Colleagues – a crowd sourced and intellectually stimulating reading list request!

What readings have influenced your pedagogic approach? Please share and we will create a list! Colleagues – a crowd sourced and intellectually stimulating reading list request – from John Hilsdon, Head of Learning Development , University of Plymouth

Here is my mine (Debbie Holley)

David Noble and his wonderful work anticipated the commodification of Higher Education. An early draft is available here, and it was developed into a book. This work comes to mind so many times, as debates about privatisation, student fee introduction and a host of other ‘consumer’ type policies have been showered down on those of us working to support diverse student bodies in HEI

Noble, D. F. (1998). Digital diploma mills: The automation of higher education. Science as culture, 7(3), 355-368.

And the original request:
Colleagues – a crowd sourced and intellectually stimulating reading list request – from John Hilsdon, Head of Learning Development , University of Plymouth
I’m hoping to do a bit more than just crowd-source a reading list – perhaps stimulate a bit of discussion too. Rather than just passing around massive, long lists of references, could I suggest that if you want to contribute you add a few brief notes about why you would suggest any particular text?

I thought I’d kick off by mentioning just three texts that have influenced me over the years in relation to my being an Learning DeveloperDer and trying to make sense of the LD field of practice(s)

The first is Archer L., Hutchings M., Leathwood C., and Ross, A. (2003). Widening participation in higher education: Implications for policy and practice 2003 In: Archer, L., Hutchings, M. and Ross, A. (eds) Higher education and social class: Issues of exclusion and inclusion London: RoutledgeFalmer

I chose this chapter because reading it, back in 2006/7, got me thinking more clearly about the very differentiated nature of HE experiences in the UK; the extent to which status issues determine the rankings and groupings of our universities; and how varied are the social backgrounds of our students. It helped me think through ways that learning development activities might contribute towards the project of a more socially just and equitable higher education in the UK – and linked powerfully to the conclusions of the (now much-cited) Tamsin Haggis paper:

Haggis, Tamsin (2006) Pedagogies for diversity: retaining critical challenge amidst fears of ‘dumbing down’ Studies in Higher Education Vol. 31, No. 5, October 2006, pp. 521-535 Society for Research into Higher Education.

Pauline Ridley drew attention to Tamsin’s article with a post about it on LDHEN not long after it was published. Like many others I found it helped express my own thoughts about what was, and had been going on, in HE, much more cogently and coherently than I could have hoped to do. In particular it suggested that, rather than locating ‘problems’ or ‘deficiencies’ in our students, a key task for us (academics, LDers, EDers as well as policy-makers) is to identify how our institutions are deficient in their ability to ensure students can better fulfil their potential and take advantage of higher education, and what we can do about it. One of the great things about this is the underpinning it provides for arguments to involve students as partners in designing programmes of study, assessment activities and modes of engagement – i.e. developing genuine ‘identities of participation’ (see, Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice Cambridge: CUP) rather than exclusion.

And finally, speaking of the latter, as far as text books go, despite the criticisms of Etienne Wenger’s work, I still think that Communities of Practice offers an incredibly powerful set of tools for us to use in thinking through how we might work as LDers alongside students to help them make sense of HE and their part in it, to develop their knowledge and capabilities with a degree of ‘ownership’ that comes from meaningful participation – to my mind a very effective alternative model to that of ‘graduate skills’ … It is a very long and (I found) very difficult read in parts, but is certainly worthwhile.

Action Needed!

Your contributions? Email to and I will collate and post onto the CEL site

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