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  • 2019Horrodphd

    Final published version, 2.6 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 20/02/24

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Learning and teaching in higher education: policy constructions, participants' experiences and recontextualisation

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Sarah Horrod
Publication date2019
Number of pages362
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Higher education is a site of struggle over aims, values and identities of students and academics. Learning and teaching are increasingly the focus of policy in English higher education as universities wish to be seen to prioritise the student experience. In this thesis, I examine national policy on learning and teaching focusing particularly on its recontextualisation within institutional policy as well as practices around assessment. Using an interdisciplinary framework, I bring together Bernstein’s (1990) ideas on pedagogy from a sociological perspective and a framework and concepts from critical discourse studies (CDS). Specifically, I draw on Bernstein’s (1990; 2000) principles of how pedagogic discourse is created, the identities available to students and teachers, the notion of the official recontextualising field (ORF) and the pedagogic recontextualising field (PRF) and the tensions, as well as overlaps, between these two fields. From CDS, I use the discourse-historical approach (DHA) to provide an underpinning notion of context and the tools to explore the data for discursive strategies used in legitimising policy proposals. My data includes policy documents both national and institutional, assessment texts and interview data. I focus on four key policy texts for detailed analysis together with analysis of interviews with students and lecturers. Policy documents construct a picture of university education as producing employable graduates, students as partners, institutions as communities and teaching as facilitation. I find dissonances between these constructions in the policy documents and the portrayals in interview accounts. Findings also suggest a proliferation of discursive mechanisms designed to embed policy views on learning, teaching and the purpose of a university education. I address pertinent questions such as in whose interests, and with what effects, are such policy constructions and discursive mechanisms and whether certain types of universities are more likely to embrace them.