Paul is an elected Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE).
Invited Lectures and Keynotes: 2001 onwards
Paul.Trowler [at] Gmail.com
Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Bamber, R. (Eds) (Jan 2012).Tribes and territories in the 21st-century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. London: Routledge.
The 8th most referenced book in the field, 2007-2011.
(Tai, C-H., Lee, C-W. and Lee, Y. Citation Analysis of Higher Education Texts in Selected Databases: A Comparison between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011.International Journal of Engineering and Technology, Vol. 5, No. 2, 306-310)
Chinese edition of Becher, T. and Trowler, P. (2013) Academic Tribes and Territories. London: McGrawHill.
University World News article aboutthe book:
Saunders, M. Trowler, P. and Bamber, V.(Eds) (2011) Reconceptualising Evaluative Practices in Higher Education: the practice turn. London: Open University Press. Flyer.
Publisher's website: http://www.mcgraw-hill.co.uk/html/0335241611.html
The aim of this book is....not the evaluation of higher education but instead to open up to scrutiny how value and worth are attributed through evaluation in the context of a complex and highly politicised higher education environment.... Such scrutiny of higher education evaluation practices has never been more timely.
The book provides a persuasive analysis of the shift from individual to institutional evaluative practices over the last two decades. Working counter to the ongoing governmental and media-led evaluative agenda that is keen to reduce the complexity of the higher education experience to bite-size, ‘objective’ data for easy comparison across sectors and institutions, the case studies presented here demonstrate the richness and contingent outcomes of meaningful evaluation practices for higher education.
[The] authors in this collaboration have made a strong case for the reconceptualising of evaluative practices that takes into account the complexity of the educational experience and the nexus between evaluation and the activities that are evaluated...The case studies and subsequent discussion powerfully model how reconceptualising evaluation as a social practice can enable evaluators to think about how to communicate the outcomes of evaluation in strategically and politically-nuanced ways.
Weller, S. (2011) Higher Education Review, Vol 44, No 1, 101-102
Trowler, P. (2008) Cultures and Change in Higher Education: Theories and Practices. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Details here
"I have to say to all involved as educational developers, or in quality enhancement or those who are simply interested in trying to understanding teaching and learning in universities that it is well worth reading"
(Prof. Robert Mathew, University of Stirling. Review for the ESCALATE subject centre, 2009). http://escalate.ac.uk/5121
Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (eds) (2009) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices. Open University Press/SRHE.
"This is a rich and diverse collection, and will deservedly find a place on the shelves of developers, practitioners and managers working towards meaningful change in a broad range of contexts...Pragmatism and realism are strengths here, with insightful discussion throughout of the nuanced, multi-layered nature of change...Positive change is seen as desirable and doable, but crucially the dominant 'what works' brand of instrumentalism is roundly rejected. Refreshingly, the assumptions of modernist 'change management' are thoroughly critiqued, with the non-linear nature of change in universities presented as the norm. This book will hopefully allow these insights to permeate the mainstream...raising questions in particular about large-scale, monolithic, top-down agendas and how they are played out - and inviting a more realistic, local approach. [The book] represents a very valuable and much-overdue mainstream challenge to the dominant assumptions of academic development and change in universities." Lesley Gourlay (2009) Review in London Review of Education, 7, 3, 285-286.
"To whatever extent your current work involves aspiring to change the practices of others, this book will help...the book is so lovingly designed, it is hard to resist engaging with its argument....With a theoretical lens predicated upon “social practice”, the authors and contributors offer an immersive experience of change in action; and, by the end of the book, their target for the biggest change is clear—it is none other than you, the reader. That kind of challenge is off-putting if, as I, you are tempted to float hopefully through innovative projects with little more than a “common sense approach to leading change” (p 184), then to be left wondering why we under-achieved. The authors are to be applauded for this—why should your own “comfort zone” be left intact when your actions are likely to breach the comfort zones of others? If we, as individuals, care about our role within higher education, this is the kind of book we should be reading—and leaving on campus coffee tables wherever we can. Mike Johnson, (2010) British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 2, E28-9.
|Prichard, C. and Trowler, P. (2003) (eds.) Realising Qualitative Research in Higher Education. Aldershot: Ashgate.|
|Trowler, P. (2002) (Second Edition) Education Policy: a policy sociology approach. London: RoutledgeFalmer.|
Trowler, P. (ed) (2001) Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change: intentions and outcomes in turbulent environments. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE. Now out of print but available at Lancaster University's eprints (because I got the copyright back from the publishers):
Becher, T. and Trowler, P. (2001) Academic Tribes and Territories: intellectual enquiry and the cultures of disciplines (2nd edition). Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE. New Preface.
|Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (2001) Departmental Leadership in Higher Education: new directions for communities of practice. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE. Introduction.||
|Trowler. P. (1998) Education Policy: a policy sociology approach. London: Routledge. Overview.|
Trowler, P. (1998) Academics Responding to Change: new higher education frameworks and academic cultures. , Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE. Overview.
"As an academic...I found Academics Responding to Change a powerful antidote to narrow thinking; as a manager in a new university I found it more relevant to policy and practice on the ground than any number of funding council circulars. The global pressures for HE accountability force uncomfortable choices for individuals...Trowler has illuminated these pressures but transcended them in a work of bold imagination and meticulous scholarship" (Prof. Rob Cuthbert (2000) Review of Academics Responding to Change, Higher Education, 40, 2, 243-5)
A technically rather poor-quality copy of the book in full is available here:
|Trowler, P. (1996) Investigating Mass Media. Collins Educational. Summary Cover|
|Trowler, P. (1996) Investigating Health, Welfare and Poverty. (2nd edition) London: Collins Educational. Summary|
|Trowler, P. (ed.) (1995) Investigating Education and Training. London: Collins Educational. Overview Review|
|Trowler, P. (1989) Investigating Health, Welfare and Poverty. London: Collins Educational. Summary|
|Trowler, P. (1988) Investigating the Media. London: Collins Educational. Summary|
|Trowler, P. (1987) Active Sociology: A Student-Centred Approach. London: Collins Educational. Summary|
|Trowler, P. (1985) Further Topics in Sociology. London: Collins Educational. Summary|
|Trowler, P. with Riley, M. (1984) Topics in Sociology. London: Collins Educational. Summary|
E-books for doctoral students
Trowler, P. (2012) Doctoral Research into Higher Education: Making Theory Work. Amazon Kindle edition. At Amazon.co.uk:
For the Kindle and many other devices using the free Kindle Reader.
"This little series goes under the general heading 'must haves' if you're embarking on a PhD thesis. Concise, precise and full of great, practical tips on how to 'do it well'. In my view, I am SO pleased that I discovered these little booklets at this stage, for my proposal has just gone in and I do not intend to fall into any traps of which I would have been totally unaware! So if you buy nothing else, I can highly recommend this series. Quick, clear reads. I'm particularly happy that I discovered these booklets at this stage of planning my empirical work and the thesis." (5 star review on Amazon.co.uk)
Trowler, P. (2012) Writing Doctoral Project Proposals: Higher Education Research. Amazon Kindle edition.
For the Kindle and many other devices using the free Kindle Reader.
"Fabulous! An absolute must if you are starting a PhD journey. Concise and easily understood. Lots of excellent, practical tips that I, for one, have every intention of using in practice. I'm really glad I've read 3 in this series .... all three were read and my notes done in about a day or so .... so I have a good grounding for starting my work once ethical approval has been granted. If you read no other 'how to' books on PhD theses ..... read these. In my view, total 'must haves'!" (5 star review on Amazon.co.uk)
Trowler, P. (2012) Doctoral Research into Higher Education: Thesis structure, content and completion. Amazon Kindle edition.
For the Kindle and many other devices using the free Kindle Reader.
"An absolute MUST in my view. Lots of clear, useful tips. I particularly like the '7 deadly sins' of each of the major sections e.g. of the Methodology section, the Literature section, the Data Presentation section - for each of the major sections. I'm really pleased that I've read 3 of these booklets now, as my proposal has just gone in ... and these have been invaluable ... not only for the proposal, but will used be as my research and the thesis gets underway.
Trowler, P. (2012) Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change. 2012 Kindle edition. Amazon.
For the Kindle and other devices using the free Kindle Reader.
Trowler, P. (2012) Doing Insider Research in Universities. Amazon Kindle edition.
For the Kindle and other devices using the free Kindle Reader.
"This is an easy to read book by Paul Trowler. It opened my eyes to a lot of things that I initially took for granted about being a researcher in your own institution. The author also highlights the benefits that come with being an insider researcher." Reader review on Amazon.com
Chapters in Books
|Trowler, P. (2012) Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity: Conceptual groundwork.In Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Bamber, R. (Eds) (Jan 2012).Tribes and territories in the 21st-century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. London: Routledge. pp 5-29|
|Trowler, P. (2012) Disciplines and Academic Practices. In Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Bamber, R. (Eds) (Jan 2012).Tribes and territories in the 21st-century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. London: Routledge. pp 30-38|
|Trowler, P. (2012) Doing Research: The case of Art and Design. In Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Bamber, R. (Eds) (Jan 2012).Tribes and territories in the 21st-century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. London: Routledge.|
|Verity, M. and Trowler, P. (2011) Looking Back and Looking Forward. In Hilsdon, J., Keenan, C., Neville, C., Sinfield, S. and Verity, M. (eds) Learning Development in Higher Education. London: Palgrave.|
|Trowler, P. (2010) Los Academicos en la mejora de la calidad de la docencia y del aprendizaje. In Consejo de Educacion/Comision Nacional de Acreditation de Chile, Calidad de los Egresados Responsabilidad Institucional Ineludible.Santiago:Consejo de Educacion/Comision Nacional de Acreditation de Chile.pp 49-62.|
|Trowler, P. (2011) Chapter 2: The Higher Education Policy Context of Evaluative Practices. In Saunders, M. Trowler, P. and Bamber, V. (forthcoming) Reconceptualising Evaluative Practices in Higher Education. Open University Press|
|Trowler, P. (2010) UK Higher Education: Captured by new managerialist discourse? In Meek, V, L., Goedegebuure, L. and Santiago, R., and Carvalho, T. The Changing Dynamics of Higher Education Middle Management. Dordrecht: Springer.Visit Springer|
Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M., and Knight, P. Chapter 1: Introduction - Continuities, Enhancement and Higher Education. In Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (eds) (2009) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices. Open University Press/SRHE.
Trowler, P., Saunders, M., and Bamber, V. Chapter 2: Enhancement Theories. Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (2009) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices. Open University Press/SRHE.
