Journal Cover Higher Education
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   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1573-174X - ISSN (Online) 0018-1560
   Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2350 journals]
  • Decomposing ethnic differences in university academic achievement in New
    • Authors: Zhaoyi Cao; Tim Maloney
      Pages: 565 - 587
      Abstract: We use individual-level administrative data to examine the extent and potential explanations for the relatively poorer academic performance of three ethnic minority groups in their first year of study at a New Zealand university. Substantial differences in course completion rates and letter grades are found for Māori, Pasifika, and Asian students relative to their European counterparts. These large and significant gaps persist in the face of alternative definitions of ethnicity and sample restrictions. We use regression analysis and formal decomposition techniques to test whether differences in other personal characteristics, high school backgrounds, and university enrollment patterns might account for these ethnic disparities in early academic achievement. We estimate that no more than one quarter of the relatively poorer performance of Māori and Pasifika students would be eliminated if they had the same relevant observable factors of European students. Substantial unexplained ethnic differences in early academic performance at university raise concerns about appropriate policies to close ethnic gaps in academic achievement at university.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0157-6
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Student engagement in academic activities: a social support perspective
    • Authors: Matthew J. Xerri; Katrina Radford; Kate Shacklock
      Pages: 589 - 605
      Abstract: Student engagement in academic activities is a critical factor contributing to the overall success of students studying in higher education institutions. Yet the factors influencing student engagement in academic activities are still largely unknown. This study begins to address this knowledge gap by investigating the influence of student connectedness (relationships with peers and teachers), motivation to study (sense of purpose) and perception of workload upon student engagement in academic activities. During 2015, a total of 209 students responded to a survey distributed to first-year undergraduate students enrolled in a university business school in Queensland, Australia. Structural equation modelling was used to investigate the proposed relationships. Results suggest that student-student (peer) relationships, teacher-student relationships, and students’ sense of purpose for studying a higher education degree, were central to student engagement in academic activities. In addition, teacher-student relationships, and a strong sense of purpose were central to perceptions of student workloads. Finally, sense of purpose was found to moderate the relationship between both teacher-student and student-student relationships and also, perceptions of workload and student engagement. The findings from this study support the importance of developing effective teacher-student relationships, facilitating positive student-student relationships and communicating a clear sense of purpose to students, so as to improve their engagement in academic activities and optimise perceptions of workloads.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0162-9
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • The benefits of overseas study for international postgraduate students in
    • Authors: Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh; Gavin Jack
      Pages: 607 - 624
      Abstract: This paper investigates the benefits of overseas tertiary education for international postgraduate students enrolled at a research-intensive university in Malaysia, an emerging yet under-researched Asian education hub. The study is based on 55 semi-structured qualitative interviews with international students and academic and professional support staff. Our analysis identified three sets of benefits linked to specific economic, educational, social and cultural pull factors: academic success, building knowledge and skills, and contributing to home country on return. Our analysis illustrates the interplay between macro and meso-level actors and policies in shaping the micro-level experiences of international students. The paper contributes new insights into vital nuances in the nature and lived experience of the key benefits of international education relating to academic success and time, language learning and friendship, and employability and ‘giving back’.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0159-4
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Instructors’ teaching styles: relation with competences, self-efficacy,
           and commitment in pre-service teachers
    • Authors: Antonio González; Ángeles Conde; Pino Díaz; Mar García; Carmen Ricoy
      Pages: 625 - 642
      Abstract: Instructors’ teaching styles in higher education are an issue of major importance because these interactions affect students’ self-perceptions, involvement, and achievement. This study aimed to test a theoretical model of relations between perceived teaching styles (autonomy support, structure, and control) and competences, self-efficacy, and commitment in pre-service teachers; to assess the invariance of the model in two samples; and to analyze the mediated relations between these variables. Measures were collected from 842 Spanish pre-service teachers. As main research implications, teaching styles predicted acquired competences, competences predicted teaching self-efficacy, and self-efficacy predicted commitment to the profession. This model was equivalent in two samples of childhood and primary education pre-service teachers. Competences and self-efficacy mediated the relationships between variables. As practical implications, this study clearly shows the need for different interventions to enhance adequate instructors’ teaching styles and to foster among novice pre-service teachers the acquisition of professional competences, initial self-efficacy, and a good level of commitment to their profession.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0160-y
