deter young people from low SES

(Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) enrolled in university

families from attending university (Chambers & Deller,

degree programs. ATARs rank students relative to their

2011). Young people from low SES families are more

peers and range from 30 to 100. They have a similar role

likely than those from high SES families to have parents

to A levels in the UK and the SAT in the US (Goggin et

who have no experience of the higher education sector,

al., 2016). Pitman, Koshy and Phillimore (2015) found that

thus they have access to lower levels of relevant cultural

the percentage of students entering via alternative entry

and social capital (Gale & Tranter, 2011). This ‘social class

pathways, that is, not on the basis of their ATAR, increased

gradient’ in access to information, as well as financial

from 37 to 46 per cent between 2008 and 2011.

resources, structures access to higher education and the

Despite the number of domestic undergraduate

ability of students to navigate the complexities inherent in

students increasing from almost 280,000 to almost

higher education such as selecting universities, selecting

745,000 between 1988 and 2015 (DETYA, 2001; DET,

degree programs, selecting subjects within and across

2016), students from the designated equity groups, that

degree programs, and mapping out achievable goals

is, students from low socio-economic status (SES) families,

(Christie et al., 2004).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students

The under-representation of students from low SES

from non-English speaking backgrounds, students with

families is also a feature of higher education systems in

disabilities, and students from rural/remote regions,

other nations (Forsyth & Furlong, 2003; Harrison & Hatt,

continue to be under-represented in the higher education

2011; Ishitani, 2006; Rowan-Kenyon, 2007; Rowan-Kenyon

sector (DET, 2016; Edwards & McMillan, 2015; Ellis, 2013;

et al., 2008; Schuetze & Slowey, 2002; Thiele et al., 2017;

Gale & Tranter, 2011; Goggin et al., 2016). Between 2009

Walker et al., 2004). For example, Schuetze and Slowey

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Alternative pathways into university Jenny Chesters et al.

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(2002) examined higher education in 10 countries,

to make any contribution to the cost of tuition, although

finding that although the higher education sectors

they may have to purchase course materials and/or pay

in some countries managed to attract relatively large

service fees (Hodges et al., 2013; Lomax-Smith et al.,

numbers of non-traditional students,

elite

research-

intensive universities were seemingly

less

accessible

than newer universities to non-traditional

students.

Forsyth and Furlong (2003) also found that UK students

2011). In 2015, there were

Enabling programs are particularly attractive to students from underrepresented groups, such as students from low SES families, first-in-family students, Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

from the most disadvantaged

22,495

across

programs (DET, 2016). Enabling

programs

particularly to

students as

are

attractive from

represented such

families who qualified for

students

Australia enrolled in enabling

undergroups,

students

from

low SES families, first-in-

university were the least likely to enrol at prestigious

family students, Indigenous students and students with

institutions or in prestigious courses at any institution.

disabilities (Hodges et al., 2013; Lomax-Smith et al., 2011). Enabling programs are designed to provide potential

Pathways into university

students with an opportunity to test whether they are capable of studying at university level and to discover

Although the traditional pathway into university in

whether or not they actually want to study at university

Australia is via the completion of secondary school with

(Goggin et al., 2016; Hodges et al., 2013; Thomas, 2014).

an ATAR, there are several alternative entry pathways

Students who graduate from an enabling program

including the completion of an enabling program, the

perform at similar levels as traditional students during

completion of a Vocational Educational and Training

their undergraduate degree programs (Chesters & Watson,

(VET) qualification, the completion of a lower level higher

2016;Thomas, 2014).

education qualification such as an Associate Degree, or on the basis of being over 21 years of age (Watson et al.,

Retention and attrition

2013). In 2010, around 10 per cent of all commencing students were admitted via the VET pathway, however,

As the expansion of alternative entry pathways into

the percentages differed markedly between universities,

university provides increased opportunities for the

ranging from less than five per cent in research-intensive

participation of under-represented groups in degree

universities to 26 per cent in some regional universities

programs, there is a strong policy interest in the retention

(Watson et al., 2013). According to Moodie and Wheelahan

and attrition rates of the students from these groups

(2009: 360), although VET is an ‘educational ladder of

(Coates, 2014). Retention and attrition rates are widely

opportunity’ allowing students to progress through the

accepted institutional measures of success in the higher

system one level at a time, the sector does not provide ‘a

education sector. Studies examining retention and attrition

social ladder of opportunity’ because the students most

rates of traditional students have found that students with

likely to transfer from VET into higher education were

relatively high ATARs were more likely to complete their

similar in terms of SES to students who entered the higher

degree programs (Edwards & McMillan, 2015; Lomax-

education sector via the traditional pathway.

Smith et al., 2011). Edwards and McMillan (2015) found

Enabling programs (also called transition, bridging,

that 60 per cent of students with an ATAR of less than

preparation, foundational or access programs) are an

60 completed their degree program whereas 90 per cent

alternative pathway into higher education that provides

of students with an ATAR of at least 90 completed their

commencing students with additional support, usually

degree program.

in the semester prior to the commencement of a degree

The non-completion of a degree program tends to

program. An enabling program is ‘a course of instruction

be the end result of complex and interrelated factors

provided to a person for the purpose of enabling the

at both the student and the institution levels (Christie

person to undertake a course leading to a higher education

et al., 2004). Student-level factors include: a mismatch

award’ (Australian Government, 2012: 26). All publicly-

between the student’s expectations and experiences; a

funded Australian universities offer enabling programs to

lack of preparation for higher education; financial and

students with low or no ATARs. Students are not required

personal circumstances; long hours of paid work; a lack

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of support and understanding from family and friends;

a sense of alienation and are, consequently, less likely to

poor mental and/or physical health; and a lack of time

complete their degree programs.

management skills. The institutional-level factors include:

In this paper, we use administrative data provided by

a lack of coordination between academic and student

a relatively new university located in a regional area, 90

support services; short contact hours that detract from

kilometres from a state capital city. In 2017, almost half of

feelings of belonging; discordance between lectures,

the 15,000 students were first in family students, almost

tutorials and assessment items; a lack of expenditure on

one-fifth were from low SES families and 23 per cent

student support services; and a lack of information about

were from regional/remote areas. Australian Bureau of

how and when to access support services (Bowles &

Statistics Census 2011 data show that in the local area,

Brindle, 2016; Bowles et al., 2014; Coates 2014; Christie

a lower percentage of the population had a university-

et al., 2004; McMillan, 2011; Mestan, 2016; O’Keefe et

level qualification (11.1 per cent compared to 14.3 per

al., 2011; Wilcoxson, 2010). O’Keefe, Laven and Burgess

cent for Australia overall); the percentage of employees

(2011) found that of the students who discontinued

engaged in professional jobs was lower than for Australia

their studies, 70 per cent subsequently enrolled at other

overall (18.9 per cent compared to 21.3 per cent); and

institutions. Wilcoxson (2010) identified differences

the percentage engaged as sales workers was larger than

between students who discontinued their studies in their

for Australia overall (11.7 per cent compared to 9.4 per

first year and those who discontinued in their second

cent). The part-time employment rate was higher than

year. The most common reasons for discontinuing in the

that of Australia (34.9 per cent compared to 28.7 per

first year were: being socially disengaged from university

cent) (ABS, 2017).

life; being poorly prepared; and lacking commitment to

Our examination of the association between alternative

a specific career. The most commonly cited reasons for

pathways into university and students’ subsequent

discontinuing study during the second year were: poor

achievement and retention is designed to answer our

health; financial difficulties; having a clearer idea of their

research question:Are graduates of the on-campus tertiary

career goals; and feelings of not belonging. Bowles and

preparation pathway program more, or less, likely than

Brindle (2017) regard having a sense of belonging, that is,

traditional students to discontinue their studies?

identifying with the academic culture of the institution and having a commitment to achieving educational goals,

Method

as integral to the completion of degree programs. Research has consistently identified an association

This study draws on de-identified unit-level administrative

between SES and both attendance at, and attrition from,

data for one cohort of domestic undergraduate students

universities. Students from low SES families are less likely

who commenced their first bachelor degree program

to attend university and those who do attend are less likely

in the first semester of 2010 (n=1771). Data for each

to graduate from university than their peers from high SES

semester, in each year from 2010 to 2014, were analysed.

families (Chesters & Watson, 2013; Edwards & McMillan,

The key variables of interest are the student’s pathway

2015). Edwards and McMillan (2015) found that of the

into university, academic achievement and progress. The

students who commenced study in 2005, 69 per cent of

majority of commencing students (60 per cent) entered

students from low SES families and 78 per cent of students

via the traditional pathway; 16 per cent were admitted on

from high SES families had completed their bachelor

the basis of a higher education sub-degree; 12 per cent

degree programs by 2013. Students from low SES families

were admitted on the basis of a VET award; 10 per cent

are more likely than their high SES peers to be the first

were admitted after the completion of the university’s

person in their family to attend university and thus may

own Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP) program; and

experience some difficulty adjusting to university culture

3 per cent were admitted on the basis of ‘other’ criteria

and expectations (Chambers & Deller, 2011; Christie et al.,

(that is, mature-age or professional experience).

2004; Devlin, 2013; Ellis, 2013). Devlin (2013: 941) argues

The control variables are: sex; age; Indigenous status;

that success at university depends upon an understanding

first-in-family status; study status; and field of study. There

of ‘implicit expectations’ that many students from low

are four age categories: <20 years; 20-29 years; 30-39 years;

SES families are unaware of and therefore unable to

and 40 years or older. The Indigenous status variable

respond to (see also McKay & Devlin, 2014). Walker,

distinguishes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous

Matthew and Black (2004) argue that students who lack

students.The first-in-family variable distinguishes between

the appropriate cultural capital are likely to experience

students with at least one university-educated parent and

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Table 1 Characteristics of commencing students Characteristic

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S

â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

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Student achievement

Total n= 1771

%

Student achievement levels, as measured by grade point average (GPA) for all units completed in 2010 and 2011,

Sex Male

E

differed slightly by pathway into university. Student

598

34

1,173

66

1,087

61

5 per cent) GPA scores by pathway into university are

20-29

428

24

shown in Table 2. Students who had completed a higher

30-39

133

8

education sub-bachelor degree qualification recorded the

40+

123

7

1,747

99

24

1

Female Age <20

Indigenous

average (mean), median (50th percentile), 5th percentile (the lowest 5 per cent) and 95th percentile (the highest

Indigenous status non-Indigenous

grades range from 0 to 7 with 4 signifying a pass. The

First in family status Not first in family

900

51

First in family

871

49

Full-time

1542

87

Part-time

229

13

Arts

296

17

Social Sciences

172

10

Education

245

14

Business

353

Science Health sciences

Study status 1st semester 2010

Field of Study 1st semester 2010

highest mean GPA of 4.7 whereas traditional students and TPP graduates recorded the lowest mean GPA of 4.2.

Table 2 Summary statistics of GPA by pathway into university and field of study Pathway

n=

Mean

Median Lowest 5%

Highest 5%

Year12

1034

4.2

4.4

1.5

6.1

TPP

166

4.2

4.5

0.9

6.3

other

44

4.4

4.6

1.5

6.7

VET

194

4.5

4.8

1.5

6.2

HE subdegree

277

4.7

5.0

1.5

6.4

Field of study Arts

288

4.1

4.5

1.2

6.2

20

Social sciences

166

4.3

4.8

1.2

6.2

132

7

Education

236

4.7

5.0

1.4

6.5

573

32

Business

336

4.0

4.2

1.3

6.1

Science

131

4.0

4.1

1.5

6.3

Health sciences

558

4.5

4.8

1.6

6.3

those who did not have a university-educated parent. The study status variable differentiates between those studying full-time and those studying part-time. The field of study variable has six categories: Arts; Social Sciences;

NOTE: calculated GPA for all units completed in 2010 and 2011.

Education; Business; Science; and Health Sciences. The descriptive statistics of the 2010 commencing cohort are provided in Table 1. Two-thirds of the students

The difference between the lowest 5 per cent and

were female; 61 per cent were aged 19 years or younger

highest 5 per cent provides an indication of the spread

and 15 per cent were aged 30 years or more. Almost half

of scores. The GPAs of TPP students range from 0.9 to

of the students were first-in-family students (our measure

6.3 and the GPAs of traditional students range from 1.5

of low SES). According to the Department of Education

to 6.1 indicating that there was a wider distribution of

(2017), in 2010, across all universities, 12 per cent of

scores within the TPP cohort. Students studying Business

domestic students undertaking bachelor degrees were

and Science had the lowest mean GPAs (4.0) and those

aged 30+ years and 14.5 per cent were students from low

studying Education had the highest mean GPA (4.7).

SES families. Health Sciences attracted almost one third of

Education students recorded the largest difference

the students (32 per cent), Business programs attracted

between the mean GPA of the lowest 5 per cent (1.4) and

one-fifth of the students and 17 per cent of students were

the mean GPA of the highest 5 per cent (6.5).

enrolled in Arts programs. vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

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enrol in units of study in different patterns depending

Pathway

on their program of study, whether they are enrolled on

Year12

a full-time or part-time basis, and individual preference. In addition to the standard two semesters per year, the university offers some units over a summer semester. students complete their undergraduate degree, the

S

â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

Commencing

students who were no longer enrolled had completed a

Although there is no consistent point in time when

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Table 3 Association between attrition and pathway into university, field of study and GPA.

Our measure of attrition is based on whether or not program by the end of 2014. Undergraduate students may

I

Discontinued sem. 1 2012

Discontinued sem. 2 2014

n=

%

%

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40

48

VET

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37

52

46

50

63

Other

completion of 24 units usually signals the completion of

Field of study

a three-year program, such as Arts, and the completion

Arts

296

52

61

of 30 units signals the completion of a four-year degree

Social sciences

172

42

49

program, such as Education.

Education

245

41

49

Business

353

45

54

Science

132

47

65

semester 2, 2010 and did not complete a degree program.

Health sciences

573

38

44

A further 17 per cent of the commencing students did

GPA 2010/2011

not enrol in semester 2, 2011 and did not complete a

<4

594

70

79

degree program. Overall between semester 1 in 2010 and

4/4.99

449

31

40

5/5.99

485

24

31

6/7

187

22

30

Of the 1771 commencing students, 56 did not complete any units in semester 1, 2010 and did not return to study. One-fifth of the commencing students did not enrol in

semester 2 in 2014, 52 per cent of students discontinued their studies without completing a degree program. Previous research suggests that a large proportion of these students may have enrolled in programs at other universities (Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Keefe et al. 2011). These data allow us to

As GPA increased, the likelihood of discontinuing study

track students who changed degree programs within this

before completing a degree program decreased. By the

university, however, we are unable to track students who

beginning of semester 1 in 2012, 70 per cent of students

transferred to other universities.

with a GPA of less than 4 had discontinued their studies whereas 22 per cent of students with a GPA of at least 6

Pathways and attrition

had discontinued their studies.These figures indicate that decisions to discontinue study are not solely driven by

There is some variation in attrition rates according to

levels of achievement with some low achievers persisting

pathway into university and length of time at university,

with their studies and some high achievers discontinuing

as shown in Table 3. We examine the attrition rates at two

theirs. As Christie, Munro and Fisher (2004) point out,

time points: the beginning of semester 1 in 2012; and the

students discontinue their studies due to a range of

beginning of semester 2 in 2014. By semester 1, 2012,

personal and institutional factors such as financial and/

almost half (49 per cent) of the commencing students

or time constraints.

who entered after completing Year 12, had discontinued

education sub-degree (40 per cent) and VET pathways (37

Are graduates of the on-campus tertiary preparation program more, or less likely than traditional students to discontinue their studies?

per cent) were less likely than traditional students to have

To answer our research question, we conducted a series of

discontinued their studies by the beginning of semester

logistic regressions to examine the relationships between

1 2012. By semester 2, 2014, 65 per cent of Science

students discontinuing study by semester 1 2012 and sex,

students and 44 per cent of Health Sciences students had

age, first-in-family status, pathway, study status, field of study

discontinued their studies without completing a degree

and GPA. Logistic regressions produce odds ratios which

program.

represent the change in the likelihood of discontinuing

their studies without completing a degree program. Students who entered via the TPP (44 per cent), higher

40

Alternative pathways into university Jenny Chesters et al.

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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Table 4: Association between discontinuing study and selected characteristics Model 1

Model 2

Model 3

Model 4

Odds ratio (std. err.)

Odds ratio (std. err.)

Odds ratio (std. err.)

Odds ratio (std. err.)