Saunders, M., Bamber, V. and Trowler, P. Chapter 27: Making Practical Sense of Enhancing Learning, Teaching, Assessment and Curriculum. In Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (eds) (2009) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices. Open University Press/SRHE.
|Trowler, P. Two introductory chapters and two commentary chapters on the case study sections In Bamber, V., Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (eds) (2009) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices. Open University Press/SRHE.|
|Trowler, P. (2008) Beyond Epistemological Essentialism: Academic Tribes in the 21st Century. In Kreber, C. (ed) The University and its Disciplines: Teaching and learning within and beyond disciplinary boundaries. London: Routledge|
|Trowler, P. (2006) Academic Tribes: their significance in enhancement processes. Proceedings of Utvecklingskonferensen 2005 i Karlstad. Lund: University of Lund, pages 15-24.|
|Trowler, P. (2004) Communication Media. In M. Haralambos and M. Holborn, Sociology: themes and perspectives. 6th edition. London: HarperCollins||
|Trowler, P. (2003) Veranderingen in Het Hoger Onderwijs in Theorie en Praktijk (Change in Higher Education in Theory and Practice). In Druine, N., Clement, M. and Waeytens, K. (eds) Dynamiek in Het Hoger Onderwijs. Leuven: Leuven University Press. pp15-30.|
|Trowler, P. (2001) Introduction: Higher Education Policy, Institutional Change. In P. Trowler (ed) Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE.|
|Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2001) Exploring the implementation gap: theory and practices in change interventions. In P. Trowler (ed) Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change. Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE.|
|Trowler, P. Communication Media in Haralambos, M. and Holborn, M (2000) Sociology: themes and perspectives. 5th edition. London: HarperCollins.||
|Trowler, P. (1996) Academics' Responses to Credit-Based Modularity in an Expanding HE System, in N. Jackson (ed.) Modular Higher Education in the UK in Focus. London, Higher Education Quality Council. 17-21.|
Trowler, P., Hopkinson, P and Comerford Boyes, L. (2013) Institutional Change Toward a Sustainability Agenda: How far can theory assist? Tertiary Education and Management, 19, 4. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13583883.2013.798349#.UaSmH9KgLoI
|Trowler, P. (2013) Depicting and Researching Disciplines: Strong and moderate essentialist approaches. Studies in Higher Education.|
Trowler, P. (2013) Can approaches to research in Art and Design be beneficially adapted for research into higher education? Higher Education Research and Development, 32, 1,56-69.
|Trowler, P. (May 2012) Wicked Issues in Situating Theory in Close Up Research. Higher Education Research and Development.31, 3, 273-284. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07294360.2011.631515. Review|
Shreeve, A., Simms, E., and Trowler, P. (2010) A Kind of Exchange: Learning from Art and Design Teaching. Journal of Higher Education Research and Development. 29, 2, 125-138
Editor of special number of the International Journal of Educational Research. (47, 3, 2008), including:
Trowler, P. (2008) Introduction. International Journal of Educational Research. 47, 3, 149-150.
Fanghanel, J. and Trowler, P. (2008) Exploring Academic Identities and Practices in a Competitive Enhancement Context: a UK-based case study. European Journal of Education.43, 3, 301-313
|Trowler, P. and Wareham, T. (2007) 'Reconceptualising the Teaching-Research Nexus'. In HERDSA Proceedings of the Annual HERDSA Conference 2007: Enhancing Higher Education Theory and Scholarship. 8-11 July 2007, Adelaide Australia. ISSN 1441001X. ISBN 0908557728.http://www.herdsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/conference/2007/papers/p53.pdf|
|Trowler, P. and Bamber, V. (2005) Compulsory Higher Education Teacher Education: joined-up policies; institutional architectures; enhancement cultures. International Journal for Academic Development, 10, 2, 79-93.|
|Trowler, P. (2005) A Sociology of Teaching, Learning and Enhancement: improving practices in higher education. Revista de Sociologia, vol. 76. 13-32. Abstract|
|Trowler, P. (2005) Policy and Change: Academic Development Units and the Bologna Declaration. International Journal for Academic Development, 9, 2. 193-198. Abstract|
|Trowler, P., Fanghanel, J. and Wareham, T. (2005) Freeing the Chi of Change: The Higher Education Academy and Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Studies in Higher Education, 30, 4 . 427-444 Abstract|
|Trowler, P. (2003) Il Regno Unito e lo 'Spazio Europeo dell'istruzione' (The UK and the European Higher Education Space). La Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia. (The Italian Journal of Sociology), 3, 357-370.Abstract|
|Trowler, P. and Cooper, A. (2002) Teaching and Learning Regimes: implicit theories and recurrent practices in the enhancement of teaching and learning through educational development programmes. Higher Education Research and Development, 21, 3, 221-240. Abstract|
|Trowler, P. and Turner, G. (2002) Exploring the Hermeneutic Foundations of University Life: Deaf academics in a hybrid community of practice. Higher Education, 43, 227-256. Abstract.|
|Trowler, P. (2001) Captured By The Discourse? The Socially Constitutive Power of New Higher Education Discourse in the UK. Organization, 8, 2, (183-201). Abstract|
|Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (2000) Academic Work and Quality, Quality in Higher Education, 6, 2, (109-114) ISSN: 1353-8322|
|Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2000) 'Coming to Know' in Higher Education: theorising faculty entry to new work contexts. Higher Education Research and Development. 19, 1, 27-42 Abstract ISSN: 0729-4360|
|Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (2000) Department-level cultures and the improvement of learning and teaching. Studies in Higher Education. 25,1, 69-83. Abstract. ISSN: 0307-5079. Cover|
|Knight, P. and Trowler, P. (1999) It takes a village to raise a child: mentoring and the socialisation of new entrants to the academic professions. Journal of Mentoring and Tutoring, 7, 1, 23-34. Abstract. ISSN: 1361-1267.|
|Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (1999) Organizational Socialization and Induction in Universities: Reconceptualizing Theory and Practice. Higher Education, 37, 177-195. Abstract ISSN: 0018-1560.|
|Trowler, P. (1998) What Managerialists Forget: higher education credit frameworks and managerialist ideology. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 8, 1, 91-109. Abstract ISSN: 0962-0214. Cover|
|Trowler, P. (1997) Beyond the Robbins Trap: reconceptualising academic responses to change in higher education (or....Quiet Flows the Don?). Studies in Higher Education, 22, 3, 301-318. Abstract . ISSN: 0307-5079. Cover|
|Trowler, P. (1996) Angels in Marble?: accrediting prior experiential learning in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 21, 1, pp. 17-31. Abstract . ISSN: 0307-5079. Cover|
|Trowler, P and Hinett, K.(1994) Implementing the Recording of Achievement in Higher Education. Capability, 1, 1, pp. 53-61. Full paper Abstract Cover|
Videos of Paul's Public Lectures
Engaging Students in Higher Education. Blackburn College, September 2012. https://vimeo.com/49164538
Disabling Dualisms in Conceptualising and Researching Disciplines: Essentialist and constructionist approaches. (HECU6, Rhodes, South Africa, July 13, 2012)
Beyond Boundaries and Edges in Conceptualising Disciplines (HERDSA, Gold Coast, Australia, 2011) - (Lecture number 1)
Is Compulsory Teacher Training of Lecturers in Universities a Good Idea? (Lund, Sweden, 2004)
Videos can also be found on my YouTube Channel. http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp8o0sXsbkwRyl4JPad2SFA
|Report to Southampton Solent University on the evaluation of their 3-year Strategic Development Project (2009-12), January 2013||Confidential|
|Reports to the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, on Student Engagement|
|Trowler: Researching your own institution (Higher Education)||BERA Resources|
Reports to the Higher Education Academy on Student Engagement
Available at the Sakai site here: https://sakai.lancs.ac.uk (login with username: email@example.com and password: welcome)
Trowler. P.and Wareham, T. (2007) Reconceptualising the Teaching-Research Nexus. York: Higher Education Academy.
|Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (2002) Change thinking, change practices: A guide to change for heads of department, subject centres and others who work middle-out. Report for the Learning and Teaching Support Network, Generic Centre.Available at:
|Goodyear, P., Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2002) Learning and Teaching in UK Higher Education: Reflections from the LTSN. Report for the Learning and Teaching Support Network||LTSN (Later, Subject Centres) Evaluation|
|Interim evaluation report on the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning||CETL Evaluation|
Lancaster University July 21-23 2014
Organizing Committee Chair
On the organizing Committee of:
Higher Education Close Up 4, University of Cape Town, South Africa
26-28 June 2008
Website at: http://www.closeup4.uct.ac.za
Website at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/events/hecu3/
Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference, Edinburgh University, December 2005. Member of organizing committee.
Higher Education Close Up2, 16-18 July 2001: an international research conference, Lancaster University. Papers at Education-Line.
Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference, Leicester University, December 2000. Member of organizing committee.
|Higher Education Close Up Conference 6-8 July 1998, Preston. Organised in conjunction with Dept. of Educational Research, Lancaster University and supported by the Society for Research in Higher Education. Pamphlet cover|
Invited Lectures and Keynotes (overseas in red)
University of Leuven, Belgium. February 2003 Keynote speech: Change Thinking, Change Practices.
Oxford University, 13 February 2003 Insider Research Close Up: the case of 'Academics Responding to Change'
University of West of England, 16th January, 2003. Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Bristol University 22 November 2002: Discussant for ESRC-funded seminar Towards a Sociology of Higher Education
Manchester November 1 2002 Academic Tribes, Their Territories and Teaching and Learning. TQEF Annual Conference, Manchester Conference Centre - 'Learning from FDTL: Making a Difference'
Edinburgh University research group on Enhancing Teaching and Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses (TLRP-funded research project), April 2002.
Edinburgh University Doctoral Programme, April 2002
University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, March 2002
City University Higher Education Seminar Series (CHESS) January 2002: Changing Higher Education: cultures, structures and agency.
University of Mauritius on the implementation of quality assurance and ICT strategies during a period of change (March, 2001).
"Academic Responses to Policy Change in a Single Institution: A Case Study of Attitudes and Behaviour Related to the Implementation of Curriculum Policy in an Expanded Higher Education Context During a Period of Resource Constraint."
Available at Lancaster University library on inter-library loan.
