News & Events

A Conversation About Translating Equity Practice Into Research

Event Details
Executive Briefing Centre, Level 2, Building 100, Curtin University Bentley campus
24 May 2017 9:14 am

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This session generated a conversation about the ways in which student equity practice can inform research questions, methods and outcomes. This in turn informs practice as a cyclical process. Drawing upon examples of their own research, Dr Cathy Stone and Associate Professor Sarah O’Shea shared their own experiences as practitioners and researchers and how their practice has impacted upon and informed the research that they have undertaken, both separately and jointly, particularly in the areas of first-in-family, mature age and online students. Conducting research can be a ‘messy’ experience and so Cathy and Sarah highlighted some of the potential pitfalls and considerations when embarking on a research or writing project.

Participants reflected upon their own experiences as practitioners and/or researchers, and examined the relationship between student equity practice and research.

Student equity practitioners are in a unique position to help inform research, by nature of their own experience with students. This seminar explored ways in which day-to-day professional practice can be translated into research, which in turn can lead to improvements in student equity policies and practices.

About the Speakers

Sarah O’Shea

Dr Sarah O’Shea is an Associate Professor in Adult, Vocational and Higher Education in the School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences. Sarah has over 20 years experience teaching in universities as well as the VET and Adult Education sector, and has also published widely on issues related to educational access and equity. Her solid publication record includes 27 peer reviewed journal articles, three scholarly books and five book chapters – this work has also featured in The Conversation, University World News and The Australian.

Since 2011, Sarah has obtained over one million dollars in research funding, all of which explores educational equity in the HE environment. In 2016, Sarah was awarded an ARC Discovery project exploring the persistence and retention of students who are the first in their families to come to university. This national study builds upon an Australian Government Teaching and Learning Fellowship (2015-2016) and consolidates a decade of work in the student retention field, which has focused on students from a diversity of backgrounds. This includes a five-year partnership with AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) which has involved over $520,000 in national funding (ARC: $211,000; Federal Gov: $310,000) and included research activities across Australia with Indigenous young people, university mentors as well as key staff and stakeholders.

During her career, Sarah has also received numerous awards for teaching excellence including a national Australian Award for University Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2012), her work has been recognised as one of UOW 40 Research Impacts and in 2016 she was recognised as one of UOW’s Women of Impact.

Cathy Stone

Dr Cathy Stone, from the University of Newcastle, is a 2016 Equity Fellow and a 2017 Visiting Research Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Cathy has had many years’ experience in developing and managing strategies to improve student success and retention in higher education, with her research and publications focusing particularly on the experiences of mature-age and first-in-family students. Cathy’s work with Open Universities Australia between 2011-2014 developed her interest in researching the online student experience and ways in which to improve outcomes for diverse cohorts of online students. Further details about Cathy’s work can be found here.

Posted 5 May 2017