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Pedagogic quality and inequality in university first degrees

Press clipping: Research

Publication date26/11/08

Paul Ashwin, with Monica McLean from the University of Nottingham and Andrea Abbas, from the University of Teesside, has been awarded a large ESRC grant to examine the comparative quality of teaching and learning in first degrees in sociology and allied subjects in four distinct universities. This £500,000 project, which draws on the work of the sociologist Basil Bernstein, will question the assumption that education in higher status universities is necessarily better; and, will attempt to develop fairer definitions of 'quality', which allow that a university education is for personal growth and the public good, as well as for economic returns.

Through interviews with lecturers and students, case-studies, a survey, video-tapes of teaching, evaluation of student work and analysis of documents the research team will seek to capture the interactions between students' lives and backgrounds; the degrees that they study; and the conditions in their universities. It is hoped that a better understanding of what should count as a good and just university education in different institutional settings will both generate debate about quality and inequality in teaching and learning in higher education, as well as resulting in practical applications for the development of pedagogic practice.

This three year longitudinal project started on 1 November 2008.