Think pieces

Think pieces are a way for authors to express their thoughts on hot topics surrounding scholarship in college HE. The following think pieces were written between June 2015 and June 2018.

More recent think pieces can be found on the Scholarship Framework. If you have an idea for a think piece and would would like to submit one, please email

June 2018 - Thinking about student engagement, Rhonda Lobb

In this think piece, Rhonda Lobb looks critically at student engagement, asking whether, in the process of simplifying the concept, we have lost true insight.

May 2018, How could we effectively evaluate scholarship?, Dave Collins

In this think piece Dave Collins looks critically at how we measure the value of scholarship, particularly when seeking to widen its scope of activities.

April 2018 - Why write a think piece?, Sarah-Jane Crowson

In this think piece Sarah Crowson looks at the history and purpose behind a think piece and invites practitioners to see the think piece as an important form of scholarship

April 2018 - Mind your language: why HE-in-FE is a divisive phrase that promotes inequality, Terry McDonough

Terry McDonough takes a critical look at the importance of the words we use to describe professional practice and how they both frame and sometimes contain our understanding in unhelpful and divisive ways.

March 2018 - Why your college needs a scholarship development lead, Dan Amin

In this think piece Dan Amin explores the merits of colleges having a dedicated person to lead on scholarship development.

February 2018, The Teaching-Research nexus: Led by whom, informed by what?, Paul Kessell-Holland

Paul Kessell-Holland revisits the teaching-research nexus and asks what we really mean when we say that we want teaching and research to be linked to each other.

February 2018 - Working together to develop scholarship in college Higher Education, Gail Hall

Gail Hall explores the merits of loose forms of collaboration as the means to help forge stronger communities of practice in college higher education.

January 2018, Further education colleges: forget your place and claim your space, Dr Nicola Watchman

Nicola Watchman looks at the implications for colleges in responding to the call to support the 'somewheres’, as outlined in The Road to Somewhere by David Goodhart.

January 2018 - Unleashing applied research potential in Australia’s vocation education sector, Francesca Beddie

Francesca Beddie discusses what is needed to name and claim an applied research space in the vocational education and training (VET) system in Australia.

December 2017 - Authorship without the effort: a problem with staff-student co-authorship, Jacky Brewer

Jacky Brewer looks at some of the contentious ethical issues in co-authorship between staff and students and where we might need to draw some lines.

December 2017 - Scholarship – A derivative practice at the end of a sector, or foundation for a new professional paradigm?, Marco Salotti

In this think piece Marco Salotti looks at how the scholarship project could help college HE lecturers produce a new narrative for professional identity.

November 2017 - Employer engagement in college higher education…. a piece of cake, or have we got the recipe wrong?, Anne Clifford

In this think piece Anne Clifford looks at the ingredients necessary to ensure meaningful and successful employer engagement for colleges.

November 2017 - Step into the unknown: FE staff going public, Patrick Leonard

Patrick Leonard reflects on his own career trajectory in FE colleges and how the notion of going public with scholarly work entered his radar space in positive ways

October 2017 - Small is beautiful: the case for working in a small, specialist institution, Mia Gordon and Gillian Hipp

Mia Gordon and Gillian Hipp discuss how working in a small and specialist HE environment brings many distinct advantages for staff and students.

October 2017 - Developing professional capital: From Pedagogic Solitude to the Teachers Takeaway, Dominic Thompson

Dominic Thompson charts his personal journey from new researcher to HE manager and demonstrates how this has helped him develop and embed a culture of scholarly activity in college HE.

September 2017 - Putting Practical Wisdom into Early Years Practice and Beyond, Kate Hulm

Kate Hulm looks at the value of Aristotle’s notion of practical wisdom for the professional and technical higher education college curriculum

September 2017 - Inspiring innovation through connection and community, Rob Garner and Jenny Lawrence

Rob Garner and Jenny Lawrence look at how being open to collaborative partnerships can often forge fruitful and exciting scholarly endeavours.

August 2017 - Some challenges and opportunities in embedding an institutional culture of scholarship in College HE, John Lea

In this think piece, John Lea looks at some of the ways in which the institutional embedding of scholarly activity might be facilitated, both conceptually and practically.