This is a single-site case study examining the implementation of a group of features collectively referred to here as the credit framework, by which is meant those aspects of the higher education curriculum facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning including: modularity; the semester system; franchising; accreditation of work based learning and of prior learning. At the time of the research the framework was being implemented in the context of expanding student numbers and a declining unit of resource. The study describes the attitudes and values of academic staff concerning these and tracks their sources. The implications they have for the implementation of institutional policy in this area are described and analysed. In addressing this task the thesis critically interrogates a number of conventional approaches to the study of higher education, including approaches to understanding the dynamics of change as well as organisational and professional cultures and the role and importance of the epistemological characteristics of disciplines in higher education. It is argued that there has to date often been an inappropriate generalisation to the whole higher education sector of findings in these fields derived from studies of elite institutions, disciplines and individuals. No such general truth claims are made for the specific findings from this research concerning academics' attitudes to change or their related policy implementation strategies. However the conditioning factors affecting these are likely to be found in many contemporary higher education institutions, albeit in different configurations. Additionally the study's theorisation of the nature, construction and impact of cultures within higher education institutions and the research strategies deriving from this are commended as appropriate for the study of academics' adaptive responses in university contexts.
PhD Supervision and Examination
· External examiner to Edinburgh University's Doctoral Programme in Education (2006-2010)
· External Doctoral thesis examiner to the universities of:
· Internal PhD examiner, Lancaster University (numerous candidates)
· Supervised 17 PhD students to successful completion 2001-2011 (Drs. Baldwin; Bamber; Baron; Corley; Crossan; Dickson; Doyle; Duckett; Fanghanel; Lent; Mathieson; McLernon; Passey; Royle; Smith; Webster; Williams)
· Supervisor to 18 PhD students currently (2013): Aisha Aljendan; Andy Hollyhead; Angela Smith; Becky Lees; Debbie Prescott; Georgia McCrone; Justin Bonzo; Liz Dempsey; Antonieta Hidalgo; Mariam Alkalbani; Nancy Turner; Nicolette Michels; Phil Carey; Rebecca Tam; Rhonda Datterall; Rhonda Lobb; Susan Scoffield; Timos Almpanis.
Research and Development Funding
· Higher Education Academy funding for project on student engagement, 2010
· HEFCE funding for evaluation of Southampton Solent Strategic Development Project
· DfES - Evaluation of the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, national strategy. Lancaster team with the Open University.
· Higher Education Academy Improving the Quality of the Student Learning Experience funding for research project on Tribes, Territories, Research and Teaching: Enhancing the Teaching/Research Nexus. 2006-2007. Principal Investigator.
· Member of the Department of Educational Research team which successfully bid for six figure contract to evaluate the SHEFCE quality strategy in Scotland, 2003-6.
· Member of the Department of Educational Research team which successfully bid for six figure contract to evaluate the HEFCE Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) in Higher Education. (2001-03)
· 4 figure sum for analysis of LTSN baseline documents on the state of teaching and learning in the 24 subject areas in the UK. Report published as: Goodyear, P., Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2002) Learning and Teaching in UK Higher Education: Reflections from the LTSN. Report for the Learning and Teaching Support Network
· 4 figure sum for writing a publication on the enhancement of teaching and learning in universities. Published as: Trowler, P., Saunders, M. and Knight, P. (2002) Change thinking, change practices: A guide to change for heads of department, subject centres and others who work middle-out. Report for the Learning and Teaching Support Network, Generic Centre.
· Successful 4 figure bid for Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF) (2001) for the development of a website oriented to the needs of emergent educational researchers. Another for the development of on-line support to train and test students in the correct use of bibliographical referencing conventions
|Education Policy: a policy sociology approach
This book seeks to present the background to education policy for the novice or near-novice reader, contextualising it in a theoretical understanding of how policy is made and the processes involved in its implementation. Ball and Shilling (1994, p. 1) have noted that this field has given rise to large numbers of concepts, often dislocated from contexts or explanatory frameworks. This book seeks to locate important concepts in a series of case studies for the reader so that their application can be understood. The concepts themselves, though, are often explained separately from the main text for clarity. Readers should bear in mind, though, that in every field of social science concepts tend to shift in their meaning both over time and according to context.
The structure of the book is as follows. Chapters 1 and 2 set out the historical background to education policy in the compulsory and post-compulsory sectors respectively and each presents case studies to allow the exploration of some important policy issues in more depth. Chapter 3 seeks to give insight into how education policy is made and into some of the influences on the policy formulation process. Chapter 4 looks at the important questions of how policy is received on the ground, how it is implemented and the significance of this for outcomes. For clarity I have used the traditional language of `policy-making' and `policy implementation' with its implication that these are distinct phases in the policy process. Again the reader should be aware that `policy-making' happens at a number of points in the policy process, including at the point of putting it into effect. Chapter 5 examines the trajectory and implications of education policy under a Labour government. Finally chapter 6 considers the relationship between education research and education policy. An appendix is provided which gives a brief introduction to some of the perspectives which inform a `policy sociology' approach (I am aware that some authors reject that term, but I use it nonetheless) and a glossary explains at least some of the terms which may be new to the novice reader.
Back to the top
|Academics Responding to Change
The motivation behind this book lies in my own puzzlement at the rapid changes in higher education. When I re-entered it as a lecturer in 1991 after a gap of 15 years I found it to be a completely new and strange world, and one still in a state of considerable flux. Despite superficial similarities the character, assumptions, practices and even language of higher education had become unrecognisable during the time I had been away from it. I found myself asking "what is going on here?", not yet being sophisticated enough to add Mats Alvesson's (1993) anthropological rider "apart from the obvious".
One of the critical aspects of these changes was what I came to call `the credit framework': those aspects of the higher education curriculum facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning including modularity, the semester system, franchising, accreditation of work based learning and of prior learning, all being implemented in a context of expanding student numbers and a declining unit of resource. The introduction of the framework appeared important per se and important too because of the other changes that it facilitated, including shifts in the `idea of higher education' itself (Barnett, 1990).
Slowly my questions became more sophisticated and eventually shaped into the project, the in-depth study of a single higher education institution between 1991 and 1996, from which this book was born. In terms of formal `research questions' the project sought to do three things: first to explore the regularities in academics' attitudes to change in higher education, particularly to the credit framework; second to understand how these attitudes and values translate into credit framework policy implementation strategies (and how these change policy); third to explain the empirical findings concerning these two questions.
As these questions reveal, the focus is at the ground level, examining the role and power of actors there in shaping policy. This is deliberate. My review of the literature in the area had revealed a picture which was minutely worked in some areas but only sketched in or entirely missing in others. There was no shortage of material for the reader interested in perspectives `from the top' (Watson, 1989; Middlehurst, 1993; Weil, 1994; Robertson, 1994; Bocock and Watson, 1994; Allen and Layer, 1995) even amongst work apparently aimed at exploring change `from within' (Slowey, 1995). By contrast good, theoretically located, ethnographic studies of higher education organisations were decidedly thin on the ground, as a number of authors have noted (Rothblatt, 1996; Cuthbert (ed.), 1996).
The consistency of the focus on the upper level of higher education had led to what I came to call the `managerialist model of change' in the study of higher education: one which stressed the guiding role of senior managers in pulling the levers of change and in so doing `changing the essence' (Beckhard and Pritchard, 1992) of their organisation, particularly its culture. The study of the management of change in other contexts had moved away from this perspective towards a focus on the role and power of `street level bureaucrats' (Lipsky, 1980) in shaping policy at the point of implementation: a move, in other words, from a `top-down' to a `bottom-up' approach to understanding change (Sabatier, 1986). This was even true of work conducted in other sectors of the education system (Pollard, 1985; Reynolds and Saunders, 1987; Deem and Davies, 1991; Fullan, 1993).
This emphasis in the higher education literature struck me as strange given the greater autonomy and power that those on the ground in that system still possessed compared with, for example, school teachers. It also presented me with the question of how I should go about researching the issues I had set out given the lack of attention to them in the literature generally. If a fine-grained understanding of academics' values and attitudes, of the cultural context in which they operate, is important for the understanding of policy implementation and policy change, then how should `culture' in higher education organisations be conceptualised and studied? In a sense the tools to do the job had to be largely invented, though there had been a few `good starts' as Rothblatt puts it (Rothblatt, 1996) in this endeavour, not least from Tony Becher (1989) and Burton Clark (1987) as well as some earlier work (Clark and Trow, 1966). The second set of objectives of this book, then, is to propose an approach to the understanding and study of higher education organisations `close up' (Huberman and Miles, 1984). Together the project led to a set of conclusions which together act as a `corrective' to the approaches which currently dominate thinking and writing about higher education. I will summarise here the main issues it addresses in this respect:
* an over-emphasis on the importance of the epistemological characteristics of disciplines in conditioning academic professional cultures as against, for example, social background and factors outside the university.
* an over-emphasis on the ideational aspects of culture and a lack of concern with the implications of cultures on policy implementation.
* an over-simple understanding of the nature of `culture' in higher education in general, and one rooted in a view of culture as primarily `enacted' rather than also `constructed'.
* gender blindness, or at least a lack of appreciation of the gendered nature of cultures and the importance of gender in policy implementation.
* a passive model of academic responses to change.
These are highlighted by this study partly because it breaks a tradition of studying high status individuals, disciplines and institutions. Unlike many studies in that tradition I do not argue that what is true at NewU, the site of this study, is true elsewhere. In particular the findings about the credit framework are specific to a context of greatly increased student numbers and declining resources: the threads of causality linking these factors are inseparably intertwined. However, while the specific details reported here are not generalisable to other sites, the theoretical and conceptual approach developed is commended as having heuristic value elsewhere.
The book is organised as follows. Chapter 1 gives the background to recent changes in the higher education system as a whole, focusing in the latter part on the development of the credit framework in particular. It also describes the institution studied, contextualising its history, background and current characteristics in national picture. Chapter 2 critically addresses the claims made about the credit framework by its detractors and supporters while chapter 3 examines the factors which condition academic responses to the implementation of the framework. Chapter 4 is primarily a literature review chapter, demonstrating the need for a more sophisticated understanding of the implementation of policy generally in higher education: this chapter can be skipped by those most interested in the ethnographic detail in this book. Chapter 5 builds on this to develop a schema of different types of academic response to change. Chapter 6 uses the empirical evidence from the study and the theoretical account which arises from it to reassess a number of earlier approaches to higher education, particularly our understanding of the role of women academics. The final chapter summarises and discusses the conclusions of the study and considers their implications, primarily for managers in higher education.
Trowler, P. and Knight, P. Organizational Socialization and Induction in Universities: Reconceptualizing Theory and Practice.