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Coping strategies, optimism, and life satisfaction among first - year
           university students in Italy: gender and age differences
    • Authors: Cristina Cabras; Marina Mondo
      Pages: 643 - 654
      Abstract: The transition to university appears to be a complex and delicate time in students’ lives, involving a sequence of changes regarding both the personal/affective and social/professional spheres, facilitating students’ ability to adapt to a new life context. It represents a challenging time that requires students to use adaptive resources to face many changes, including a new academic environment (Park and Adler Health Psychology, 22(6), 627, 2003; Anderson et al. International Journal of Educational Research, 33(4), 325–339, 2000). This paper presents an investigation that focuses on Italian students in transition to university to assess existing gender and age differences in coping strategies and optimism. Furthermore, the study also was designed to explore the impact that coping strategies and optimism have on students’ life satisfaction. The sample consists of 298 first-year undergraduate Italian students enrolled in social science courses at the University of Cagliari (Sardinia): 152 (51%) were female and 146 (49%) were male. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 37 years, with a mean age of 23.2 years (SD = 3.9) The statistical analysis revealed a strong influence from optimism and coping strategies on life satisfaction, as well as an important role played by both gender and age in shaping students’ coping strategies, optimism, and life satisfaction. This research could contribute to helping students better face this life transition, thereby increasing life satisfaction and class-attendance levels, improving academic performance, and reducing the number of university dropouts.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0161-x
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • The stifling silence around scholarly creativity in doctoral education:
           experiences of students and supervisors in four disciplines
    • Authors: Eva M. Brodin
      Pages: 655 - 673
      Abstract: The demand for developing creativity among doctoral students is found in a number of educational policies all over the world. Yet, earlier studies on Swedish doctoral education suggest that doctoral students’ creativity is not always encouraged. Based on a critical hermeneutic approach and cases in four different disciplines, the aim of this study was therefore (1) to explore different shapes of doctoral students’ creativity in Swedish doctoral education and (2) to reveal and find possible explanations to some of the conditions stifling doctoral students’ scholarly creativity. Interview data was collected from 28 participants, constituting 14 dyads of students and supervisors in four disciplines. Through hermeneutic interpretative analysis of the disciplinary cases, the results show that creativity kept on playing in musical performance, was an unexpected guest in pedagogical work, was captured in frames in philosophy and put on hold in psychiatry. Across the cases, students’ scholarly creativity was essentially encapsulated in silence. This silence seemed to emanate from controlling intellectual, political and economic agendas that enabled stifling conditions of the students’ scholarly creativity, where it was as follows: restricted by scholarly traditions, embodying supervisors’ power and unrequested in practice. Based on these findings, the article ends in suggestions for preventing such conditions, holding that it is important to establish a discourse on scholarly creativity in doctoral education, to view doctoral students as capable creative agents and to actually ask for their scholarly creativity.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0168-3
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Policy design spaces in reforming governance in higher education: the
           dynamics in Italy and the Netherlands
    • Authors: Giliberto Capano
      Pages: 675 - 694
      Abstract: Governments continuously design and redesign higher education policies, and governmental capacities are the pillars for undertaking these tasks during the formulation stage. This paper considers the assumption that different governmental political and technical capacities shape different spaces for action and thus different types of policy design. The usefulness of this theoretical perspective is tested by comparing the dynamics of the policy designs that have been pursued in higher education in Italy and the Netherlands over the past 25 years.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0158-5
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • The status games they play: unpacking the dynamics of organisational
           status competition in higher education
    • Authors: Jelena Brankovic
      Pages: 695 - 709
      Abstract: The article uses the concept of organisational status to explore how universities respond to intensifying competition. Although status is not a novel phenomenon in higher education, recent insights show that the concerns with vertical positioning, both nationally and internationally, are gaining prominence with a growing number of universities worldwide. As global competition becomes as fierce as ever, universities’ efforts to maintain or advance their position vis-à-vis each other are becoming more salient. The paper draws from extant literature to identify three mechanisms of organisational status construction—categories, intermediaries and affiliations—and offers a set of propositions as to how universities of different status rank are expected to act when seeking to maintain or advance their status. Such activities, it is argued, shape status hierarchies, which, in turn, affect the scope of organisational action. The article contributes to the discussions on competition in higher-education literature and, more broadly, to the theory of organisational action in the tradition of sociological institutionalism.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0169-2
