• Business School Perceptions of the Possible Impact of the Teaching Excellence Framework: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective.

      Wall, Tony; Maheshwari, Vish; Jodlowski, Tadzio R. (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
      The implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) at institutional level 2017, presents universities with the challenge of responding to a government policy which has the capacity to change the Higher Education landscape. Educational policies are capable of introducing complexity into organisations and inspiring disruptive behaviour. The strategic response to policy implementation within universities is often thought to be the domain of business schools due to their assumed autonomy and links to management. The responses of business schools towards policy implementation have not been previously explored. Therefore, the research explores the response of business schools towards the Institutional level TEF as well as wider policy changes, within the context of an assumed sense of autonomy. An interpretivist research methodology was chosen in order to explore business school responses towards the voluntary participation of the TEF in 2017 through interviews with respondents from universities across the country. This includes analysis of sense making from respondents as they drawing upon their respective knowledge networks. Qualitative research was utilised in order to explore the response from business schools and increase the understanding of policy response within the Higher Education sector. The research utilised purposive sampling followed by the use of snowball sampling. Complex Adaptive Systems theory was used a theoretical lens, and the data was explored though the use of thematic analysis which examined cluster formations in NVivo and identified patterns of data emerging into four main CAS areas. The findings suggest that business school responses towards the Institutional Level TEF in 2017 represents a moment in time when participating universities found themselves responding to an educational policy which contained an evolutionary element, capable of introducing change into the existing order - thus providing an example of punctuated equilibrium. The response to the TEF was hierarchical, and involved individuals reporting to their respective Vice Chancellors, while receiving support from self-regulating groups. The TEF is identified as a Complex Adaptive System due to its none-linear and unpredictable behaviour. Finally, Zimmerman’s Zone of Complexity is utilised in order to illustrate the manner in which the Edge of Chaos is capable of representing an opportunity for innovative though, when the decision is made to alternate between managerial clockware and innovative swarmware
    • Enabling and disabling discourses in promoting RPLO policy and practice in Higher Education

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (2010)
      This paper captures and presents some of the powerful and sometimes contradictory discourses, which limit the diffusion and uptake of the recognition of prior learning outcomes (RPLO) in higher education: quality, funding, capacity, and student experience. Each of these is analysed and ‘opened up’ (Derrida, 1978; Bhabha, 1994). In doing so, it aims to ‘open up’ some of those discourses for practitioners and/or leaders to initiate or develop policy and practice in institutions further afield (Kemmis, 2008). The data that forms the basis of this paper was generated through various action research projects in a UK University and multiple development events in the UK.
    • ‘Islands in the stream’ – causeways or compromise?

      Talbot, Jon; Leonard, Dilys T.; University of Chester (2010-04)
      In recent years, policy drivers have given a strategic push towards encouraging ‘employer-led’ work based learning in Higher Education. For example, Leitch ( 2006?) and other key policy makers advocate institutional change and reform in HE to respond to market needs; HEFCE encourages HEI’s “Towards a strategy for work based learning”; the QAA has reflected most recently on ‘employer-responsive provision’. This paper sets out to explore the impact of these strategic objectives and some issues which emerge from the rapprochement of stakeholders and providers. It is based on experience in an institution where challenges and tensions are being met and overcome. The case example is part of a Higher Level Skills Pathway (HLSP) Project whose lead partner is the North West Universities Association (NWUA) in North West England. Learning Pathway provision for Housing Practitioners (via a Professional Certificate in Leadership) has been developed in conjunction with employers using the WBIS (Work based and Integrative Studies) framework at the University of Chester. This flexible modular framework puts knowledge and experiential learning gained in the work context at the core of learning activity. This paper uses the example to characterise the power relationships and tensions. Reflecting on the case study, it seems that by attending to such policy drivers, much compromise is required from both parties in terms of curriculum design and the relationships being built between Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) and employers. The term ‘employer-led’ denotes an uneven power relationship and this may in the long run serve to undermine the hallmark of HE provision – quality and standards. In conclusion we suggest that the whole relationship needs to be predicated on co-produced provision in order to build sustainable relationships between employers and HEI’s. The term ‘co-production’ equalises the power relationship, encouraging the goal of dynamic interaction, mutual respect and benefits based on the expertise and knowledge of each party.
    • The place and status of knowledge in Work Based Learning

