Imperial College London

Dr Tiffany Chiu

Central FacultyCentre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship

Senior Teaching Fellow in Educational Development



+44 (0)20 7594 8711t.chiu




S508Sherfield BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

8 results found

Wong B, Chiu Y-LT, ‘Swallow your pride and fear’: The educational strategies of high-achieving non-traditional university students, British Journal of Sociology of Education, ISSN: 0142-5692

With more graduates, degree outcomes have a renewed significance for high-achieving students to stand out in a graduate crowd. In the United Kingdom, over a quarter of undergraduates now leave university with the highest grade – a ‘first-class’ degree – although students from non-traditional and underprivileged backgrounds are the least likely. This article explores the experiences of high-achieving non-traditional (HANT) university students. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 30 final-year students who are on course to achieve a first-class degree from working-class, minority ethnic and/or mature backgrounds, we examine their pathways to academic success through identity works and negotiations. We argue that early successes are crucial for students to re-evaluate their self-expectations as students who can achieve in higher education, while self-esteem, pride or fear can prevent students from maximising their available resources and opportunities. Implications for practice and policy are discussed, including the reflective advice from HANT students towards academic success.

Journal article

Wong B, Chiu YLT, University lecturers’ construction of the ‘ideal’ undergraduate student, Journal of Further and Higher Education, ISSN: 0309-877X

Research on the ‘ideal’ or ‘good’ student tends to be situated within compulsory schooling. Few recent studies have focused on lecturers’ conceptualisation and construction of the ‘ideal’ university student. Informed by 30 in-depth interviews with lecturers from two post-92 English universities within the social sciences, we explore how the notion of ‘ideal’ student is understood in contemporary higher education. We focus on lecturers’ expectations of undergraduate students, as well as their views of the ‘ideal’ student in different teaching and learning contexts. We identified specific personal and academic skillsets that are desirable of students, including preparation, engagement and commitment, as well as being critical, reflective and making progress. The ability to achieve high grades, interestingly, is rarely mentioned as important. Implications for policy and practice are discussed as we present a much-needed update on the current features of the ‘ideal’ university student, which can influence student experience, especially the lecturer-student relationship.

Journal article

Chiu Y, 2018, ‘It’s a match, but is it a good fit?’: admissions tutors’ evaluation of personal statement for PhD study, Oxford Review of Education, ISSN: 0305-4985

This article investigates academics’ expectations and interpretations of the personal statement and its associated evaluation practice in the context of postgraduate school admissions. The analysis was based on semi-structured interviews with 10 experienced academics in doctoral applications evaluation at a US university. Data were thematically coded and analysed using the notion of discourse and power to identify a set of representations of ideas that academics draw on for the purpose of evaluating the personal statement. The findings suggest that academics’ evaluations have been rooted in their understanding of the nature of PhD study, the current situation in the programme, and the structure of the admissions process in a particular academic discourse community. The discourses of ‘match’ and ‘fit’ emerged as being important to the academics’ evaluation practice. This paper argues that the admissions discourses of ‘match’ and ‘fit’ have perplexed the evaluation process in that the ‘match’ appears to be associated with a more explicit and standardised list of requirements whereas the ‘fit’ emphasises more fluid and contingent programme priorities. There is a need for future research to determine the relevance and applicability of ‘match’ and ‘fit’ to further our understanding of the complexities of the admission process across contexts.

Journal article

Chiu Y, Rodriguez-Falcon O, Raising attainment with diverse students: An inclusive approach to the teaching of academic literacy, Journal of Academic Writing, ISSN: 2225-8973

This research aims to evaluate the impact of an inclusive writing approach, which strives to embed academic literacy into subject curriculum, an initiative that ran across schools at a UK-based post-1992 university in 2015-16. As an exploratory investigation, this research drew on a redesigned social science transitional module, where academic writing provision is closely in line with the subject content and assessments. This project explores student perceptions and experiences of the embedded writing provision and the extent to which the intervention contributed to student attainment. Data were drawn from focus group discussions, where 41 students participated, and from student grades for the comparison of attainment rates across 2014-15 and 2015-16. The focus groups were analysed using Nvivo 11 to identify key themes in relation to student views of the embedded academic literacy provision. Student grades were explored using MS Excel for the relative progress across academic years. The findings reveal the positive impact of the provision on students’ attainment and confidence as learners and writers in higher education. This paper concludes with pedagogical implications and a discussion of potential areas for further research to investigate the diversification of support modes as to accommodate different learning styles of students.

Journal article

Wong B, Chiu YLT, 2017, Let me entertain you: the ambivalent role of university lecturers as educators and performers., Educational Review, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 0013-1911

In England, higher education is more marketised than ever before as the difference between students and consumers is increasingly blurred, propelled by the rise in tuition fees. With students demanding more for their money, the role of university lecturers continues to change. This study explores the ways in which lecturers re-evaluate and reconstruct their roles and responsibilities in light of heightened student expectations. We draw on 30 in-depth interviews with lecturers from the social sciences, across two post-1992 universities in England, where tuition fees have tripled since 2012. We focus on lecturers’ views and experiences of student expectations, as well as the support available to students as we shift towards a more consumerist approach in higher education. We find examples of tension between academic values and consumeristic student expectations as lecturers discuss their precarious positions as an educator as well as an entertainer. We believe that the expanding role of lecturers merits an urgent review at the institutional and national level, to promote and ensure clarity of the boundaries and expectations of teaching staff.

Journal article

Hatzipanagos S, John B, Chiu Y-LT, 2016, The Significance of Kinship for Medical Education: Reflections on the Use of a Bespoke Social Network to Support Learners' Professional Identities., JMIR Med Educ, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2369-3762

BACKGROUND: Social media can support and sustain communities much better than previous generations of learning technologies, where institutional barriers undermined any initiatives for embedding formal and informal learning. Some of the many types of social media have already had an impact on student learning, based on empirical evidence. One of these, social networking, has the potential to support communication in formal and informal spaces. OBJECTIVE: In this paper we report on the evaluation of an institutional social network-King's Social Harmonisation Project (KINSHIP)-established to foster an improved sense of community, enhance communication, and serve as a space to model digital professionalism for students at King's College London, United Kingdom. METHODS: Our evaluation focused on a study that examined students' needs and perceptions with regard to the provision of a cross-university platform. Data were collected from students, including those in the field of health and social care, in order to recommend a practical way forward to address current needs in this area. RESULTS: The findings indicate that the majority of the respondents were positive about using a social networking platform to develop their professional voice and profiles. Results suggest that timely promotion of the platform, emphasis on interface and learning design, and a clear identity are required in order to gain acceptance as the institutional social networking site. CONCLUSIONS: Empirical findings in this study project an advantage of an institutional social network such a KINSHIP over other social networks (eg, Facebook) because access is limited to staff and students and the site is mainly being used for academic purposes.

Journal article

Chiu Y-LT, 2016, 'Singing your tune': Genre structure and writer identity in personal statements for doctoral applications, JOURNAL OF ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES, Vol: 21, Pages: 48-59, ISSN: 1475-1585

Journal article

Chiu Y-LT, 2015, Personal statement in PhD applications: Gatekeepers' evaluative perspectives, JOURNAL OF ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES, Vol: 17, Pages: 63-73, ISSN: 1475-1585

Journal article

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

Request URL: Request URI: /respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Query String: respub-action=search.html&id=00981868&limit=30&person=true