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Conceptions of the value of higher education in a measured market
    • Authors: Michael Tomlinson
      Pages: 711 - 727
      Abstract: A critical analysis is developed of the dominant meanings of value in marketised higher education. In policy terms, this has become informed by the logics of the measured market whereby value has become synonymous with economic return and institutional accountability. The notion of value is one which permeates many discussions on the purpose of higher education and the perceived benefits it confers onto individuals and society as a whole. This, however, remains largely implicit and unearthing the specific meaning of value (and values) clearly presents challenges. This article critically examines a variety of concepts relevant to discussion of the value of higher education, including the relationship between value and quality, consumerism, goods and performativity. In each case, it unpacks their meanings and implications for the relationship between students and institutions, particularly at a time when this is seen to be increasingly transactional. It then outlines an alternative value framing to the utilitarian ‘value for money’ so prevalent in much market-driven policy.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0165-6
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Creating world-class universities in China: strategies and impacts at a
           renowned research university
    • Authors: Jia Song
      Pages: 729 - 742
      Abstract: In recent years, creating world-class universities has been an important project on the Chinese mainland. With the all-encompassing internationalization of higher education in the global market, it is of the utmost importance that the quality of universities be improved and that some of the top universities are pushed to become world-class. Influenced by the stimulating policies and financial incentives, some of China’s top universities are striving to earn the prestigious label of “world-class university” by conducting a series of reforms. The aim of the study discussed here was to explore the effects of the ongoing reforms and present the current dilemmas of top-down actions at elite universities. The data were obtained through in-depth interviews. First, we found that a personnel reform had been implemented to comply with the performance benchmark, but that it had subsequently been suspended owing to conflicts among different stakeholders. Second, it appeared that the humanities department at the selected university is at a disadvantage for both internal and external reasons. Third, it was found that the policy of recruiting returnees (graduates returning from study abroad) to lecturers’ positions is partly responsible for the further decline in students’ confidence in domestic universities. Fourth, the policy of admitting international students has triggered domestic tensions on the issue of educational quality and equality. Lastly, finding a way of coordinating the features of “World-Class” and “Chinese Characteristics” is not easy to be achieved.
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0167-4
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • Lene Foss and David V. Gibson (eds.): the entrepreneurial university:
           context and institutional change, Routledge, London, 2015, 285pp
    • Authors: Wenjie Liu
      Pages: 743 - 745
      PubDate: 2018-04-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-017-0163-8
      Issue No: Vol. 75, No. 4 (2018)
  • The “stranger” among Swedish “homo academicus”
    • Authors: Alireza Behtoui; Hege Høyer Leivestad
      Abstract: This article deals with individuals of immigrant background in Swedish higher education—i.e., those who have a PhD and work in Swedish universities. The aim of the study is to examine whether and how factors other than academic qualifications—such as gender and migrant background—may affect the individual’s ability to find employment and pursue a successful career in a Swedish institution of higher education. The data used in the first section are Swedish registry data (LISA database and population), administered by Statistics Sweden. The second part of the paper is based on semi-structured interviews with 19 academics of migrant background. The results show that, given the same work experience and compared to the reference group (born in Sweden with at least one Swedish-born parent), individuals born in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America are, firstly, more likely to be unemployed and, secondly, if they are employed, to have a lower income (lower position). The ways in which such gaps arises are also examined.
      PubDate: 2018-04-24
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0266-x
  • National barriers to the completion of doctoral programs at Russian
    • Authors: Natalia Maloshonok; Evgeniy Terentev
      Abstract: Doctoral education has experienced dramatic changes all over the world in the last three decades. Currently, Russia is at the beginning of a doctoral education transformation to structured programs according to needs of knowledge-based economies. This paper aims to identify national-level barriers to PhD completion in Russian doctoral education. The data from the empirical study in highly selective Russian universities that participate in a special government program were employed. About 40% of all doctoral students participated in the Russian Federation study at these universities. The following problems were revealed and discussed in the research: (1) problems of transition to a structured model of doctoral education, (2) diffusion of doctoral education’s goals, (3) unpreparedness of Russian universities for the massive expansion of PhD education, (4) ineffective mechanisms of doctoral student selection, (5) a lack of funding and a need for doctoral students to have paid work, (6) excessive dependence on supervisors and (7) insufficient study time and skills for meeting the requirement for publications before the date of defence. Some problems correlate with the global challenges, but some are unique to the Russian institutional context. The relevance of the Russian case to understanding the worldwide transformation of the doctorate is discussed.
