Abstracts Archive

“We trust you, don’t you trust us?”: Reflections on ethics and positionality in fieldwork in India

Charu Dada and Anne-Marie Smith
This paper seeks to contribute to the debates (Coffey 1999; Gupta 2002; Henry 2003; Smith 2014) about the complexities of fieldwork and the need to adopt multiple identities in particular social and cultural contexts. The paper is a reflective account of the student’s fieldwork conducted in the Ludhiana district of Punjab State in India, as part of her Education Doctorate (EdD) thesis. In particular it explores the tensions between the requirements of a UK university Ethics Committee and their applicability to the socio-cultural context of India where the mandatory (UK) process of acquiring written consent may not only be viewed as unnecessary paperwork but also a rebuttal of a
local culture where verbal consent is considered ‘binding’. We explore the dilemmas faced by an international research student in striking a balance between complying with her University’s ethical guidelines and navigating complex socio-cultural dynamics in the field. An engagement with notions of positionality and reflexivity are necessary in order to critically reflect on how the student gained access to field sites, relying on her family name or personal contacts to negotiate agreement with gatekeepers. The account demonstrates the student’s negotiations with multiple identities at the same time dealing with the conflicting perception of ‘insider and outsider’ from her own community. The paper aims to share with other academics the implications of cross cultural research and highlight the way in which UK university guidelines may need to be developed to more adequately engage with the broader ethical issues raised in international research.

“Take care of the sense and the sounds take care of themselves”: First year undergraduate Education Studies students’ experience of digital audio feedback

Steve Dixon

Previous studies on audio feedback – where markers digitally record assignment feedback as an mp3 file which is then integrated or returned with the assignment – have highlighted how it has the potential to save academics’ time, as well as being a medium preferred by students. On a performative level, these may be important in the wider national context, where NSS survey results consistently show lower satisfaction scores for assessment and feedback than for other aspects of students’ learning experience (and with one eye on the impending Teaching Excellence framework). However, such studies have predominantly utilised a quantitative approach, with little research focused on the potential emotional impact of audio feedback, its affordance as a relational medium, its role in any dialogic learning process, or indeed, how its use could affect student understanding of the feedback process itself. These, it is argued, are of crucial importance in understanding the role of feedback, particularly when set in the wider discourses of an increased use of blended learning approaches that cater for the needs of a supposed new generation of digital learners, and the dehumanising effect that such learning and teaching approaches may engender. This paper will report on the findings of both an extensive literature review and a year-long phenomenological study, utilising interviews with first year Education Studies students, exploring their experience of audio feedback in the context of these issues, as well as those of their learning preferences, engagement and sense of studentship.

’Nature’, Childhood and The Anthropocene: evaluating the challenges for Education Studies

David Blundell

The proposition that human agency has shaped and modified Earth systems so extensively that we have entered a new geological epoch named the Anthropocene is attracting increasing research and scholarly interest not only within the natural sciences, but also across the social sciences and humanities. It therefore seems timely to consider the implications of The Anthropocene as a concept and as critical proposition for education in general and our discipline in particular. This paper seeks to establish terms for an emerging discussion of implications and possible responses not only in relation to curricular content, but also some of the foundational assumptions of modernity and their articulation through institutionalised constructions of ‘the child’ and childhood. It proposes that the possibilities to de-naturalise childhood may not only be important for children’s lives, but also for ways that the normative institutional realities within which schooling operates are increasingly legitimised as ‘there-is-no-alternative’ options.

’ The Red Shoes’ in Salem: unnatural performances and witch-hunts of the ‘feminine’ in Higher Education

Emma Macleod-Johnstone

Do you know Hans Anderson’s folktale, ‘The Red Shoes’? A young girl ends up in the wrong shoes caught up in a continuous and deadly destructive dance. It is all about how we can be seduced to follow ways of ‘being’ not our own, often alien to our instincts, in order to conform to another’s rules and regimes and which become deadly threatening to our wellbeing (Acton & Glasgow, 2015). In telling tales we can make sense of events and who we are in them, hence wishing to explore this story in order to question the relationship between the ‘red shoes’ and what happens when ‘Academics are persuaded to teach the same way, complete the same forms, make applications to the same funding bodies…in short to reproduce the same practices in order to re/organise themselves to fit the template of best practice as this is defined by management’ (Davies & Bansel, 2010:7). In my experience, the red shoes of ‘Performativity’ results in chronic anxiety, greater impositions of control; and far less playful and significantly more dour attitudes to educational practices, concepts of professionalism, and research endeavours (Kinman, et al, 2006). And if these shoes don’t fit us, how perhaps there are too many parallels with the witch-hunts of the seventeenth century and the debasement of other ways of being and knowing (Shotwell, 2011) which now abound within new figurative sites of Salem (Miller, 1968).

