My research was competitively selected as one of UOW’s 40 Research Impacts which celebrated 40 years of research. Projects were selected from current and previous researchers from the last 40 years and showcased at the Research Big Ideas Festival: http://www.uow.edu.au/research/researchimpact/index.html
Formally recognised as one of UOW’s Women of Impact, this was a competitive selection process based on independent nomination. I was nominated by the School of Education in recognition of my ‘outstanding contribution to research within the field of educational equity’: http://media.uow.edu.au/releases/UOW217666.html
Australian Office For Learning and Teaching (OLT) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning: For sustained commitment to student transition to university and educational equity in order to facilitate a culture of engagement
Editor/Editorial Board Member
I am an Associate Editor for Higher Education Research and Development (HERD)
2015 - 2016
Successful student access and retention are fundamental to the higher education environment, yet university attrition rates remain alarmingly high. This is particularly noted amongst students who are first-in-family to attend university. This fellowship built upon an OLT grant that indicated how family and community play a key role in the educational futures of these learners but are not systematically engaged with by universities. I collaborated with outreach practitioners to design, implement and evaluate strategies targeted at engaging those closest to first-in-family learners. Expanding university outreach beyond learners seeks to increase the impact and outcomes of these programs. Deliverables included generic resources designed to engage with family/community; a set of national principles themed on the enactment of this connection and planned dissemination workshops. Outcomes included 1) deep and sustained engagement between universities and the families/communities of learners; 2) improved retention rates for first-in-family university students and 3) new networks of practice between university outreach programs.
2017 - 2018
I am currently a Visiting Fellow to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
Publications :Publication List (sourced via UOW Database)
Harwood, V., Hickey-Moody, A., McMahon, S. & O'Shea, S. (2017). The Politics of widening participation and University access for young people: making educational futures. United States: Routledge.
O'Shea, S. (2016). Avoiding the manufacture of ‘sameness’: first-in-family students, cultural capital and the higher education environment. Higher Education, 72 (1), 59-78.
McMahon, S., Harwood, V., Bodkin-Andrews, G., O'Shea, S., McKnight, A., Chandler, P. & Priestly, A. (2017). Lessons from the AIME approach to the teaching relationship: valuing biepistemic practice. Pedagogy Culture and Society, 25 (1), 43-58.
O'Shea, S., Lysaght, P., Roberts, J. & Harwood, V. (2016). Shifting the blame in higher education – social inclusion and deficit discourses. Higher Education Research and Development, 35 (2), 322-336.
O'Shea, S. (2015). Arriving, surviving, and succeeding: first-in-family women and their experiences of transitioning into the first year of university. Journal of College Student Development, 56 (5), 499-517.
Current Positions:Associate Professor in Adult Vocational and Higher Education
Ph: 4221 5838
Biography:A/Prof Sarah O'Shea is a research-teaching academic located in the School of Education and is Coordinator of Adult, Vocational and Higher Education and also Chair, Wollongong Academy of Tertiary Teaching and Learning Excellence (WATTLE).
Sarah has over two decades of experience teaching in both the experience teaching across universities, VET and Adult Education sectors, she has also published widely on issues related to educational access and equity.
Sarah completed a Doctor of Philosophy at University of Sydney and her research focused on the higher education environment with particular reference to the transition, persistence and engagement of students who are first in the family to attend university.
In 2015, Sarah was awarded an Australian Government Teaching and Learning Teaching Fellowship (2015-2016) exploring the role of family in the engagement of students who are first in their family/community to come to university. Sarah¿s research broadly focuses on student access, engagement and participation within the university sector, with particular reference to students from identified equity groups including those from low-SES backgrounds, Indigenous students, mature aged students as well as first-in-family learners. Sarah has received a number of VC Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning as well as an OLT Citation (2012) For sustained commitment to student transition to university and educational equity in order to facilitate a culture of engagement,
Sarah is currently leading an ARC Discovery Project which is exploring the capabilities and cultural wealth of first in family university students. She is also a CI on an ARC DP examining the role of mentoring within Indigenous higher education in order to understand how university students mentor Indigenous school students.
Research Interests:Sarah works within a qualitative framework and has drawn upon narrative inquiry and grounded theory in her research activities.
Current National Competitive Research Grants:
2017 - 2019: Australian Research Council Discovery Project. (DP170100705 : $152,000)
¿Capitals and Capabilities: Rethinking higher education persistence¿.
Sole CI: S. O'Shea
2015: ¿Engaging Families to Engage Students": Exploring how university outreach activities can forge productive partnerships with families to assist first in family students navigate their higher education journey. Office for Learning and Teaching National Teaching Fellowship ($90,000).
