My current work focuses on student experiences within higher education and the policy context which shapes them. This includes leading projects which review the complexity of 'teaching excellence' and evaluate pedagogic interventions for improving student engagement and differential outcomes.
I am an experienced lecturer, manager and researcher with an interest in the student experience and the diversity of youth lifestyles. My sociological research into drug use has been published in peer review publications, presented internationally, and informed national policy critiques with senior members of the police force and national advocates of drug policy reform.
To find out more visit the Student Engagement, Evaluation and Research blog
My current role is focused on researching the educational context of Higher Education. Through previous experience as a criminological researcher, and of teaching research methods, I am able to apply both quantitative and qualitative research methodology to internal and external research projects. This includes an analysis of institutional and sector wide data sets, integrative literature reviews, evaluations, surveys, interviews and focus groups on discourse analysis.
My current areas of research include teaching excellence and digital capability for staff and students, student confidence and belonging within HE and the link to attainment (especially for BME students), student wellbeing and engagement in 'safe spaces' of learning, and the social construction of written feedback and mechanisms for improving the interpretation (satisfaction) of feedback 'quality'.
I have experience in a number of different academic roles (Module Leader, Dissertation Supervisor, Course Leader and Programme Leader for Criminology) and have been recognised as an inspirational teacher by my students. For the college I have also offered strategic insights via the College Academic Board, as a College Teaching Practitioner Representative and via the College Programme Leader Group. These roles have allowed me to demonstrate academic leadership in institutionally significant tasks such as NSS action planning, course redesign and validation, sector benchmarking and attendance monitoring. This contribution to academic leadership (through line management of Course Leaders) has been acknowledged in my recognition as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
My disciplinary research interests include drug use, contemporary sociological theory and research methodology. Specifically they include recreational substance use, social justice and the representation of drug users, developments in UK and global drug policy, young people and risk taking behaviour. In addition I am interested in the application of postmodernist theory to crime and deviance and postmodern research methodologies and the construction of knowledge.
Specialist areas of interest
Student experience and engagement, student lifestyles, epistemology and academic knowledge, research methodologies, policy reform
My previous teaching experience has been located in the discipline of criminology and focused on theoretical and methodological foundations of criminology, and drug use and deviant lifestyles.
Liz is an experienced Principal Investigator for internal and external research and evaluation. Most recently, she has lead externally funded projects on areas relating to teaching excellence (Office for Students) and Critical Whiteness is Higher Education (AdvanceHE) and is a researcher within projects which evaluate approaches to measuring learning gain (Office for Students). She is also project managing the final months of the LEGACY project (learning gain pilot project – Office for Students).
Internally, her institutional research currently focuses on digital storytelling for enhancement and evaluations of approaches which address student retention and differential outcomes (including BAME attainment). In all this work, Liz champions the consideration of ethical practices and student experiences, and has been invited to share her experience and insights across the higher education sector.
Liz leads research within the Student Engagement, Evaluation and Research directorate which was formed in 2015, to support the needs of students, as identified through the generation, evaluation and analysis of student information. This includes evaluations and surveys, as well as student engagement at all levels of our formal and informal structures. Our aim is to inform and develop practice within the University, in order to improve the student experience and support the delivery of the University Strategy.
The Student Engagement, Evaluation and Research directorate was formed in 2015, to support the needs of students, as identified through the generation, evaluation and analysis of student information. This includes evaluations and surveys, as well as student engagement at all levels of our formal and informal structures. Our aim is to inform and develop practice within the University, in order to improve the student experience and support the delivery of the University Strategy.