0.65*** (0.07)

0.64*** (0.07)

0.65*** (0.07)

0.82 (0.10)

20-29

1.16 (0.13)

1.06 (0.16)

1.07 (0.16)

1.34 (0.22)

30-39

0.83 (0.16)

0.64 (0.14)

0.67 (0.15)

1.22 (0.31)

40+

0.62* (0.13)

0.45* (0.11)

0.46* (0.11)

0.80 (0.22)

First in family =1

1.17 (0.11)

1.17 (0.12)

1.17 (0.12)

0.96 (0.11)

TPP

1.28 (0.24)

1.30 (0.25)

1.17 (0.25)

HE sub-degree

0.79 (0.13)

0.81 (0.14)

0.85 (0.16)

VET

0.76 (0.14)

0.77 (0.14)

0.65* (0.14)

other

1.30 (0.44)

1.33 (0.45)

1.07 (0.40)

2.69*** (0.43)

2.65*** (0.43)

2.78*** (0.50)

Social sciences

0.69 (0.14)

0.61* (0.14)

Education

0.66* (0.12)

0.83 (0.17)

Business

0.70* (0.11)

0.56** (0.10)

Science

0.67 (0.15)

0.58* (0.14)

0.60*** (0.09)

0.62** (0.10)

Female =1 Age (<20 = ref.)

Pathway (Yr12 = ref.)

Study status (Full-time= ref.) Part-time Program (Arts = ref.)

Health sciences GPA (<4= ref.) 4

0.16*** (0.02)

5

0.12*** (0.02)

6+

0.09*** (0.02)

Constant n= Pseudo R2

0.94 (0.09)

0.93 (0.10)

1.30 (0.20)

3.95*** (0.72)

1771

1771

1771

1771

0.0122

0.0315

0.0367

0.1777

***p<0.001; **p<0.01; *p<0.05. Note: The reference categories: male; <20 years; not first in family; TPP pathway; full-time; Arts program; GPA<4. vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

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study relative to continuing study. An increase in the

include a range of personal factors identified as being

likelihood of discontinuing study is indicated by an odds

important predictors of attrition such as long hours of

ratio of greater than 1 whereas a decrease in the likelihood

paid work; financial constraints; health issues; and family

of discontinuing study is indicated by an odds ratio of less

obligations (Christie et al., 2004).

than 1. The results of the four models are presented in Table 4. We start by examining the association between

Discussion

attrition and the demographic characteristics (Model 1) and then progressively add in the other explanatory

Since 1990, the Australian higher education sector has

variables. In Model 2, we add in pathway into university

expanded by increasing the number of universities

and study status; in Model 3, we add in field of study; and

and by widening the eligibility criteria thus allowing

in Model 4 we add in GPA.

more students to access higher education. Through the

The results for Model 1 show that being female has a

development of alternative entry pathways, the student

negative effect on the likelihood of discontinuing study

populations of Australian universities have diversified and

by semester 1 in 2012, net of age and first-in-family status.

now include sizeable, but not representative, proportions

Older students, that is, those commencing study when

of low SES students, Indigenous students and students

aged at least 40 years, were also less likely to discontinue

with disabilities. Previous research examining the effects

study than younger students. When we add in pathway

of pathway into university shows that type of alternative

into university and study status (Model 2), we find that

entry pathway is an important predictor of completion.

students who entered via any of the non-traditional

There is some evidence that students entering via

pathways, including TPP students, were no more likely

the mature age entry pathway were more likely than

than traditional students to discontinue their studies, net

traditional students to discontinue their studies (Edwards

of sex, age, first-in-family status, and study status. In other

& McMillan, 2015) whereas students who completed

words, students who entered university via an alternative

an on-campus enabling program were more likely than

pathway were just as likely to continue their studies as

traditional students to complete their studies (Chesters &

students who entered via the traditional pathway. Net

Watson, 2016; Walker et al., 2004).

of pathway into university, age and study status, female

This study tracked one cohort of students attending

students were less likely than male students to discontinue

a regional university for a period of five years using

their studies. Net of pathway into university, sex and study

administrative data provided by the university. Sixty per

status, those aged 40 years or older were less likely to

cent of the students entered via the traditional pathway

discontinue their studies than those aged under 20 years

and 10 per cent of the students completed the on-campus

at the time of enrolment. Part-time students were 2.7

tertiary preparation pathway (TPP) program. On average,

times more likely than full-time students to discontinue

TPP students had similar levels of achievement as

their studies, net of the other factors.When we add field of

traditional students. GPA was a strong predictor of non-

study into Model 3, the results from Model 2 are repeated.

completion by Semester 2, 2014 with 79 per cent of

Furthermore, students studying programs in the broad

students with a GPA of less than 4 discontinuing their

fields of Education, Business or Health Sciences were less

studies compared to 30 per cent of students with a GPA

likely than Arts students to discontinue their studies, net

of 6 or higher.

of the other factors.

After controlling for sex, age, study status, field and

The final model (Model 4) includes the GPA variable

GPA, TPP students were no more likely than traditional

and as expected, as GPA increases the likelihood of

students to discontinue their studies and VET students

discontinuing study decreases. Students with a GPA of

were less likely than traditional students to discontinue

4 were only one-fifth as likely to discontinue study as

their studies. Thomas (2014) and Chesters and Watson

students with a GPA of less than 4 even after controlling

(2016) also found that graduates from enabling programs

for sex, age, first-in-family status, pathway into university,

performed just as well as students who entered university

study status and field. Interestingly, net of the other

via the traditional pathway. Tertiary preparation programs

variables, students who entered via the VET pathway are

may provide students with the confidence and skills to

less likely than traditional students to discontinue their

persist (Habal, 2012). Participation in enabling programs

studies. The final model explains around 18 per cent of

such as the TPP allows students to familiarise themselves

the variation in decisions to discontinue, however, this

with many aspects of university life before they commence

is not an unexpected result given that the data did not

undergraduate studies (Wilcoxson, 2010) and to develop a

42

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sense of belonging which is a key factor in the likelihood

presented in this paper indicate that graduates of the

of continuing study through to graduation (Bowles et al.,

tertiary preparation pathway program performed as

2014; Kahu and Nelson, 2017). Staff from 12 Australian

well as other commencing students and were equally as

universities interviewed by Thomas (2014) reported that

likely to complete their degree programs. As with other

graduates from enabling programs tended to do as well

enabling programs, the TPP at this university attracts

as traditional students in undergraduate degree programs.

second chance students, those who do not have the pre-

Thomas’ participants were unable to draw on data to

requisite educational qualifications for direct entry into

support their claims, however the results of our study

undergraduate degrees. By immersing students in the

do provide some supporting evidence. In other words,

university culture and providing a supportive learning

non-traditional students who complete an on-campus

environment, enabling programs have the capacity to

enabling program are just as likely as traditional students

prepare a wider segment of the population for the rigours

to graduate with a university degree.

of academic study.

A limitation of this study is that we relied on administrative data that did not include indicators of the

Acknowledgement

students’ personal and financial circumstances that other researchers have found to be important predictors of

This paper uses de-identified data supplied by the

attrition. For example, students undertaking long hours of

University of the Sunshine Coast. The findings and views

paid work were more likely to discontinue their studies

reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors

(McMillan, 2005) as were students who lacked sufficient

and should not be attributed to the University.

financial resources and those who did not integrate well into university life (Christie et al., 2004; Wilcoxson,

Dr Jenny Chesters, is a Research Fellow working in the Youth

2010). Furthermore, many students initially enrolled

Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education,

in second choice programs and then upgraded into

The University of Melbourne.

the program of their choice after completing their first year of study (O’Keefe et al., 2011). Although we were

Dr Kerry Rutter, is the head of Preparation Pathways in

able to track students who changed degree programs

the Preparation and Enabling Unit at the University of the

within this particular university, we were unable to track

Sunshine Coast.

students who transferred to other universities. Given that these data pertain to one cohort of students attending

Professor Louise Watson, is a Professor of Education in the

one regional university in Australia, the results are not

Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra.

generalisable across Australian universities. Therefore, a longitudinal study collecting data from a nationally

Professor Karen Nelson, is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)

representative sample of students at regular intervals

at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

from enrolment through to graduation, or until they

Contact: jenny.chesters@unimelb.edu.au

discontinue their study, is warranted. Understanding the difficulties that some students face in accessing higher education; negotiating the complexities of studying at university-level; managing competing demands on their time and energy; and interacting with various professors, lecturers, tutors and their support staff; would provide an insight into why students discontinue their studies.

Conclusion The above findings confirm that tertiary preparation programs provide viable alternative entry pathways into higher education and are associated with similar levels of retention and completion of university study as the traditional pathway. Despite concerns that broadening the criteria for admission into the higher education sector may dilute academic standards, the results vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

References Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017) 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved from http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/ quickstat/316?opendocument Australian Government. (2012). Administrative Information for Higher Education Providers: Student Support. Canberra: Australian Government. Bowles, T.V. & Brindle, K.A. (2017). Identifying facilitating factors and barriers to improving student retention rates in tertiary teaching courses: A systematic review. Higher Education Research and Development 36(5), 903-919. Bowles, A., Fisher, R., McPhail, R., Rosenstreich, D. & Dobson, A. (2014). Staying the distance: Students perceptions of enablers of transition to higher education. Higher Education Research and Development 33(2), 212-225. Chambers, T. & Deller, F. (2011). Changes and choices of low-income students in Canada and England: A post-structuralist discussion of early interventions. PP. 49-73 in A. Kezar (Ed.) Recognising and serving low income students in higher education: An examination of institutional policies, practices and culture. New York and London: Rutledge. Alternative pathways into university Jenny Chesters et al.

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Christie, H., Munro, M. & Fisher, T. (2004). Leaving university early: exploring the differences between continuing and non-continuing students. Studies in Higher Education, 29(5), 617- 636. Coates, H. (2014). Students’ early departure intentions and the mitigating role of support. Australian Universities’ Review, 56(2): 20-29. Department of Education. (2017). Selected Higher Education Statistics - 2010 Student Data. From https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-educationstatistics-2010-student-data DET (Department of Education and Training) (2016). 2015 Liability Status Categories Table 5.5 Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/node/41711 DETYA (Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs) (2001). Higher Education Students Time Series Tables 2000. Table 5. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Devlin, M. (2013). Bridging socio-cultural incongruity: Conceptualising the success of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds in Australian higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(6), 939-949. Edwards, D. & McMillan, J. (2015). Completing university in a growing sector: Is equity an issue? Melbourne: ACER. Ellis, B.J. (2013). Older undergraduate students bringing years of experience to university studies: Highlights, challenges and contributions. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 53(3), 351- 374. Forsyth, A., & Furlong, A. (2003). Access to higher education and disadvantaged young people. British Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 205–225. Gale, T. & Parker, S. (2014). Navigating change: A typology of student transition in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 29(4): 734-753. Gale, T. & Tranter, D. (2011). Social justice in Australian higher education policy: an historical and conceptual account of student participation. Critical Studies in Education, 52(1), 29-46. Goggin, T., Rankin, S., Geerlings, P. & Taggart, A. (2016). Catching them before they fall: a Vygotskian approach to transitioning students from high school to university. Higher Education Research & Development, 35(4), 698-711. Habal, C. (2012). ‘I can do it, and how!’ Student experience in access and equity pathways to higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 31(6), 811-825. Harrison, N. & Hatt, S. (2009). ‘Disadvantaged learners’: who are we targeting? Understanding the widening participation activity in the United Kingdom using geo-demographic data from South-West England. Higher Education Quarterly, 64(1), 65-88. Hodges, B., Bedford, T., Hartley, J., Klinger, C., Murray, N., O’Rourke, J. & Schofield, N. (2013). Enabling retention: processes and strategies for improving student retention in university-based enabling programs. Sydney: Office for Learning and Teaching. Ishitani, T.T. (2006). Studying attrition and degree completion behaviour among first-generation college students in the United States. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(5), 861-885. Kahu, E.R. & Nelson, K. (2017). Student engagement in the educational interface: Understanding the mechanisms of student success. Higher Education Research and Development. Accepted.

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McMillan, J. (2005). Course change and attrition from higher education (LSAY Research Report Number 39). Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. McMillan, J. (2011). Student retention: Current evidence and insights for improvement. Joining the Dots Research Briefing, 1(6). Melbourne: ACER. Mestan, K. (2016). Why students drop out of the Bachelor of Arts, Higher Education Research & Development, 35(5) 983-996. Moodie, G. & Wheelahan, L. (2009). The significance of Australian Vocational Institutions in opening access to higher education. Higher Education Quarterly, 63(4), 356-370. O’Keefe, M., Laven, G. & Burgess, T. (2011). Student non-completion of an undergraduate degree: wrong program selection or part of a career plan? Higher Education Research and Development, 30(2), 165-177. Pitman, T. (2017) Widening participation in higher education: A play in five acts. Australian Universities’ Review, 56(1), 37-46. Pitman, T., Koshy, P. & Phillimore, J. (2015). Does accelerating access to higher education lower its quality: The Australian experience. Higher Education Research and Development, 34(3), 609-623. Rowan-Kenyon, H.T. (2007). Predictors of delayed college enrolment and the impact of socio-economic status. Journal of Higher Education, 78(2), 188-214. Rowan-Kenyon, H.T., Bell, A.D. & Perna, L.W. (2008). Contextual influences on parental involvement in college going: Variations by socio-economic class. Journal of Higher Education, 79(5), 564-586. Ryan, C. & Watson, L. (2003). Skills at Work. Lifelong Learning and changes in the Labour market. Commonwealth of Australia EIP report. Schuetze, H.G. & Slowey, M. (2002). Participation and exclusion: A comparative analysis of non-traditional students and lifelong learners in higher education. Higher Education, 44, 309-327. Thiele, T., Pope, D., Singleton, A., Snape, D. & Stanistreet, D. (2017). Experience of disadvantage: The influence of identity on engagement in working class students’ educational trajectories to an elite university. British Educational Research Journal, 43(1), 49–67. Thomas, G. (2014). Closing the policy-practice gap for low SES students in higher education: the pedagogical challenge. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(4), 807-820. Walker, L., Matthew, B. & Black, F. (2004). Widening access and student noncompletion: An inevitable link? Evaluating the effects of the Top-Up Programme on student completion. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 23(1), 43-59. Watson, L., Hagel, P. & Chesters, J. (2013). The half-open door- pathways for VET award-holders into Australian universities. National Vocational Education and Training Research Programme Research Report, Adelaide: NCVER. Wilcoxson, L. (2010). Factors affecting intention to leave in the first, second and third year of university studies: a semester-by-semester investigation. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(6), 623-639.

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OPINION

Promoting learning: what universities don’t do Brian Martin University of Wollongong

Universities seek to promote student learning, but assessment and credentials can undermine students’ intrinsic motivation to learn. Findings from research on how people learn, mindsets, expert performance and good health are seldom incorporated into the way universities organise learning experiences.

Introduction

The day-to-day experiences of teaching, positive and negative, are one thing. But underlying the experiences

After decades of undergraduate teaching, I retired in

are deeper processes. Some of these I knew about from

2016. It seems an appropriate time to reflect on the

the beginning, whereas others I only discovered during

positives, negatives and fundamental issues concerning

my teaching career. It is these deeper processes that

undergraduate education.

I address here, in the following sections: credentials

In 30 years at the University of Wollongong, I taught a variety of subjects in the humanities and social sciences,

and assessment; how people learn; mindsets; expert performance; and health.

for example environmental politics, computers and society, scientific controversies, happiness, and media, war

Credentials and assessment

and peace. Before that, at three different universities, I did a limited amount of teaching in physics and mathematics.

Studying at university is supposed to be about learning,

The positives of being a university teacher are easy to

about acquiring understandings and skills valuable for

identify. For me, they were engaging with students eager

later in life or for their own sake. Ideally, assessment tasks

to learn, helping them gain insights about subject matter

are supposed to provide both an incentive to learn and

and life, and designing courses to help students become

feedback on learning. Credentials provide a certification

self-motivated learners. A bonus for me as a teacher

of achievement.

was learning the subject matter and being continually

The trouble is that assessment and credentials

refreshed by contact with student learners. Also positive

often undermine learning (Kohn, 1993). Let’s take a

is interaction with colleagues with similar passions for

step back: ideally, students should be or become self-

helping students learn.

motivated learners, pursuing their studies with focus and

The negatives are equally easy to identify, including

determination, even enthusiasm. This is certainly possible

dealing with students who care more about getting by

as shown by the energy with which people learn about

than learning, coping with ever larger classes, and handling

topics they care about outside of formal education, for

the administrative tasks associated with teaching, which

example sport, hobbies or diseases. However, when

seem to become ever more onerous. Marking can often

students come to university, they are subjected to a

be tedious, even though I managed to design assignments

syllabus designed by others, and the symbols of learning

that made it more pleasurable (Martin, 2014).

can displace learning itself.

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

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Assessment can be disastrous for self-motivation.