This paper argues that the theory and practice of induction and socialisation of new academic staff in universities have been based on a partial, corporatist, perspective influenced by now defunct structural-functionalist theory. We develop a more sophisticated theoretical understanding of organisational socialisation and explore its consequences for the practice of induction of new academic staff. These ideas are based on secondary data derived from a number of studies of new academic appointees (NAAs), 26 in-depth interviews we conducted with academics in ten Canadian and English universities, both chartered and unchartered, and a five year ethnographic study of academic staff in a single unchartered English university.
Trowler, P. Policy Sociology and Higher Education Research in the UK: Changing Contexts, Changing Agendas. Paper presented at the CHER conference, Kassel Germany, 3-5 September 1998
This paper develops the argument that the rapidly changing nature of higher education (HE) in the United Kingdom requires a shift in research approaches towards more ethnographic research styles which are informed by policy sociology theory. The paper begins by outlining five key developments in HE in the UK, highlighting one of them in particular: the spread of the 'credit framework'. By 'credit framework' is meant the constellation of more or less compatible features facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning, including modularity, the semester system, franchising, the accreditation of work-based learning and of prior learning. Current developments in and debates around 'policy sociology' with examples from studies of the school sector are then discussed in order to demonstrate the utility of this sub-discipline in understanding the impact of these developments. A case study of academic responses to the credit framework drawn from my ethnographic study of an English HE institution is used to illustrate in more detail the utility of the approach in the developing HE context, in particular to show how ethnographic approaches and policy sociology theory can illuminate the reception, perception and implementation of policy. Finally specific proposals for a new research agenda are developed.
'Coming to Know' in Higher Education: theorising faculty entry to new work contexts
Drawing on data from two recent empirical studies of universities conducted by the authors, this paper sets out a theoretical approach to understanding how values, attitudes, taken-for-granted assumptions and recurrent practices in universities are developed and played out. The paper focuses particularly on the significance of the theory in terms of the 'work' that has to be done by new academic appointees (NAA's) entering novel contexts and on the implications of this for arrangements made for the induction and professional socialization of new staff. The paper argues that a focus on activity systems, usually located within departments, is essential if a fuller understanding of the hermeneutics of daily life in higher education is to be achieved and if the management of induction is to be appropriate and successful.
Trowler, P. (1998) What Managerialists Forget: higher education credit frameworks and managerialist ideology. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 8, 1.
This paper uses data from a five-year ethnographic study of a single higher education institution to assess aspects of the `realism' of managerialist approaches articulated through the credit framework in higher education in the UK. By `credit framework' is meant the constellation of more or less compatible features facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning, including modularity, the semester system, franchising, the accreditation of work-based learning and of prior learning. From the perspective of managerialist ideology the framework as a whole and its individual components offer a number of attractions, including greater economy, efficiency, manageability and market responsiveness in higher education institutions. Data from the site of the study and a theoretical framework derived from policy sociology are used to show that managerialist ideology oversimplifies and occludes aspects of social reality in higher education, the effect of which is to undermine many of the benefits claimed for the credit framework by managerialists.
|Beyond the Robbins Trap|
Trowler, P. (1997) Beyond the Robbins Trap: reconceptualising academic responses to change in higher education (or....Quiet Flows the Don?). Studies in Higher Education, 22, 3, 301-318.
This paper argues that there is an urgent need to emphasise the role of the academic as an important actor in the study of policy implementation in higher education. It asserts that research into higher education is distinctive in adopting an `over-socialised' conception of men and women. To demonstrate the actor's importance in the understanding of change the paper draws on the results of an ethnographic single-site case study of NewU, a post-1992 university. The locus of the study was the developing `mass' model of higher education and curricular characteristics associated with that, particularly the credit framework: the constellation of features related to and facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning, considered in a context of relative resource decline and increasing student numbers. The study highlighted the different ways in which academics respond to changing contexts and in many cases take actions which have the effect, intentionally and otherwise, of changing policy outcomes. The paper argues, finally, that a greater understanding of academics' behaviour can be achieved by moving beyond the essentialist position adopted by many higher education researchers which gives explanatory priority to the epistemological characteristics of disciplines. Researchers also need to take account of the organisational, cultural and ideological characteristics of particular contexts and the specific interests and understandings of actors in them.
Trowler, P. (1996) Angels in Marble?: accrediting prior experiential learning in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 21, 1, pp. 17-31.
After a brief account of the background to the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) in higher education, this paper elaborates on what are usually seen as two contrasting approaches to it: the credit exchange and developmental models. The paper argues that these should be recognised as poles of a continuum rather than dichotomous approaches and subjects each end of this continuum to critical scrutiny. Practical, epistemological pedagogical and cultural impediments to successful implementation of APEL are explored, the potential of APEL for deepening surveillance of the individual is highlighted and claims made about APEL and equal opportunities are questioned. In particular the problems associated with taking inappropriate positions on the continuum and of being unclear about the position taken are emphasised. The paper concludes by mapping areas where further research is needed and identifying the limits of the potential of APEL to broaden access to a mass higher education system.
|Implementing the Recording of Achievement in Higher Education|
Trowler, P and Hinett, K.(1994) Implementing the Recording of Achievement in Higher Education. Capability, 1, 1, pp. 53-61.
This paper focuses on issues around the implementation of systems of recording achievement in higher education. We start by examining the main claims made by proponents of records of achievement. We then move on to address a number of questions related specifically to implementing change, which first involves subjecting some of those claims to critical scrutiny. We consider the case of records of achievement as an instance of policy implementation, applying to it concepts and precepts from the implementation literature. We conclude by considering the implications of the discussion for the successful implementation of RoA's in institutions of HE. The discussion is informed by three sources: the relevant literature; participation in the North West Project on Recording Achievement and Higher Education with associated workshops and conferences; and the experience of a number of institutions as revealed by a series of depth interviews with key respondents which took place between March and June 1993.
Trowler, P. CATS, Class and Cultural Capital: the unintended consequences of coping with the credit framework in `mass' higher education. Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the European Access Network, Cork, June, 1997.
This paper, based on a five-year ethnographic research project in a single institution of higher education in England, addresses the unintended consequences for students of academics' attempts to cope with aspects of the new higher education (NHE). Focusing on academics' adaptive responses to the introduction of the credit framework (modularity, semesters, the assignment of credit value to assessed learning etc.) in a context of increased student numbers and declining resources, the paper argues that academics' coping and reconstructive strategies have had inadvertent deleterious effects on the student experience and have placed additional demands upon them. This, combined with the changed structural situation of higher education has had the consequence of increasing the significance of students' possession of cultural capital (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977, Bourdieu, 1997) and thus of their social class background with regard to the benefit they derive from the higher education experience.
The paper concludes with a call for awareness about the unintended hazards for students posed by academics' coping strategies, for more considered ways of dealing with the problems and dilemmas academics face in the rapidly changing higher education context and for more research directed toward those aspects of the student experience discussed here.
Trowler, P. (1996) Academics, Work and the Credit Framework in an Enlarged (but resource-depleted) Higher Education System. Paper presented at the SRHE annual conference, Cardiff, December 1996.
This paper reports the results of a five year quasi-ethnographic study of a single higher education institution. The specific focus was on the credit framework: the constellation of features facilitated by the assignment of credit to assessed learning, including modularity, franchising, the semester structure, APL etc. The research sought to uncover regularities in attitudes and values among academic staff towards this framework and towards the changing nature of higher education generally, to explore how these translated into policy implementation practices with regard to the framework and to seek to explain the mechanisms shaping these phenomena.
The results indicate that the emphasis in previous literature on the epistemological characteristics of disciplines in conditioning academics' attitudes, values and practices is much less applicable in the context of this unchartered university. They also suggest that the literature has tended to exaggerate the passivity of academic staff in responding to change. A new approach to conceptualising and explaining staff responses to policy and context change is proposed and some of the important conditioning factors are elaborated.
|Investigating Education and Training
Review Reading the chapter on 'the sociology of education' in most standard textbooks for 'A' level you might think that research in this area stopped in the mid 1970's when Paul Willis' Learning to Labour and Bowles and Gintis' Schooling in Capitalist America were published. You might also come to believe that educational policy making stopped at around the same time. You would, of course, be wrong on both counts. Educational research and development has been vigorous since then and policy making in the area of education and (perhaps especially) training has undergone a revolution in both scale and substance. This book brings these developments to the attention of the non-specialist and those beginning the study of the sociology of education and training. The landscape is large and complex and our desire to paint an accessible picture of it has meant using a broad brush. Specialists will forgive us for this. The book uses a number of devices which may need explanation. They are: Concept boxes: These define important ideas and, sometimes, theories at or near the location in the text where they are used. Chapter Bibliographies: This section, at the end of each chapter, gives information to enable you to continue independent investigation of the particular aspect of education and training covered. These are often addresses of organisations, sources of information, and particularly useful books. Bibliography: To increase clarity, only minimal references to the names and dates of books and studies are made in the text. However full details are given in the bibliography at the end. Task Icons: Indicate whether a task is designed for an individual, pairs, small group or a whole class. These are suggestions only. The content of the book and the tasks around it put into practice a set of carefully researched educational principles based on findings from research on student learning. Authors such as N. Entwistle, P. Ramsden R. Saljo, F. Marton and D. Laurillard are among those best known for this work, which was centred around universities in Sweden, Lancaster and Edinburgh. More recently the C.N.A.A.'s Improving Student Learning Project based at the Centre for Staff Development at Oxford Polytechnic has worked on clearly identifying and spreading good practice in teaching and learning based on that earlier work. Essentially the research identified a number of different ways in which students went about the learning process. Some students were found to be effective learners in that their approach helped them develop a long lasting, structured and broad understanding of the material at hand and an ability to link it to other material. Other students adopted learning strategies which were less effective, resulting only in a relatively short-term memorising of facts in an unstructured and unconnected way. A number of 'learning pathologies' were also identified; traps into which the unwary student could fall. Among these are inappropriate use of 'operation learning' (learning in a serialist, stepwise way rather than a more holistic approach known as 'comprehension learning') and "improvidence"; the failure to use common principles or to give sufficient detail in explanation. Underlying all of this work are the concepts of deep and surface learning. Gibbs characterises the surface approach as follows: "The student reduces what is to be learnt to the status of unconnected facts to be memorised. The learning task is to reproduce the subject matter at a latter date (e.g. in an exam)".(Gibbs, 1990, p3) In taking a deep approach, on the other hand... "The student attempts to make sense of what is to be learnt, which consists of ideas and concepts. This involves thinking, seeking integration between components and between tasks, and 'playing' with ideas" (Gibbs, 1990, p3) The crucial point about the findings on students' different approaches to learning is that they are not fixed characteristics of the students themselves, rather they are strategies which tend to result from the organisation of the curriculum, of assessment techniques and of the way material is presented. In other words, individual students do not naturally or inevitably engage in poor (or good) learning strategies because of some basic feature they have as people. The same student may adopt surface approaches to learning in one subject and deep approaches to another. It is predominantly pedagogy, including the materials that support classroom practice, not psychology, that conditions learning strategy. The content and tasks in this book, then, apply some of the principles identified by this research as facilitating a deep approach to learning. Those principles, as identified by the Improving Student Learning Project are as follows: "1. Motivational Context Deep learning is more likely when students' motivation is intrinsic and when the student experiences a need to know something. ...[they] learn best what they need to learn in order to carry out tasks which matter to them... 2. Learner Activity Students need to be active rather than passive. Deep learning is associated with doing. If the learner is actively involved, then more connections will be made both with past learning and between new concepts. Doing is not sufficient for learning, however. Learning activity must be planned, reflected upon and processed, and related to abstract conceptions. 3. Interaction with others It is often easier to negotiate meaning and to manipulate ideas with others than alone. The importance of discussion [or 'exploratory talk'] for learning is not a new idea...and autonomous student groups and peer tutoring can be very effective... 4. A well structured knowledge base Without existing concepts it is impossible to make sense of new concepts. It is vital that students' existing knowledge and experience be brought to bear in learning. The subject matter being learnt must also be well structured and integrated..."(Gibbs, 1990, p 9) References Bowles, S. and Gintis, H. (1976) Schooling in Capitalist America Routledge and Kegan Paul, London. Gibbs, G. (1990) Improving Student Learning Project Briefing Paper Oxford Centre for Staff Development, Oxford. Willis, P. (1977) Learning to Labour Saxon House, Farnborough.
