Research Seminar: Precarious Measures and Academic Work

Amy Robinson Julia Miller Julie Matthews: Presenters

We are delighted to present our September Research Seminars.

Precarious Measures and Academic Work: Ms. Amy Robinson, Dr. Julia Miller, and Assoc Professor Julie Matthews, School of Education, University of Adelaide

Abstract: The triadic understanding of academic work as involving research, teaching, and governance is rarely challenged, and is now almost unassailable in the drive to quantify academic workloads. It is assumed that the activities of academics can be divided proportionally into each of these categories and that the time taken to undertake those tasks can be realistically measured. This presentation addresses the precariousness of these measures and the problematic assumptions that underpin academic workload models. Specifically, we pose the following questions:

What is academic work?  Why is it measured?  What is measured?  What are the consequences of measurement?

Based on an examination of three of the most highly cited works in the academic workload debate, we argue a) that it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately and meaningfully measure academic workload b) that the drive to measure is a result of fiscal measures and c) that the focus on measurable outputs is problematic because the academic work inputs are not measurable in any meaningful way.

Biography:  Amy Robinson (UPP Lecturer, School of Education) Ms. Amy Robinson is currently the Coordinator of the University Preparatory Program (UPP) a role she has held since 2017.  Amy graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Master of Education in 2015 and La Trobe University, Melbourne with a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) in 2010 and a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Anthropology) in 2009.

Biography:  Dr. Julia Miller (Lecturer, School of Education) Dr. Julia Miller is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide, where she teaches academic English and research communication. She has an honours degree in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge; a research MA on anglicisms in Portuguese from Flinders University (South Australia); and a Ph.D. from Flinders University in pedagogical lexicography and phraseology for EAL students. Her research interests are in lexicography, phraseology, phraseodidactics and academic skills. She is the Secretary of AustraLex, the Australian representative for Globalex and ELEXIS, and the founder of the English for Uni website (

Biography: Associate Professor Julie Matthews is a sociologist of education and her current projects focus on anti-radicalisation education, and refugees and education. She has undertaken research in the fields of minority education, reconciliation, refugee education, anti-racist education, international education and education for sustainability and has expertise in postcolonial and Foucauldian theory, feminism, cultural diversity, internationalisation, globalisation and policy issues.

Date: 23 September
Time: 11:30am - 12:00pm
Venue: School of Education, Level 8 Room 812, Nexus Building, 10 Pulteney St, Adelaide.

Tagged in Research Seminars, seminars, School of Education