Austen, L., Pickering, N., & Judge, M. (2020). Student reflections on the pedagogy of transitions into higher education, through digital storytelling. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 1-12. http://doi.org/10.1080/0309877x.2020.1762171
Austen, L., Jones, M., & Wawera, A.-.S. (2018). Exploring digital stories as research in higher education. Social Research Practice - SRA Journal, 7, 27-34. https://the-sra.org.uk/SRA/Publications/Social-Research-Practice/SRA/Publications/Social-Research-Practice.aspx?hkey=a409b5ec-bc84-450d-9163-b64a61c9fb3b
Austen, L., & Malone, C. (2018). What students’ want in written feedback: praise, clarity and precise individual commentary. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 11 (1), 47-58. http://ojs.cumbria.ac.uk/index.php/prhe/article/view/461
Austen, L., Heaton, C., Jones-Devitt, S., & Pickering, N. (2017). Why is the BME attainment gap such a wicked problem? The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 3 (1). http://doi.org/10.21100/jeipc.v3i1.587
Jones-Devitt, S., Austen, L., Irwin, B., Mcdonald, K., & Parkin, H. (2017). Are all students 'hard to reach' in a digital higher education (H.E.) context? The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 3 (1), 147-158. http://doi.org/10.21100/jeipc.v3i1.526
Jones-Devitt, S., Austen, L., Chitwood, E., Donnelly, A., Fearn, C., Heaton, C., ... Pickering, N. (2017). Creation and confidence: BME students as academic partners…but where were the staff? Journal of Educational Innovation Partnership and Change, 3 (1), 278-285. http://doi.org/10.21100/jeipc.v3i1.580
Jones-Devitt, S., Austen, L., & Parkin, H. (2017). Integrative Reviewing for exploring complex phenomena. Social Research Update, (66). http://sru.soc.surrey.ac.uk/SRU66.pdf
Austen, L. (2016). Balancing academic gatekeeping and interpersonal positioning: a qualitative analysis of written feedback to undergraduate students. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 10 (2), 67-81. http://18.104.22.168/ojs/index.php/prhe
Austen, L. (2016). Police and Crime Commissioners : emerging 'drug policy actors'? Safer Communities, 15 (1), 4-10. http://doi.org/10.1108/SC-08-2015-0030
Chadee, D., Austen, L., & Ditton, J. (2007). The relationship between likelihood and fear of criminal victimisation: evaluating risk sensitivity as a mediating concept. . http://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azl025
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2020). Engaging students with evidence. In QAA Quality Insights Conference, The Studio, Birmingham. Quality Assurance Agency
Austen, L. (2020). Digital Storytelling: A qualitative methodology for amplifying hidden voices in higher education. In SRHE International Conference on Research into Higher Education, Newport, Wales, 2019 - 2019. SRHE: https://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2019/abstracts/0447.pdf
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2019). Ethical dilemmas in institutional research and evaluation: an inclusive approach. In HEIR Conference 2019, Wolverhampton. Higher Education Institutional Researchers Network
Austen, L., Pickering, N., & Judge, M. (2019). Digital storytelling student reflections on the transition into higher education. In Foundation Year Annual Conference 2019, Brighton. Foundation Year Network
Austen, L. (2019). Engaging student and staff voices as data. In QAA Annual Conference, The UK Quality Summit: Successful Partnerships, Liverpool. Quality Assurance Agency
Austen, L., Thomson, C., & Beggs, R. (2018). Going Dragon hunting: using digital storytelling to enhance the student experience. In JISC Digifest 2018, Birmingham. JISC
Jones-Devitt, S., Parkin, H., & Austen, L. (2017). How can digital capability promote teaching excellence? Exploring guidelines for digitally-capable teaching excellence. In HEA’s Annual Conference: Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight, Manchester. Higher Education Academy
Austen, L. (2017). How do criminologists write feedback, and what do their students think of it? In British Society of Criminology Conference, 4 July 2017 - 7 July 2017.
Austen, L., & Malone, C. Exploring student perceptions of effective feedback. In 6th International Assessment in Higher Education Annual Conference.
Austen, L. (2020). The amplification of student voices via institutional research and evaluation. In Lowe, T., & El Hakim, Y. (Eds.) A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education. Taylor & Francis: http://doi.org/10.4324/9780429023033
Malone, C., & Austen, L. (2017). Exploring feedback practices that students value. In Elkington, S., & Evans, C. (Eds.) Transforming Assessment In Higher Education: A Case Study Series. (pp. 90-93). York: Higher Education Academy: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/transforming-assessment-higher-education
Austen, L., & Cowburn, M. (2013). Postmodernism and criminological thought : ‘Whose science? Whose knowledge?’. In Cowburn, M., Duggan, M., Robinson, A., & Senior, P. (Eds.) Values in Criminology and Community Justice. (pp. 21-38). Bristol: Policy Press
Stevenson, J., Baker, Z., Harrison, N., Bland, B., Jones-Devitt, S., Donnelly, A., ... Austen, L. (2020). Positive Impact? What factors affect access, retention and graduate outcomes for university students with a background of care or family estrangement? Unite Foundation. https://www.unitefoundation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Positive-Impact-Report.pdf
Jones-Devitt, S., Pickering, N., Austen, L., Donnelly, A., Adesola, J., & weston, A. (2019). Evaluation of the National Mixed Methods Learning Gain Project (NMMLGP) and Student Perceptions of Learning Gain. Bristol: Office for Students. https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/evaluation-of-nmmlgp/