      PubDate: 2018-04-21
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0267-9
  • Deciphering the sophomore slump: changes to student perceptions during the
           undergraduate journey
    • Authors: O. J. Webb; D. R. E. Cotton
      Abstract: The second year of university is little-researched, despite being a focal point for declining performance, persistence, and satisfaction. It is important to establish appropriate methods for studying this ‘sophomore slump’ and to pinpoint specific antecedents from broad domains noted in literature (e.g. students’ social integration, perceptions of the curriculum). Using a novel methodology, 166 undergraduates were surveyed in successive years of study to derive a gold standard ‘within-subjects’ data sample. Under a replicated design, a ‘between-subjects’ sample of over 1000 students completed the same e-survey just once, in year one, two, or three. Quantitative comparison of the responses across years showed over 85% agreement between samples. This endorses between-subject approaches (i.e. simultaneously surveying students from different years) to facilitate rapid interventions that benefit students before they graduate. In terms of detailed findings, year two saw positive trends in students’ academic engagement (e.g. self-reported independent study time), social integration (e.g. feeling accepted, involvement in extra-curricular activities), and views on teaching staff (e.g. approachability). Although appraisals remained broadly favourable, there was, in contrast, significant deterioration in global perceptions of the learning atmosphere (e.g. course enjoyment), as well as specific elements of the teaching provision (e.g. contact hours, feedback). Notably, there appeared to be little progression in students’ academic self-perceptions (e.g. confidence to make presentations, enter class debates). Year two also saw increased thoughts of drop-out. These results highlight the unique character of the second year at university and indicate potential target areas for enhancing this phase of the undergraduate journey.
      PubDate: 2018-04-21
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0268-8
  • How do first year students utilize different lecture resources'
    • Authors: Martin O’Brien; Reetu Verma
      Abstract: One of the more noticeable changes to tertiary teaching over the past decade has been the widespread adoption of digital technologies, in particular eLearning platforms and lecture capture technology. However, much of the current knowledge of how students utilise these new technologies and their effect on traditional lecture attendance is simply derived from student surveys rather than comprehensive independent analyses. In this study, we use cluster analysis to identify common lecture resource utilisation patterns for students in four large first-year business subjects. While common usage patterns with respect to lecture attendance, video lecture recording access and download of lecture notes are identified across our subjects, the proportion of students within each of the utilisation clusters varies widely. Business statistics students are much more likely to either attend lectures or view video recordings compared to economics students, many of whom rely solely on the download of lecture notes. In order to gain insight into how student characteristics may affect these utilisation patterns, we develop a predictive model, quantifying the influences of prior academic performance, gender, age, distance from campus and international student status using statistical modelling. We find a strong role for students’ previous academic performance in explaining lecture resource utilisation patterns. Students’ commuting distance to campus is also established as a factor dissuading physical lecture attendance. Contrary to initial expectations, we also found that females and older students tend to rely more heavily on digital resources rather than lecture attendance. It is hoped that these findings can help first-year instructors and University administrators understand the heterogeneity of student lecture engagement patterns within the first-year experience.
