The Power of Hindsight: Evidence-driven Reflections on Impactful Higher Education Research

Abound Consulting, Australia


Higher education practitioners grapple with myriad challenges of educating in an increasingly globalised world. In this context, it is of paramount importance that research in the higher education field is meaningful, accessible and impactful. This showcase will focus on the impact dimension of higher education research, presenting clusters of recommended strategies for researchers, institutions and funding bodies. The evidence base for these clusters is the documented and attested experience research teams across Australia (n=16, N=63), who were invited to reflect on project influence with the power of hindsight, at a timing point at least six months after the project had reached its official end. Qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken, along with extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders. Findings are considered in light of both nationally-mandated impact measures and the “increasingly mobile and globally itinerant academic [concerned with] recognising, reconciling and mobilising his/her professional and public role” (Watermeyer, 2012, p. 2). These twin drivers afford the notion of impact both a practical and moral impetus. The strategies proposed in this showcase respond to the reality that “researchers are often hard pressed to come up with coherent accounts of the significance and impact of their work as [is] regularly required in a range of situations” (Kuruvilla, Mays, Pleasant, & Walt, 2006, p. 15) and offer a research-based lens through which to re-think higher education research, professional development and evaluation in globalized world.

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