July 2017 - Tentative steps in the direction of enhanced scholarly activity, Nyree Myatt

Nyree Myatt reflects on the practical challenges often faced by practitioners in colleges when seeking to develop and enhance scholarly cultures

June 2017 - Information, Theory and Practice in Art and Design Education: some pedagogical implications, Tom Cullimore

Tom Cullimore revisits the theory-practice dichotomy by exploring how Arts students can be encouraged to engage with information in scholarly ways and the possible implications for other disciplines.

May 2017 - Boyer’s four functions of scholarship: Open or closed boxes?, Dave Collins

Dave Collins revisits Boyer’s four scholarships and asks whether we are in danger of missing one of his key points about integrated and holistic academic practice.

May 2017 - Creating ‘scholarly spaces’: scholarship and the curriculum, Sarah Crowson

In this think piece, Sarah Crowson considers how the need to create effective scholarly spaces should to be viewed as a curriculum design task.

April 2017 - Continuing professional development: training or development?, Phil Miller

In this think piece, Phil Miller takes a critical look at what we need to do to move beyond a training model for continuing professional development in college higher education.

April 2017 - Adding a digital dimension to scholarly activity, Christa Appleton

Christa Appleton looks at what it means to be a digital researcher and how the work of Jisc is helping to support the development of digital capabilities.

March 2017 - The question of research ethics and integrity in college higher education, Jenny Lawrence

In this think piece, Jenny Lawrence looks critically at the question of research ethics and integrity in college based higher education.

March 2017 - Effective CPD and its implications for students and lecturers in college HE, Sam Jones

In this think piece, Sam Jones, reflects on her research on what makes for effective continuing professional development for college based HE teachers.

February 2017 - Peer support of teaching within the context of the Teaching Excellence Framework, Dan Amin

Against the backdrop of the new Teaching Excellence Framework in the UK, Dan Amin looks at how peer supported observations of teaching could be effectively developed in college higher education.

February 2017 - Time, Please!, Paul Grivell

Paul Grivell confronts head-on the issue of finding the time to engage in scholarly activity when working in college contexts.

January 2017 - On developing institutional cultures for HE within FE colleges, Andrew Penfold

Andrew Penfold looks critically at the question of developing HE cultures in FE settings, and asks what is the best way forward.

January 2017 - Does ‘research methods’ need to be a frightening term for College Based HE?, Damian Fidler

Damian Fidler revisits the question of how best to develop the research skills of staff and students studying on undergraduate college HE courses.

December 2016 - Reflections on some institutional characteristics that may facilitate college scholarship, Richard Pearce

In this think piece, Richard Pearce, provocatively reflects on how some institutional characteristics designed to enhance research productivity in a university setting, might be adapted for the purposes of enhancing scholarly activity in college settings.

December 2016 - Are we nearly there yet?: The Scholarship Project’s midterm report, John Lea

John Lea reflects on the progress of the Scholarship Project overall, as we reach its half-way point.

November 2016 - The urgent need for collective scholarship in FE, Karima Kadi-Hanifi and John Keenan

Karima Kadi-Hanifi and John Keenan take a critical look at the wider context in which a lot of HE in FE takes place and of the consequent urgent need for a form of collective scholarship.

October 2016 - How does a student really gain graduate attributes?, Sumeet Kaur

In this think piece, HE student Sumeet Kaur, discusses how being a student ambassador has helped her gain some essential graduate attributes.

October 2016 - Beyond the binary: using practice theory to explore teacher pedagogic practice in college HE, Eve Rapley

In this think piece, Eve Rapley reports on her PhD thesis, which is exploring what exactly HE in FE teachers do in their classrooms and the most effective ways to study this.

September 2016 - Minding the gap: using applied research to develop future skills now for the Australian economy, Anna Daniel and Christina Hong

In this think piece two colleagues from Brisbane, Australia, Anna Daniel and Christina Hong, discuss future proofing the Australian economy through applied research in technical and further education (TAFE) colleges.

September 2016 - The many advantages of a college Higher Education context for developing employability skills, Patrick Leonard

In this think piece, Patrick Leonard explores some of the distinctive features and advantages that many college HE courses have over similar university courses when it comes to employability.

August 2016 - Breaking the Wheel: Some opportunities and threats presented to us in attempting to build a new a paradigm for scholarship, Jan Johnson-Smith

Jan Johnson-Smith uses examples from literary sources to reinforce the nature of the challenges presented to us in attempting to enhance scholarship in college higher education.

