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Professor Kerry Shephard

BSc(Hons) and PhD (Reading)

Phone: +64 3 479 8439
Location: Dunedin

About Kerry

Kerry Shephard Photo 2I research higher education. I conceptualise this as a part of the discipline of Education, but with a focus on the functioning of universities and on the nature of learning within this domain. I have a background in a different discipline and my present disciplinary perspective (substantially developed in the past 20 years) has been influenced by, and is grounded in, my prior 25 years of research and teaching as a biologist. I think that higher education as a field of enquiry, as a discourse and as a community of practitioners is defined by the diverse backgrounds of its contributors and this sets it aside from other fields within Education. My area of interest lies in the affective domain of attitudes, values, dispositions and behaviours. I am fascinated by these attributes: how learners acquire them; how teachers contribute to their acquisition, deliberately or not; how universities assess or evaluate them; and how we can research them. My current research addresses ‘education for sustainability’ and I have longstanding related interests in ‘academic integrity’ and ‘community engagement’. As higher education grapples with massification, commercialisation and its role as ‘critic and conscience of society’ it needs to address how it impacts on future citizens. My research aims to help higher education understand what it is currently doing, why it may need to change and perhaps how to do it. My research approaches include both qualitative and quantitative methodologies (including large-scale statistically-interpreted surveys) to collect empirical data. I supervise PhD candidates and examine others. I am a regular reviewer for several higher education journals and Editor in Chief for the education section of Sustainability. I also teach on higher education pedagogy programmes.

Areas of expertise

Kerry's interests span policy and practice in higher education, educational development and some aspects of student learning. In particular, Kerry has broad interests in ‘learning in the affective domain’. (Not what students know, nor what skills they have to put their knowledge to effect; rather what they choose to do with the knowledge and skills they learn.) Key interests include community-engaged learning and teaching, academic integrity, education for sustainability and for global citizenship and 'the public understanding of science'. Kerry has a background in the biological sciences and extensive experience as a university teacher and researcher.

Some key questions include:

With a focus on learning: what do students learn whilst with us in higher education? Is it mainly knowledge and skills; or does a higher-education experience have broader, or deeper, impact on what choices graduates might make when they leave higher education? Are they likely to, as examples, make more sustainable, or integrious, or ethical choices? How would we know? (See my research publications in ‘education for sustainability’ and in ‘academic integrity’).

With a focus on teaching: what do we teach in higher education? Is it what we think and say that we do? Or is it something else? What messages lay hidden within our lectures, our written learning-support materials, our research presentations and publications? How do the power structures inherent to higher education support or obscure these messages? What systems and processes operate to protect our students from inappropriate influence or from ineffective teaching? How would we recognise inappropriate or ineffective influence or teaching? (See my research publications on ‘presenting’, on ‘eLearning’ and on the use of ‘Q methodology’).


Kerry is available to supervise postgraduates enrolled in HEDU502, HEDU510 and HEDU590.