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Raising the volume of the tutor voice in student engagement: a thematic analysis

Greig, Karen (2018) Raising the volume of the tutor voice in student engagement: a thematic analysis. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the under-representation of the academic tutors’ voice in the student engagement (SE) literature. A thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with tutors at a large post-1992 university in the North-West of England (NWU) revealed novel and important insights into tutor perceptions of SE and their influences. The findings reveal that a lack of clarity around the meaning of engagement is evident in both the literature and in the minds of tutors. Tutors did not identify student emotions or their past and present personal circumstances as SE influences. Indeed, the lens through which tutors viewed SE obscured influences that were not behavioural. Although tutors recognised that their teaching approaches influenced students’ engagement, they identified university policies and procedures as potentially undermining the practices that enhance SE. This thesis makes a number of significant theoretical and practical contributions. An enhanced version of Kahu’s (2013) framework has been developed, which incorporates tutor perceptions of SE and their influences. The addition of the tutor voice to the SE literature develops and considerably enhances existing thinking and theoretical frameworks. The findings have policy and practice implications for the organisation under study as well as wider impacts on current thinking about the importance of the concept of SE in higher education. Therefore, this thesis represents a significant addition to the corpus of knowledge in this field.

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