      Major, David; Chester College of Higher Education (2002-11)
      This paper seeks to examine some of the epistemological issues which relate to the debate concerning the justification of Work Based Learning in the HE curriculum. It will take account of post-modern perspectives on the theory of knowledge and of the so-called knowledge revolution and the impact these have had on the University. The perceived divide between academic and vocational knowledge, universal and local knowledge, and Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge will be discussed, and it will be argued that such ways of thinking are inappropriate and a hindrance in any attempt to arrive at a satisfactory way of understanding the place and status of knowledge in Work Based Learning. It will be argued that Work Based Learning is involved as much in knowledge creation as it is with the application of knowledge and, therefore, that more holistic ways of perceiving knowledge are required. The paper will continue to argue that a more helpful way of thinking of knowledge (especially when arguing the case for WBL in HE) is in terms of its level rather than its type, and it will conclude by commenting on Barnett’s concept of the practising epistemologist, and suggesting that this befits the profile of both the WBL facilitator and learner, before pointing to Raelin’s contention that Work Based Learning needs a new epistemology of practice.
    • Towards a philosophical underpinning for Work Based Learning: The ontological perspective

      Major, David; University of Chester (2005-12)
      This paper recognises that Work Based Learning is a relatively new phenomenon in the University curriculum and takes the view that it is incumbent upon its proponents to articulate a clear philosophical and educational rationale for its existence in Higher Education. It seeks to make a case for Work Based Learning as an example of ontological-relational thought, a philosophical concept essentially concerning self-knowledge. A central argument is that Work Based Learning leads to more holistic ways of knowing and being than does the conventional University curriculum. It examines critical reflection as a distinctive feature of Work Based Learning and considers the potential of the latter as a means of facilitating meaning-making. The article concludes with comment on Vaill’s concept of learning as a way of being.
    • Tussles with ambidexterity: The case of managers of health professional education

      Wall, Tony; Moore, Neil; Collins, Evelyn (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
      This case study explores the lived experience of managers within an academic faculty concerned with the professional education of the health care workforce in the UK. Recent advances in the global trend towards the marketisation of Higher Education and the current era of public and quasi-public-sector austerity, sees these actors tasked with practising their craft amidst a powerful set of forces which are transforming their world of work and raising opportunities and challenges in equal measure. At the heart of these challenges lies the imperative to maintain and enhance current capabilities whilst simultaneously adopting a future orientation to develop new ones. The extant literature offers powerful evidence of the efficacy of the construct of ambidexterity as a lens through which to understand the way in which organisations and individuals pursue these dual aims and provides a fitting theoretical framework for the study. The case study integrates data elicited from interviews with managers with archival documentary data, relating to a four-year period, to facilitate analysis on both an individual and business-unit level. The findings offer a novel exploration of the construct of ambidexterity in the Higher Education arena and address the plethora of calls to advance our understanding regarding managers’ interpretation and responses to the tensions which arise from the pursuit of ambidexterity. The research makes a unique contribution to the existing body of knowledge revealing a conceptualisation of contextual ambidexterity in which the dual modes of operation (exploitation and exploration) are positioned along a continuum. Context-specific ambidextrous tensions emerge, including the dichotomous perception of other educational providers as both competitors and collaborators and the enduring deleterious impact of explorative activity on exploitative endeavours. Ambidextrous tactics are also in evidence with the imperative to develop social capital with external stakeholders, who are espoused with consumer sovereignty, taking precedence in this complex educational marketplace. Together the findings afford a unique insight into the way that managers of professional healthcare education perceive and manage the complexity and dynamism of ambidexterity in their everyday practice.