One basic finding is that learning is greater when

Instead of studying because of intrinsic interest, students

studying is spaced out over time rather than bunched

are driven by assessment tasks. When exams are over,

together. In practical terms, this means it is more efficient to

few students continue to study. Many students have no

study a little bit each day rather than cram the night before

interest in anything not assessable. Universities are not

an exam. For a long time, teachers have been saying this to

solely responsible, because assessment-driven studying

students, so this finding is not surprising, but the details are

is cemented through years of prior schooling, but

fascinating. As well as showing the benefits of spacing out

universities do little to counteract reliance on assessment

study sessions, researchers have looked at fine tuning of the

as a motivator.

spacing, for example whether it is better to do 30 minutes

Ultimately, most students want degrees, the culmination

on a topic once a day or 60 minutes every two days.

of years of assessment-driven studying. Again, the symbol

Then there is the testing effect. While studying, one

of learning displaces the substance. Imagine what would

option is to do a self-test, posing questions on the topic

happen if degrees were abolished – perhaps replaced

you’re studying. If you spend 20 minutes studying, you

by performance portfolios or examinations for entry into

can allocate some of the time for self-testing. Experiments

professions – and university classes were available solely

show this detracts from learning in the short term but

for their contribution to learning. Enrolments would drop

after a week of studying, those who spend part of the time

precipitously.

self-testing retain much more.

The problems with credentials are long-standing

Learning occurs when you’re studying but it also

(Collins, 1979; Dore, 1976). I knew about them before

occurs when you are not, as your unconscious mind

I became a teaching academic. Like many others, I did

engages with the material. Studies show you can enhance

what I could within the system. For most classes in

this ‘incubation’ process by ending your study sessions in

Australian universities, assessment is required, and there

the middle of a topic. Because the topic is incomplete,

are expectations about the sorts of assignments and

your unconscious mind spends more time processing it.

examinations that should be set. Within these limits, I

Maximising the effects of spacing, self-testing and

sought to design stimulating assessment tasks and, over

unconscious processing can enable a student to learn

the years, gradually developed approaches that would

much more or to learn a specified amount in less time.

enable and encourage at least some students to become

Furthermore, there are other learning skills canvassed

highly engaged and go beyond the usual expectations.

by Carey, all based on findings by learning researchers.

Despite these efforts, most students continued to be

So why aren’t these skills taught in primary school? Why

driven primarily by assessment tasks.

haven’t university teachers caught up with this research

If I have been such a sceptic about assessment and

and incorporated it into their teaching? Why do millions

credentials, why did I remain in a university job for so long?

of undergraduates spend untold hours using inefficient

The answer is that an academic career gives considerable

learning techniques and remain uninformed about

freedom, which can be used in various ways. I used my job

research findings? Part of the answer is academics’ focus

as an opportunity to innovate in teaching methods (within

on content in their teaching. The mechanics of learning

limits) and to orient some of my research and writing to

are treated as a separate or lesser matter, addressed

audiences outside academia. But that is another story.

by specialist learning support advisers recommended

Over three decades of university teaching, I kept on the

for weaker students. Then there is another factor: few

lookout for research that might provide insights about

academics take any interest in how to use research

learning. Not being an education researcher myself, I often

findings to enhance their own learning.

relied on popular accounts.

Mindsets Learning Carol Dweck, a psychologist, has analysed two contrasting In 2014, Benedict Carey’s book How We Learn appeared.

mindsets, namely views people have of themselves:‘fixed’

Carey worked as a science writer, including for the New

and ‘growth’ (Dweck, 2006). People with a fixed mindset

York Times. He decided to find out what researchers have

believe that talents are constrained by genetics, so some

discovered about learning. How We Learn is an eye-opener.

people are naturally smart and others less so. Some

For me, what was significant was how few of the research

children with a fixed mindset fear failure because it might

findings about learning are applied in university courses.

show they are not as smart as they believe.These children

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will sometimes not attempt a task, thereby avoiding

performing at a cocktail bar does not count as deliberate

failure. At the undergraduate level, this can manifest in

practice. Working on difficult passages does.

students saying, ‘I didn’t study much for this exam’. Why

The implication of research on expert performance is

would students undermine their own performance by not

that for learning advanced skills, the key is developing

studying? The answer is to protect their self-image. If they

a habit of undertaking regular deliberate practice, done

do well, they reaffirm their intelligence, whereas if they

privately. Concert pianists may practise several hours per

do poorly they can blame lack of study.

day throughout their performing careers. Waiting until

People with a growth mindset

treat

failure

differently: they assume it means they need to work harder. Those with a growth mindset are more likely to persist with tasks, even when they are doing poorly. In the

the day before a concert is

If university education is to become a means to enabling the development of advanced skills, then fostering a habit of regular practice at the boundaries of one’s abilities is vital. Yet this is distant from what goes on in most classes.

woefully inadequate. If

university

education

is to become a means to enabling the development of

advanced

skills, then

fostering a habit of regular practice at the boundaries of

long run, the growth mindset

one’s abilities is vital. Yet this

leads to better performance.

is distant from what goes on

Australian university marking systems constantly rate

in most classes. Far from practising skills regularly, most

and rank performance on assessment tasks. If anything,

students procrastinate and then put in long study sessions

this encourages a fixed mindset, with some students

before exams. When classes are over, they stop studying.

seeing a mark as a reflection of their innate abilities.

A typical one-semester course might involve a few

Seldom are students repeatedly assessed on the same task,

dozens of hours of classes, with an expectation to study

enabling them to see the benefits of continued effort.

a few dozen hours outside of class. This can be enough

More fundamentally, many Australians believe that

to acquire some basic knowledge but is far short of what

performance reflects innate qualities. Some academics

is required to become really good. Hundreds and then

pick out ‘bright’ students in their undergraduate years and

thousands of hours of practice are needed.The problem is

encourage them to continue to advanced studies, rather

that few university courses inspire the dedication for this

than helping all students to adopt a growth mindset.

sort of ongoing effort.

Indeed, the very idea that teachers might try to help

Another problem is that many assessment methods do

students change their attitude towards intelligence is alien.

not involve repeated attention to weaknesses until they are eliminated. A violinist will practise a difficult passage

Expert performance

for days or weeks until it can be played perfectly. However, a student submitting an essay normally receives a mark

For several decades, there has been an increasing amount

and some feedback but then never revisits the same

of research on what is called ‘expert performance’, which

essay, instead moving on to another topic. For becoming

is demonstrated high-level competence in well-defined

a better writer and thinker, it is valuable to return to

skills (Ericsson et al., 2006; Ericsson and Pool, 2016).

the same piece of work, revising and polishing it, taking

The top levels of expert performance are exhibited by,

into account feedback from readers. This is what often

for example, chess grandmasters, Olympic athletes and

occurs with academic articles submitted for publication.

classical musicians with careers as soloists. A common

Undergraduates usually miss out on this sort of training.

assumption is that innate abilities are required for

People with high intelligence scores often can improve

such stellar performance, but this is challenged by

more rapidly than others: they seem to benefit more from

studies showing that thousands of hours of practice are

training. But this holds only initially. For advanced skill

required to become a world-class performer in any well-

development, intelligence becomes less crucial. Instead,

established, competitive field. Furthermore, the practice

it is the deliberate practice that makes a difference

needs to be of a special sort. The most effective type

(Ericsson and Pool, 2016: 233–236). The implication is

of practice is called deliberate practice, which involves

that universities, by rewarding quick learners, are missing

intense concentration in trying to master skills at the edge

out on enabling students to develop habits of continual

of one’s current ability under the guidance of a master

practice that are essential for the most advanced levels of

teacher. For a pianist, routinely playing through scales or

performance.

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When it comes to university teachers, deliberate

There are several other aspects of health that promote

practice is uncommon. Most academics teach but do not

better learning, including restful sleep (important for

regularly practise teaching. How many teachers go over

solidifying memories), good diet and avoiding excessive

and over the same lecture or lab presentation, revising the

drugs. To some, this might seem like an abstemious

content and practising their delivery, under the periodic

approach to university, not having any fun.“Fun” seems to

scrutiny of an experienced teacher? I didn’t do this very

have become identified with damaging activities such as

often, and I’m not aware of many colleagues who do.

binge drinking and staying up all night. Dedicated athletes

Yes, many put long hours into preparing their lectures,

look after their diet and sleep, at least while in training.

but few practise delivering them, obtaining feedback

Why should dedicated scholars be any different?

from students or master teachers. Few academics study research into methods of student learning to work out

What universities don’t do

ways to adapt the curriculum and delivery to maximise it. The rationale for university teaching is that students will

Mind, brain and health

acquire knowledge and skills to become more capable workers and better citizens. Hence it is strange that the

Should students exercise? It would be good for their

way universities are set up, with modules of content to

health – and for their thinking. There is a large and

learn in set time frames, all leading to a certificate at the

growing body of research showing that physical activity

end, undermines the intrinsic motivation to learn. Despite

is vital for human health and wellbeing. It is the most

much rhetoric about lifelong learning, few students are

reliable way to improve mood and is well documented to

set on a path to maximise their learning in the long run.

improve happiness for most people.

Students learn instead that studying is an unpleasant

Beyond the benefits for the body, exercise is good for the mind. It reduces depression and anxiety and improves

necessity, to be avoided as long as possible and only undertaken when assessment tasks loom.

mental acuity (Macpherson, 2017; Ratey, 2008). It is

Meanwhile, much media attention is devoted to scandals

therefore a good way to improve the capacity for study

such as plagiarism and falling standards. Questioning the

and for better thinking.

credential system is not newsworthy.

However, relatively few students exercise regularly.

The discrepancy between the goals and reality of

When assignments are due, or exams are looming,

undergraduate education makes me reflect on radical

students may spend long hours studying without any

ideas raised in the 1960s and 1970s. Ivan Illich in

activity beyond their fingers. This is not good preparation

Deschooling Society (1971) provided a critique of

for a lifetime of learning, not to mention good health.

professionalised education, arguing that learning would

Students are compelled, by assessment tasks, to learn

be enhanced by getting rid of schooling and replacing it

specific content, so why not compel them to exercise,

with learning in the community, for example in homes

for their own good? However well intended, compulsory

and workplaces. Helping children to learn would be

exercise might only turn what should be satisfying into

collective responsibility rather than undertaken only in

a chore to be avoided when there’s no pressure. More

schools and universities (Holt, 1977, 1981; Reimer, 1973).

promising would be to turn a campus into an activity-

In practice, a great deal of learning now occurs when

intensive space, with encouragement to develop personal

individuals pursue hobbies and when they take on jobs.

or group training routines. Parking might be provided at

It is often said that universities may provide a credential

a more distant location, to encourage walking or cycling.

to get a job, but what you need to know is learned on

Some universities provide encouragement for physical

the job.This highlights the role of credentials as screening

activity, for example excellent gyms, jogging circuits and

mechanisms, reproducing the class structure.

secure bicycle facilities. Still, only a minority of students

Deschooling Society was radical when it was published

takes advantage of these opportunities, in part because

and remains so today. The education system has a

exercise is seen as an optional extra rather than a core

stranglehold over officially certified learning in most

aspect of being a learner.

fields. It remains to be seen whether information about

A few academics set a good example, riding bicycles to

learning, mindsets, expert performance and health will

work or frequenting the gym. All too many, though, seem

be incorporated into credential systems or provide a

to operate on the dualistic idea that the mind is separate

challenge to them.

from the body. It’s just not dignified to get hot and sweaty.

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Acknowledgements Thanks to Lyn Carson, Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool and two anonymous readers for valuable comments on earlier

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Ericsson, K.A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P.J. & Hoffman, R.R. (Eds.) (2006). The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ericsson, A. & Pool, R. (2016). Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. London: Bodley Head.

versions of this article.

Holt, J. (1977). Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Brian Martin is an emeritus professor at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Holt, J. (1981). Teach Your Own: A Hopeful Path for Education. New York: Delacorte.

Contact: bmartin@uow.edu.au

Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling Society. London: Calder and Boyars.

References Carey, B. (2014). How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens. New York: Random House. Collins, R. (1979). The Credential Society: An Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification. New York: Academic Press. Dore, R. (1976). The Diploma Disease: Education, Qualification and Development. London: Allen and Unwin. Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine.

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Macpherson, H., Teo, W.-P., Schneider, L.A. & Smith, A.E. (2017). A life-long approach to physical activity for brain health. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9(147), doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00147. Martin, B. (2014). Marking essays: making it easier and more fun. Brian’s Comments, 8 September. Retrieved from http://comments.bmartin. cc/2014/09/08/marking-essays-making-it-easier-and-more-fun/. Ratey, J.J. with Hagerman, E. (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little, Brown. Reimer, E. (1973). School is Dead. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

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Dress codes and the academic conference McCulloch’s Iron Laws of Conferences Alistair McCulloch University of South Australia

Despite being a staple of academic life (or perhaps because it is so taken-for-granted), the academic conference has been generally under-utilised as a site for academic research. Using participant observation as its methodology, this article draws on a long career of conference attendance to present two iron laws of conferences which address the relative smartness of dress of conference convenors and conference delegates. The social processes underpinning the sartorial phenomenon addressed by these laws are explicated. A third law is also introduced in a desperate attempt on the part of the author to secure the immortality sought by all who make their thoughts public by publishing them in academic journals. Keywords: conferences, dress standards, publishing

There is remarkably little research literature on academic

activities (Wen et al., 2015). Chan (2013) also points to

conferences. In the same way as academics resisted the

aspects of the role of status in academic conferences and

temptation to research their own practice for many years,

to the few articles that address this, for example, Räisänen

they continue to resist the possibilities offered by that

(1999) and Blumen and Bar-Gal (2006).

most ubiquitous academic activity, the conference. This

The options available to academics wanting to examine

relative neglect is surprising given that, as Chan (2013,

under-researched aspects of conference social behaviour

p. 1060) notes: ‘in the study of academic conferences,

and the rules underpinning them remain to be fully

categorisations are often a consequence of a process of

exploited, but the volume of primary material out there

contestation and legitimation, negotiation and struggles of

must be huge if this single instance in a recent blog

hierarchical power across and within academic disciplines’.

posting by an academic is typical (and there is no reason

This is not to say there is no literature or discussion of

to suspect that it is not). In his blog, Lou Burnard (2010)

conferences.There are regular ‘How to prepare for and get

reflects on his 36 years in the profession and details ‘10

the most out of a conference’ articles in the professional

chronologically-ordered small boxes containing detritus

press. A compendium of these is provided in Houston

from assorted events and conferences I attended between

(2013). Writers of fiction, most notably David Lodge, have

1977 and 2000’. While Burnard is only able to ruminate

elevated this most mundane of events to the highest point

about ‘how jolly interesting this collection of stuff might

of drama (1984). Some have sought to look at the role of

be to anyone interested in the last three decades of digital

conference abstracts as promotional texts (Samar et al.,

humanities’, to scholars of the academic conference his

2014) while investigators of the use of social media have

10 boxes would represent pay-dirt.

begun to examine the academic conference as a site for

One of the roles of the social scientist is to observe the

research into Twitter, Tweets and associated alliterative

world and try to uncover the patterns and regularities

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random

phenomena and occurrences. Many have sought to do this

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(there, I’ve put it in print that there are, in fact, two of them) and their mode of development.

with varying degrees of success, including the founding fathers of sociology (Compte, Durkheim, Marx and Weber)

Method

and the generations of social scientists who followed them. While the search for knowledge and understanding is the

For the benefit of those who might want to attempt to

major driver behind this search for knowledge, anecdotal

replicate this process of discovery, I should state that

evidence about the propensity of social scientists to google

the laws were developed through a process of reflective

their own names on a regular basis and to establish email

introspection using a glass of the Barossa Valley’s best

and text alerts which inform them whenever their work is

Shiraz as the initial prompt object. Following my initial

cited suggests that another driver is a desire for recognition,

insight, I drew upon an academic lifetime’s experience

and a search for disciplinary as well as spiritual immortality.

of attending conferences across the globe thereby

This author readily confesses to these sins and to another,

increasing the chances that any conclusions drawn would

deeper desire which I have held secret since my days as an

be universal in nature. I also followed a well-established

undergraduate in political science when I first came across

scientific method involving:

the work of Robert Michels.

