Explaining changes in higher education administrative work, influence, and authority: an examination of assessment administration in English higher education

Verney, Charlotte (2022) Explaining changes in higher education administrative work, influence, and authority: an examination of assessment administration in English higher education. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis explores changes in the authority and influence of English higher education administrators over university work. To conduct this exploration, I drew on Andrew Abbott’s system of professions, to explain how and why higher education administrators have become more involved in assessment, a core academic area of higher education learning and teaching.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with thirteen senior and middle administration managers working in different parts of the English higher education sector. These managers provided detailed descriptions of assessment administration within their own higher education institution (HEI) and expert commentary on the changing nature of assessment administration. I analysed the interviews using a framework derived from Abbott to understand how administrators contribute to assessment decisions. I draw on Abbott’s theory to find explanations for the themes and variations that I observed.

I found assessment administration operating in an environment that has become increasingly complex because of both external forces, and forces from within individual HEI. Administrators were mobilising diverse and new forms of knowledge to contribute to assessment decisions in ways that were influential yet with a clear perception of the boundary of academic and administrative authority. Assessment administration is varied and was not developing uniformly. I argue that this is because there are differences in the core tasks of assessment administration, the impact of forces, how knowledge is being reshaped, the visibility of administrative work and the engagement of academics. I claim that individual higher education institutions have significant power to shape how administrative work, authority and influence evolve within their own institution.

These findings contribute to the emerging field of higher education administration research, providing a new explanation of how and why administrative work, authority and influence may change. They also provide new insight into assessment administration, a specific area of academic administration. The findings have implications for how HEIs manage the division of labour and manage change, and implications for how we research the changing nature of higher education work.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: McLean, Monica
Fuller, Kay
Keywords: higher education, higher education administration, university work, academic authority, assessment administration
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 71810
Depositing User: Verney, Charlotte
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:40
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/71810

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