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Using evaluation to create 'provisional stabilities': bridging innovation in Higher Education change processes.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Evaluation: the International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice,
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)37-54
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article reports the evaluation experience in two SOCRATES (European Union funding mechanism designed to support innovation in teaching and learning) projects focused on change in higher education. The projects were international in scope involving six countries and ten institutions within the last four years. The article reflects on change in institutions specifically, especially those introduced by the use of information and communication technologies, and it suggests the hypothesis that in such a phase of transition, new rules are not yet established and a state of anomie can occur at the level of courses, departments and institutions. The article details what happens in educational institutions in which rules and practices are well established and validated and a new event radically changes or challenges the traditional practices. Instead of the psycho-social notion of ‘resistance to change’, the theory of Durkheim and followers that analyses human responses in times of social change may be of use to interpret situations in which change or the will to change creates conflicting systems of rules and practices. The article will argue for a crucial role for evaluation in negotiating such periods of change.

Bibliographic note

Building on the earlier work published in 2001, this paper analyses the change theories adopted by course innovators and develops change models depicting change as a move from enclaves to bridgeheads to more embedded practice. The empirical base for this research was developed from case studies of innovative courses by which grounded 'change theory' categories were derived. This approach has been adopted by HEFCE as the change model used to evaluate the national programme of Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. It also formed the theoretical framework for the evaluation of the Quality Enhancement framework in Scottish Universities. Murray Saunders developed the analytical design, derived the grounded categories of change theory and undertook data gathering through case studies. The paper was refereed 'blind' by three referees familiar with the field of research. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Education