Fellow: S O'Shea
2014 - 2017: Australian Research Council Discovery Project. (DP140103690 : $211,000)
CIs: V. Harwood, P. Chandler & S O'Shea
Mentoring and Indigenous higher education: Understanding how university students mentor Indigenous school students
2014 - 2015: Breaking the Barriers: supporting and engaging mature age first-in-family university learners and their families. Office for Learning and Teaching Grant ($47,000)
CIs: OShea, S., May, J. & Stone, C.
Internal Grants (2012 - 2017)
2017 O¿Shea, S., Bennett, S., Delahunty, J., Belfiore, L., Engaging students as partners in the design and development of a peer mentoring program. Educational Development Strategies Fund ($10,000)
2015 O¿Shea, S., Harwood, V., Howard, S & Cliff, K. Evaluation of the UPP Project. Funded by Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program. ($35,000).
2014 Harwood, V., O¿Shea, S., Howard, S & Cliff, K. Evaluation of the In2Uni Project. Funded by Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program. ($50,000).
2014 Lysaght, P & O¿Shea, S. Providing embedded and holistic support to participants in The Djinggi Program. Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program. ($14,000)
2014 O'Shea, S. Rethinking Capital: Exploring the nature of cultural capital in the context of transition to higher education for first in family university students. University Research Committee (URC) Grant.
2013 O Shea, S. Exploring the participation of first in family students in university with particular reference to how this impacts upon intergenerational choices around, and perceptions of, higher education. 2013 Educational Strategies Development Fund.
2013 OShea, S., Harwood, V & Lysaght, P. Academics¿ understandings of social justice and inclusive tertiary pedagogies. 2013 Social Inclusion Projects Scheme.
2012 OShea, S. Ustart@UOW: researching the student feedback. Funded by Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.
2012 O Shea, S. Pathways to university: Connecting Community Colleges with University of Wollongong. Community Engagement Grant
2012 O Shea, S. & Stone, C. Engaging students in on-line environments: A partnership between UOW and OUA. Faculty Collaboration Grant
2012 Harwood, V., Lysaght, P., OShea, S., Kiggins, J., & Eady, M. Academic Connections: Mentoring by academics in the UStart@UOW program. 2012 Social Inclusion Projects Scheme.
Research Interests / Supervision
Sarah is interested in conducting research and supervising Higher Degree Research students in the following areas:
First year Experience / The student experience in HE & VET
Second Chance Learners
Equity in Higher Education & VET
Cross-sectoral relations in tertiary education / Learner pathways / transitions
Student access, participation and engagement in HE & VET
Narrative inquiry research situated within social inclusion / social justice agenda
Professional Activities:I am a member of Early Start Research Institute (ESRI) within the Social Inclusion strand.
I also contribute to my research field as a regular journal reviewer, an ARC grant assessor (since 2013), as a member of the Editorial Board for the Student Engagement in HE Journal (UK) and an Associate Editor for the HERD journal (key in my field). I regularly review articles and conference papers including
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
Journal of Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association
Higher Education Research and Development
AARE International Education Research Conference.
Awards:2017: Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Student Equity in HE (NCSEHE)
2015: OLT National Teaching Fellowship
2012: Office of Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
2011: Faculty Teaching Award for a 2011 Vice Chancellors Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning , University of Wollongong.
2009: Vice Chancellors Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
This citation was awarded:For the development and sustained implementation of a peer-led, student-centred transition strategy that empowers and inspires first year students from diverse backgrounds.
2006: Vice Chancellors Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
This citation was awarded: For effectively and innovatively responding to the academic support needs of a diverse student population by providing an integrated model of learner support.
2006: Australian Postgraduate Award , University of Sydney (2006 ¿ 2008)
2006: NSW Institute of Educational Research Award
Future Research Topics:Mature Age University students' narratives of arrival / transition
The arrival and transition of rural, remote and Indigenous students to the higher education environment
- Patricia Powers : The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Threshold Concepts in Early Online Adult Education
- Lynn Jarvis : A Leap of faith: the negotiation of risk amongst non traditional students entering higher education via enabling pathways
- Jacinta McNamara : "Crossing the threshold into Higher Education". In what ways does accessing higher education through an enabling course impact upon male students who follow this pathway?
- Bradley Parkinson : Psychological barriers to participation in higher education
- Sandra McGowan : Making the Glass-Ceiling Visible: Cultural Capital and Aspiration
- Nadia Neal : Experiences of First in Family Indigenous Australian University Students and the Affects it has on their Social and Emotional Wellbeing
- Ashleigh Johnstone : Understanding the establishment of the AIME Vibe and mentoring model
- Kylie Austin : Partnerships in learning: Building a framework for collaboration
- Theresa Millman : Who do you think you are? Exploring the transformative experiences of students transitioning from TAFE to Higher Education