Supporting the evaluation of academic practices Reflections for institutional change and professional development.

Main Article Content

Liz Austen


In this paper, ten principles for evaluating blended teaching and learning in an age of Covid-19 (Austen 2020) are discussed with specific suggestions for academic practice/practitioners; Evaluation Strategy, Student Involvement, Rationale for Change, Comparisons, Data Types, Standards of Evidence, Indicators of Success, Evaluation Research, Review, Resource and Capacity. The initial reflections (July 2020) focused on supporting the higher education sector with institution-wide evaluations, as this was the strategic and regulatory pressure at that time.  However, institutional evaluations are only possible if they are fed by a local evidence base.  In this opinion piece, the ten evaluative principles are reframed to encourage evaluative thinking by academic practitioners, and particularly those defined as early adopters. This piece encourages institutions and practitioners to reframe an emphasis on evaluation methods into a critical space of evaluative thinking whilst appreciating the contingent factors of their institution and its stakeholders.

Article Details

Opinion Piece


Austen, L. (2020). The amplification of student voices via institutional research and evaluation, in Lowe T., & El Hakim, Y. (eds.) A Handbook of Student Engagement: Theory into Practice, Abingdon: Routledge
Austen, L., (2020). How to evaluate changes to teaching and learning in an age of Covid-19, wonkhe, 14th July 2020, retrieved from
Crockford, J. (2020). Unknown knowns: implicit epistemological hierarchies in the evaluation of widening participation activities. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 22(2), 15-43.
Dawson, P. & Dawson, S. L., (2018). Sharing successes and hiding failures: ‘reporting bias’ in learning and teaching research, Studies in Higher Education, 43:8, 1405-1416, DOI:
Dickinson, J., Fowler, A., & Griffiths, T. L. (2020). Pracademics? Exploring transitions and professional identities in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 1-15.
Harrison, N. & Waller, R., (2017). Evaluating outreach activities: overcoming challenges through a realist ‘small steps’ approach, Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21, 2-3, 81-87, DOI: 10.1080/13603108.2016.1256353
Jones-Devitt, S., Austen, L. and Parkin, H. (2017). Integrative Reviewing for exploring complex phenomena. Social Research Update (66).
Kara, H. (2015). Creative research methods in the social sciences: A practical guide. Policy Press.
Macfarlane, B. (2011). The morphing of academic practice: Unbundling and the rise of the para‐academic. Higher Education Quarterly, 65(1), 59-73.
Parsons, D (2017). Demystifying Evaluation, Bristol: Policy Press.
Torrisi-Steele, G. & Drew, S., (2013). The literature landscape of blended learning in higher education: the need for better understanding of academic blended practice, International Journal for Academic Development, 18:4, 371-383,
Wardrop, A., & Withers, D. (2014). The para-academic handbook: A toolkit for making-learning-creating-acting. Intellect.