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The potential of student narratives to enhance quality in higher education

Hamshire, C and Forsyth, RM and Kelly-Laubscher, R and Bell, A and Paxton, M and Benton, M and Wolfgramm-Foliaki, E (2017) The potential of student narratives to enhance quality in higher education. Quality in Higher Education, 23 (1). pp. 56-64. ISSN 1353-8322

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Abstract

University policies are increasingly developed with reference to students’ learning experiences, with a focus on the concept of the ‘student voice’. Yet the ‘student voice’ is difficult to define and emphasis is often placed on numerical performance indicators. A diverse student population has wide-ranging educational experiences, which may not be easily captured within the broad categories provided by traditional survey tools, which can drown out the rich, varied and gradual processes of individual development. There is no single tool that can be used to measure students’ experiences. This paper draws on findings from four narrative inquiry studies, carried out in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, to illustrate how a narrative approach could be used to complement performance indicators. This provides a richer context for educators’ understanding of students’ experiences and for supporting and setting institutional agendas.

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