• observation

Michels is well-known to all political scientists, and

• the formulation of hypotheses

also to many scholars in related fields as a man whose

• gathering sufficient data to try to refute the hypotheses

name will always be associated with a ‘law’. In the same

• formulation of the laws, and

way as the natural and physical sciences have inter alia

• soon being in a position to publish and sit back to

Boyle’s Law, Faraday’s Laws (he, lucky man has two laws

accept both the accolades and the ensuing riches.

named after him), Hooke’s Law, and three laws named

Data were gathered using a participant observation

after the great Newton, political science has Michels’ Iron

methodology and took in many places across the UK

Law of Oligarchy (Wikipedia, 2016). I offer the suggestion

and also at conferences in Australia, continental Europe,

that few social scientists could deny having dreamed at

the Middle East and the United States. The disciplinary

some point in their careers of developing a law or similar

areas represented in the sample included Doctoral

phenomenon to be forever associated with their name. I

Education, Higher Education, Political Science, Public

for one, in a moment of auto-ethnographic honesty, am

Policy and Administration, Sustainable Development and

willing to admit that I have gone down that route and

Environmental Studies, and Voluntary Sector Studies.

but have yet to complete my journey. Put bluntly, and to

Participation and the associated observation were

come to the focus of this article, ‘McCulloch’s Iron Law

undertaken across a wide time-frame, the first conference

of (something/anything)’ sounds good. In fact, it sounds

attended being in 1980 and the most recent 2016. Both

better than good. It has a great ring to it and would fit well

research method and sample size appear to be sufficiently

on a tombstone. ‘Here lies the late Professor McCulloch’

robust to allow firm conclusions to be drawn.

(those familiar with my ability to turn up on time for meetings will recognise the pun there) ‘whose Iron Law

McCulloch’s Iron Laws of Conferences

survives him.’ The sort of thing the grandchildren can stroll along to and look at on wet Sundays when they’re

The first of McCulloch’s Laws of Conferences can now

at a loose end.

be stated.

For the sake of any non-political scientists reading this piece, Michels’ Iron Law of Oligarchy was published in 1911 and, as with all good laws, can be stated simply. It posits that, without the formal organisation of the mass of

‘The academic conference convenor is always more smartly dressed than any of the other conference participants, even if the smartness of the conference convenor decreases with each day of the conference.’

people democracy is impossible but that, once the people

This is an interesting phenomenon as there appears

are formally organised, democracy is impossible because

to be no obvious channel of communication between

organised politics creates an elite. As Michels famously

participants such that the convenor can know when he

put it, ‘Who says organisation says oligarchy’, oligarchy

or she dresses in the morning what other delegates will

being the rule of the few in their own interests. The

be wearing. One suggestion that might be made is that

desire to emulate Michels is strong and this short paper

the convenor would be able to judge from the delegates’

articulates both of McCulloch’s Iron Laws of Conferences

breakfast attire what is the necessary degree of sartorial

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elegance required in order for the convenor to remain

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The relationship between the two laws

‘ahead of the field’, so to speak. This explanation does not stand up, however, when we observe that the law

Given that two laws have been developed which are

holds true irrespective of whether or not the convenor

held to apply to the same phenomenon, it is necessary

is staying at the conference hotel or, indeed, irrespective

to say something about precedence. Careful observation

of whether or not there actually is a conference hotel.

shows that, even though the Second Law of Conferences

A second possible suggestion, suggested by an earlier

(that the dress of all conferences participants is more

anonymous reviewer who I must thank, is that ‘the

casual the closer to the seashore the conference is held),

conference convenor has control over the delegate pool

McCulloch’s First Law of Conferences (that the convenor

which enables him/her to operate as a sort of sartorial

will always be more smartly dressed than all other

gatekeeper, perhaps punishing potential delegates who

delegates) takes precedence. This finding suggests that

are known norm violators and rewarding those who

the first law (associated with academic culture and status

typically fall into line.’ It is with regret that this suggestion

allocations) is more powerful than the second (associated

must be rejected as there is no evidence to suggest that

with the broader societal culture) and also allows us to

the laws apply to a lesser degree in conferences where

contribute to resolving the perennial debate over the

there is little competition to have a paper accepted than

relative strength of these differing agents of socialisation

they do in more competitive conference situations.

and the associated social mechanisms.

The

most

convincing

explanatory

mechanism

underpinning the first law is based in the acceptance by all

Limitations of the study

involved of the differing status of ‘convenor’ and ‘delegate’ and an acceptance of the roles ascribed by these social

Despite the author’s claims to universality, a few areas

constructs. The key social process here is the strength of

remain to be explored, perhaps by research students keen

the academic socialisation process which ensures that all

to expand their networks. First, it is not clear whether

attendees at academic conferences are aware of the need

there is a meteorological ‘tipping point’ at play here as

(a) for a convenor to ‘dress up’ and (b) for each delegate

there have been too few conferences held close to either

to ‘dress down’. Observation has demonstrated that it

the Arctic or the Antarctic Oceans to determine whether

is not uncommon, for example, for delegates to remove

the law of ‘casual dress’ applies in extreme temperatures.

ties, scarves and jackets upon arriving at a conference in

Neither is it clear whether the clothing worn in Arctic or

the morning in order to maintain the tacitly agreed upon

Antarctic settings lends itself to clear definition as either

social order. In this simple, but elegant way, sartorial order

‘formal’ or ‘informal’ attire thus raising potentially difficult

is maintained.

conceptual issues. The author is currently formulating

The second of McCulloch’s Laws of Conferences is even simpler to state than the first. ‘The closer the conference is located to the sea, the more casual the dress of all participants.’

a research grant application to explore the possibilities suggested by this line of thought and to try to clarify further both the conceptual and sartorial issues involved.

Conclusion

This phenomenon seems to be the result of the impact of the broader cultural environment on all conference

This article points to the academic conference as a

participants including the convenor, in that the sea is,

potential site for the investigation of some of the bigger

apart from those relatively few and concentrated areas

questions in social science. It provides an exemplar for this

involving working ports in which conferences are seldom

by positing McCulloch’s two Laws of Conferences which

if ever held, almost universally associated with leisure

explain differences in the dress styles of delegates and

of an informal kind. The second law holds true whether

convenors by reference to their relative social standings in

the sea in question is the northern or the southern

the event being attended, while also taking account of the

hemisphere or whether it laps the shore in developed or

conference’s geographical location and proximity to the

developing, or rich or poor countries. This association of

sea. These laws have been established through the same

the seaside or beach with informal leisure permeates the

mechanism that allowed Michels to establish his famous

ethos of conferences organised near salt water, operating

Iron Law of Oligarchy, that is, participant observation.

on both convenor and delegates alike and, hence, explains the Second Iron Law.

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12th Quality in Postgraduate Research conference (www. qpr.edu.au) in April 2016.This Law may be stated as: ‘No matter how many catastrophes the organisers think have occurred during the course of a conference, as long as the conference venue does not explode or self-combust, the delegates will assume that everything happened as it was planned.’ The lack of any dissenting voice either during or following those remarks offers further confirmation of the strength of the Iron Laws of Conferences. Further

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Blumen, O. and Bar-Gal, Y. (2006). The academic conference and the status of women: the Annual Meetings of the Israeli Geographical Society. The Professional Geographer, 58(3), 341-355. Burnard, L. (2010). Boxing Up. Retrieved from http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/ louburnard/2010/11/boxing-up/ Chan, P. (2013). A ‘zombie’ existence: exploring Ulrich Beck’s zombie categories and construction management research. In Smith, D., and Ahiaga-Dagbui, D., Proceedings 29th Annual ARCOM Conference, September 2-4, Reading: Association of Researchers in Construction Management. Retrieved from www. arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2013-1059-1069_Chan.pdf

organising academic conferences and is dedicated to all who take on this difficult task and to all those who attend

Lodge, D. (1984). Small World. Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd.

the article will prove to be of use to those charged with

and enjoy the fruits of their labours. Alistair McCulloch is a member of the Teaching Innovation Unit at the University of South Australia Contact: alistair.mcculloch@unisa.edu.au

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References

Houston, N. (2013). From the archives: Academic conferences. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 4 November 2013. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/from-the-archives-academicconferences/53321?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

avenues of research have been suggested. It is hoped that

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Räisänen, C. (1999). The conference forum as a system of genres: A sociocultural study of academic conference practices in automotive crashsafety engineering. Göteborg, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Samar, T., Talebzadeh, H., Kiany, G., and Akbari, R. (2014). ‘Moves and steps to sell a paper: a cross-cultural genre analysis of applied linguistics conference abstracts’. Text & Talk, 34, Issue 6, Pages 759–785. Wen, X., Lin, Y.-R. (2015). Tweeting Questions in Academic Conferences: Seeking or Promoting Information?, in iConference 2015. Retrieved from https://www. ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/73712 Wen, X., Lin, Y.-R., Trattner, C., Parra, D. (2014). Twitter in Academic Conferences: Usage, Networking and Participation over Time, in Proceedings of the 25th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media (Hypertext 2014), pp.285–290. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1403.7772 Wikipedia (2016). List of scientific laws named after people. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_laws_named_after_people

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Dress codes and the academic conference Alistair McCulloch

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Developing a sustainable academic workforce in paramedicine Peter O’Meara La Trobe University

Brian Maguire Central Queensland University

Paramedics are an integral part of the Australian healthcare system and are increasingly requested to provide a growing array of services in support of improved community health. Currently there are over 6,000 undergraduate paramedic students. A pressing challenge is the development and sustainability of a dedicated group of university paramedic academics. Urgent action is needed to: develop reliable sources of research funding; create smooth pathways for paramedic clinicians into academia; and, develop effective coalitions between ambulance agencies, paramedic professional groups and universities to ensure a sufficient number of paramedic academics are available to meet the educational needs of the profession.

Paramedics are an integral part of the Australian healthcare

2013). By 2014, the 16 Australian universities offering

system as both responders to medical emergencies and

programs of paramedicine had 6,372 undergraduate

major public health incidents, such as natural disasters and

students,

those related to human activities (Maguire, Dean, Bissell,

Commission, 2016) as well as a rapidly rising number of

Walz & Bumbak, 2007). They respond to three million

postgraduate students.

(Australian

Government

Productivity

calls for emergency assistance every year (Australian

In addition, paramedic professionalism is maturing

Government Productivity Commission, 2016). Their

through a number of other concurrent activities

roles and scopes of practice are changing in response

including: the successful establishment of their own

to ageing populations, advances in technology, changes

professional associations; the emergence of expanded

in community expectations and broader health system

and extended scopes of practice; and, in the near future,

challenges. Paramedics are increasingly being expected

professional registration through the Australian Health

to provide important services in primary health care and

Practitioner Regulation Agency (Acker, 2016). The

injury prevention in the community and health facilities

practice of paramedicine has evolved from a standard of

(Bigham, Kennedy, Drennan, & Morrison, 2013).

care focused on stabilisation and transport to the hospital

Over the past decade the profession has moved its

to a standard of care that includes delivering a growing

education requirements from a primarily post-employment

list of medications and interventions.The focus is moving

in-house training program to a pre-employment university

toward treating more people in their homes and referring

bachelor’s degree (O’Brien, Moore, Dawson, & Hartley,

them to local resources (e.g. the local general practice

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Developing a sustainable academic workforce in paramedicine Peter O’Meara & Brian Maguire

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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physician) for follow-up care (O’Meara, Tourle, Stirling,

The major impediments to the development of the

Walker, & Pedler, 2012).While these factors are important,

paramedic academic workforce are: access to data;

a pressing challenge for the paramedic profession is the

research support from ambulance services; dedicated

creation, translation into practice, and continual renewal

research funding; and, ongoing access to clinical

of a unique body of knowledge through their own

care experience. Numerous anecdotal reports from

research efforts. Such activities are essential to ensure the

paramedic academics highlight the ongoing difficulties

quality of care provided to our communities.

of accessing ambulance service data and obtaining grant to

funding. As a result, paramedic academics have limited

demonstrate that its research contributes to the overall

Like

other

disciplines, paramedicine

needs

publication track records, restricted access to grant

vision and productivity of universities (McDermid, Peters,

opportunities and little chance of academic promotion.

Jackson, & Daly, 2012). Australia boasts a relatively high

Recruiting paramedic academics is also difficult because

number of doctoral-level qualified paramedics – estimated

of low salaries and limited promotion opportunities.

at approximately 30 in 2016, with over 60 higher degree

In addition, many paramedic academics have given up

research candidates enrolled (Network of Australasian

their clinical certifications because they are denied

Paramedic Academics, 2016). However, the demand for

practical opportunities to work clinically. It is clear that

paramedic academics continues to outstrip supply in

the development and implementation of policies and

those Australian universities currently offering entry-

practices to grow and sustain the paramedic academic

level paramedic programs.

Accordingly, the shortage

workforce in Australia needs to come from a cohesive

of adequately qualified and experienced paramedic

approach across universities, the profession, governments

academics poses a serious and foreseeable threat to the

and ambulance services.

sustainability of academic programs, undermines the

A number of crucial changes, at both strategic and

profession’s academic credibility in universities, and leads

operational levels, are needed to ensure a sustainable

to missed opportunities to improve paramedic services

development of the paramedic academic workforce.

to the community through university-based paramedicine research (O’Meara, 2006).

Firstly, strategies are needed to mentor and support aspiring paramedic academics. These strategies could

In common with other health disciplines, paramedic

include creating an environment in which practising

academics are expected to demonstrate the capacity to

paramedics are able to participate in research activities,

teach professional practice topics and clinical skills, while

spend time in universities through fellowships and joint

also being active and productive research scholars (Smith

appointments, and complete doctoral degree programs

& Boyd, 2012). Those already employed in universities

before fully transitioning to academic careers.

are required to meet annual performance benchmarks in

Secondly, the newly appointed and established

teaching quality, grant income and research productivity.

paramedic academics need the opportunity to maintain

Aspiring paramedic academics are increasingly required

their clinical currency through continuing professional

to hold doctoral-level qualifications and to have a research

practice in the same manner as is the case in other health

publication

disciplines (McDermid et al., 2012). Joint appointments

record.

Paramedic

academics

seeking

promotion to senior academic positions are typically

with

required to have substantial research records, in terms

academics maintain clinical currency (Murray, Stanley, &

of both grant income and peer-reviewed publications,

Wright, 2014).

and be nationally and internationally recognised for their research scholarship (Curtin University, 2016). knowledge

underpins

evidence-based

services

would

help

paramedic

Thirdly, in order for paramedic academics to establish and maintain research profiles relevant to their profession they

While it is well understood that the generation of new

ambulance

must have the opportunity to: influence and participate in

policy

ambulance service research governance processes; obtain

and paramedic practice (National Institute for Health

research funding in partnership with ambulance services;

Research, 2016), it is less well understood that the

and, help develop ambulance service research priorities

conduct of paramedic research is strongly linked to the

(O’Meara, Maguire, Jennings, & Simpson, 2015; Siriwardena,

recruitment and retention of a sustainable paramedic

Donohoe, Stephenson, & Phillips, 2010). An ideal action

academic workforce. Despite this link being identified for

would be to establish joint appointments between

the last decade (O’Meara, 2006),Australia lacks a coherent

universities and ambulance services.

strategy to encourage and support current and future paramedic academics. vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

At an operational level, ambulance services, professional associations and universities need to work together

Developing a sustainable academic workforce in paramedicine Peter O’Meara & Brian Maguire

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on the development and writing of competitive grant applications that address national paramedicine research priorities. This will inevitably involve ambulance services and professional associations committing substantial funds to support partnership grant applications through funding programs such as the Australian Research Council Linkage Program and the National Health and Medical Research Council Partnerships Program. In the longer term, one possible outcome could be the funding and implementation of a national, hub and spoke collaborative research centre where established and future paramedic researchers and academics could work together in a wellsupported research environment. In order to ensure an effective paramedic academic workforce, universities, ambulance services and the profession need to work together to better prepare paramedics

for

academic

careers

before

full-time

academic appointments are made, then continue to support and nurture the paramedic academic workforce to ensure its survival and prosperity. This coalition needs to work together to lobby government, private industry and foundations for dedicated research funding. Paramedic research capacity and outcomes underpin claims to professionalism, and these will ultimately determine whether paramedic programs continue in the nation’s universities or return to the industry based training and apprenticeship models of old. Such a reversion would mean a less skilled and well-rounded workforce, a limit on the creation of new knowledge into the future, the loss of a generation of paramedic academics, and would be deleterious to the quality of care provided to the citizens of Australia. Professor Peter O’Meara is Professor of Rural & Regional Paramedicine in the School of Rural Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. Professor Brian Maguire is a Professor in the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia. He is a 2009 Senior Fulbright Scholar. Contact: p.omeara@latrobe.edu.au Tel. 0354447870

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References Acker, J. J. (2016). Informing our Future: The development of a regulatory framework for registered paramedics in Australia. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, 13(2). https://ajp.paramedics.org/index.php/ajp/article/ view/526 Australian Government Productivity Commission. (2016). Report on Government Services, Chapter 9, Fire and ambulance services. Table 9A.37. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, Retrieved from http://www.pc.gov. au/research/recurring/report-on-government-services/2016/emergencymanagement/fire-and-ambulance-services Accessed 14/12/2017. Bigham, B. L., Kennedy, S. M., Drennan, I., & Morrison, L. J. (2013). Expanding Paramedic Scope of Practice in the Community: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Prehospital Emergency Care, 17(3), 361-372. doi: doi:10.3109/10903127.2013.792890 Curtin University. (2016). Position Description - Associate Professor / Professor, Paramedicine. Accessed 31/08/2016. Maguire BJ, Dean S, Bissell RA, Walz BJ. Bumbak D. Epidemic and Bioterrorism preparation among EMS systems. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. 2007; 22(3): 237–242. McDermid, F., Peters, K., Jackson, D., & Daly, J. (2012). Factors contributing to the shortage of nurse faculty: A review of the literature. Nurse Education Today, 32(5), 565-569. Murray, C., Stanley, M., & Wright, S. (2014). The transition from clinician to academic in nursing and allied health: A qualitative meta-synthesis. Nurse Education Today, 34(3), 389-395. National Institute for Health Research. (2016). Care at the Scene: Research for ambulance services. London: National Health Service. Network of Australasian Paramedic Academics. (2016). Australian and New Zealand Paramedic PhDs and Graduate Research Students Dataset. O’Brien, K., Moore, A., Dawson, D. A., & Hartley, P. R. (2013). An Australian story: paramedic education and practice in transition. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, 10(4), Article No. 1432. O’Meara, P. (2006). Searching for paramedic academics: vital for our future, but nowhere to be seen! Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care, 4(4), Article No. 9900228. O’Meara, P., Maguire, B., Jennings, P., & Simpson, P. M. (2015). Building an Australasian paramedicine research agenda: a narrative review. Health Research Policy and Systems, 13(1), 79-83. O’Meara, P., Tourle, V., Stirling, C., Walker, J., & Pedler, D. (2012). Extending the paramedic role in rural Australia: a story of flexibility and innovation. Rural & Remote Health, 12(2), 1-13. Siriwardena, A. N., Donohoe, R., Stephenson, J., & Phillips, P. (2010). Supporting research and development in ambulance services: research for better health care in prehospital settings. Emergency Medicine Journal, 27(4), 324-326. doi:10.1136/emj.2009.072363 Smith, C., & Boyd, P. (2012). Becoming an academic: The reconstruction of identity by recently appointed lecturers in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(1), 63-72.

