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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Julie Rattray

Rattray, J. (2018). Affect and ipsative approaches as a counter to Pedagogic Frailty: The guardian of traditional models of student success. Higher Education Research & Development 37(7): 1489-1500.

Author(s) from Durham


In this article, I consider how the neoliberal discourses surrounding higher education have resulted in an increasingly risk-averse culture of learning and teaching. Students are frequently reluctant to engage with troublesome or challenging knowledge and academics are less likely to push learners into contested spaces or deviate from accepted pedagogical practices for fear of upsetting them. The consequence of this situation is that we potentially have a generation of graduates who lack the resilience to cope in the graduate market. Drawing on the notion of pedagogic frailty, consideration is given to how models of success, that are associated with high stakes, single-point assessment, might limit the development of positive affect in learners. I argue instead for a reconsideration of notions of success building on the principles of ipsative assessment as a means of supporting the development of affective attributes, such as resilience, optimism and hope, in an effort to ensure graduates are equipped for an uncertain future.