"This is the first text directly aimed at the A-level sociology market which
genuinely brings the sociology of education into the 1990s...Paul Trowler's book
[rectifies the omission of a discussion of vocationalism in other texts] with great style
and detail...In addition, we have a book which offers an insight into other aspects of the
world of education and training that have largely been ignored in the standard texts...It
is great to see up-to-date ideas and data about under-achievement and ethnic minorities
rather than tired statistics from the early 80s...Trowler and his co-authors...have
produced a book which clearly has the potential to increase students' knowledge about what
is happening in schools and colleges but it should be noted that they encourage students
to develop critical/evaluative skills too...As a further bonus, the text deals with points
about sociological perspectives where appropriate, reinforcing student understanding of
this difficult aspect of the syllabus."
Moores, M. (1996) Times Educational Supplement, March 29, p. 32.
|Investigating Mass Media.
An extensively revised, expanded and developed version of Investigating the Media, this book has chapters on:
Developments in the Media
Messages, Audiences and Effects
Approaches to Media Research
Perspectives on 'Bias' in the Media
Mass Media, Mass Cultures, Mass Society
Deviance and the Media
Advertising and the Media
Mass Media, Politics and Policy-Making
Gender and the Media
Minority Ethnic Groups and the Mass Media
Media Representations of Age and Class.
Rupert Murdoch references that never made it into
this HarperCollins book.
|Investigating The Media.|
Reprinted several times during its life, this book has chapters on:
Developments in the Media
Methods of Studying the Media
The Media and Mass Culture
Deviance and the Media
Advertising and the Media
Industry and Politics in the Media
Women and the Media
Racial Minorities and the Media
Now superseded by Investigating Mass Media
|Topics in Sociology.|
Reprinted several times during its life but now out of print (though widely available in libraries) this book contains the following chapters:
Sociology of Development
Social Construction of Race Relations (by Mike Riley)
Sociology of Youth Culture
Sociology of Health
Sociology of Mass Media
"The text utilises a conventional topic approach, thoughtfully supplemented by
references to overlap areas within sociology. The chapter on Sociology of Development is
particularly wide-ranging...The appeal of the book is to a wider audience than that of A
level students. It will be invaluable for professional courses containing sociology
components, as well as undergraduate courses, in the opportunities provided for an
expansion and deepening of an understanding of other sociological areas."
Russell, K. (1985) Secondary Education Journal, 15, 2, p. 41.
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|Further Topics in Sociology.|
Adds the sociology of knowledge and social policy and administration to the five sub-disciplines covered in Topics in Sociology. Now out of print. (172 pages).
"...[A] well-known text is Paul Trowler's Topics in Sociology. His new book adds a comprehensive discussion of two further topics which he feels have been given little attention in introductory texts...They are the sociology of knowledge and questions of social policy and administration. In a subject where...rival theoretical ideas must be evaluated, students are often impatient for the application of these approaches in social policy. Paul Trowler acknowledges that 'Like much recent Marxist writing, functionalist work is so theoretical and general in nature that it is not very helpful in terms of practical policy proposals'. But he carefully teases out the policy implications of various sociological approaches." Ward, C. (1985) Times Educational Supplement, 13.9.85, p. 33.
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|Investigating Health, Welfare and Poverty|
Reprinted a number of times during its life and now in a second edition , this book as chapters on:
Approaching the Study of Health and Welfare
Health Trends and Social Class in Britain
Women, Health and Welfare
Debates on the Welfare State.
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| Investigating Health, Welfare and Poverty
1996 (Second Edition)
Updating the first edition, this book has chapters on:
Perspectives on Health, Welfare and Poverty
Approaching the Study of Health and Welfare
Health Trends and Social Class in Britain
Gender, Health and Welfare
Debates on the Welfare State.
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Department-level cultures and the improvement of learning and teaching
This paper argues that good practice in teaching and learning is threatened by structural changes in the higher education system. The impact of these changes can, however, be mitigated by appropriate leadership practices at the departmental level. These can, it is argued, assist in the development of 'deeper' teaching and learning practices even in a context which militates against them. Rejecting simplistic notions of transformational leadership and organizational cultural engineering, the paper identifies activity systems at the local, departmental, level as the central locus of changes in approaches to and recurrent practices in teaching and learning. Desirable change can be achieved only in a collective and collaborative way, however, a fact which makes processes inevitably contextualised and local and outcomes unpredictable and fuzzy. The paper is based on in-depth interviews with academics in England and Canada as well as on the authors' previous studies.
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It takes a village to raise a child: mentoring and the socialisation of new entrants to the academic professions
The induction and mentoring of new academic staff are becoming urgent concerns as growing numbers of vacancies begin to appear, and while higher education institutions are having to take on new, complex mandates. Evidence from a study of new academics is set alongside recent North American research into mentoring arrangements for new academics. It is suggested that, on the evidence we present, current British practice falls short of North American recommendations. However, it is claimed that whatever attention is paid to mentoring, its impact cannot be detached from the culture of the departments and teams within which academic staff work. By themselves, better mentoring arrangements cannot resolve looming problems in the induction of new academics.
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|Active Sociology: A Student-Centred Approach
Divided into 13 sub-disciplinary chapters, the book presents classic and modern
extracts for the reader, in each case with a contextualising introduction which also
highlights the linkages between the extracts in the chapter. The aim of the book is to
encourage students of sociology to work with the material actively and move up Bloom's
taxonomy of educational objectives as they do so. To facilitate this the book includes:
* a glossary for each extract
* questions on each extract plus ones which encourage application, synthesis and evaluative comparison across two or more extracts. *
Suggestions for further reading are also given.
Though now out of print this book has been hugely popular and current returns from the Authors' Licensing and Copyright Society show it to be widely photocopied in educational institutions in the UK.
"This is a welcome attempt to get students to think hard about what they are
reading, and Trowler deserves congratulations for a thoughtful and enterprising
scheme...The readings are well chosen and the topic introductions exemplary in their
precision and approachability. There is one weak point; some of the set questions are a
little vague and could confuse even the brighter student. But this in no way diminishes
the value of a book that should give good service to student and teacher alike."
Alster, L. (1987) Times Educational Supplement, 11.9.87, p. 34.
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Captured By The Discourse? The Socially Constitutive Power of New Higher Education Discourse in the UK.
Paper to be given at the Re-organizing Knowledge/Transforming Institutions conference, Amherst, Massachusetts, September 1999
This paper addresses the extent to which academic staff are 'captured' by the discourse associated with the New Higher Education (NHE) in the UK and the factors which condition their ability to displace, negotiate, reconstruct and create alternative discourses. The specific example of NHE epistemic discourse is used in the paper to illuminate the issues involved. In addressing this task the paper draws on data from a five year ethnographic study of an English university, a comparative study of 'new' academics in England and Canada and spontaneous textual data produced at a conference on higher education. These data relate to both textual content and to the recurrent practices, values and attitudes of academics, enabling the paper to go beyond discourse analysis and into a consideration of socio-organizational practices. Theory developed from earlier higher education organizational studies by the author is applied to these data and two sources of discursive 'struggle' are identified: structural locations for textual production other than those which underpin NHE discourse and the processes occurring within activity systems in university contexts. The paper concludes that the dialogical nature of universities means that the impact of NHE discourse on organizational practices is mitigated as it is read and reacted to in varied ways: that academics are not fundamentally 'captured' by this discursive form. However caution is advised in extending this argument too far: the non-synonymous nature of the concepts 'plurivocality' and 'semiotic democracy' is highlighted and the importance of their differences explored.
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Trowler, P. and Wareham, T. Smoothing the Transition: staff development and organizational socialization in changing universities.
Paper to the 21st Annual EAIR Forum, Lund University, Sweden, 22-25 August, 1999.
Until recently theoretical contributions to the understanding of organizational socialization in higher education was dominated by a 'modernist' approach rooted in structural functionalist and corporatist theory. Procedures for the induction of new staff in universities were and still are tacitly rooted within this increasingly inappropriate theoretical paradigm. Based on two separate empirical studies involving 10 universities in England and Canada and professional experience in staff development, this paper demonstrates the need for a more nuanced theoretical understanding of the process of organizational socialization in a changing higher education environment and tracks in detail its implications for those involved in facilitating the induction of new staff in universities.
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Trowler, P., Corker, M. and Turner, G. Exploring the Hermeneutic Foundations of University Life: Deaf academics in a hybrid community of practice. Paper to be delivered at the SRHE annual conference, 14-16 December, 1999.
