Research in Higher Education

Higher education is often seen as the driver for economic, personal, and social growth. As a result of a growing emphasis on access, affordability, accountability in national and global policies, technological advances, and international mobility, higher education is undergoing a period of unprecedented change.

The Higher Education Research team is a new part of the Pearson research community. It is led by Dr. Kate Edwards, Senior Vice President of Efficacy and Research. The work of the research team is aligned to the 8 thematic priorities that drive the global research agenda at Pearson: Learning science; knowledge and skills; pedagogy and educator quality; measurement and assessment; digital and adaptive forms of learning; institutional effectiveness and improvement; system reform and innovation and access for all.

The team is focused on contributing to and furthering debate in Higher Education across these areas and also on applying what we learn to support the development of Pearson products and services. We look to partner with external research institutes, commission and conduct research about current and future learning trends and open up for debate the future of higher education.

See below for links to examples of best practice external research in these areas and a selection of research that the Pearson Higher Education Research team use to inform product development.

Knowledge & Skills


Active Learning: Implementation Strategies for High Impact

This 2015 efficacy report offers compelling examples of how active learning was deployed at both two- and four-year institutions, inside and outside the classroom, and across a variety of disciplines. Grounded in research and supported by discipline-specific, data-driven implementation models, the 12 exemplar case studies included in this report illustrate how to successfully translate those same active-learning strategies for use in your classrooms.

View the white paper

Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey

Pearson ran the Student Mobile Device Survey to better understand how students use mobile technology for learning. The survey focused on how students use the mobile devices they currently own for learning, and how they would like to use those devices in the future. The survey asked students from grade 4 through college about the mobile devices that they own and intend to buy; how they currently use mobile devices for school work and how they expect to use them in the future; and their attitudes towards tablets for learning.

Harris Interactive ran the survey on behalf of Pearson between January 28 and February 24, 2013 among 1,206 college students.

Cross tabulations
Earlier reports in this series

The majority of college students strongly believe that tablets can enhance learning.

System reform and innovation


Learning from Opening the Debate on Higher Education: Blue Skies

Higher education is changing. Together, global trends and national policies are generating a debate that is increasingly focussed on the cost of higher education. Tuition fees, research grants and ROI are the issues of the day. It’s time to widen the debate. Presenting bold, new ideas about the future of higher education, leading experts from around the world, including a few less-well known voices, set out their vision for the future. Pearson asked leading thinkers from around the world about their vision for the future of higher education and collated them in a booklet entitled “Blue Skies: New thinking about the Future of Higher Education.
Blue Skies: New Thinking about the Future of Higher Education

Access for all


The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education After Fisher v. University of Texas

Many legal experts suggest that now is the time for universities to begin seriously thinking about how to promote racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in new ways and improve access to higher education. Many of the race-neutral approaches outlined in this volume emphasize efforts to embrace economically disadvantaged students of all races.
Read the chapter


Good Practice in Widening Participation

This report looks at six countries around the world: Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the USA. By commissioning this international research, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Office for Fair Access (OFFA) sought to develop a better understanding of the impact of widening participation interventions.
Read the report