Developing a sustainable academic workforce in paramedicine Peter O’Meara & Brian Maguire

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REVIEWS

Good Evans! What next? Incorrigible Optimist: A Political Memoir by Gareth Evans ISBN 978-0-522-86644-5 (hardback), 978-0-522-86645-2 (ebook), Carlton, Australia, Melbourne University Press, 402 pp., 2017. Reviewed by Paul Rodan As he reveals in this memoir, Gareth Evans was one of

handedness of the raid on ASIO headquarters by Whitlam’s

only two cabinet members to have served for the totality

Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy. Equally uncomfortable

of the Hawke/Keating governments (the other was Ralph

was his experience in the Combe/Ivanov spy affair, with

Willis). This book follows his Inside the Hawke Keating

Evans regretting his failure to stand up for (as he saw it)

Government: A Cabinet Diary (2014), which covered

the unfair treatment David Combe received at the hands

the period from September 1984 to October 1986.

of both Hawke and ASIO.

Ultimately, various pressures left him unable to continue

When Hawke moved him from the Attorney-General’s

the diary while a minister – more’s the pity. In this more

post in December 1984, Evans could claim amongst

conventional format, he tells the story of a substantial

his achievements the creation of the Commonwealth

public career – before, in and after parliament.

Department of Public Prosecutions and the National

Despite growing up in a working-class family, with a

Crime Authority, plus the ending of certain residual

strong unionist tram-driver father, Evans does not claim to

(colonial) arrangements with the UK. But, there had been

have been propelled into politics by any proletarian zeal to

no progress on constitutional reform or a bill of rights.

wage class struggle. Rather, his main preoccupations were

In his new (unlikely) ministry of Minerals and Energy,

civil liberties and Indigenous rights, with an Australian Bill

Evans proved adaptable and capable, and in retrospect,

of Rights high on his wish list.There is some resemblance

he records his gratitude to Hawke for providing him with

to H V Evatt in the apparent faith in the capacity of

the opportunity to master an economics-related portfolio.

the law (and those with lawyer’s skills) to drive good

The experience exposed Evans to a range of controversial

public policy outcomes. Evans’ later involvement in the

issues, including environmental protection, Indigenous

architecture of the international world order would also

land rights, uranium mining and natural gas supply. It also

draw comparison with Evatt.

meant interaction with some of Australia’s leading business

As a polemicist and member of various committees

figures, occasionally described in colourful detail by Evans.

and boards, Evans (legal academic turned barrister) was

He survived with reputation intact and another election

already a reasonably public figure before his election to the

(1987) saw another change of ministry with a brief stint in

Senate. Entering the upper house in 1978, he maintained a

the mega-portfolio of Transport and Communications.

prolific output of speeches, writings and policy work, and

Deregulation of the airline industry was a key challenge

concedes that his time as Shadow Attorney-General was

in this role, but not one that worried Evans who asserts

a better preparation than going straight into government.

that this path ‘caused me no great ideological stress’, it

The Hawke Government’s first Attorney-General, Evans

‘being perfectly compatible with the kind of economic

had high hopes for the implementation of an expansive

modernisation that a contemporary Labor Party should

reform agenda. Alas, he reveals that Hawke, anxious to

in practice be implementing’ (p. 88). He then diverts into

avoid any repeat of the Whitlam Government’s tendency

a discussion of Labor’s socialist objective and associated

to embrace reform which scared the punters, had him on

issues, making the claim that he remains a democratic

a short leash from the start.

socialist rather than social democrat, although it is not

When Evans authorised the RAAF ‘spy-flights’ over

apparent (despite the assertive tone) how his version

Tasmania to assess developments with the Franklin

of the former would offend anyone claiming to be the

Dam, he not only earned himself the sobriquet ‘Biggles’,

latter. On the communications side of the portfolio, Evans

but prompted unfortunate comparisons with the cack-

provides some interesting observations about the ABC.

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Good Evans! What next? Reviewed by Paul Rodan

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Evans’ longest and most significant ministerial role was

at Oxford. As Chancellor of ANU (since 2010), he thus

that of Foreign Affairs, a post he held from September

brings a keener appreciation of the role of universities

1988 to March 1996. It could be said that he revelled in the

than do some of his Chancellor peers, increasingly drawn

position, applying his formidable intellect and capacity for

from the private for-profit sector and often with crude

sensible reasoning to advancing not only Australia’s foreign

utilitarian attitudes to higher education. Evans’ support for

policy agenda, but increasingly to broader international

elected staff and student positions on governing bodies,

problems and challenges, with the Cambodian peace

and his robust defence of free speech in the university, are

settlement a standout in this regard. Those who knew, or

refreshing, albeit increasingly novel. He addresses some of

knew of, Evans in earlier times probably still chuckle at

the key problems in the sector, and maintains an authentic

the notion of Gareth as diplomat in chief, but he seems to

Labor concern that upfront fees be resisted and low-SES

have pulled it off, mostly limiting his more acerbic barbs

students not fall by the wayside.

to the Senate and environs. In that context, his line that

The final chapter (‘Politics’) contains some well-

people take an instant dislike to Bronwyn Bishop in order

informed commentary about the state of politics, in

to save time remains a classic.

Australia and elsewhere. It also includes the mandatory

Not uniquely, Evans endorses a diplomacy which

obeisance to the political brilliance and reform genius

mixes pragmatism and principle, while cautioning

of the Hawke/Keating period; readers will take that

against human rights gestures which do more harm than

according to taste. But, in that context, a comment about

good. Australia’s middle power status was central to the

the Rudd Government rang true:

advancement of the key national interests of ‘security, prosperity and good international citizenship’ (p. 117). While relations with Indonesia were crucial, he does not resile from criticism of Suharto for the invasion of East Timor and for his earlier role in the massacre of up to half

Had serious concerns ever arisen about dysfunctional internal process, on the scale that they did in the first Rudd Government, it is inconceivable that we would have been inhibited about confronting the leadership with them (p. 332).

a million Communist Party members and supporters after

The inhibition he identifies cost Labor dearly, and

the 1965 coup (wrongly printed as 1995). He notes Paul

Evans is too diplomatic to suggest that his cabinet

Keating’s lack of apparent concern about these atrocities,

colleagues were simply more talented and competent

but who ever googled ‘NSW Labor Right, human rights’

(and less cowardly) than the Rudd/Gillard lot. But, it’s an

and expected to get any results? Given this critique, it is

unavoidable conclusion.

curious to read his affectionate description of the war

Perhaps predictably, Evans makes no mention of his

criminal Kissinger as a ‘fascinating old rogue’ (p. 181).

affair with Australian Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot, a

By way of possible balance, he later highlights an alleged

relationship that appears to have had some connection

comment by the ‘old rogue’ which displayed an apparent

with her defection to the ALP in 1997.She is only mentioned

indifference to the Cambodian genocide.

in the context of the Mabo legislation – as a ‘superb’ leader

Prior to the 1996 federal election, Evans had secured pre-

of the Democrats and having an excellent understanding

selection for a safe lower house seat, but his experience

round the issues (p. 48). While it is unrealistic to expect

as Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Treasurer, after

that public figures will include detailed commentary

loss of government, was not a rewarding one and he left

about such matters in their memoirs, they can usually cite

parliament after the 1998 election. With his record and

family sensitivities or a lack of public relevance by way of

connections, international opportunities were not in

explanation. In this case, however, there was an arguable

short supply with Evans’ most notable role probably that

public political consequence, rendering Evans’ muteness

of President and CEO of International Crisis Group, an

unsatisfactory.

international conflict resolution NGO. He also records his

While Evans might have expected to make his major

satisfaction with his role in the development, as co-chair of

contribution as Attorney-General, it is almost certain that

an international commission, of the notion of “responsibility

he will be best remembered as a long-serving and mostly

to protect’ (R2P) which provides a framework for UN

effective Foreign Minister, the experience then allowing

intervention against states engaging in genocide.

him to extend his role in international relations after

In his chapter on education, Evans acknowledges

leaving parliament. This memoir outlines, in an engaging

the role of inspiring school and university teachers in

style, quite a remarkable career, and dealing with the

leading him in the direction of the opportunities which

longest-serving federal Labor government, is an important

beckoned, first at the University of Melbourne and then

contribution to the history of that period. Despite seeing

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much of the worst of geopolitical realities, he retains

Paul Rodan is an adjunct professor in the Department

an optimism that workable systems can be created and

of Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology,

employed to produce a sane international order. Whether,

Melbourne, and a member of the Australian Universities’

in the age of Trump, many will share his optimism is

Review editorial board.

another matter.

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Whispering softly to me…. How to be an Academic: The Thesis Whisperer Reveals All by Inger Mewburn ISBN 978-1-7422-3507-3, Sydney, Australia, New South Publishing, 328 pp., 2017. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman Inger Mewburn is the Thesis Whisperer (https://

shit crazy’. Although that term made me think of David

thesiswhisperer.com), the blog site indispensable for

Attenborough in a dingy cave, and I don’t really believe

anyone who is thinking about doing a PhD; anyone

you can write 10,000 words every day, I could see how

who is doing a PhD and anyone who has done a PhD.

it could possibly be done every now and then; like when

It is a wonderfully practical gift to all of the above, and

panic stations are looming. If someone had shown me

a godsend to all supervisors, especially those who don’t

how it could be done when the faeces, cheiropteran or

think they need it. If you think that, then you really do

not, was about to meet the whirling blades, I would have

need it. And as an aside, the site has also had its benefits to

suffered considerably less angst during my own studies.

Mewburn herself, as she is now (as a consequence to the

But the book is about much more than doing your

site, she claims) director of research training at the ANU.

doctorate. It’s about being an academic, which, given the

Mewburn did her PhD in Faculty of Architecture, Building

title, is quite appropriate. If you had to boil the advice

and Planning at the University of Melbourne, which is

therein into three words, it would probably be ‘don’t do

where I work. Apparently, she graduated in 2009, which

it’. And not to use word ‘therein’. But she knows full well

is well before I started, so there is no obvious conflict of

that few people will listen to that advice. And she also

interest. But I do know people who know her, and they

knows full well that universities know that full well too,

say she is very nice. So, there you go.

and will have little hesitation in exploiting that desire. For

Her new book, How to be an Academic, draws heavily

those of us who have other strings on our bow, academia

on the blogs and posts she has put on the site over the

provides a reasonably steady stream of support for our

years; which in the hands of a less skilled narrator would

other activities, which in turn often makes us better at

be enough to suggest double-dipping and cashing-in. But

teaching or researching, and worse at managementy (Oh

Mewburn is a skilled communicator and instead of cutting

bugger off, Microsoft spell checker, that is a perfectly

and pasting what is already out there, she organises and

good word!) things. Unfortunately, it is the last that seems

contextualises her contentions without resorting to the

to have a disproportionate effect on becoming a real,

usual academic sleight-of-hand of couching everything in

tenured academic, known, in universities as in prison, as a

terms of one standardised theoretical framework or other,

‘lifer’. Those gigs are hard to get but Mewburn articulates

like ‘looking through a phenomenological lens’ or ‘coming

the must-dos to give yourself the best chance of getting

at it as postmodernist functionary’. Thankfully, the book

a toe hold.

transcends all that, and is so much the better for it. First

Most of us who have climbed, albeit temporarily, up

and foremost, it is accessible: I read the whole thing, cover

into the professoriate, have had help. Finding a mentor is a

to cover in a day and enjoyed every word. It is entirely

good step. Finding a good mentor is a big step.Their advice

useful. Even the bits that aren’t.

is invaluable. Having the DVC (Research) tell me that

Few books about doing your doctorate have a chapter

my application for promotion needed drastic rewriting

about writing 10,000 words in a day and not going ‘bat

didn’t immediately plunge me headfirst into the slough

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

Whispering softly to me…. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

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of despair because I trusted her completely. Although I

white male (generically privileged, apparently), there was

did, just for a moment, dip a toe into that loveless lake, I

much I recognised from both sides of the fence.

knew that she was basically right. And so it proved. If you

The book is also a fillip for those of us who didn’t

can’t find a good, trustworthy mentor, buy this book. It

come from a privileged background – my parents were

won’t hand you a tissue, buy you coffee and have a good

immigrants working in a factory to provide a better

chat, but it will provide succour, perspective and smile

future for their children and it was thanks to Gough and

encouragingly as you take a deep breath in preparation of

scholarships that I was allowed to do a PhD and get a desk

following her advice.

in the ‘foreign students postgrad room’ at the university –

Mewburn doesn’t specifically mention mentoring: she

because it provides sound advice to get over hurdles that

bangs on about networking. And she’s on the money:

are sometimes missed by the Skips.* For example, Mewburn

networks are essential. But she points out that they are a

doesn’t mention international students in any great depth

two-way process.You give as much as you take, else the ties

but makes her advice accessible to them. That is such

will come undone. And universities covet your networks

a fantastic strategy and skill; few international students,

for their own purposes: a small step away from those

especially those who can speak English reasonably well,

companies that steal and sell your mobile numbers and

want to be treated differently. I expect the same applies for

email addresses, so they can annoy you at tea time. These

early career researchers. She doesn’t talk down to anyone.

days, in job hunting it’s about who you know and who else

For me, the single most salient point of the book is the

you know (and how much status you can bring: grants,

suggestion that getting an on-going job in a university isn’t

papers, citations, media profile, consultancies and so on).

easy, but it is doable. If you are hell-bent on chasing that

That’s networking: rhizoming your way to the top. Build

red balloon, be strategic, be proactive, don’t lose sight of

your networks solidly, purposefully and trustworthily.

your aim (and your sanity), gird your loins and don’t let

The book is divided into six sections. The first covers her morphing into the thesis whisperer, which has a lot

the bastards grind you down. And have a copy of this book on your desk.

of “this is how I did it” stuff. The next five are beings: being academic; being productive; being a writer; being

Andrys Onsman’s affiliations at the time of writing this

employed and being political. Each chapter is built around

review were the Melbourne School of Design, University of

three or four blog posts, tied together by theme and

Melbourne, and the Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash

commentary. All the chapters are easy to read, and for

University, Australia.

those of us who have been there, each contains a neck muscle strain of head nodding. Even as a middle aged

*Anglo-Celtic Australians

English as she is spoke The Career Trajectories of English Language Teachers by Penny Haworth & Cheryl Craig (Eds.) ISBN 978-1-873927-87-8, Oxford, UK, Symposium Books, 256 pp., 2016. Reviewed by Neil Mudford This book contains a wealth of stories from and about

vital area of their lives, meeting a diverse range of people

English language teachers and their students. Many stories

of various cultures who are well travelled and being able

are very moving and their variety and complexity are

to travel yourself with skills and qualifications that are

striking. Acquiring English language proficiency can be

valued worldwide.

vital for employment and mobility for those whose first

As stated in the Foreword, the book’s particular

language is not English. Throughout the book, it is clear

importance lies partly in the fact that little has been

that English teachers find their work richly rewarding.

written about this huge variety of English language teacher

The rewards include satisfaction in helping people in a

experiences and their cultural, political and economic

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circumstances world wide. Much has been written about

Stanley makes the point that the literature supports

how to teach English but little about the lives of these

the idea that her findings for the Australian environment

teachers and their students.

are in keeping with English language teaching elsewhere.

