• Contextualised approaches to widening participation: a comparative case study of two UK universities

      Butcher, John; Corfield, Rohini; Rose-Adams, John; University of Derby; University of Northampton; Open University (The Open University/, 2012-01)
      This article reports on institutional research at two contrasting UK universities, each with different foci in relation to widening participation (WP). The researchers sought to explore senior staff perspectives on the WP agenda at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and turmoil in the UK higher education sector. The research consisted primarily of interview data from university leaders responsible strategically for WP activity. The findings offer a nuanced narrative of the policy and practice of widening participation at two contrasting universities. Researchers found that the WP discourse itself is perceived as confused and discredited. Viewing ‘widening participation students’ as a homogenised group risks both the benefits of differentiated responses through discipline or subject areas and the benefits of more student-centred measures of success.
    • Engaging the non-linguistic mind.

      Stevens, Paul; Open University (Rubedo Press, 2017)
      There is a modern tendency to attribute all experiences that are mysterious, intuitive, unusual, or simply not understood to the workings of an unconscious mind. Yet an understanding, or even a good definition, of the “unconscious” is lacking. For example, a typical definition1 of the unconscious describes processes which “do not influence subjective experience in a way that [a person] can directly detect, understand, or report the occurrence or nature of these events”. This conflates the notion of subliminal stimuli, self-reflective processes, and the ability to articulate (usually linguistically) such processes. While it's relatively easy to demonstrate that subliminal stimuli rarely reach conscious awareness, I question whether “unconscious” is a good term to describe either a lack of self-understanding or an inability to articulate some aspects of mental life. Instead, I suggest that the confusion arises because of the focus on linguistic aspects of thought, along with the implicit notion that something that cannot be expressed in words is therefore inaccessible to the conscious mind. I think a better model is to consider that we have two discrete modes of thinking, both conscious, both operating and interacting in parallel. One mode is the language-based thinking that we tend to think of as being the conscious mind: “outward” looking and structured by learned syntax and social interaction. It has become the dominant mode, associated with science, rationality, and “civilised” ways of being. The other is a non- (or pre-) linguistic mode: “inward” looking and structured on the way our body communicates directly with itself and with its environment. It is associative, idiosyncratic, non-linear, more fluid and dynamic. While this mode of thinking has generally seen as part of the unconscious, it is still conscious and accessible – many of us have just been taught to neglect it, to devalue it except in its socially acceptable forms: creativity, artistic expression, and so on. Yet there are specific circumstances in which the two modes become more balanced, providing evidence for, and demonstrating the benefits of, recognising both. One of these is the way in which humans respond to natural environments, where the fractal patterns we sense resonate within us to trigger powerful, unlearned states of mind that are associated with enhanced cognitive abilities, increased creativity, and therapeutic effects. Another is in the realm of hypnosis, where beneficial change is brought about within the twilight zone where linguistic and non-linguistic modes meet. The hypnotisee allows the hypnotist to take on the role of the linguistic mind, allowing them greater focus on the non-linguistic. Then, the hypnotist, by playing with rhythm and tone, using the language of childhood (those early learned words which map more directly into the pre-linguistic mode) and associative suggestions, encourages a journey inward to an imagined otherworld in which transformation is possible. Using both of the above examples, I will highlight some of the techniques that can encourage a rebalancing of linguistic and non-linguistic modes, whether these are used for experiential explorations, within a therapeutic context, or as educational tools.
    • Enhancing professional self-esteem: learners’ journeys on a distance-learning Doctorate in Education (EdD)

      Butcher, John; Sieminski, Sandy; University of Northampton; Open University (University of Northampton, 2009)
      This article explores the motivations, experiences and perceived outcomes for Doctorate in Education (EdD) students in their journey through a relatively new form of doctoral education at a distance. The research draws on a range of individual EdD participant voices, both student and graduate, and is timely in focusing on an example of an under-researched but increasingly common phenomenon of part-time distance learning professional doctorates. The aims of the research were: to understand what motivated students to register for an EdD; to explore the factors which successfully sustained them on their journey; to identify common outcomes on completion. The researchers developed a case study of the student EdD journey in its distinctive professional context(s). Data was collected in a number of linked stages including postal surveys, semi-structured interviews, and students’ reflective evaluations at different points. Key themes related to professional postgraduate learner transitions emerge from the data, which contrast with previous work on the traditional PhD and relate to: the deliberate choice by students of a part-time distance learning route; a broader and better-informed understanding of professional outcomes on a professionally-oriented doctorate; the value of flexible support systems for EdD students working in demanding educational roles.
    • Mapping the components of the telephone conference: an analysis of tutorial talk at a distance learning institution

      Horton-Salway, M.; Montague, Jane; Wiggins, S.; Seymour-Smith, S.; Open University; University of Derby; University of Strathclyde; Nottingham Trent University (2012-05-24)
    • Special issue: from disciplinarity to interdisciplinarity and beyond in higher education on climate change

      Wilson, Gordon; Abbott, Dina; Open University; University of Derby (Inderscience publishers, 2012-05-31)
      This special issue explores the evolution of an innovative, integrative approach to climate change through collaborative production of an interdisciplinary education curriculum incorporating student mobility. It draws on the authors’ involvement in a European Union Erasmus project, ‘The lived experience of climate change: e-learning and virtual mobility’, which brings together eight universities plus an umbrella association across six countries. The project has developed a set of postgraduate curriculum resources on climate change that will become globally accessible.