This paper seeks to demonstrate the heuristic power of applying activity theory to university contexts. It does so through the close analysis of a single atypical community of practice in a sub-departmental activity system; one which comprises Deaf and hearing academics in equal numbers. Data from interviews and observant participation are used to inform the paper. This case study contains important features in exaggerated form which exist less palpably in any community of practice. As a result it offers a suitable locus for the development of theoretical and conceptual tools useful for studying and helping guide action within university life and cultures. In short the case study serves as an empirical referent for the elaboration of an ideal type of activity systems operating within university contexts. The structure of the paper is as follows: it first examines Webers argument concerning the heuristic power of ideal types and goes on to describe the characteristics of activity systems through the case study example and to explore their theoretical corollaries, addressing the implications of the study for other communities of practice. Finally the paper considers the implications for selected aspects of professional practice in universities, including management and staff development activities.
Preface to the second edition of Academic Tribes and Territories (Paul Trowler and Tony Becher)
The welcome invitation to prepare a second edition of what is now a well-established text provided an opportunity to reflect on over a decade of profound changes in higher education across the world and to consider their implications for the academic tribes and their disciplinary territories. As we describe in chapter 1, during the late 1980s and 1990s there were major geomorphic shifts in the landscape on which those territories lie. One of the tasks we set ourselves in preparing this new edition was to take into account the adaptations of the academic tribes to these environmental changes: adaptations made sometimes reluctantly, occasionally enthusiastically and often unconsciously. Another was integrate some of the latest research on the academic professions into the account, while a third was to interrogate some of the assumptions underpinning to original research with a view to assessing their robustness in this changing environment. The book remains an enquiry into the nature of the linkages between academic cultures (the "tribes") and disciplinary knowledge (their "territories") and so largely and deliberately excludes discussion of other influential factors in conditioning faculty cultures in higher education. However we wanted to consider how far the relative importance of epistemological factors affecting cultures had changed over time. Given that there has been considerable diversification of higher education since the mid 1980s we also wanted to introduce more material from lower status institutions and disciplines than was present in the first edition, no longer relying quite so heavily on the transferability of conclusions derived from the study of an elite group. In all of this, however, we had no intention of writing a completely new book, and hence losing the valuable insights and the use of rich data that had made the first edition so successful. While Paul Trowler took most of the responsibility for preparing the new material, he was acutely conscious of the great strengths in the original book and the high quality of the prose in which it was presented. Revisions have been careful, therefore, and largely confined to the original structure of the book apart from a completely new first chapter. We very much hope that, far from fundamentally changing - or worse, damaging - the original, we have retained its qualities yet updated and added something new to it which readers will find valuable.
There are some new names to add to those to whom we owe a debt. They include John Skelton at the Open University Press for his continuing enthusiasm and support for our work, to Emma Sangster at the SRHE whose careful and thorough preparation of the statistics on staff and students in the UK was invaluable in updating the book. Finally there is the debt to our families, who by now are only too well aware of the consequences of engagement in this sort of project.
Paul Trowler and Tony Becher, November 2000.
He challenges our traditional notion of leadership in traditional machine organisations where change is regarded as needing to be 'driven' and 'from the top'. His alternative is to explore the parallels between companies and living organisms. Growth is organic and comes in addition to what is already happening, not instead of existing structures. The role of the leader or change manager is thus one of preparing the ground, nurturing the growth and fostering creativity. Work with the organisation as if it is alive, and the growth, development and learning comes naturally. (Web report of presentation by P. Senge to HRD 2000, April, taken from http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/).
This book is primarily about leading subject departments in higher education, although we often write 'teams or departments' because our analysis is, we believe, broadly applicable to sub-sections of departments and to other functional groupings such as programme teams. So, in large departments, especially in the natural sciences, people may identify with a sub-unit or team as much as they do with the department as a whole and, in many ways, these teams are departments in miniature. We also suggest that the teams responsible for teaching academic programmes leading to named awards (a BA in History, a MSc. in information and communications technology, a doctoral programme in public administration) can be treated as equivalents to departments, although that position needs to be qualified. While some institutions have effectively devolved mid-level management to programme teams and departments have become vestigial, in others programme teams struggle against departments for identity and authority. In these cases, leading a programme team may be a thankless administrative job and nothing more. Nevertheless we talk of teams and departments because most analyses of how programme leadership could be improved come up with suggestions that are tantamount to making the programme team more like a department, with their own budgets and spaces, specialist academic, technical and support staff, and research activities. So, this is a book about communities of practice in higher education, communities which usually take the form of departments but which may be sub-sections or programme teams.
In focusing on this meso level, between the individual and the organization, we find that we are in the company of increasing numbers of theorists: the crucial importance of workgroups or teams having become increasingly recognised in the later part of the 1990s (Northouse, 1997). Though much of what we say is applicable to leading faculties and schools - to the work of deans - this is not a book about that level. One reason is because many faculties cannot be described as communities of practice in the same way as departments, which means that any analysis would need to be somewhat different from the ones we offer here. At the 'local' level, as opposed to faculties, interactions involve a much closer relationship with individuals and there is more personal investment in those relationships and closer 'identity' links. The task at hand is usually more focussed, clearer to all parties and often has already been the subject of mutual 'constructive' work which has happened within a network of ongoing relationships in a variety of contexts.
Another reason why we concentrate on the departmental level and below is because we argue that much of the work of leading is contingent, by which we mean that it involves dealing with the specifics of a time, a place and a set of people. Ours is more of a particularistic than a universalistic approach. If we agree with Hopkins (1992) that leading is more like sailing than driving then the significance of context is foregrounded: the wind, the tide, the currents, the characteristics of the boat and its crew. There are, of course, regularities, general patterns and recurrences in leading but an understanding of what is general about the work has to be combined with an appreciation of specifics. So, although what deans do has much in common with what departmental chairs do, it is sufficiently different for it to be unwise to claim that what we say here is as useful for the dean-to-be as it is for the new departmental chair or head of department. Bolton's (2000) book is more obviously about managing faculties and schools. That said, it would be an odd book about mid-level academic leadership that had nothing to offer deans and we suggest that our view of what is involved in leadership and our suggestions for leading will be thought-provoking.
Our aim in this book is to provide some tools for reflection on the practice of leading at the departmental level and below in higher education. In particular we offer a conceptual torch to illuminate practice highlight the possibilities for changed practice. If leading well is partly about thinking well, then (to change the metaphor) we present some food for thought. This is definitely not a book of axioms for leaders, a pre-fabricated pack of self-assembly tips and tricks: one of our key theses is that situational contingencies mean that such packs have strictly limited utility. We do, however, indicate a preferred approach to leading in higher education contexts, and a picture of what desirable communities of practice there might look like. We recognise though that how far and how frequently these ideas be realised is subject to the vagaries of task, context and what we call the rules of appropriateness in particular settings.
In general we prefer to talk about leading than leadership because the verb avoids the noun's implication that there a commodity called 'leadership' really exists and, presumably, might be acquired by anyone with the right sort of currency. The position that we develop in the first three chapters is that there are problems with expecting 'leadership' to improve higher education and that thoughtful people (leaders) can improve it by repeatedly acting wisely in many different circumstances (leading). This emphasises the situated, constructed, dynamic and human elements that can get reified into abstraction by talk of 'leadership'. Plainly - and not least in a book which must deal in generalities - it would be absurd to maintain that leading is only about specifics, which is why we insist that leading is about praxis, the interacting of thinking and doing, the blends of understanding of the general with understanding of the specific. Despite our unease with the term, 'leadership' is embedded in discourse to such a degree that it would sound too artificial if we always replaced the noun with the verb. We also prefer to talk of leading rather than of managing (and of leadership rather than of management) because we think that leading is 'managing plus', that is managing change with a fundamental concern for values and people which guides understandings of appropriateness and desirability.
So, this is a book about the activity of leading departments and other teams that can be treated as communities of practice in higher education institutions. Organisationally, our interest is in activity systems and communities that are considerably smaller than the whole institution and more complex than the lone academic or faculty member. As the terminology suggests, our interest is also an international one and we indiscriminately use 'faculty' as a synonym for 'academic staff' and mean the same when we refer to 'chairs' as we do when writing of 'heads of departments'.
The book is organized into two parts: 'Contexts' and 'Issues'. In making this distinction we do not wish to separate theory from practice: we know that this is impossible and our aim is, as we say, to infuse improved practice with good theory. Rather the distinction is there to help busy readers navigate the book more easily. The first part of the book (chapters 1-4) sets out the context of the discussion, both in terms of the relevant theory and of the environment of higher education. In offering ways of thinking about leading in higher education it draws both from work on higher education and from organizational management and international research on school effectiveness and improvement. Chapter 4 indicates what these ideas can mean by assessing their usefulness in understanding complex educational organizations: in this case schools.
In Part 2 (chapters 5-10) we offer a contribution to the on-going dialogue about leading in 6 key areas of higher education. These chapters are based on review of a wide literature, our experience, data and careful thought founded in research as well as practical experience of leading at the departmental level in HE, including (for one of us) as head of department. The book as a whole is informed by data from a number of studies with which we have been involved. These have ranged across all educational sectors, as have our academic interests over some years. We conducted web and email enquiries with academic leaders specifically for this book and use a number of illustrative quotes from them throughout it. Only where quotations have been taken from other of our studies has the original source been identified to avoid repetitive reference to our discussion with leaders. What each of our studies has had in common is an interest in facilitating appropriate change and professional learning in educational organizations.
Thanks go to the chairs and other leaders who responded to our international electronic enquiries about their work. Their words greatly enrich our writing. Thanks also to those individuals who helped spread the word about our enquiry and encouraged practising leaders in HE to spend some valuable time reflecting on and writing about their experience.
Peter Knight and Paul Trowler
Lancaster, June 2000.
Social Practice Theory and the Multiple Cultural Configuration of Universities: The level of analysis issue and change interventions in higher education
Paul Trowler and Peter T Knight, Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. LA1 4YL
Drawing on the authors' recent HE studies, the paper explores the nature and sources of the multiple cultural configuration of universities as organizations and discusses the implications of the analysis for change intervention. If change is to be well understood and well handled, it is necessary to attend to at least three levels of analysis - individual, workgroup and organizational. While the first and last of these have received considerable attention in the literature and among interested organizations such as the ILT, SEDA and global counterparts, the second has not yet received adequate attention. We develop a theoretical approach to understanding the processes that occur at this 'meso' level and give examples to demonstrate their importance to institutional change processes. We comment on the implications of this approach for those charged with leadership responsibilities, particularly at the level of the subject department.
Teaching and Learning Regimes: implicit theories and recurrent practices in the enhancement of teaching and learning through educational development programmes.
