Remembering My Hat

9th June 2016

WELS Scholarship and Research Day 2016

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My usual incompete and partial liveblog notes from a seminar. This one is a Faculty-wide seminar.

Students as partners and change agents

Mick Healey

Version of Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation, adapted to students. Top of ladder ‘students in control’ Bovill and Bulley 2011

As with original, being at the top of the ladder isn’t always the right solution, but need to consider the possibility of going to the top of ladder and justify where you are.


(cc) greg Johnson

Student partnership is a threshold concept for academics! They struggle and then once they’ve got it, they can’t go back to seeing it the old way.

Lots of case studies of different ways students have participated in learning and teaching in HE on their website.

[I particularly liked the one about students designing multiple-choice questions, the best of which would feature in the final exam. Especially as I spent yesterday designing a quiz around a reading for a new module (K242: Ageing Societies and Global Health) and was aware, as always, how designing the quiz had forced me to understand the reading much more deeply than previously. I’m not sure how you would adapt this for the OU context, but it seems worth exploring]

‘Listening to students’ is not necessarily the same as participative approaches. Listening can still be within the ‘student as consumer’ model, whereas students as change agents is more radical than this. Theoretical model by Dunne and Zandstra (2011 p. 17)

Significance of language (jargon) as a barrier to participation.

9 Principles:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Honesty
  3. Inclusivity
  4. Reciprocity
  5. Empowerment
  6. Trust
  7. Courage
  8. Plurality
  9. Responsibility

(Higher Education Academy, 2015)

Same issues as all participative research about it increasing cost, complexity, admin but it’s an issue of commitment and understanding the depth of the benefit it brings.


7th January 2010

To see ourselves as others see us

The other day a Physiotherapist asked me what I lectured in. I replied ‘Health and Social Care’ and she responded:

“We did 13 weeks on health and social care in my degree. We had to write an essay about treating everyone equally. I was, like, ‘I’ve got to memorise every muscle in the body, I haven’t got time for this. I promise I will treat everyone equally, just let me get on with this’.”

I was very amused by her perception of what constitutes the discipline of health and social care and it made me think about how I would characterise it.

Understanding Health and Social Care: An Introductory Reader - Published in Association with the Open University

I’m starting here from the assumption that, as for all academic disciplines, the main way you can distinguish it from other disciplines is the way practitioners (academics, researchers, students) describe themselves, and reference the literature, debates and issues that everyone else references. Or put, more positively, the academic discipline of health and social care is a discourse community. So what are the major feature of the discourse community called ‘health and social care?’

I recognise the focus on equality as a key concern, although I’m disappointed that she seemed to have no perception that there is anything systematic or difficult about inequality. I’d hope that students of health and social care come away with some understanding of the ways it’s not just about being nice to people.

I think I’d say that understanding the major features of the current provision of health and social care, including the history from which it arises (as overviewed in Block 6 of K101), is important. So things like the (somewhat arbitrary) division between health and social care; the historic privileging of health, and especially hospital based, care over secondary health care and especially social care; the implications of the changes in funding systems; the loss of trust in professionals and the increased demand for input from service users [1]; the evidence-based practice movement and its limitations. What else?

A focus on particular client groups, such as people with learning difficulties, older people or mental health service users is common, and is often the route by which people move into the study of health and social care more generally, but I’m not sure that’s essential. You would need detailed study of the particular issues affecting those groups to study Learning Difficulty or Gerontology or Mental Health Issues, but I don’t think it’s core to Health and Social Care.

I don’t think I’d say there are distinctive research methods or methodologies for health and social care, although participative/user-controlled/action/change-oriented types of research are more common than in many other fields. Likewise, there aren’t distinctive epistomological or theoretical starting points, although vaguely constructionist approaches seem particularly common.

What else?

I was also amused and discouraged in equal measure by her privileging of the concrete and physical (‘every muscle in the body’) over the wiffly-waffly interpersonal stuff. It reminded me of the privileging of the quantitative over the qualitative, which is one of my major beefs with the evidence-based practice movement.

[1] Not failing already, deliberately using this term here, since the policy generally still does.

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