In order to get to the rare gems in the book, you do

It therefore seems highly likely that English teachers

have to get past the title, which is about as dull sounding

elsewhere are unhappy with these aspects of their jobs.

as it could be, and the first chapter which reads like an

Consequently, it is most surprising that there are no

extended curriculum vitae for a job application. Then

mentions of industrial relations matters or complaints

there is the style of delivery in Chapters 2 and 3 sounding

outside of Stanley’s chapter even though we hear so much

to my ear to be the sort of all-encompassing, convoluted,

about many other aspects of the work.

high-level talk that sounds grand and highly perceptive but conveys little meaning.

Perhaps a factor in this silence about job conditions is the ‘rivers of life’ method and ‘storying’ oneself that a

For those who persevere, the book then opens out into

significant number of authors employ to assist in critically

a smorgasbord of complex tales from around the world of

considering and describing their career trajectories. The

the valiant and creative efforts of teachers, in sometimes

rivers of life approach involves contemplating one’s

trying circumstances, to help their students. Intertwined

professional history, identifying turning points in it and

amongst these are tales of the struggles students have in

thinking of these as ‘bends in a river’.This seems to me to

breaking into the English-speaking world.

encourage too great a focus on the individual’s internal

When I said above that English teaching skills and

life as an explanation for her/his career’s development.

qualifications are valued, I meant of course that many

It occurs to me that the meandering river metaphor

people and governments want to enjoy the benefits

should be taken a step further to include the surrounding

of English language teaching services. It will come as

countryside’s strong influence on a river’s path. This

no surprise, though, that the valuing stops well short

might lend more weight to the influence of external

of these skills attracting high wages and excellent

conditions on career trajectories. Broader influences are

conditions. In fact, quite the opposite is the case, in

considered and discussed in Section 2 of the book but

common with many other vital, helping professions.

these seem to have little connection with the individual

Nursing, firefighting and child care work spring

stories of teachers and students in Section 1.

effortlessly to mind.

Quite a number of authors recount how national or

Dr Phiona Stanley of the University of New South

state government policies have created difficulties or, less

Wales, raises these issues in detail in Chapter 15. Stanley

often, assistance for the profession. Policies are generally

canvasses the poor level of financial rewards and the

of two kinds: those that encourage or discourage English

poor working conditions suffered by English teachers in

language learning in the population and those that mandate

Australia. This is particularly so in language schools but

standards for student achievement and progress rates.

universities often have separate, lower paid levels for

Interestingly, the latter seem to generate stronger

English teachers. One of Stanley’s interviewees puts it in

feelings amongst teachers. Several authors complain

a nutshell when she says: ‘If I worked in a nice restaurant

about the tension between what they believe the student

I’d make more money than I do here [at an accredited

needs and what the government demands for rapid

international chain language school]’.

progress as measured by high-stakes generic testing. The

Casual teachers suffer the most as they are paid only for

resources are rarely available to the teachers for meeting

the teaching contact hours with the time for preparation

both these goals.The deep concern for student well-being

and marking unpaid. This leads to the ludicrous result

is frequently what drives the teachers to persevere in the

that a trained teacher holding a university degree can

profession and sometimes this can only be realised by

effectively be working for less than the minimum wage.

resisting the demands from on high.

In consequence, language school wages are so low and

The teacher’s stories attest that the greatest upheavals

the appointments so insecure and variable that few can

and upsets occur when policies are changed rapidly,

actually make a living from the work. As a result, many

irrespective of the nature of the changes. For instance, a

of the teachers who persist in the profession have other

number of instances are cited in which rapid growth in

incomes or a partner with a liveable income. Though

English teaching is decided upon but teacher numbers

highly motivated by the nature of their work, the teachers

and skill levels are insufficient for the expansion. This

working under these conditions state strongly that the

leads to overwork for the teachers and therefore no time

low pay is a burning issue for them.

to undertake the necessary professional development. In

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this way, a potential upturn for the profession can become another stressor for teachers.

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This book is a valuable insight into the inner workings of a profession that is widespread and plays an important

There are many examples in the book that illustrate

role in this globalised world.The complex picture it paints

the fact that the relationship between English language

of the lives of teachers and students is highly engaging

teachers and their students is often more intense and

and I hope it helps enhance our respect and admiration

inter-dependent than for teaching in other disciplines.

for them all.

This is highlighted by many of the authors who note that it has many implications for their teaching and the

Neil Mudford is an Honorary Senior Lecturer with UNSW, an

students’ learning. For example, intense student needs can

Adjunct Senior Fellow with the University of Queensland and a

cause teachers to undertake additional pastoral care roles.

member of the Australian Universities’ Review editorial board.

Between paternalism and academic freedom What’s Happened to The University? A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilisation, by Frank Furedi ISBN 978-1-138-21293-0, London, UK, Routledge, viii+205 pp., 2016. Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer Much has been written about the changing contours

rise of managerialism (Klikauer 2013 & 2015) has

of universities. Now, eminent sociologist, Frank Furedi

changed universities from being institutions based on

examines the last 40+ years of university changes. His nine-

academic faculties into managerial organisations in which

chapter book starts with the fact that more than 50 per

management sets the tone while academics have been

cent of young people attend university. This changes the

downgraded to course delivery workers and output-

impact of universities on society as a whole. Furedi’s core

oriented researchers strictly monitored under “impact

argument is that increasing cohorts of infantile students

fetishism” linked to key performance indicators.These are

arriving at universities have led to an infantilisation of

also ‘the sub-mental technocrats who enforce targets in

universities in which emotionally immature students

university teaching’ (Poole, 2017, p. 2).

seek protection from supposedly distressing readings

As a consequence of all that, the ‘university has become

and course materials, which in turn has led to a damaging

the target of constant rule making’ (p. 2) that, in turn,

influence on academic freedom and freedom of speech.

enhances managerialism. Furedi’s analysis does not

To elaborate his thesis, Furedi’s first chapter starts with

focus on the academic-university relationship but on the

‘the weaponisation of emotions’. This is followed by the

student (mostly undergraduate) university relationship

harm it does to academia and culture wars. Chapter 5 is

that is increasingly defined through an ‘infantilisation of

dedicated to ‘verbal purification’ while Chapter 6 debates

the campus’ (p. 4). Its ‘custom of risk-averse regime of

‘microaggression’. The final three chapters outline ‘new

childrearing’ (p. 5) is more a feature of schooling than

etiquettes, trigger warnings’ and finally what Furedi sees

university. This feeds nicely into managerialism’s ideology

as the ‘freedom-security trade-off’.

of ‘risk management’ (p. 7) postulated under the general

Furedi begins, ‘when students argue that some books

‘better safe than sorry’ (p. 8) idea.

are dangerous to their psychological well-being or

Under the common ‘it is a dangerous world out there’

that some arguments and criticism are so toxic that it

hallucination, university management has entered the

can traumatise them, it is evident that the university

‘groupthink’ of needing to provide ‘a safe space’ (p. 9)

faces a serious challenge to its academic integrity’ (p.

where the ‘adverb ‘safe’ carries connotations of ‘safe sex,

vii, preface). On the basis of a perceived ‘student care’

safe drinking, safe eating…and stay safe’ (p. 10). While

request that places students at the centre of universities,

violence in almost all advanced countries is in decline

universities have become paternalistic. The stratospheric

– despite corporate media hype – universities have set

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up ‘stay safe web pages’ telling students to ‘be aware of

2002; Zimbardo, 2008) and nobody would know what

your surroundings’ (p. 11). In the USA, this is supported

“conditioned helplessness” might mean (Seligman, 1975).

through the “Safe Campus Act” (p. 9).This, so Furedi states,

Today’s risk avoidance management not only impacts

adheres to ‘libertarian paternalism [which] is founded

on research, teaching is exposed as well when such

on the premise that government and private institutions

knowledge is framed as ‘challenging material’ (p. 43) as

are entitled to manage and influence the behaviours of

‘students demand that they ought to be shielded from

individuals in order to ensure that they make the “right”

exposure to topics and texts that may make them feel

decisions. Libertarian paternalism is less coercive and

uncomfortable’ (p. 45). As a consequence,‘many teachers

authoritarian than the version practiced by explicitly

have altered their teachings style’ (p. 45), i.e. cushioning

antidemocratic rulers in the past’ (p. 14).

students while self-censoring teaching material and

Crucially, ‘once adults are diagnosed as lacking the

‘ensuring that undergraduates have a problem-free

capacity to exercise independent judgement, they become

and pleasant life’ (p. 46). Much of this reaches beyond

infantilised’ (p. 15) and as British philosopher Bauman

research and teaching and actual behaviours as a Warwick

(1989) would say, ‘objects of power’ of managerialism

University case shows (p. 50):

(Klikauer, 2016). It is managerial rule under the guise of ‘paternalistic practices [that] assume a benevolent image of profiling students with support’ (p. 15). As a result, Furedi’s ‘students need universities that educate them for a life of freedom and independence, not safe spaces that turn them into infantilised supplicants demanding protection’ (p. 16). Today’s paternalistic university no

Professor Thomas Docherty, a prominent critic of the instrumentalisation and market-driven ethos of British higher education, faced serious disciplinary charges and was suspended from his post by the University of Warwick. His alleged crime included ‘disrespect for job candidates’, showing negative ‘body language’, and the use of ‘ironic’ comments – though in the end he was found not guilty of these ludicrous charges’.

longer educates students for a life of freedom, as capitalism

Furedi writes that ‘often, the mere suggestion that

has just replaced freedom with entrepreneurship and

a particular form of behaviour might cause offence is

independence as we are made to believe that we all

sufficient to move the culture police into action’ (p. 65).

depend on capitalism sold to us as TINA: there is no

Almost self-evidently, ‘many American universities now

alternative. Twenty-first

prefers

routinely email their students at Halloween to warn them

‘infantilised supplicants’ begging for the next commercial

about the need to wear culturally sensitive costumes’

product while willing to self-adjust to managerial regimes.

(p. 67). There obviously is a need to be protected from a

century

capitalism

At a time when neoliberalism is eliminating the last

pumpkin with a candle inside.

remnants of the welfare state, a ‘powerful…therapy

Luckily, many universities offer a ‘safe space’ (p. 70) to

culture [rises under which] the twenty-first-century

protect students from pumpkins. These safe spaces, of

university would be an institution wedded to the new

course, imply that the ‘world is inherently unsafe’ (p. 71),

ethos of helplessness, support groups, counselling services,

thereby feeding the culture of fear. Beyond that, safe spaces

mentors, facilitators and emotional conformism’ (p. 17).

protect students as ‘many undergraduates regard serious

These (and others) flank capitalism’s ‘Cold Intimacies’

criticism and debate as an unacceptable challenge to their

(Illouz, 2007) in which ‘vulnerable children [can continue

person’ (p.74) failing to distinguish between academic

to be] vulnerable students’ (p.20) in a seamless furtherance

arguments and personal judgements. As a consequence,

of ‘the overparented child’ (p. 22) well into adulthood.

students are now turned into a guiding institution after

All this occurs under the unquestioned assumption that

the conversion of universities into public relations driven

there is an ‘emotional fragility of university students…

PR-universities (Cronin 2016) with the adjacent rise of

treated as if they are likely to possess some emotional

the “the customer is king” ideology. Given the student-to-

deficits’ (p. 32).This feeds into a ‘culture of fear’ (p. 36) that

educational-customer move, such educational customers,

also shapes academics, now forced to go through ‘Ethics

and increasingly the no longer academic management

Committees [to] demonstrate that their project is safe’ (p.

university, management fail to understand that ‘the exercise

37). I am still wondering what sort of emotional stress I

of judgement is not directed towards people but towards

[as a researcher] can cause when asking a BHP manager

ideas; its aim is to transcend the personal’ (p. 77). Under the

how many container ships BHP has? Under today’s ‘risk

“customer care” ideology, university management follows

managers’ (p. 37), what we have learned from Milgram

the ‘avoid rocking the boat’ (p. 79) metaphor.

and the Stanford Prison Experiment would be eliminated

Not surprisingly,‘university leaders are complicit in the

long before any research could be conducted (Bass,

project of relieving students of the uncomfortable burden

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of holding their beliefs to account’ (p. 85). The emotional

students that [they] are about safety’ (p. 147) in an

cushioning of students extends well into the area of

increasingly safer world (Pinker, 2017). While the world

‘verbal purification’ (p. 89) where ‘as a managerial practice,

is getting safer, students are protected from dangerous

linguistic governance is indifferent to the content of

literature such as, for example, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs

speech: its concern is with the risk of tolerating it’ (p. 90).

Dalloway, Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Ovid’s

Typical for managerialism, managerial ‘rule-makers tend

Metamorphoses, Shakespeare’s

to assume that more rules are needed’ (p. 94), something

Dream, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Sophocles’

that is ideologically flanked by a deregulation hegemony.

Oedipus the King (p. 149f.).

Midsummer

Night’s

Meanwhile and perhaps more devastatingly, ‘throughout

Protecting its full-fee paying commodity (students),

most of history, campaigns for verbal purification were

protection via trigger warnings includes ‘virtually any

directed at heretical doctrines or subversive ideologies’

aspect of the human condition [such as] avoiding

(p. 100). The day might not be far off when Darwinian

discussion altogether [as well as] a smell, song, scene,

biology can no longer be taught because students claim,

phrase, person, and so on’ (p.154). As such, ‘Harvard law

‘this hurts our religious feelings’.

professor Jeannie Suk’ (p. 158) teaching rape law might

To assure students’ emotional wellbeing in an academically

cleansed

environment,

be close to becoming impossible when infantilised

university

students fail to understand that ‘academic learning is not

management has moved to micro-manage ‘microaggression

simply an extension of schooling’ (p. 163) even though

[defined as] the brief and commonplace daily verbal,

today’s universities often resemble exactly that. All of

behavioural, and environmental indignities, whether

this, according to Furedi, damages academic freedom and

intentional or unintentional that communicate hostile

freedom of speech. In his final chapter, he discusses ‘why

derogatory, or negative racial, gender, and sexual

academic freedom must not be rationed – an argument

orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target

against the freedom-security trade off’ (p. 157).

person or group’ (p. 107). This allows university managers

While ‘historic breakthroughs in intellectual and

the opportunity to extend the scope of the paternalistic

scientific thought inevitably challenge the prevailing

regulation of behaviour’ (p. 115) while ‘the charge of

order’ (p. 170), today’s market-driven and consumer-

microaggression conveys the presumption of guilt’ (p.

oriented PR-universities favour ‘attacks on academic

117), moving the ‘warning “you can’t say that” to “you can’t

freedom within the university [perhaps in the knowledge

think that”’ (p. 121). All of this reaches well beyond ‘the

that these] are far more consequential than those launched

quest for a new etiquette’ (p. 125) as, for example, ‘the

by politicians’ (p. 171). In other words, managerialism

definition of sexual harassment has expanded to include

is a much better instrument to domesticate academics

conduct that is simply unwelcome’ (p. 128).

when seeking to render universities into extended R+D

Many of these university initiatives are linked to ‘raising

facilities for capitalism as the entire system increasingly

awareness. The word ‘aware’ signifies watchful, vigilant,

depends on advances in knowledge. Furedi closes with

cautious, on one’s guard…to be on one’s guard against’

a hopeful note: ‘a serious higher education institution

(p. 137).The theme of raising awareness implies not being

does not seek to limit academic freedom but to affirm

aware and ‘the possession of awareness is a marker of a

it. It regards academic freedom as a non-negotiable value

superior status’ (p. 138) held by university management. It

that underpins the genuine pursuit of intellectual and

favours, once again, the rise of managerialism. ‘In 1975, in

scientific clarity. It teaches its members how not to take

the US, there were almost twice as many professors [sic:

uncomfortable views personally and not to be offended

academic staff] as administrators, today the administrators

by them. Instead of allowing the rationing of academic

outnumber the faculty’ (p. 139). In the space of just over

freedom, it lives and breathes this principle’ (p. 186).