Paul Trowler and Ali Cooper, Department of Educational Research and Higher Education Development Centre, Lancaster University.
This paper uses the concept of teaching and learning regimes (TLRs) to help explore a set of questions about why some academic staff in universities thrive on and benefit from accredited programmes designed to improve HE learning and teaching practices ('educational development programmes') whilst others experience periods of resistance or some drop out altogether. 'TLR' is a shorthand term for a constellation of rules, assumptions, practices and relationships related to teaching and learning issues in higher education. These include aspects of the following salient to teaching and learning, each of which we elaborate and illustrate in the paper: identities in interaction; power relations; codes of signification; tacit assumptions; rules of appropriateness; recurrent practices; discursive repertoires; implicit theories of learning and of teaching. The argument presented here is that academic staff on educational development programmes ('participants') bring to programmes sets of assumptions and practices rooted in TLRs. Educational development programmes themselves instantiate TLRs which may be more, or less, compatible with those of individual participants. Where there are incongruities between the two they need not be fatal if participants are able to, or are encouraged to, surface and reflect on previously tacit assumptions embedded in their TLRs. Similarly, there may not be a problem if participants are able to exercise discretion over the application of aspects of different regimes; applying them in different contexts as appropriate. Evidence from participants' writing, participant observation, secondary sources and data from eight interviews inform the paper and form the basis for illustrative vignettes.
Trowler, P. (2003) Il Regno Unito e lo 'Spazio Europeo dell'istruzione' (The UK and the European Higher Education Space). La Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia. (The Italian Journal of Sociology), 3, 357-370
This paper begins by showing that there are considerable levels of ignorance and complacency in the UK with regard to the Bologna process. It goes on to illustrate how the characteristics of the UK higher education system are likely to increase the likelihood of a large 'implementation gap' between Bologna policy-makers' expectations and outcomes on the ground. Both policy sociology theory and examples of previous policy trajectories are used to substantiate that argument. Finally it is suggested that the Bologna process itself is less 'joined up' than at first might be thought to be the case and that this too is likely to result in unexpected outcomes across the European 'higher education space'.
Trowler, P., Fanghanel, J. and Wareham, T.Freeing the Chi of Change: The Higher Education Academy and Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Abstract.
Chi brings good fortune in the form of physical energy, relationship affinity and material prosperity If chi is not allowed to flow freely then it stagnates and transforms into destructive energy, known as sha chi Chi is said to gently flow along curved lines while the doom laden sha chi strikes like a secret arrow along straight lines.
(Dee, 1999, p8).
This paper examines recent UK policy initiatives to enhance teaching and learning in higher education in the UK, and the quality of the student experience there. The Higher Education Academy will shortly begin to work in this area and the Higher Education Bill (2004) is about to pass into law. A reflective review of previous initiatives is therefore very timely. The paper shows that while these different initiatives have been explicitly addressed at different levels of analysis, the meso level - a particularly significant one - has been largely forgotten. Meanwhile these interventions have been based on contrasting underlying theories of change and development. One hegemonic theory relates to the notion of the reflective practitioner which addresses itself to the micro (individual) level of analysis. It sees reflective practitioners as potential change agents. Another relates to the theory of the learning organization which addresses the macro level of analysis and sees change as stemming from alterations in organizational routines, values and practices. A third is based on a theory of epistemological determinism and sees the discipline as the salient level of analysis for change. Meanwhile other higher education policies exist alongside those mentioned above, not overtly connected to the enhancement of teaching and learning but impinging upon it in very significant ways in a bundle of disjointed strategies and tacit theories. Of particular relevance here are policies on funding, on research and on widening participation, all implemented in an increasingly managerialist environment in which work intensification and degradation of resources are occurring.
Missing in all this is coherence across the policies, and their underlying theories, at the different analytical levels. Because there is disjointedness in various government and other agencies, HE policies have tended to obstruct rather than complement each other. Hence our use of a metaphor from Eastern philosophy - the notion of blocked chi. Also missing is a robust theory of change and associated set of policies at the meso level of analysis - the departmental level. We suggest ways in which the latter omission might be rectified, thus freeing the 'chi of change'.
Trowler, P. Policy and Change: Academic Development Units and the Bologna Declaration. International Journal of Academic Development
To different extents, Academic Development Units (ADU's) face common problems the world over. Often situated in an institutional environment which values research over teaching, they can find it difficult to integrate their work into that of the university community generally. For them, policy imperatives such as the Bologna Accord present both challenges and opportunities. Thus, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these papers is the insight they provide into the nature of the relationships between ADU's and their university contexts.
Trowler, P. The Sociologies of Teaching, Learning and Enhancement: improving practices in higher education. Revista de Sociologia.
This paper examines some lacunae in the sociological approach to the study of education, in particular the relative lack of attention given to learning and teaching issues and, in that context, to the meso level of analysis. Setting out a social practice theory approach to the issue, the paper is particularly concerned to elaborate the implications of such a theoretical perspective for the understanding of change in higher education, especially change initiative designed to enhance teaching and learning. The paper shows how the construction and enactment of teaching and learning regimes at the departmental level in universities can have significant effects on the reception and implementation of such initiatives. It is argued that change agents are empowered by better theory to ask better questions and be more perceptive and discriminating as they come to understand and seek to influence educational contexts.
Book Reviews (extracts)
1. Reviews of Academic Tribes and Territories, second edition
"Anyone who reads higher education research will have come across Trowler's name on many occasions, so we might see this second edition as handing over the baton from one generation to the next.This is an excellent book to recommend to anyone wanting to get a better idea of the nature of academic work and life; quite possibly the best single book you could recommend. It is also an object lesson in how to write in an attractive and incisive fashion. Trowler has done the higher education research community a major service in bringing Becher's seminal work up to date for the 21st century. And, in doing so, the three tasks which the authors set themselves have been well achieved.
Tight, M. (2003) Higher Education Quarterly, 57, 1, 94-96
"Some academic books, however clearly one remembers them, remain part of the way one thinks about higher education and one's relationship to it. Becher's 1989 book was one such, and Academic Tribes and Territories became crucially important means - as vocabulary, as day-to-day understanding, as research strategy - of encompassing the world of higher education. The book was a major contribution to a burgeoning interest in the nature and roles of disciplines and departments as their proxies. ..What Becher achieved..was a necessary ground-clearing exercise. It provided a set of analytical instruments with which to continue to think about the strong, even dominant, roles that disciplines, their subject packages and departments played in higher education as it had been and was becoming. ..The targets of the first edition are not diminished in importance in the second, but the nature of the changes in higher education and of the international analysis of these changes inevitably produces a more complex journey towards them. Both within this journey to some extent and in the new introduction to a considerable extent, however, there is an attempt to locate the original discussion within more stringent, comprehensive theories.. A whole new range of sources is tapped for the extended argument. Trowler's own work on academics and change in a former polytechnic (published in 1 998) is one such source, and there is significant attention to new data and literature on individual disciplines, cultural identity, gender and all of the other kinds of topics that have assumed priority since the first edition. New curricular situations within the institutions are given attention, including new subjects and their combination across old frontiers. There is new, particularly British, American and Canadian, evidence of changes in academic attitudes, and the reasons.. The targets of the first edition are not diminished in importance in the second, but the nature of the changes in higher education and of the international analysis of these changes inevitably produces a more complex journey towards them.
The book was originally a breakthrough and it remains so..Perhaps the second edition is best thought of as a continuingly vital text accompanied by an attempt at a history of ways of thinking in our time."
Silver, H. (2002) Academic Tribes and Territories Renewed. Higher Education Digest, 42, 3-4.
2. Reviews of Departmental Leadership in Higher Education
"Peter Knight and Paul Trowler's book.is a worthy contribution to the literature..Part 1 covers the socio-cultural leadership contexts of change, leadership theory and practices and leading in higher education departments. It is grounded in the theoretical perspective of 'social practice theory'..In Part 2 Knight and Trowler apply these theoretical frameworks of leadership practices to issues that affect higher education: assessment, learning and teaching, research and scholarship, administration and planning, continuing professional development and learning how to lead. This part of the book makes it unique, for excerpts from research subjects (academic leaders at all levels of activity and experience) in the field are incorporated into the extensive discussion of practice. It is, overall, a very effective piece of reflective research that outlines well the promises of good academic leadership as well as its perils."
Gilder, A. (2001) Higher Education in Europe, XXVI, 2, 285-6
"This interesting and well-written book is primarily intended for those who lead departments or other teams in higher education institutions.What [the hard-pressed HoD will find].is an intelligent and informed discussion of a range of issues.rather than the bulleted lists found in so many management texts.What a shame [that most HoDs] will not find the time to read and reflect on this valuable book. Were they able to, maybe our university departments would be better led."
Hill, T. http://www.escalate.ac.uk/briefing/Reviews/book32.php3 (last accessed 10.3.03)
3. Reviews of Higher Education Policy and Institutional Change
"The editor's introduction to the chapters that follow is a tight and tart summary of contemporary critiques of the rational-purposive model of policy.Trowler reminds us of the essential incoherence of policy in reality, in which unintended consequences of seemingly straightforward policy are shaped at least as much by local conditions and issues as by central government mandate..Trowler and Knight's final chapter [is] the best of the bunch.They propose a connectivist conception of change and policy, and several characteristics of that conception..Trowler and Knight end their essay with some 15 implications of a connectivist perspective for affecting real change in schools and universities.This ending essay merits fuller explanation through a book-length manuscript."
Marc Cutright (Ohio University) in Higher Education, (2004) 47, 2, pp 253-255.
".From the model of policy and policy-making espoused in Trowler's introduction, the reader is guided through an institutional world of policy implementation far removed at times from the (ir)rational designs of policy-makers. Trowler's connecting theme is the notion of the implementation staircase (Reynolds and Saunders, 1987), a neat device enabling each essay to address various policy levels - from national contexts to 'street level bureaucrats'..Overall this volume provides ample evidence to support the notion of policy as 'contested terrain'. Its main value is in demonstrating how policy is made in various (higher) education settings, and is not just something that is handed down in tablets of stone from government and university management..Both collectively and individually [the chapters] provide some powerful critiques of research for policy that policy-makers (and senior managers for that matter) would be well advised to heed.
Smith, D. Studies in Higher Education, pp 109-110.
