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Bookishness, blue skies, bright hats and brickies: discourse and positioning in academics’ conversations around ‘academic intelligence’ and the ‘good’ student.

Cameron, HE (2017) Bookishness, blue skies, bright hats and brickies: discourse and positioning in academics’ conversations around ‘academic intelligence’ and the ‘good’ student. Studies in Higher Education, 44 (2). pp. 318-332. ISSN 0307-5079

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Abstract

This study is an interpretative discourse analysis (following Gee, 2005, 2011; and Willig, 2008), of three focus group conversations between academics in higher education during which talk centred around the topic of ‘academic intelligence’. The research attended to the ways in which the academics discursively produced ‘academic intelligence’ and related social constructs, and how these constructs engendered discussion about ‘good’ students. The findings are discussed in three thematic sections: ‘conceptual [un]ease’; ‘bookishness, blue skies and brickies’; and ‘resistance and reproduction.’ The paper draws attention to the ways in which constructions of ‘natural’ academic intelligence underpin the illusion of meritocracy and justify academic hierarchy, whilst masking inequalities in educational practice.

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