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Meet the editor of...Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

An interview with: Patrick Blessinger

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Image: Patrick BlessingerHello, my name is Patrick Blessinger. I reside in New York City with my wife. I am the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education.

I am the founder and executive director of the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) at www.hetl.org. I am also the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Meaning-Centered Education at www.meaningcentered.org.

I have a passion for transforming education and learning through interdisciplinary and international collaborations and in academic innovation. To find out more about me, you can go my website at www.patrickblessinger.com


What is… Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education?

The Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education (JARHE) is a peer-reviewed international academic journal. JARHE is available online (and in print) though a subscription to the Emerald Education eJournals Collection. JARHE is a highly regarded and respected journal in education and JARHE is a member of and adheres to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics. 

The first editors of JARHE were Drs. Michael Connolly, Cath Jones, and Norah Jones of the University of Glamorgan in the UK. I am indebted to them for launching JARHE several years ago and for their great professionalism and collegiality. HETL assumed leadership of the journal to expand its reach and impact.

Can you describe the aims and mission of the journal, as well as its audience?

One of the chief aims of the journal is to improve and transform the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning in higher education by fostering and disseminating cutting-edge research from scholars and practitioners around the world. Because teaching and learning occurs within the broader framework of policy, strategy, governance, and related areas, a secondary aim of the journal is to improve and transform administrative, management, and leadership practices in higher education. So, the mission of the journal is to disseminate high quality and meaningful cutting-edge research related to higher education and its application in global and diverse contexts.

The main audience and scope of the journal includes, but is not limited to:

  • All academic disciplines and subject areas within higher education.
  • All functional areas and stakeholder groups within higher education, for example: students, faculty, scholars, administrators, leaders, and policy-makers.
  • All topics, issues, and themes related specifically to teaching and learning.
  • All emerging areas impacting higher education, for example: technology and internationalization.
  • Innovative approaches, models, and reflections on current and emerging theories and practices related to the development of higher education.

What is the relationship between HETL and the journal?

The journal is the official journal of the HETL Association.  The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) is an international non-profit educational association that has thousands of members in nearly every country. We decided to partner with Emerald because of their world-class reputation in publishing and their innovative approach to publishing. Both HETL and Emerald understand that research informs practice and vice versa and that research should be relevant to the practice of higher education. The journal publishes all types of research, both quantitative and qualitative studies, as well as reflective and conceptual articles. So, the missions of HETL and the journal are very compatible.

What are your plans for the journal over the next few years, for example, special issues, increasing the journal's impact etc.?

Our plans for the journal are based, in part, on emerging trends occurring in higher education. Higher education around the world is undergoing seismic shifts as access and participation in higher education rapidly expands to new segments of society. New educational models and new teaching and learning theories and practices are being developed at a rapid pace. The definition of what constitutes research is also widening as our understanding of what constitutes scholarship expands.

Thus, more research is needed on teaching and learning in higher education. The journal brings into focus many issues and themes related teaching, learning, curricular, and assessment in higher education, as well as other functional areas within higher education because we understand that the issues related to the practice of teaching and learning can only be fully understood within the wider context of the policy and management of higher education institutions as well as the political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological contexts and changes.

So, the journal’s mission and vision is purposely broad, inclusive, diverse, and global. Many of the emerging developments occurring in higher education are affected by globalization, democratization, and other macro forces. So, higher education requires new forms of scholarship and research based on practices across many countries and cultures. This is why the journal has an applied focus. We want the research we publish to have practical applications and positive impacts and we want to increase the journal’s impact on the higher education space.

As for special issues, our plan is to publish at least one special issue per year. For instance, HETL holds an annual conference and we publish a special conference issue that contains a collection of the best papers from that conference. We also invite guest editors from outside the journal to publish a special issue on topic areas that add to the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning. For instance, we have agreed to publish a special issue on "University for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship" that is part of a European Union research project called CAL4INO. This project investigates the development of interdisciplinary, team-based, meaningful innovations through creative learning activities to synthesize diverse perspectives, experiences and skills. The study focuses on universities as ecosystems for fostering creativity and innovation and it addresses the question: how can creativity successfully be taught to university students?  Projects, like this one, that have the potential to have an enormous positive impact on higher education are the ones we like to do special issues on.

What are the main issues and themes underpinning learning, teaching and assessment in Higher Education?

To answer this question, one must understand that higher education serves multiple purposes and there are now several different education models and institutional types that comprise the higher education ecosystem. Higher education has political, economic, social, and humanistic purposes. For instance, a political purpose is to enhance and advance democratic values. The economic purpose is to prepare graduates for careers and professions. In fact, higher education is often the only route to professions like teaching, medicine, engineering, and the law, for example. Higher education also has a humanistic purpose to develop more self-regulated and enlightened learners that helps to start learners down the road to lifelong and life-wide learning.

Yet the ultimate purpose, of course, is to produce learning as both a process and an outcome. For instance, the main function of teaching is to facilitate learning, the main purpose of assessment is to measure the learning that is occurring, the main function of research is to produce new learning, the by-product of which is new knowledge, and the main function of service, that is community outreach, is to apply what we have learned for the public good. So, higher education serves a very unique role and function within society. So, within this broad context, there are many intersections across these major areas and there are many issues and themes that underlie these areas within higher education such as technology, innovation, globalization, and access, to name just a few. Thus, the journal’s vision is to serve as a vehicle and repository for new knowledge in all these areas.

What are your main interests within HE?

I have been interested in teaching and learning as research topics for many years. My scholarly contributions to higher education are in the areas of educational philosophy, meaningful lifelong and life-wide learning, professional learning communities, and instructional design. My teaching and research interests include educational leadership and management, capacity building, innovation, creativity and happiness in education, educational policy, and the intersections of these topics. Over the last 15 years, I have taught over 100 college and university courses and I have administered academic programs in the USA and EU. I am a mixed/multi methods researcher specializing in qualitative research such as grounded theory, action research, ethnography, and phenomenology. I also consult with institutions on learner engagement, instructional technologies, leadership development, and accreditation. I have a wide set of interests which makes editing a good role for me since it allows me to be involved in a wide variety of issues and topics in higher education.

List three key words which you would associate with the journal.

International, interdisciplinary, and innovation.

In a further interview, Patrick Blessinger discusses Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, an on-going series of books on different topics related to innovative teaching and learning practices in higher education.

Visit the information page for: Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education