The purpose of this paper is to explore parents as “stakeholders” in higher education in England and how they perceive teaching excellence.
The study adopted a qualitative research design using an interpretative approach through which the authors aimed to develop understandings of parents’ perspectives as higher education “stakeholders”. The empirical data were gathered via focus group interviews and an online survey with 24 participants in the UK.
This study found that the majority of parents wished to be treated as an important stakeholder group in higher education. Parent participants perceived that teaching excellence could be evidenced through indicators and measures, for example, the design and delivery of the courses, progress measures, contact hours, speed of return of marked work, graduate employability and so on. They also saw value and significance in the students’ exposure to ideas and perspectives not previously experienced, in zeal and passion in the teaching, and in an academically nurturing, understanding and supportive pedagogical relationship between academic and student.
This study uncovered some apparent tensions, contradictions and challenges for parents as stakeholders in higher education, for example, in reconciling the co-existence of their desire to be involved and engaged with scope for students to be formed as independent young adults. Parents’ desire to measure teaching excellence is also compounded by their concern that excellent teaching is thereby reduced to a box-ticking exercise. This study has implications for higher education institutions wishing to engage parents as a stakeholder group in a meaningful way.
The paper is developed from a talk given at the Philosophy of Higher Education Conference at Middlesex University, London, in September 2018. The authors would like to thank the research participants in this study who shared their views. The authors would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers who commented on the original submission of the paper. Lastly, the authors would like to acknowledge that this study was supported by the School of Education research seed funding at York St John University, and the Centre for Education and Policy Analysis (CEPA) at Liverpool Hope University, UK.
Wood, M. and Su, F. (2019), "Parents as “stakeholders” and their conceptions of teaching excellence in English higher education", International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 99-111. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCED-05-2018-0010Download as .RIS
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