      PubDate: 2018-04-16
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0250-5
  • Economic achievements of nonacademic parents and patterns of enrollment in
           higher education of their children: the case of Israel
    • Authors: Hanna Ayalon; Oded Mcdossi
      Abstract: This paper sheds new light on horizontal stratification in higher education by studying, in the Israeli context, the choice of institution and field of study of sons and daughters of nonacademic economically established parents. These youngsters wish to reproduce their parents’ economic capital, but also to legitimize their social position by acquiring higher education. They can achieve this by studying lucrative professions. We hypothesize that less able children of these parents will use their parents’ economic assets to study lucrative fields in the expensive but non-selective private colleges. Since underprivileged women tend to make instrumental choices of field of study, our hypothesis refers to both genders, despite women’s well-reported tendency to study non-lucrative fields. The sample consists of 8036 Israeli first-year students in 2014. The analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression, with the combination of institution and field as the dependent variable. The major findings are as follows: (1) Daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents are unique in their tendency to study lucrative fields; (2) The private colleges enable academically disadvantaged sons and daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents to study business and law, two lucrative fields; (3) These colleges are these women’s only option to study a lucrative field, because they refrain from studying lucrative fields in the public colleges, which concentrate on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects; (4) When equipped with high credentials, children of nonacademic wealthy parents, men and women, prefer to study lucrative fields in the prestigious universities.
      PubDate: 2018-04-13
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0263-0
  • Advancing a knowledge ecology: changing patterns of higher education
           studies in Latin America
    • Authors: Carolina Guzmán-Valenzuela; Carolina Gómez
      Abstract: Drawing on de Sousa Santos’s work on Epistemologies of the South (2014), this paper critically examines the patterns of publication in higher education studies in mainstream and non-mainstream journals in Latin American between 2000 and 2015. An analysis of 1370 papers—130 indexed in the Web of Science (WoS) core collection indexes and 1240 indexed in the Scientific Electronic Library Online index (SciELO)—indicates that Latin American academics are engaged in lively practices of publication. However, a dual pattern of publication is identified, characterised by researchers extensively publishing in non-mainstream journals and also maintaining a presence in mainstream journals. Issues related to language, rankings and prestige, the North/South divide, the distinction between hard/basic and soft/applied sciences and the nature of higher education studies are used to explain such a pattern. Although there is a tense process of securing a dual epistemic recognition, there is also a positive tension that involves collaboration across a plurality of knowledges. Finally, this paper offers the concept of zones of epistemic influence, which opens spaces for an ecology of knowledges in which knowledges from both the North and the South constitute a new assemblage that accords due weight to a plurality of epistemic interests.
      PubDate: 2018-04-06
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0264-z
  • Julianne Lynch, Julie Rowlands, Trevor Gale, Andrew Skourdoumbis (eds.):
           Practice theory and education: diffractive readings in professional
    • Authors: Andrea Detmer
      PubDate: 2018-03-29
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0265-y
  • A ‘home-international’ comparative analysis of widening participation
           in UK higher education
    • Authors: Michael Donnelly; Ceryn Evans
      Abstract: Since devolution of education policy to the four ‘home’ nations of the UK, distinct approaches to addressing social inequalities in higher education participation have developed across the four jurisdictions (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). From a critical examination of 12 policy documents, this paper presents a comparative policy analysis of the qualitatively distinct ways that inequalities in higher education are conceptualised across the home nations. Basil Bernstein’s theoretical ideas are drawn on to help unearth distinctions in their beliefs about the underlying nature of educational inequalities. These can be understood in relation to their degree of closeness to either neoliberal or social democratic ideological positions, and we show that the home nations of the UK place differing emphases on what form of higher education they aim to widen access to, and how they intend to achieve this.
      PubDate: 2018-03-28
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0260-3
  • Resource dependence theory analysis of higher education institutions in
    • Authors: Shukhrat Kholmuminov; Shayzak Kholmuminov; Robert E. Wright
      Abstract: In this paper, resource dependence theory (RDT) is used to guide an empirical analysis of the higher education system in Uzbekistan. Regression analysis is applied to a panel dataset consisting of 62 Uzbek higher education institutions, covering the period 2000–2013, to examine the determinants of the expenditure decisions made by institutions. The key hypothesis is concerned with the relationship between the share of revenue from tuition fees and the share of expenditure spent on teaching. The analysis attempts to control for unobserved heterogeneity through the inclusion of fixed effects. Instrumental variables estimation is used to address the potential endogeneity of the relationship between these two variables. The main finding is that there is a positive and statistically significant relationship between the share of revenue from tuition fees and the share of expenditure spent on teaching, even after other factors are held constant, which is consistent with a core premise of RDT.
      PubDate: 2018-03-27
      DOI: 10.1007/s10734-018-0261-2
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