Asghar, Amanda (2017) Developing Student Agency through the Curriculum in Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis critically examines the development of student agency and how it can be achieved in higher education through designing a curriculum underpinned by a relational pedagogy. Within the context of a higher education sector dominated by marketisation, performativity and competition, the publications qualitatively investigate the lived experiences of academics and students with reference to a range of pedagogic practices. These include peer coaching, service learning, formative assessment practices; and a collaborative staff and student engagement activity designed to evaluate the learning experience. My work is informed by a number of complementary theoretical perspectives including socio cognitivist, sociocultural and socio constructionist approaches which are used to examine and promote understanding of how learning is influenced by social interaction. The commentary outlines connecting themes and theoretical perspectives, the main arguments of each paper, and critically reviews the methodological approaches adopted. It concludes by summarising the original contribution my work makes to the research fields of assessment and evaluation, and service learning. This includes findings drawn from examining pedagogic practices not previously investigated using qualitative approaches, and importing the predominately North American concept of service- learning to provide a new perspective on how UK universities might engage with community partners. The key significance of the work as a whole is that it demonstrates that curriculum design can enable the development of student agency both individually and collectively, and that this can be supported by incorporating relational pedagogic approaches that particularly reflect on the nature of reciprocity and the role of trust as part of the learning experience.

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