Thanks for your interesting post. Your observation that “there are reasons for changing patterns in higher education” (Bennett, 2016) resonated well with the purpose of this week’s tasks. I read your sentence in two ways, both appropriate, but I wonder which one you meant; reasons that explain why patterns are changing in HE, or reasons that urge for change in the patterns in HE? However, I’d like to question your assertion that “The key questions that arise from this week’s readings raise specific issues that are unique to particular geographical areas and socio-economic demographics” (Bennett, 2016). My sense was of a generalisability in the studies, and even though my own situation in Japan, for example, was not directly targeted, I could draw much that is relevant.
Anderson’s (2010) study on student retention is a prime example. Anderson (2010) studies teacher-side, i.e. pedagogic methodology, improvements as a mediating variable between student retention and student engagement. However, Anderson (2010) has a research agenda aiming to redirect attention on student retention away from investigating student characteristics, or the definition of the ‘at-risk’ student onto the idea that retention “is at the very least a learning and teaching issue” (Anderson, 2007, p. 458). As such, the key variable of ‘at-risk’ was not clearly identified by Anderson (2010). Student retention remains linked to at-risk characteristics (Bulger & Watson, 2006) and contains elements that suggest that ‘at-risk’ may be a confounding variable, that is a variable that “exists, but its influence cannot be directly detected” (Creswell, 2009, p. 51). By not addressing the at-risk variable, Anderson (2010) assumes a greater importance for teacher-side improvements than perhaps the environment merits. This assumption arouses me to consider geographically appropriate pedagogic action in Japan and think about the possibility of any mediation effect of that on retention. Moreover, a definition of at-risk for Japanese students would almost certainly contain similar aspects as those in Kaufman and Bradbury (1992) even though other aspects may be different or the balance of aspects significantly different.
You say that “the articles are commonly related to the theme of equity, and more specifically, equitable access and opportunity for student success in higher education programmes” (Bennett, 2016). However, I could not find evidence for this in Anderson (2010) nor in Barnett (2009). Could you explain why you think so? My own sense regarding Barnett (2009) is the possibility that the types of disposition and qualities Barnett aspires to in students representative of a particular social class more than the notion of the ‘ideal citizen’. What do you think?
Anderson, H. (2007). Bridging to the Future: What Works? Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 47(3), 453–465.
Anderson, H. (2010). Student engagement: A case study of the relationships between student engagement and student persistence. Teaching & Learning Research Initiative, 1–11.
Barnett, R. (2009). Knowing and becoming in the higher education curriculum. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 429–440. http://doi.org/10.1080/03075070902771978
Bennett, T. (2016, January 23). RE: Widening Participation/Student Persistence [Online discussion post]. Retrieved from https://my.ohecampus.com/lens/home?locale=en_us#
Bulger, S., & Watson, D. (2006). Broadening the definition of at-risk students. The Community College Enterprise, 12(2), 24–32.
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Approaches. http://doi.org/10.1002/1521-3773(20010316)40:6<9823::AID-ANIE9823>3.3.CO;2-C
Kaufman, P., & Bradbury, D. (1992). Characteristics of At-Risk Students in NELS: 88 Contractor Report. National Center for Education Statistics, (August).