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Cost efficiency v quality service : using CHAT as a tool for understanding change and transformation in work practices

posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Deborah PeachDeborah Peach
This chapter provides an analysis of feedback from key stakeholders, collected as part of a research project, on the problems and tensions evident in the collective work practices of learning advisers employed in learning assistance services at an Australian metropolitan university (Peach, 2003). The term 'learning assistance' is used in the Australian higher education sector generally to refer to student support services that include assistance with academic writing and other study skills. The aim of the study was to help learning advisers and other key stakeholders develop a better understanding of the work activity with a view to using this understanding to generate improvements in service provision. Over twenty problems and associated tensions were identified through stakeholder feedback however the focus of this chapter is the analysis of tensions related to a cluster of problems referred to as cost-efficiency versus quality service. Theoretical modelling derived from the tools made available through cultural historical activity theory and expansive visibilsation (Engestrom and Miettinen, 1999) and exerpts from data are used to illustrate how different understandings of the purpose of learning assistance services impacts on the work practices of learning advisers and creates problems and tensions in relation to the type of service available (including use of technology), level of service available, and learning adviser workload.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)



Whymark GK; Hasan H

Parent Title

Activity as the focus of information systems research

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Knowledge Creation Press

Place of Publication

Eveleigh, N.S.W.

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Congress; Faculty of Education and Creative Arts;

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Number of Chapters