4. Review of Realising Qualitative Research into Higher Education
"How nice to read a book on higher education with and methodological focus: a sign, perhaps, but higher education research, if it could not yet be said to have come of age, has at least reached puberty....Each contribution exemplifies what the editors variously describe as "fine-grained, hermeneutically grounded" (p.xii) or "close-up" (p.xiv) research, involving "detailed analysis of institutional 'undergrowth'" (p. xv). "more subtle, more penetrating" (p.xvi) questioning or the "thick description" of a case (p.xvii). They see these contributions as "methodologically part of an explosion of qualitative research right across the social sciences" (p xv), very demanding of the researchers undertaking them, yet both valuable and necessary.
I wouldn't disagree with any of that, even if the argument is perhaps pushed to strongly and involves a little too much jargon and my taste. But for me the real beauty of the book is the attention given by the authors to method/ological issues and underlying theoretical frameworks. It is relatively unusual to find such a detailed engagement, either in books or journals, in published higher education research....
I can happily recommend this book, therefore to anyone interested in learning more about the doing of higher education research, and in getting ideas as to how they might make a contribution. It's great to get away from policy critiques and small-scale, evidence-based, evaluative case studies for a while. For my part, perhaps I should go to the next Higher Education Close Up conference. It must beat listening to all those keynote speakers blaring on about higher education as economic policy."
Malcolm Tight, Warwick University, UK. Studies in Higher Education, 29, 3, 410-20
5. Review of Academics Responding to Change
"Books like this are not normally described as 'unputdownable', but I did little else until I had finished a first reading. This book is going to be exceptionally useful to me; I will gratefully adopt it as a core text both to help me into the literature and to guide my thinking on my research approach. I do not mean by this that anything in it will be slavishly followed; the clarity with which Trowler handles complex ideas helps me to see what I disagree with, what I wish to be different.
The breadth of reference is hugely impressive. ..Trowler cares deeply about the mass of academics. I imagine they will appreciate the research stance adopted..If he chose, Trowler could write a popular and accessible guide to academic survival; the title might be something like 'How actors can manage".
Holroyd, C. (1999) Teaching in Higher Education, 4, 3, pp 429-432
6. Review of Investigating Education
INVESTIGATING EDUCATION AND TRAINING. Sociology in Action series. Paul Trowler. Collins Educational, Pounds 8.95.
This is the first text directly aimed at the A-level sociology market which genuinely brings the sociology of education into the 1990s.
It does seem rather odd that the vocationalism that has been the focus of so much controversy for more than a decade in education studies and sociology has not really been covered adequately in the majority of student textbooks on this part of the syllabus.
Paul Trowler's book puts this right with great style and detail - hence the word "training" in the title. In addition, we have a book which offers an insight into other aspects of the world of education and training that have largely been ignored in the standard texts.
A chapter on disabilities and learning difficulties is a welcome development, but it does make me think that we have waited much too long for this inclusion. Chapters on educational policy and research techniques are also included, and these topics represent further "newer areas for consideration".
So, there is much that is new in this book, and many teachers of sociology at A-level will be grateful for this. They will be able to integrate these newer elements into their teaching programmes.
There is more good news, though, because Trowler has chapters on race and ethnicity, social class and gender too. Such chapter titles are, of course, obligatory in a text on education and training, but a lot of the studies included are quite recent and this is a real bonus for teachers who want to introduce their students to ideas which have currency in today's Britain.
It is great to see up-to-date ideas and data about under-achievement and ethnic minorities rather than tired statistics from the early 80s. Equally, the chapter on social class really does address the question of social mobility in terms of what has happened in Britain recently, rather than getting bogged down in studies from the 60s and 70s. In the gender chapter, too, the myth of female under-achievement is tackled.
Trowler and his co-authors from the University of Central Lancashire have produced a book which clearly has the potential to increase students' knowledge about what is happening in schools and colleges but it should be noted that they encourage students to develop critical/evaluative skills too. This is absolutely crucial, given the requirements of examinations. As a further bonus, the text deals with points about sociological perspectives where appropriate, reinforcing student understanding of this difficult aspect of the syllabus.
There are sections of this book that A-level students will struggle with. The chapter on educational policy is rather dense, but then the ideas involved are complex. Teachers and students will have to work together closely on these difficult sections. But students will enjoy many of the activities which appear regularly in each chapter. A few activities seem to be impractical, but most should encourage productive group discussion.
Moores, M. (1996) Times Educational Supplement, March 29, p. 32
7. Review of Investigating the Media
"This well designed and lavishly documented.book certainly addresses a comprehensive and highly contemporary agenda...Its selection of statistical source material, concise argument and detailed illustration provides an impressive resource bank for individual study, group discussion and project work..I was impressed by the sheer density, thoroughness and breadth of material of offer in this book. "
Grahame, J. (1989) Media Studies, 37, 52-3
8. Review of Active Sociology: a student-centred approach
"Abandoning his usual textbook approach, Trowler offers readings on the core topics of.sociology. Each passage is followed by a glossary of difficult words plus a number of relevant questions. This is a welcome attempt to get students to think harder about what they are reading, and Trowler deserves congratulations for a thoughtful and enterprising scheme.[The book] should give good service to student and teacher alike. "
Alster, L. (1987) Times Educational Supplement, 11, 9, p 34
9. Review of Topics in Sociology
"The appeal of this book is to a wider audience than that of A level students. It will be invaluable for professional courses containing sociology components, as well as undergraduate courses, in the opportunities provided for an expansion and deepening of an understanding of other sociological areas. "
Russell, K. (1985) Secondary Education Journal, 15, 2, p 41.
10. Review of Wicked Issues in Situating Theory in Close Up Research
The papers in this Special Issue had their first outing at the 2010 Higher Education Close-Up 5 Conference in the UK. Exploring the thorny issue of theory-method relations can appear, in one sense to turn our gaze away from the pressing issues facing higher education; yet on the other hand, there is also a sense that higher education researchers need better schooling in theory-method relations in order to say something sensible about those very same issues. All the papers in this Special Issue make for provocative reading and I commend them all to you. However, my pick of the bunch is Paul Trowler’s opening piece Wicked issues in situating theory in close-up research because it does such a first-class job describing the specific issues that haunt higher education researchers as they wrestle with scholarly decisions about research, theory and data – and their uneasy relations. In Trowler’s piece, these elements are not at all straightforward. Theory is a wicked issue; its uses, functions and appearance in a research project can be contradictory, perhaps incommensurate; he encourages thoughtful questions about the expectations we have of theory and how we put it to work; and he asks how theory develops so we do not draw on the same old sources and traditions – just out of habit. I find questions like these troubling, exciting and puzzling because they are a source of energy that keeps the project of higher education research alive.
HERDSA Journal http://www.herdsa.org.au/?page_id=25
Trowler, P. (2009) New Managerialism and Evaluative Practices at the System Level. Society for Research into Higher Educaiton annual conference, Newport, December 2009.
Trowler, P. (2008) Centres for Excellence in Higher Education. Consortium of Higher Education Researchers Conference, Pavia. Sept 11-13.
Trowler, P. (2007) Reconceptualising the Teaching-Research Nexus. Society for Research into Higher Education annual conference, Brighton, December 2007.
Trowler, P. (2007) 'Reconceptualising the Teaching-Research Nexus'. HERDSA, Adelaide, Australia, 6-11 July.
Fanghanel, J. and Trowler, P. (2007) New Academic Identities for a New Profession?: Situating the teaching dimension of the academic role in a competitve enhancement context. (Situer la dimension pedagogique dans la contexte d'amelioration de l'enseignement). First RESUP International Conference, Sciences Po, Paris, 1-3 February. Available here:
Trowler, P. (2003) Change Thinking, Change Practices. CHER annual conference, Porto, Portugal, 4-6 September.
Trowler, P. and Fanghanel, J (2003) Freeing the Chi of Change: The Higher Education Academy and Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. SRHE annual conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, December 16-18.
Cooper, A. and Trowler, P. (2002). The 'Impact' of Professional Development Courses in Teaching and Learning. SEDA Conference, Birmingham, 19-20 November, 2002.
Trowler, P. and Wareham, T. (2002) A Management Development Framework for Academic Managers: theory into practice. EAIR conference, Prague, 8-11 September 2002.
Trowler, P. and Knight, P. (2000) Social Practice Theory and the Multiple Cultural Configuration of Universities: The level of analysis issue and change interventions in higher education. SRHE annual conference, 19-21 December, 2000. Abstract and OHP slides.
Trowler, P., Corker, M. and Turner, G. Exploring the Hermeneutic Foundations of University Life: Deaf academics in a hybrid community of practice. Paper delivered to the SRHE annual conference, 14-16 December, 1999. Abstract.
Trowler, P. and Wareham, T. Smoothing the Transition: staff development and organizational socialization in changing universities. Paper delivered to the 21st Annual EAIR Forum, Lund University, Sweden, 22-25 August, 1999. Abstract
Trowler, P. Captured By The Discourse? The Socially Constitutive Power of New Higher Education Discourse in the UK. Paper delivered at the Re-organizing Knowledge/Transforming Institutions conference, Amherst, Massachusetts, September 1999. Abstract
Trowler, P. Policy Sociology and Higher Education Research in the UK: Changing Contexts, Changing Agendas. Paper presented at the CHER conference, Kassel Germany, 3-5 September 1998.Abstract
Trowler, P. What Managerialists Forget. Paper presented at the EAIR conference, San Sebastian, 9-12 September 1998. Abstract
Trowler, P. Academics and Change. Invited address to the CVCP/SRHE workshop New Roles for Old? The academic beyond the millennium. Liverpool John Moores University, 17 June 1998.
Trowler, P. CATS, Class and Cultural Capital: the unintended consequences of coping with the credit framework in `mass' higher education. Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the European Access Network, Cork, June, 1997. Abstract
Trowler, P. (1996) Academics, Work and the Credit Framework in an Enlarged (but resource-depleted) Higher Education System. Paper presented at the SRHE annual conference, Cardiff, December 1996. Abstract
Trowler, P. (1996) Beyond the Robbins Trap: reconceptualising academic responses to change in higher education (or....Quiet Flows the Don?). Paper presented at the Dilemmas in Mass Higher Education Conference, University of Staffordshire, March. Abstract
Trowler, P. (1995) Facilitating a Four Dimensional Approach in Students' Thinking and Writing about the Sociology of Education. Paper presented at the Association of Social Science Teachers Annual Conference, University of Hertfordshire, August.
Trowler, P. (1994) Credit Exemption and Transfer and CATS: Operational Experience of Credit Exemption and Transfer in Undergraduate Degree Programmes. Invited paper presented at the Association of University Administrators' Annual Conference Sheffield 28-30 March.