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Durham University

Research & business

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Higher and Further Education

A research group of the School of Education.

Welcome to the Higher and Further Education research group. We are researchers who work in a variety of ways to explore issues such as policy and governance, assessment and learning, and widening participation within the Higher and Further education sectors at local, national and global levels.

Here at Durham, our research in Higher and Further Education encompasses a broad spectrum of issues and approaches, theories and ideas. Conceptually and methodologically, we draw on a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts. We address the political, social and policy contexts in which Higher and Further Education works, and the students, academics, senior leaders, policy makers, and employers who are involved.

Our research is also concerned with the complex interplay of learning, teaching, and assessment. The exploration of the development and experience of pedagogical practice offers insights into how students and academics work together to create and sustain stimulating and positive learning cultures and environments.

Drawing on a range of methodologies, methods and designs including phenomenography, ethnography, discourse analysis, interviews, case studies, concept mapping, surveys and experimental designs, we seek to further our understanding of how the Higher and Further Education sectors work in contemporary societies, and how they might develop in the future.

At Durham University’s School of Education, current research from members of the Higher and Further Education group includes:

  • Threshold Concepts and Liminality (Julie Rattray, Ray Land, Nicola Reiman)
  • Communities of Practice (Jonathan Tummons)
  • Higher education policy, policy networks and governance (Rille Raaper, Julie Rattray, Ray Land and Jonathan Tummons)
  • Assessment policies and practices (Rille Raaper, Jonathan Tummons, Adrian Simpson)
  • Assessment for learning and feedback (Nicola Reiman, Jonathan Tummons, Adrian Simpson)
  • Degree standards and external examining (Nicola Reiman)
  • Commodification of higher education and student positioning as consumers (Rille Raaper)
  • Professionalism and professional learning in Further education (Jonathan Tummons)
  • Social competence and Higher Education (Julie Rattray, Rille Raaper)
  • Academic development (Nicola Reimann)
  • Reflection on teaching, higher education staff learning (Nicola Reiman, Julie Rattray)
  • Technologically-mediated distance learning (Jonathan Tummons)
  • Affective dimensions of learning (Julie Rattray)
  • Widening participation in further and higher education (Jonathan Tummons, Rille Raaper, Steve Gorard)
  • Politics of higher education and student movements (Rille Raaper)
  • Transitions to higher Education Mathematics (Adrian Simpson)
  • League Tables (Adrian Simpson)
  • Intellectual Development in higher Education (Adrian Simpson)

For further information contact the cluster lead Dr Julie Rattray.


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