August 2016 - Does a teacher’s professional experience of IT influence their teaching of scholarly skills to college higher education students?, Lydia Spenceley

Lydia Spenceley looks at how an HE teacher’s previous experiences of engaging with information technology impacts on their current professional practice.

July 2016 - Open Access? Why is research still not freely available?, Jacky Brewer

Jacky Brewer explores some of the implications for college higher education of moves to expand open access to academic and research literature.

July 2016 - Feeding back to Higher Education students through screencasts: student perceptions, Cassandra Reeves-Moore

Cassandra Reeves-Moore discusses her research on the use of screencasts as a means to enhance student engagement with assessment feedback.

June 2016 - What is the role of a HE peer review of teaching in FE colleges?, Damian Fidler

Damian Fidler looks again at the thorny question of the observation of HE teaching in FE college contexts and how it could become a more scholarly form of peer review.

June 2016 - Does Scholarship mean quality?, Richard Greensmith and Joanne Oakey

In this think piece, two mature students, Richard Greensmith and Joanne Oakey, consider the value of a critical partnership in developing a scholarly approach to higher education study.

June 2016 - The Notion of Applied Research in College Higher Education, Ian Coleman

Ian Coleman looks at how the Canadian college approach to applied research could be utilised more in a UK context.

May 2016 - Developing Scholarship in the college higher education environment: A ‘wicked’ problem, Christopher Potter

In this think piece, Chris Potter asks us to consider scholarship development as a wicked problem – where we should resist the temptation to look for simple organisational solutions.

April 2016 - His Master’s Voice? Studying for a PhD as part of the teaching-research nexus, Craig Steer

In this think piece Craig Steer discusses ways to successfully combine doctoral level study with teaching and learning commitments.

March 2016 - That thorny question of relating theory to practice in the college higher education curriculum, Jonathan Simmons

Jonathan Simmons re-examines how to make theory meaningful in higher vocational courses.

March 2016 - Student as Entrepreneur - widening definitions of 'employer' and the link to curriculum design, Chris Dows

In this think piece Chris Dows explores the importance of the notion of 'student as entrepreneur’ to the scholarship project.

February 2016 - Beyond my studies – choosing and applying your undergraduate major project in the future workplace, Alex Mazalkov

This think piece from college HE student Alex Mazalkov, discusses how students can get the most out of their major undergraduate project.

February 2016 - Theory, practice and the scholarship of application, Sarah-Jane Crowson

Sarah-Jane Crowson argues the case for uniting theory and practice through an underpinning scholarship of application.

January 2016 - Who do you think you are? Finding your identity in college HE, Gail Hall

In this think piece, Gail Hall reflects on the nature of a distinct professional identity for college higher education teachers.

January 2016 - Teaching Excellence – a time for reconsideration?, Cathy Schofield

Cathy Schofield looks at some of the implications behind the proposal for a teaching excellence framework for higher education.

December 2015 - Developing a Model of Scholarship in Provider Context - Issues and Challenges, Dr Christopher Potter, Lucy Dumbell, Dr Mary Farrell, Rosie Scott-Ward

Chris Potter and colleagues discuss how they developed a scholarship model which works for their specific college context.

November 2015 - Why is the development of effective research skills at undergraduate level more important than ever?, Alex Day

Alex Day discusses the importance of developing effective research skills for students right from the start of their courses.

October 2015 - HE Scholarship in a FE framework: the need for lateral thinking, Alison Stanbury

Alison Stanbury talks about how East Kent College as a beginner college higher education provider aims to incorporate scholarship into the college's strategic plan.

September 2015 - All in a day’s work: a scholarship of application, Andrew Gower

Andrew Gower explores the topic of student employability.

August 2015 - From Peer Observation to Peer Review, Sue O’Malley

Sue O'Malley explores who is the most suitable to undertake peer observation. Is it a Continuing Professional Development expert, a manager or a peer of your choice?

July 2015 - Students & Scholarship: Why It Matters, Jonathan Eaton

Jonathan Eaton talks about the importance of scholarship in student learning.

June 2015 - Scholarship and Engagement: conditions for a positive link, John Lea

John Lea writes about how Boyer's work links to the Scholarship Project.