Plenary Speakers

Professor Ray Land

Ray Land is Professor of Higher Education and Head of Learning Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. His research interests include academic development, threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge, research-teaching linkages, and theoretical aspects of digital learning. He is the author of Educational Development: Discourse, Identity and Practice (Open University Press 2004) and co-editor of Education in Cyberspace (RoutledgeFalmer 2005), Overcoming Barriers to Student Learning: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (Routledge 2006), Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines (Sense Publishers 2008) and Research-Teaching Linkages: Enhancing Graduate Attributes (QAA 2008). A new volume, Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning was published in the summer of 2010 (Sense Publishers, Rotterdam)


Venturing into strange places: Developing graduates for the 21st century
This presentation will consider the kinds of attributes our graduates will need as they enter society and employment in the 21st century.  We cannot predict the future but we can help our students anticipate and prepare for it, and it is likely that in this process both students and their tutors will need to encounter a certain strangeness, and deal with ‘troublesome knowledge’.  In a knowledge-based economy characterised by uncertainty, complexity, risk and speed, binary oppositions between ‘ivory towers’ and ‘real world’ environments appear increasingly outdated.  Evidence from a recent sector-wide project undertaken in Scottish higher education suggests that the attributes valued by research communities, with their emphasis on enquiry, ‘research-mindedness’, problem-formulation and interdisciplinary generation of ideas, are equally valued in business and industry.  Furthermore, they are seen as contributing to responsible citizenship.  A strong emphasis here was placed on co-enquiry, learner autonomy and learning partnerships between tutors, students and employers.  This implies a collaborative or ‘transactional approach’ to both the curriculum and co-curriculum.  Colleagues will be invited to consider the kinds of learning environments and the types of activities in universities that are most likely to foster the kinds of high level graduate attributes increasingly sought in a globalised and unpredictable economy.   Vignettes of such approaches from different universities will be presented for discussion, and also, as part of the mutual endeavour, the challenges for academic staff to reconceptualise their teaching practice and become ‘Academics for the 21st century’.


Professor Ken Hyland

Ken Hyland is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Centre for Applied English Studies at the University of Hong Kong.  Previously Professor of Education at London University, he has taught Applied Linguistics and Academic literacy for over 30 years in Asia, Australasia and the UK and has published over 150 articles and 14 books on language education and academic writing. Most recent publications are Academic Discourse (Continuum, 2009), Teaching and Researching writing 2nd edition (Longman, 2009) and EAP: an advanced resource book (Routledge, 2006).  He was founding co-editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes and is now co-editor of Applied Linguistics.


Writing in the academy: Reputation, education and knowledge
This presentation challenges the widespread view that writing is somehow peripheral to the more serious aspects of university life – doing research and teaching students. Instead it argues that universities are about writing and that specialist forms of academic literacy are at the heart of everything we do.  Drawing on some of my research over the past ten years, I will explore what writing means in the academy and argue that it is central to constructing knowledge, educating students and to negotiating a professional academic career. Seeing literacy as embedded in the specific beliefs and practices of individual disciplines, instead of a generic skill that students have failed to develop at school, helps explain the difficulties both students and academics have in controlling the conventions of disciplinary discourses. Ultimately, and in an important sense, we are what we write, and we need to understand the distinctive ways our disciplines have of conceptualising issues, addressing colleagues and presenting arguments to be successful researchers and teachers.


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