Editorial: Summer changes

Professor Didi Griffioen
I am currently seeing many kinds of changes around me. The journal recently changed towards becoming more international. HEJLT now has a more international editorial board and welcomes two new international colleagues At HEJLT we are changing our review process somewhat to be better able to help more junior authors to publish their higher education research and practices. This means HEJLT editors now need to be willing to be a coach to authors as well as a reviewer. The articles in our current issue shows a full flow through university education: from student recruitment to a reflection of doctoral dissertations. After summer, feel free to submit the manuscripts you have written over summer for publication in HEJLT. Remember, we are very willing to work with you to get your practices and research published.

Short article

Feeling like a fraud – engaging students with imposter syndrome

Dr Samuel Coombes and Poppy Gibson
Objectives: This article will focus on Imposter Syndrome (IS) felt by students in Higher Education (HE). Literature focused on engaging students in HE is explored. Predictors of IS are discussed, along with several factors that may lead to a student feeling IS. The aim is to provide the reader with an in-depth background in this area, helping to understand the implications of IS on both academic attainment and emotional wellbeing. This article also suggests practical strategies for use at HE level to engage undergraduate and postgraduate students with their programmes, despite the fact they may feel ‘like a fraud’ (Ramsey and Brown, 2018), therefore readership is welcomed from both students and lecturers. Three key areas will be explored: first generation students, mature students, and the importance of ethnic identity. Background: The term Imposter Syndrome (IS) was established in 1978 by clinical psychologists Clance and Imes (1978). Now more than ever with mental health and identity confusion at all-time highs (Evans et al, 2018; Affleck et al, 2018), it is necessary to consider IS as young adults enter higher education . Literature shows that sufferers of IS have a ‘secret fear’ inside them (Qureshi et al, 2017: 107; Giles 2010), the fear that they are not adequately able to perform a delegated role or that they lack the skills and knowledge; as a result, IS is strongly associated with burnout phenomenon, anxiety, depression, and thus has serious implications and impact on individuals’ lives as they battle with this identity crisis. Methodology: The authors gathered and analysed twenty-five research studies conducted with students in HE in order to explore superordinate and subordinate themes across the literature, using Thematic Analysis to recognise emerging themes across the broad data set. The authors then linked to recent literature on student engagement as well as their practical lived experiences of teaching in HE in order to propose practical strategies for supporting students who may be suffering from IS, in order to hopefully lessen effects on their physical and mental health, and to support their academic study through the affirmation of their academic identity. Five key strategies emerged from the literature: the importance of ‘reflection’, ‘feedback/feedforward’, ‘talk’, ‘support networks’ and maintaining ‘perspective’. Students may contemplate how they can utilise these five strategies during their studies, whilst lecturers and HE institutions should consider how they can promote and draw upon these strategies within their daily teaching. Conclusion: Imposter Syndrome results detrimental effects on an individual’s mind, body, personalities as well as their academic achievement and developments. Further efforts should be made to find out about the impact of IS on HE students, and to train both students and teachers on how to better deal with IS and lessen the effects. The authors propose to conduct research into this area in the forthcoming months at HE institutions in London.

Research paper

An evaluation of the use of Facebook in student recruitment: a cohort study

Dr Louise Bunce
Universities routinely use Facebook as a marketing tool, but little is known about its impact on recruitment or the student experience. The current study evaluated the development of a subject-specific Facebook group for students at Oxford Brookes University (OBU). It was expected that creating a sense of connectedness among potential students and with the university through a Facebook group would help them to decide to accept their offer of a place to study and have a positive impact on their experience of OBU. A cohort of 116 first year students, who had been offered a place to study a health and social care subject, were invited to become members of the Facebook group. Sixty-three students became members. Subsequently, students who joined the University in September completed a survey to assess their perceptions of belonging or not belonging to the Facebook group. In support of the hypothesis, there was a significant association between Facebook group membership and accepting an offer to study at OBU: 59% of those in the Facebook group accepted their offer whereas only 32% of those who were not in the Facebook group accepted their offer. Analysis of open-ended responses revealed that students were positive about their experience of belonging to the group, but the majority of OBU students said that it did not influence their decision to study at OBU because they had already decided to accept their place prior to joining the group. Implications for student recruitment and the student experience are considered.

Research paper

Exploring goal orientation and philosophical identity: A reflection on two doctoral learning journeys and emerging research intentions

Ross Thompson and Dr Adrian Twissell
In this paper the authors reflect upon their experiences of doctoral study as they reached critical points in the development of their research projects. Developing previous considerations surrounding philosophical identity, the authors draw upon their respective experiences of engagement with the taught components of a professional Doctorate in Education and explore, through autobiographical narratives as illuminated by the critical incidents and events along the way, those elements that have led to changes in both goal orientation and professional identity. Specific examples are cited which demonstrate the effect on learning of course-based assignments and other submissions which track the authors' journeys on the course. In conclusion, the authors advance their revised philosophical positions and offer useful insights into the processing of knowledge within a professional doctoral programme.

Research paper

What factors predict students’ final-year dissertation grades? The results from two small pilot studies

Dr Adam Lonsdale
Two small pilot studies were conducted to identify factors that might be used to predict students’ performance on their final-year dissertation project. Over the course of these two studies several significant correlations were observed that suggested the characteristics of the student (i.e., conscientiousness, procrastination & grade expectations) and behaviour of their project supervisor (i.e., years of experience & task-oriented supervisory style) were significantly associated with the mark achieved for their dissertation project. In Study 2 it was also found to suggest that self-reported procrastination and student’s own grade expectations might be used to predict the mark achieved for their final-year research project. The use of small, self-selected student samples and the timing of questionnaire administration mean that these findings are insufficient to recommend the routine use of these questionnaire measures to identify those at-risk of under-achieving. However, the results from these two pilot studies highlight several variables that might be used in future studies to predict student outcomes on their final-year dissertation.