40 years, managerialism has taken hold while academics have been downgraded to the role of mere auxiliaries,

Thomas Klikauer teaches at the Sydney Graduate School of

framed as instructors and course deliverers as universities

Management, Western Sydney University.

resemble more and more a Fordist car factory that mass

References

manufactures degrees. Assuring a smooth manufacturing process demands handling of the product (training) and the customer (students) with care.

As a consequence, university

management uses trigger warnings’ (p. 146) ‘to show

64

Blass, T. (2002). The Man Who Shocked the World. Psychology Today, March/ April: 68-74. Cronin, A. M. (2016). Reputational capital in ‘the PR University’: public relations and market rationalities, Journal of Cultural Economy, 9(4):396-409.

Between paternalism and academic freedom Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

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Illouz, E. 2007. Cold intimacies: the making of emotional capitalism, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Poole, S. (2017). The Death of Homo Economicus review – why does capitalism still exist? The Guardian. From https://www.theguardian.com, 28 Sept 2017.

Klikauer, T. (2013). Managerialism – Critique of an Ideology, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Seligman, M. E. P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death, San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

Klikauer, T. (2015). What is Managerialism? Critical Sociology, 41(7-8): 11031119.

Zimbardo, P. G. (2008). The Lucifer effect: understanding how good people turn evil, New York: Random House.

Pinker, S. (2017). The Surprising Decline in Violence (TED-Talk, 20th March 2017: www.ted.com, accessed: 7th August 2017).

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an Academic Superhero! How to be an Academic Superhero by Iain Hay ISBN 978-1-7864-813-3, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. 245 pp., 2017. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman Iain Hay is an old hand at academic development in

The book isn’t so much about how to teach or how to

higher education and his advice is worth taking heed of. I

do research as it is about how to be an academic, how

remember that when he won the Prime Minister’s Award

to operate in the academic environment. The two key

for Australian University Teacher of the Year in 2007, I

messages are networking and time management. There

was impressed with his prodigious output that seemed

are five parts:

to be entirely about offering advice to anyone wanting

1. Setting out as an academic superhero

to be a good university teacher. His latest book targets

2. Refining your academic superhero credentials

‘establishing and sustaining a successful career in the

3. Applying your academic superpowers where they

Social Science,Arts and the Humanities’ but for my money,

are needed

there is something in it for several audiences: those who

4. Performing as an academic superhero

are thinking about starting a career in higher ed; those

5. Preserving your academic superpowers.

who have started but aren’t getting anywhere; and those

I did warn you about the hyperbole – even if the term

not at all involved in the dizzy world of universities but

“academic superhero” isn’t actually Hay’s but Pitt &

interested in why so many people still want to give it a go,

Mewburn’s. But you get the drift of the structure of the

even when it is so difficult to get a reasonable job.

book: it’s all about getting in and staying in.

I should acknowledge at the onset that I’m not a fan

The four chapters that make up Part 1 are ‘Get qualified’,

of hyperbolic, funky titles. Superheroes belong in comic

‘Find a good advisor’, ‘Get mentors, get advice’ and

books. Just become good at what you do: you don’t need

‘Prepare a good CV”. Each chapter is short but chockfull

to wear your undies outside your pyjamas. I guess the title

of good advice. Examples include the advice on doing

is an acknowledgement of the zeitgeist. Whatever – I’m

some background checking on whom you are intending

not a fan of zeitgeists either.

to approach for doctoral supervision, and where they

Hay leads the aspirant through the steps of getting and

operate; the advice on setting up a master CV and the

holding a job in academe, and although he never says it

benefits of finding good mentors. However, you should

in so many words, I like the fact that he implies that once

also be careful in being mentored, especially if you are

you’re in, you need to work bloody hard, manage the job

starting off. It’s all fine and dandy in theory but in reality,

as well as your health and if you want to make it an actual

good mentors are few and far between. You have to be

career, get really good at it as quickly as possible. If you

lucky (and I was) to find a good one.

don’t, you will get caught out. It’s not about how good you

Most successful senior academics are too busy to give

think you are, it’s about how good others think you are.

more than perfunctory advice, even if they would like to

An inflated ego is just as bad as false modesty and Hay is

provide more. Some will simply exploit you. The worst is

brilliant at nudging you in the right direction, head-wise.

the unsuccessful academic dispensing advice and support,

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arrogantly unaware that they have nothing substantive to

Putting in an application takes a sizeable ego, and sizeable

offer anyone. You’d be surprised about how many Early

egos get bruised easily (unless you’re a psychopath with an

Career Academics get sucked in by people like that. My

external locus of control, in which case this probably isn’t

advice is to check their actual achievements rather than

the right kind of work for you. Allegedly.)

to rely on their narratives. A good mentor is a great help; a bad mentor is a great hindrance.

On the other hand, Hay’s advice on how to get an interview and how to handle it is simple but right on

Part 2 is all about focusing and putting yourself about.

the money. Read it several times, slowly. When you have

Hay gently points out that once you’ve got some runs on

made a final version of your application, read every bit

the board (and runs come in many forms), you have to get

of it out loud. The boxed texts are generally excellent

out from under that bushel. You have to be academically

and, in the case of interviews and presentations, worth

capable, reliable, knowledgeable and personally a good

internalising as a default position. The list of probable

colleague. You have to do good things and then make

questions is accurate (in my experience) and it is well

sure that people know about the good things you’ve

worth articulating clear answers to them all. And take

done. It sounds like a no-brainer (and it probably is) but

every opportunity to rehearse. Drive friends, family and

you actually have to do it. Find out what the system is

the dog mad!

and use it. But make sure you have substance to back it

Part 4 is about ensuring you stay in once you do manage

up. Particularly helpful is the section on on-line visibility.

to get into the cloisters. All of the things he mentions

Having a good web-site, preferably made by a professional

are correct – although I wish he’d put more emphasis on

designer rather than one you’ve thrown together yourself

how bloody hard you have to work and on the fact that

on a wet Sunday afternoon, really does make a difference.

regardless of how hard some people work, they’ll still

You’d be surprised who contacts you and why. The good

be less than adequate. Securing funding is important but

thing is that they already know something about you –

hard. Getting papers published in A* journals is important

which saves everybody time and effort.

but hard. Attracting good research students is important

Part 3 moves to getting a job: there are chapters called

but hard and graduating them is even harder. Doing a lot

‘Develop relationships with supportive referees’,‘Find the

of speaking in sought-after conferences is important but

right job’, Write a compelling job application’, ‘Perform

hard – both getting the gig and doing it well. Doing good

well at job interviews’ and “Manage job interview failure

research; teaching well; tapping into consultancy work;

and success’. All but the second chapter, are full of good

getting (meaningful) committee work – they are all really

advice, hints and tips and checklists.

important but also really hard. And as Hay points out they

Let me get a quibble out of the way first. No matter how

are essential to getting recognised as a good operator. But

positive or emotionally intelligent or any other hippy-

it does seem just a little bit hopeful to suggest that you

happy fad you subscribe to you are, it is unrealistically and

should also consider doing volunteer work. I’d put that

a little cruelly hopeful to have a chapter entitled “Find the

last on my list; after having a G&T or two with your life-

right job”. Much more realistic would be a chapter entitled

partner whenever it is possible, even if your life-partner

“Find a job. Any job.” Unless you have an unhealthily close

exists only in your imagination.

personal relationship with a Weisteinian dean, getting a

The other little quibble I have is his blunt advice to not

job is not a matter of choosing a nice one from a range

blog. I don’t do it and confess that I know little about it but

of options. It’s grabbing what comes up and recalibrating

some people, the Thesis Whisperer (see earlier review) is

your plan from there.

an obvious example, have made impressive careers out of

Hay advises seekers to develop a relationship with recruiters and head-hunters. It is worth a try, but I wouldn’t

it. He says, “Don’t”; I say, “Keep an open mind”. We both say,“Be careful!”

count on it. My advice is to apply for everything because as

The fifth and final part is all about maintaining your

he (Hay not Weistein) points out, statistically the chances of

health, happiness and a shred of dignity. The advice is

getting a job are slightly worse than winning Tattslotto when

sound, solid, essential and too often ignored – refer to

the amount up for grabs is big enough. It’s heartbreakingly

previous section for reasons. But don’t ignore it. It is

difficult to score a win. Perhaps that is why the sub-section

really important. Learn to say “no” politely, or at least be

on dealing with interview failure is so brief. No matter how

somewhere else when the dean is looking for someone

mindful you are, missing out on getting an interview, or

to do something. Hay knows full well that it is a job, even

missing out on the job when you do get an interview, is a

for those for whom it is a vocation. Even when it is all

major blow to your psyche and getting over it takes effort.

flowing nicely, Csikszentmihalyi-esque, and it doesn’t feel

66

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an Academic Superhero! Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

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like a job, it is a job. And as Hay says in his conclusion, by

on sabbatical. And most importantly, you might find after

becoming good at a basically unreasonable job, you are

a couple of years that you simply don’t like it. For the sake

perpetuating the unreasonable-ness of it, calcifying the

of your happiness, get out. Do something else. Quitting

exploitative demands that make it almost impossible. As

academia isn’t failing. It is opening a door to something

usual in this book, Hay is right on the money.

else much more beautiful and fulfilling.

And therefore, I wish he’d added a section entitled

But if you’re intent on becoming an academic, read the

“Getting out if it isn’t for you” or something like that.

first chapter of this book,‘Making Academic Superheroes’.

Academia isn’t for everyone. It can be a bugger of a job.

Read it twice and think carefully about what you want in

You watch people who don’t deserve it get ahead because

life. If that doesn’t weaken your resolve, then read the rest

they’re better at schmoozing than you, while you work

of the book. Don’t just skim through it, say “Yeah, yeah, I

your butt off and stay on semester long contracts for far

know that” but actually follow the advice on its pages as

too long because you really do want to make a difference.

and when you need to. And you will need to, believe me.

You get exploited by senior academics who put their own names first on papers when you’ve done all the work; you

Hay is a trustworthy mentor and his advice is sound. The book deserves a wide readership.

get abused by students who think their fees entitle them to a degree and you get harried by the dean who needs to

Andrys Onsman is an Associate Professor in the Sir Zelman

tick a truckload of impossible boxes and the lifers are all

Cowen School of Music, Monash University, Australia.

What we all know The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach ISBN 978-1-7605-530-74, New York, USA, Macmillan, 284 pp., 2017. Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

The Knowledge Illusion is written by a professor of

Despite this being the age of machines and computers,

cognition and a professor of marketing. Its central themes

our brain, however,‘is not like a desktop computer designed

are cognition, ignorance, knowledge, and the community

to hold reams of information. The mind is a flexible

of knowledge.The book is about cognition – not marketing

problem solver that evolved to extract only the most

which, for the most part, is largely concerned with getting

useful information to guide decisions in new situations…

us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have

our intelligence resides not in individual brains but in the

to impress people we don’t like. As a non-marketing book

collective mind’ (p. 5). This is the first key insight of the

on cognition and knowledge, Sloman and Fernbach’s work

book. ‘The secret to our success is that we live in a world

contains 15 exquisite chapters outlining that we as human

in which knowledge is all around us. It is in the things we

beings almost never know anything individually. We know

make, in our bodies, and workspaces, and in other people.

things together as – since the internet and Wikipedia– a

We live in a community of knowledge’ (p. 13). Beyond that,

global collective and are what Nowak and Highfield call

we as humans can share knowledge and this is something

“Supercooperators”. We communicate collectively and

that we ‘don’t see in other animals’ (p. 14).This is something

thereby create knowledge on which we can all draw –

that gave us the evolutionary edge over others from lions,

most easily, for example, through Wikipedia. Sloman and

to apes and even to Neanderthals. We are super intelligent,

Fernbach start with ‘a fundamental paradox of humankind,

we communicate, and we are a collective.This is even more

something they see in the following way: the human mind

true since the advent of the internet.

is both genius and pathetic, brilliant and idiotic’ (p. 3) as we

Still, there have been and there are intelligent people

have the minds of, for example,Albert Einstein,Alan Turing,

and not all of us have the same intelligence. Individual

Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, etc. but we also have

intelligence, so the authors argue, ‘is overrated’ (p. 18)

the often not so mindful Donald Trump.

even when considering that your average sea slug has a

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

What we all know Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

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nervous system consisting of roughly 18,000 neurons, a

words, with an “Intel Inside” we would have never gotten

lobster has about 100,000, a honeybee one million, rats

where we are today. Human thinking is so much more

about 200 million, and a human brain about 20 billion (p.

than just knowing things.

29). We use our sophisticated brains to create complex

We are where we are today because of our ability

societies and institutions even though Sloman and

to cooperate in collectives as Sloman and Fernbach’s

Fernbach believe ‘evolution dictates that there is no more

brilliant chapter on “thinking with other people” outlines.

important action than mating (we know people who feel

Just as the “lion-dilemma” says: hunt together or do not

the same way)’ (p. 44). Me too.

hunt at all – ‘the payoff was huge’ (p. 109) when hunting

Thinking about mating as well as engaging in thinking

large animals collectively. Firstly, we could do so only as a

as such gave us an advantage. Sloman and Fernbach write,

collective and secondly, we could only make use of 100kg

‘thinking beings were more likely to survive than their

of beef as a collective at a time where the fridge wasn’t

competitors because they were more likely to take action

even invented. Hence, Sloman and Fernbach’s conclusion,

that benefited them in the short run and the long run’ (p.

‘no individual could do this alone’ (p. 110).

49). For us humans, collective sharing and communicating

They also argue that ‘group intelligence…is more

remain imperatives. On the other hand, Sloman and

than the sum of its parts’ (p. 111). Think of a car that has

Fernbach argue, ‘imagine that someone – let’s say your

thousands of parts.What makes it running is not the sheer

spouse – refuses to talk to you. Now you have a problem’

number of parts but the working together, translating

(p. 57). Why? Some might see this as a blessing! But on

numerous parts into a driving machine. Unlike a car, unlike

a serious note, non-communication is a very serious

animals, and unlike a computer, we ‘share intentionality’

problem, in relationships, in work, and even in politics.

as we share intentions to hunt, our intentions to share a

In the non-talking spouse case, we reason backward, we

hunting bounty, and even our intentions to mate (as we

‘diagnose’ (p. 58) – why did the communication breakdown.

saw above). In all that, Sloman and Fernbach follow Lev

But we also reason forward when, for example, we examine

Vygotsky who argued ‘that it is not individual brainpower

‘causes [that] produce effects’ (p. 58). We assess future

that distinguishes human beings. It is that humans can

effects even though some people have a very limited

learn through other people and culture and that people

ability to do so. In some cases, these are the ones who fail

collaborate: they engage with others in collective

to think in hypotheticals and are incapable of ‘running little

activities’ (p. 115f.).

mental simulations’ (p. 59) assessing effects, impacts and

This even – perhaps especially – also applies to many

even alternatives. Still, ‘people ignore alternative causes

of the aforementioned intellectuals like Hawking, Chomsky,

when reasoning from cause to effect because their mental

etc. One might, for example, receive a Nobel Prize in 2013

simulations have no room for them’ (p. 61). This might

for finding the “Higgs bosom in 2012 [but as a matter of

just be one of the more devastating critiques on what

fact] nearly 3,000 people are authors on the key physics

became known as rational choice theories and the prisoner

papers that led up to the discovery, not to mention all

dilemma which force you to think A or B.

the workers who built and ran the $6.4 billion CERN

On the other hand, what many do is thinking ‘in

supercollider in which the observations of the Higgs

intuitions versus deliberations’ (p. 76) and ‘between

bosom were made’ (p. 119). Intelligence and intellectual

passion and reason’ (p. 78). Interestingly, Sloman and

achievement are not individual but collective. Similarly, the

Fernbach note that ‘more reflective people are more likely

machine-human interface is not individual but collective.

than less reflective people to prefer dark chocolate to

Despite very serious advances in machines, computers, and

milk chocolate. They are also less likely to believe in God’

even artificial intelligence (AI), these machines and even AI

(p. 83). Surprisingly, I only eat organic dark chocolate with

hardly ever communicate on a scale that resembles human-

above 90 per cent cacao and I stopped believing in God

to-human communication. Hence, Sloman and Fernbach

perhaps sometimes around grade three or four. Bingo!

note,‘we don’t collaborate with machines just as we don’t

On the downside, I also do (like many) ‘draw conclusions

collaborate with sheep; we use them’ (p. 140).

about the world based on small glimpses’ (p. 94) as one

In their chapter “thinking about politics”, the

can never know everything – even after trying for years.

key message of the “Knowledge Illusion” –we think

The sheer volume of knowledge in each field is virtually

(individually) that we know more than we actually

unknowable. Hence, it is relatively useless to ‘think of the

do– is explained in the realm of politics. Here, Sloman

mind as an information processor that spends its time

and Fernbach note that ‘Americans who most strongly

doing abstract computation in the brain’ (p. 105). In other

supported military intervention in the Ukraine in 2014

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were the ones least able to identify the Ukraine’s location

report being confident they could come up with $2,000 in

on a map’ (p. 172). Similarly disturbing is that ’80 per cent

thirty days’ (p. 240) – never mind college fees. Increasingly,

[supported] mandatory food labelling [that says] BEWARE:

attending college is a question of money – lots of money –

HAS DNA [even though] most foods have DNA’ (p. 172).

that many do not have. Strangely but true, ‘money gets its

These are people who vote. Some even put Presidents

value from the communal belief that it has value; its worth

into the White House. This may lead to the question:

depends on a social contract’ (p. 245). In short, money has

did ‘Winston Churchill [really go] too far when he said,

a great exchange-value but virtually no use-value – we can

“the best argument against democracy is a five-minute

exchange it for many things (e.g. a university degree) but

conversation with the average voter” (p. 191)? On the

we can hardly use it for heating a room, for example.

other hand, Churchill’s statement might speak less against

Sloman and Fernbach conclude by saying, ‘this book

democracy – perhaps it says more about the manipulating

has three central themes: ignorance, the illusion of

influence of corporate mass media.

understanding, and the community of knowledge’ (p.

