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 faculty I have also offered strategic insights via the Faculty Academic Board, as a Faculty Teaching Practitioner Representative and via the Faculty 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., Jones, M., & Wawera, A.-.S. (2018). Exploring digital stories as research in higher education. Social Research Practice - SRA Journal, 7, 271-34. http://the-sra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/social-research-practice-journal-issue-07-winter-2019.pdf
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
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
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
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. (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.