At the end of 2017, SAGE Publishing commissioned a report from Gold Leaf to explore pedagogical trends and practices at UK universities. The research was carried out during the whole of the calendar year 2018 and the final report was completed in February 2019. SAGE will shortly make this report available free via a link on its website, with the generous aim of helping and supporting the UK HE and academic publishing communities. To celebrate Academic Book Week we will share highlights from the report here on our blog.
The report is a timely study of the UK HE undergraduate environment that assesses the impact of both changing teaching practices and government legislation on pedagogy and pedagogical resources. One of the key objectives has been to understand how publishers can better engage with the academic community to promote optimum learning outcomes, by developing resources that best support academic and student needs.
The methodology employed both primary and secondary research. The primary research took several forms. Three Surveymonkey surveys were circulated to UK academics, students and academic librarians respectively. Five UK universities were asked to participate in in-depth studies: two post-1992 universities; two Russell Group universities; and one 1960s university. There was especial focus on the following five disciplines: Business and Management; Education; Nursing; Psychology; and Sociology. Academics and librarians representing these subjects at the five in-depth universities were asked to participate in semi-structured telephone interviews. Some further interviews with academics at other Russell Group universities also took place. Students in their second or above years of undergraduate study, where possible representative of each of the five disciplines, were asked to take part in focus group discussions. Six focus group meetings were held altogether.
Extensive secondary (desk-based) research was also carried out. Contemporary professional bodies and websites were consulted. A wide range of publications, including many learned journal articles on pedagogical change, was also consulted.
Those who participated in the in-depth interviews were asked about their attitudes to and relationships with publishers and aggregators. Academics held quite dusty views about publishers – though it is worth pointing out that some academics wear two hats: that of the lecturer indignant about book prices on behalf of his / her students and that of the author interested in royalties. However, in general they seem to like publishers less than librarians do; are genuinely concerned by textbook prices; and want more diversity in the formats publishers offer (though not necessarily to pay for this).
Librarians dislike certain pricing models and want more transparency on pricing overall; they want more material to be available via Open Access; more digital material – even though they concede that many students prefer print; fewer usage restrictions; and a more generous approach to access, especially for students at affiliates and alumni. As a body, they prefer aggregators to publishers.
Students value currency above format; they want textbooks to be shorter and more up-to-date; and some do prefer print. However, the majority of UK students use both print and electronic, for different purposes respectively.
For more key findings of the study, please come back to our blog tomorrow, when we will talk about changes in teaching practices and resources used for teaching.