Given all this, the authors nonetheless avoid getting

256). What alarms the authors is ‘not the amount of

deeper into manipulated perceptions of people and voters.

human ignorance, but that ignorant people don’t know

Still, both argue that intelligence is merely a ‘measure of

how ignorant they are’ (p. 257). The authors close with

a person’s intellectual horsepower [that instead should

a sentence that might be useful for many – ‘we find

be seen as] how much an individual contributes to the

out that what’s going on is more complicated than we

community’ (p. 206). An individual’s contribution to a

thought’ (p. 264). This ends a most exiting book on

community may even extend to the ‘ability to understand

knowledge (the things we know), the knowledge illusion

the perspectives of others’ (p. 207). Understanding others

(we underestimate what we do not know), and the

remains vital for human society and it also remains essential

community of knowledge (we, as a collective of people

that knowledge is seen as a collective issue. Not surprisingly,

create knowledge together).

Sloman and Fernbach argue that ‘to run a company, you

On the downside, however, the book pretends that

need some people who are cautious and others who are

capitalism does not exist and all this has nothing to do

risk takers, some who are good with numbers and others

with it even though many suspect that large chunks of

who are good with people’ (p. 208).

“the things we know” are created – at least at universities –

Even for venture capitalists, it is the ‘back team [that

through external research grants that either directly serve

counts and] not ideas’ (p. 211). Mark Zuckerberg and

capitalism or indirectly produce knowledge that hardly

Steve Jobs are often framed as corporate heroes. ‘But

ever challenges the global pathologies of capitalism. As a

that’s not how it works’ (p. 211) as they depend on a huge

consequence, “we underestimate what we do not know”

collective usually called a team, a company, or corporation.

about capitalism. While the authors are right on the

Consequently, Sloman and Fernbach write, ‘we live in a

mark that individual knowledge is basically common and

community of knowledge…intelligence is not a property

collective knowledge – the community of knowledge –

of an individual: it’s a property of a team’ (p. 212). From

the relentless ideological apparatus of capitalism seeks to

all this one might see why working in teams remains

make us believe that knowledge only exists as individual

important and why it is conducted at companies, schools,

knowledge. Including what shapes the things we know,

and universities where many students reject online degrees

the things we don’t know, and our misleading perceptions

in favour of active class rooms, e.g. team teaching (Klikauer

on individual knowledge would have undoubtedly

2016). It is conceivable that online teaching might facilitate

enriched the book.

the problem that ‘many students confuse studying with light reading’ (p.218). A university degree is distinctly

Thomas Klikauer teaches stuff in the Sydney Graduate School

different from an online course for a drivers’ license.

of Management, Western Sydney University.

At university as at the workplace, we really do engage in ‘communities of learning’ (p. 228).That is something online teaching – if it is teaching at all – can hardly deliver. Online degrees might be more a marketing and cash-creation issue for the neoliberal “PR-university” (Cronin 2016:399). Unfortunately, Sloman and Fernbach often stop short of discussing the economic drivers behind all this even though they are aware that ‘only a quarter of US households vol. 60, no. 1, 2018

References Cronin, A. M. 2016. Reputational capital in ‘the PR University’: public relations and market rationalities, Journal of Cultural Economy, 9(4): 396-409. Klikauer, T. 2016. Selling Students Short: Why you won’t get the university education you deserve, Management Learning, 47(5):629-633. Nowak, M. & Highfield, R. 2011. Supercooperators: Altruism, evolution, and why we need each other to succeed, New York: Simon and Schuster. What we all know Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

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Uni-que? UNSW: Australia’s global university by Mick Le Moignan ISBN 981-7-4223-519-6, Sydney, Australia, NewSouth Publishing, 304 pp., 2017. Reviewed by Neil Mudford This book deals primarily with the University of New

the schemes but not mentioned in any detail in the book.

South Wales’ (UNSW) long-running programs providing

One is the goodwill towards Australia generated in our

higher education to students from overseas in Australia

region. The other is the benefit to the Australian people

and, more recently, at campuses in their home countries.

and their culture by getting to know people from the

It is clear that students who have gone through these

region and their cultures.

programs have had life-changing experiences that have

It occurs to me now as I write this that I first encountered

equipped and inspired them in their working and wider

Asian people in any numbers in 1967 as a Form 6 student

lives after graduation. This is especially so for those living

at Coburg High School. A dozen of my fellow students and

in the Australian community during their studies.

I moved that year from our outer suburban high school in

Also readily apparent is the fact that UNSW staff and

western Reservoir, then on the very edge of Melbourne,

students have helped the foreign students to cope with

to Coburg High in order to continue studying science.

and ultimately to be enriched by living and studying here

An abiding memory is that, as we left class to take the

and experiencing a culture markedly different to their

break in the schoolyard, the Asian students would put a

own. Over the decades since the programs’ beginnings in

friendly arm over your shoulder! That was culture shock

the original Columbo Plan, staff have put a great deal of

mid-1960s style for this northern suburbs Anglo-Australian

thought and effort into helping the students settle in and

teenager. I got used to it pretty quickly and found the

thrive. The staff took great pains to understand and look

whole experience of cultural differences exhilarating.

after the new arrivals’ many needs. This must have been

Many of the friends I made that year went on to university

quite challenging in the early years, when foreign students

in Melbourne and I realise now that they were probably

were a rarity and the challenges they faced would not

here on the Colombo Plan scheme.

have been widely appreciated. Starting university is a big

Clearly, all these good works are thoroughly deserving

enough shock to local students. See for example Dews

of praise. The story of the lives and experiences of all

and Law’s This Fine Place So Far from Home (1995) for

concerned are very interesting and well worth the telling.

discussion of the culture shock experienced by working

Unfortunately, this book tells the stories in such an

class people immersed in the middle-class university

appalling way that a great topic and theme are spoiled.

culture. Coming from other countries without family or

Someone should have put a stiff editorial broom through

friends must have been daunting for many young people,

this book early on. NewSouth Publishing won the

especially in the days when information on other cultures

Australian Book Industry Awards Small Publisher of the

was harder to come by than it is now.

Year in 2017 but I cannot imagine that UNSW: Australia’s

The UNSW staff learned as quickly as they could about

global university was a positive contributing factor.

the challenges faced by the students and did all they

The book is flawed in quite a number of ways. It is hard

could to help and support them. On top of tending to

to know where to start in summarising what is wrong

the obvious needs for advice, accommodation, food and

with it. We could start with the title which seems to have

so on, they also showed them sympathy and affection

become the university’s latest advertising slogan. Cringe-

which is probably what they most needed as they found

making in itself, the phrase is doubly embarrassing for

their feet in a new country. The many friendships that

its implications, plainly nonsense, that other Australian

developed between the visiting students and their

universities are not outward looking or not engaged

hosts referred to throughout the book are a tribute to

internationally or have few foreign students enrolled. I

the warm welcome and care provided by the people of

don’t know whether the slogan originated with this book’s

UNSW. There are two other great benefits generated by

title and was then taken up as a new UNSW marketing

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catch cry or whether some bright spark dreamed up the

tone in speaking of these teams, the members are adept

slogan and which was then slapped onto the book.Which

and focused and fiercely loyal to the leader.The combined

it is hardly matters, I suppose.

team works in close-knit fashion to flawlessly implement

A key flaw is that, with few exceptions, the main UNSW

the champion’s vision. Here and there in the book, some

staff actors in the tale are members of upper management.

teams are rewarded by appearing in a photograph with

That is a rather narrow focus but worse still is the

their champion.

sycophantic treatment of their roles in the overseas student programs and their wider roles in the university.

The approach and attitude smacks of the tales in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (Rand (1996)) and

Throughout the book, praise is lavished on their

Atlas Shrugged (Rand (1999)) in which Rand attributes

foresight, wisdom in decision-making, strategic thinking

creativity and productivity to captains of industry and

and magnanimous gestures. The hyperbole of this praise

decries essentially the rest of humanity as ungrateful

is, quite frankly, sickening. It is so unrelenting that it loses

‘hangers on’ who benefit from the efforts of this upper

its credibility and slides into comedy or something close

crust but simultaneously try to drag the great men down.

to it. Consequently, I feel embarrassed on behalf of the

I read both of these works in my youth at the insistence

many people who appear in the book who genuinely

of a friend who enthused about them and wouldn’t

helped the students at UNSW and put admirable effort

countenance me criticising them without having read

into doing so. Rather than damning with faint praise, the

them. I had to fight the gag reflex all the way from cover

book over-eggs the pudding with extreme praise.

to cover.

I wonder how many of the book’s characters saw any

Brief biographies and interviews of graduates from

draft copies before publication and whether they had a

the early years of the overseas student programs are

chance to intervene in setting the tenor of the work. Now

presented in Part Three of the book. All the characters

that it is out, are they wincing at how they are described?

appearing there returned to their countries of origin and

If so then how embarrassing for them and a poor reward

all achieved great success in their careers. The author

for sterling service; if not then Australia’s global university

makes sure that no one is in any doubt that the graduates’

sports an interplanetary upper echelon. The UNSW

studies and broader UNSW experiences are solidly linked

Chancellor, David Gonski, has given the book a glowing

to their successes.

endorsement in the Foreword so he, at least, must have been familiar with the contents.

For my taste, I would have been interested to hear of at least one or two graduates in this cohort who did

Another problem for me with the book’s approach is

not go on to be wealthy property developers, university

that the underlying model for leadership and the engine

chancellors or national government ministers and the

for creative and effective action expounded in the book

like, and to find out how the UNSW experience affected

is that of a few great leaders or champions, as ex-Vice-

their lives.

Chancellor Mark Wainwright calls them (p. 59).

Finally, in Part Four, the book drifts away from the

The university’s achievements are portrayed as

Columbo Plan theme and presents some of the exciting

flowing from each champion’s vision and drive. Under

research being done right now at UNSW. This section

this model, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, the

is presented in the same mood of extreme upbeat

academics who teach and research at the coalface, and

adulation that permeates the rest of the work.The section

the professional staff who deal with student matters,

culminates in Chapter 42 which trumpets the attributes

manufacture research equipment and other items in the

and plans for the future of the current Vice-Chancellor and

workshops seem to have no creative input to the research

President Ian Jacobs. Just as with the people who worked

discoveries, the teaching or other developments that

with the Colombo Plan implementation, the people and

build UNSW’s reputation and contribute to the broader

their research are exciting and most worthwhile, but

society. Certainly no detail of their contributions is

the author’s narrative style drowns them in an adulatory

described unless the person concerned has since risen to

sugar-coating.

management’s upper levels or leads a large research team.

As well as its failings as a piece of writing, the question

Exceptions to the invisibility of ‘ordinary’ staff are the

that keeps nagging at me is why the book was written

members of the small, dedicated team that each key leader

in the first place? When I first encountered it and began

or champion has about him. And it is almost always ‘him’

reading, I thought that it was simply an over-the-top

the two female champions being Jenny Lang, to whom the

advertising effort designed to impress overseas student

book is dedicated, and Betty Chow. Judging by the book’s

‘customers’ and their parents.This seemed to not quite fit

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enough of the facts. For example, who would pay $60 for

of Oz (Ian Channell) is mentioned (p. 28). I remember

such a weighty volume and wade through the mountains

him performing at La Trobe University. We thought he

of detail to be impressed by UNSW overseas student

was hilarious and would rush down to wherever he was

programs and sign up?

performing when word passed around that he was on

In the Preface (p xiii), the author states that people are

campus. He was a bit of light relief and we thought that

tending to refer to this work as a history, but he apologises

he made a positive contribution to the student rebellion

(not nearly sufficiently in my view, of course) and counters

and the anti-war movement by lightening it up with his

this view by stating that it is ‘nothing so comprehensive’. I

frivolity. Consequently, I am a bit shocked to find that the

agree. A properly constructed history would incorporate

UNSW Administration funded him, out of the university

a critical element and I fail to see any such thing here.The

coffers mind you, to undermine and disrupt the student

book is full of stories lavishing praise on the University’s

political movement by promoting his alternative ‘Fun

upper leadership but no mention is made of human or

Revolution’.They forced a reluctant UNSW Student Union

organisational failings or inadequacies.

to chip in for this as well it seems. UNSW historian Patrick

It is unbecoming of a university to publish a book like

O’Farrell is quoted in the book (p. 28) as saying that

this that masquerades as at least a somewhat reliable tale

Channell succeeded in ‘laughing the serious, doctrinaire

of the development of the organisation. If it were touted

socialists out of contention for student attention’. He

as an advertising blurb, it would still be embarrassing but

might have done so at UNSW, but he cheered us up at La

much less so than its actual form. A university ought to

Trobe and gave us renewed energy to protest against the

champion critical analysis. There is nothing critical about

Vietnam War. If Ian Channell wanted to see humourless

this publication.

political action he should have been present, as I was,

The portrayal of upper management as unfailingly

when the police baton-charged the peaceful and orderly

wise, benevolent and far-sighted is so ubiquitous that that

anti-Vietnam war march in Waterdale Rd., Bundoora, 200

we have to conclude that one purpose of the work is to

metres from the La Trobe campus in September 1970

convince readers that the University’s current leadership

where they bludgeoned the front ranks until they fell to

model is working brilliantly.

the ground, chased those who ran and bludgeoned them

Many of us bemoaned the loss of collegial decisionmaking and governance and its replacement by the command and control model with business-focussed administrators at the helm. The book spans the whole

and then arrested and charged some of the victims (York (1989)). Finally, I suggest that anyone planning to buy the book should ensure they have a coffee table to put it on.

period of UNSW’s existence and therefore contains tales of the earlier times when the collegial governance model

Neil Mudford is an Honorary Senior Lecturer with UNSW, an

operated at least to some extent. The book’s tales of

Adjunct Senior Fellow with the University of Queensland and

leadership and guidance in those times, however, focus

a member of the Australian Universities’ Review editorial

entirely on the Vice-Chancellor and those around him and

board.

other supposedly influential individuals, just as they do for the recent crop of Vice-Chancellors. No mention is made of Council nor Academic Board and certainly not of the Staff Association nor the unions. Consequently, these bodies seem to have played no role in the university’s growth and development and policy direction.Thus there

References Dews, C.L.B. & Law, C.L. (Eds.) (1995). This Fine Place So Far from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Temple University Press. ISBN13: 981566392914

has been no creeping coup because the current perfect

Rand, A. (2005) [1943]. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume. ISBN 978-1-10113718-5. OCLC 300033023.

top down governance has always been.

Rand, A. (1999). Atlas Shrugged. New York: Plume. ISBN13: 9780452011878

It seems then that the book serves a number of purposes. It is a self-serving, air-brushed history of UNSW, an advertisement for the university as a destination for

York, B. (1989) Student Revolt. Campbell, ACT, Australia: Nicholas Press ISBN 0 7316 7926 1. Pdf available at https://c21stleft.com/2015/09/05/student-revolt-latrobe-university-1967-to-1973/

overseas students and, as long as it is not examined too closely, it provides a justification for running the university in the modern way - as just another corporation. In spite of all of the above, a few quite informative passages do occur here and there. For instance, the Wizard

72

Uni-que? Reviewed by Neil Mudford

vol. 60, no. 1, 2018


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AUR 60 01  

Australian Universities' Review, vol. 60, no. 1

AUR 60 01  

Australian Universities' Review, vol. 60, no. 1

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