22 SES 03 D, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
In recent years, many commentators have diagnosed some form of crisis in the higher education sector (e.g. Barnett 1999; Readings 1996; Unterhalter & Carpentier 2010). While the number and size of private institutions, many of which are for-profit, has rapidly increased in recent decades (Altbach et al. 2009), public universities have also undergone processes of privatisation, with ‘cost-sharing’ policies becoming the norm. The introduction of variable fees (even if mitigated by the existence of loans and scholarships) serves to exacerbate social stratification, while beyond the national level, there are increasing international inequalities, with institutions aiming to improve their league table position and compete for a piece of the globally mobile student cake. The rise of ‘academic capitalism’ (Ylijoki 2003) and the ‘entrepreneurial university’ (Slaughter & Leslie 1997) position higher education firmly as a private good, one providing benefit primarily to individuals – benefits conceived in terms of economic value, rather than citizenship, culture or intellectual development.
Around the world, new forms of university are being established in response to these global trends. Examples include the University of the Land (UNITIERRA) and the Intercultural Universities in Mexico, the University of Latin American Integration in Brazil, Evergreen University and Sphere College in the United States, Lyon Zero University in France , University of the Third Age in Canada, Earth University in India, and the virtual Peer 2 Peer University, to name a few (Berg 2011; Giambartolomei 2009; Teamey forthcoming).
This paper aims to understand the new forms of learning enabled by these alternative universities. A number of small-scale alternative higher education initiatives have emerged in England in recent years, providing an ideal basis to study innovative practices and their impacts. These universities range from the highly organised, such as Schumacher College in Plymouth which retains many conventions of traditional HE (Blake & Sterling 2011), to informal, ‘spaceless’ learning institutes such as the Really Open University, the Free University in London and the Social Science Centre in Lincoln whose courses and structure are more fluid.
The research conceptualises alternative universities in England as communities of practice (CoP) (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) to consider their structural and pedagogical characteristics. As CoPs, they often seek to break down the traditional teacher-learner barrier and instil an environment of mutual experience and sharing. Second, they often comprise a group of people who are seeking to expand their knowledge and do so in working together. Furthermore, they remain open to anyone committed to similar interests and their existence relies on participation of members or students. However, CoP cannot fully encompass the politicised and transformational aims of these alternative universities and therefore also requires a Freirean lens through which to evaluate learning and broader outcomes of participation. Specifically, Freire’s (1972) notions of problematisation and conscientisation are employed: the former to describe the process of unsettling of common sense and unquestioned assumptions, and the latter the process of deepening political awareness in conjunction with action for social transformation.
Altbach, P., Reisberg, L. and Rumbley, L. (2009) Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution. Paris: UNESCO. Barnett, R. (1990) The Idea of Higher Education. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. Blake, J. and Sterling, S. (2011) Tensions and transitions: effecting change towards sustainability at a mainstream university through staff living and learning at an alternative, civil society college, Environmental Education Research, (17)1, 125-144. Berg, J. (2011) ‘It’s his very own university, and welcome to it’ Chronicle of Higher Education [Online]. Available at: http://spherecollege.org/Chronicle May 2011.pdf. [Last accessed 31st January 2012]. Chiang, L. (2004) ‘The Relationship between University Autonomy and Funding in England and Taiwan’. Higher Education, 48 (2),189-212. Freire, P. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Sheed and Ward. Giambartolomei, A. (2009). ‘Anarchy in the uni’. Presseurop. [Accessed online] : http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/137021-anarchy-uni Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Readings, B. (1996) The University in Ruins. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Slaughter, S. and Leslie, L.L. (1997) Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press. Teamey, K. (Forthcoming) ‘The Newest Universities: Indigenous-Anarchic Affinities and Imaginations – Queries and Possibilities for Research’ Compare. Unterhalter E. and Carpentier, V. (eds) (2010) Global Inequalities and Higher Education: Whose Interests Are We Serving? Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ylijoki, O.H. (2003). ‘Entangled in Academic Capitalism? A Case-Study on Changing Ideals and Practices of University Research’. Higher Education, 45(3), 307-335.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.