Editorial

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.

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.