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2018). Observing the observers: using digital storytelling for organisational development concerning 'Critical Whiteness'. AdvanceHE. https://www.lfhe.ac.uk/en/research-resources/research-hub/small-development-projects/sdp2018/sheffield-hallam-university-po.cfm
Austen, L., Donnelly, A., McCaig, C., & O'Leary, C. (2018). Evaluation of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme. Office for Students website: Office for Students. https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/evaluation-of-the-national-teaching-fellowship-scheme/
Austen, L., Parkin, H., Jones-Devitt, S., Mcdonald, K., & Irwin, B. (2016). Digital capability and teaching excellence: an integrative review exploring what infrastructure and strategies are necessary to support effective use of technology enabled learning (TEL). Gloucester: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Digital-capability-and-teaching-excellence-2016.pdf
Jones-Devitt, S., & Austen, L. (2019). ‘Liven up’ leaders: time to inoculate against zombification. Or not? https://www.invisiblegrail.com/blog/liven-up-leaders-time-to-inoculate-against-zombification-or-not/
Austen, L., Jones-Devitt, S., & Hasty, W. (2019). As well as objects, students should be users of data too. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/as-well-as-objects-students-should-be-users-of-data-too/
Austen, L. (2019). Once upon a time: hearing student stories. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/once-upon-a-time-hearing-student-stories/
Austen, L. (2018). ‘It ain’t what we do, it’s the way that we do it’ – researching student voices. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/it-aint-what-we-do-its-the-way-that-we-do-it-researching-student-voices/
Austen, L., Jones-Devitt, S., Pickering, N., Donnelly, A., Weston, A., & Adesola, J. (2020). NMMLGP evaluation and student engagement. Presented at: Learning Gain National Conference, Birmingham
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2019). Exploring Critical Whiteness. Presented at: NEON BME Learners Working Group Final Symposium, Sheffield
Austen, L., & Illie, S. (2019). Learning Gain and Disciplinary Effects: Lessons for the Sector. Presented at: UK Deans of Science Winter Conference, London
Austen, L. (2019). Digital storytelling as research in higher education. Presented at: Diversity, Equity, and Innovation: Educational Research for the Future, Bristol
Austen, L. (2019). Capturing and responding to student voices: innovative alternatives. Presented at: Student Voice Think Tank event, Glasgow
Austen, L. (2019). Digital Storytelling (Researching Students for Impact). Presented at: The Secret Life of Students, London
Austen, L., Jones-Devitt, S., & Lawton, M. (2019). Feedback Literacy and Patchwork Assessment. Presented at: Open University Assessment Programme, Milton Keynes
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2019). EDI and Institutional Readiness. Presented at: Towards Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the Curriculum Collaborative Network, York
Austen, L. (2019). Supporting students navigating the data landscape. Presented at: QAA Scotland Student-Led Project Event, Glasgow
Austen, L. (2019). Measuring Learning Gain: Lesson from LEGACY. Presented at: University of Leicester Pedagogic Research Group, Leicester
Jones-Devitt, S., & Austen, L. (2019). Use, not abuse, of the Student Voice: recent research and relevance for programme leaders navigating a cold, neoliberal climate. Presented at: QAA Scotland Programme Leaders Group, Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2019). Reimagining pedagogic research: using creative approaches that make a real difference. Presented at: Edinburgh Napier University Pedagogic Research Group, Edinburgh
Jones-Devitt, S., & Austen, L. (2018). Challenging wicked problems and folk pedagogies to address the BME attainment gap in higher education. Presented at: Equality Challenge Unit Annual Conference, Birmingham
Austen, L., Pickering, N., Jones-Devitt, S., & Donnelly, A. (2018). Institutional considerations for learning gain projects and beyond. Presented at: National Learning Gain Conference, Birmingham
Austen, L. (2018). Variation and innovation in student voice research. Presented at: Student Voice Seminar Day, Bristol
Austen, L., & Malone, C. (2017). Exploring student perceptions of effective feedback. Presented at: Transforming Assessment (international webinar), Monash University
Parkin, H., & Austen, L. (2016). Digital Capability and Teaching Excellence. Presented at: 39th HeLF Meeting - Digital Skills and Scholarship, University College London
Austen, L., & Parkin, H. (2016). Digital Capability and Teaching Excellence. Presented at: JISC Student Experience Experts Group, Birmingham
Austen, L., & Jones-Devitt, S. (2019). Guide to using Evidence in Higher Education. Quality Assurance Agency Scotland: https://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/current-enhancement-theme/student-engagement-and-demographics/students-using-evidence
Austen, L. (2018). Book Review: 'Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Challenges, Changes and the Teaching Excellence Framework'. Higher Education Review: http://www.highereducationreview.com/
I am currently the External Examiner for BA (Hons) Criminal Justice delivered at University College Doncaster and accredited by the University of Hull (2014-2018)
I have completed the Research Supervisors course which equates to1 completed PhD supervision, and I am able to contribute to PhD supervision with an additional Director of Studies.