Student Attainment in Higher Education: Issues, controversies and debates is a timely exploration of student attainment in a rapidly changing higher education context and a rapidly changing world. The effects of neoliberalism and the commercialization of everyday life on education have been well documented, but with a focus on pedagogy, whilst student success is measured through grades, statistics and metrics. By exploring attainment in a broader context, this book provides a unique contribution to the critical literature on contemporary higher education.

Within the themes of understanding attainment and challenging practice, the book sets out to explore student attainment as complex and multifaceted. It achieves this by looking at different conceptualizations of what attainment means and to whom; how attainment is shaped by different and often competing agendas and vested interests. The book highlights these wider issues, controversies and debates that underpin student attainment, whilst at the same time engaging with strategic and local interventions, which set out to improve aspects of the higher education system and increase individual and social agency within it.

Sharing a range of pedagogical approaches and interventions, some of the key topics include:

  • addressing attainment gaps
  • engaging mature learners
  • nurturing the intellectual identity
  • the impact of activity choices.

Creating a dialogue amongst different audiences about national and international controversies and debates around the topic of student attainment, this contribution will be beneficial to teaching professionals, policymakers and strategists. As an edited collection with contextualisation in the wider research arena, the book has both national and international applicability and transferability.

chapter |4 pages


ByGraham Steventon, Tony OShea-Poon

chapter 2|18 pages

Dilemmas in addressing the ethnicity attainment gap

ByTony O’Shea-Poon

chapter 3|14 pages

Addressing the attainment gap at the University of Derby

From theory to practice?
ByJean Mutton, Philip Plowden

chapter 4|13 pages

Linking attainment to interculturalism and global citizenship

ByAlun Evans, Caroline Wilson

chapter 5|15 pages

The secret of student success

Student identity, belonging and the psychological contract
ByDebra Cureton

chapter 6|16 pages

Intellectuality, student attainment and the contemporary higher education system

ByGurnam Singh, Stephen Cowden

chapter 7|14 pages

Authentic learning

A route to student attainment?
ByGraham Steventon

chapter 8|15 pages

Mentoring for attainment

ByArinola Adefila

chapter 9|17 pages

Student attainment through activity-led cooperative learning

BySarah Wilson-Medhurst

chapter 10|17 pages

Mixing metaphors for academic writing development

ByChristina Howell-Richardson, Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams

chapter 11|13 pages

Building a house on sand?

Are vocational education and training qualifications an (in)equitable stepping-stone to success in higher education?
ByTracy McCoy, Don Adamson

chapter 12|16 pages

(not) Talkin ‘bout my generation

Is higher education engaging older learners?
ByChristine Broughan, Jim Soulsby

chapter 13|14 pages

Being a student and becoming a professional

Tensions and challenges in attaining a professional identity
ByLynn Clouder

chapter 14|5 pages

Issues, controversies and debates

Concluding thoughts
ByGlynis Cousin