Acton, R. & Glasgow, P. (2015) Teacher Wellbeing in Neoliberal Contexts: A Review of the Literature. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, Vol 40 (8) 99-114
Davies, B. & Bansel, P. (2010) Governmentality and Academic Work Shaping the Hearts and Minds of Academic Workers, in Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Vol 26 (3) 5-20
Kinman, G., Jones F., & Kinman, R. (2006) The Well-being of the UK Academy, 1998–2004, Quality in Higher Education, Vol 12(1), 15-27
Miller, A. (1968) The Crucible, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books
Shotwell, A. (2011) Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding, University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press
*Hans Anderson, ‘The Red Shoes’ Folktale

‘Working it Out’, According to student perception, what purpose does an optional placement module serve on the Education Studies degree course?’


The title of research was ‘Working it Out’, According to student perception, what purpose does an optional placement module serve on the Education Studies degree course?’
This study was interested to find if the module under investigation;
• Identified opportunities placement offered students
• Explored the impact placement had upon student beliefs of professional attributes
• Held implications for further career choices
Previous study in the field by Little and Harvey (2007) informed research design and offered terms of reference for what was meant by professional attributes. Research aimed to extend key discourse by Hodkinson (2009) in whose small scale study Education Studies was observed to offer a continuum of employability and identified graduates’ destinations. This research aimed to assess student ‘readiness’ to place themselves on such a continuum and communicate what employment skills they saw to be personally valuable. The implications for teaching and learning in Education Studies were considered through Morrison (2013) where the purpose of the ‘placement module’ was examined to consider if, as practitioners, we need to be more aware of how students perceive their own potential.
The study design was qualitative and gathered student interactions and values, outlined in Atkins and Wallace (2012). To gather student perception two data collection tools were used, a focus group, useful according to Agar and MacDonald (1995, cited in Smithson, 2010) which encouraged rich student led data. A second tool of a semi-structured interview was deployed offering triangulation of results in order to address the complexities of extracting reliable focus group data, as noted by Smithson (2000).
Results showed students observed placement as having three main purposes, as academic, as professional and as transformational. Dominant themes emerged such as assuming an alternative identity, adoption of actors’ behaviours, the concept of performance space and the relationship of this to employability.

Reference List
Atkins, L. and Wallace, S. (2012) Qualitative Research in Education, London: Sage

Hodkinson, A. (2009) Education Studies and Employability: how do students and graduates define the subject and what do they perceive its vocational relevance to be?, Educationalfutures, 2:1,
14 -28

Little, B. and Harvey, L. (2007) UK Work Placements: A Choice Too Far?, Tertiary Education and Management, 13:3, 227 – 245

Morrison, A. (2013) A class act? Lecturers’ views on undergraduates’ employability, British Journal of the Sociology of Education, http://dx.doi.org.10.1080/01425692.2013.802420

Smithson, J. (2010) Using and analysing focus groups: Limitations and possibilities, International Journal of Social Research, 3:2, 103 – 119

Word Count 400

‘Wild Time’: discovery and adventure tales from free-play episodes with a reception class working in an ancient woodland site

Chantelle Haughton, Sian Sarwar, Jacky Tyrie, Dylan Adams and Cheryl Ellis
This paper presents the initial findings of an exploratory piece of research into four and five years old childrens’ play and exploration experiences within a Woodland environment as part of the Discovery research project. This project runs on university campus grounds with weekly visits from a local school reception class. The children undertake activities influenced by Forest School philosophies and other outdoor play and learning approaches. The work is situated in a context where outdoor learning is a contested issue in U.S. schools where engagement with outdoor learning is curtailed or limited expressly to avoid risk (Fuer, Floden, Chudowsky & Ahn, 2013) whereas in Wales, outdoor learning is promoted as a key focus within the Foundation Phase curriculum (WAG, 2008) but recognised as a pedagogical feature which needs wider-ranging development and observation (WISERD, 2014).
The multi-disciplinary research team used innovative and experimental technologies (including individual video cameras and GPS tracking) to capture the childrens’ journeys, experiences, interactions, movements, choices and development in their ‘wild time’ (free-play episodes as part of the morning sessions). A grounded approach was adopted in the planning and analysis in first phase of the project and this paper will report on the emerging findings from the initial audio and video qualitative data generated by video camera glasses, Go-pro videos, GPS trackers and researchers’ narrative observations and field notes.
Emerging findings will focus on both the research methods and data collected. Implications for
practice and policy for outdoor play and learning will be explored.

‘Mr Cummings clearly does not understand the science of genetics and should maybe go back to school on the subject’: An exploratory content analysis of the online comments section beneath a controversial news story

Madeline Crosswaite

This study explored how the general public reacted to an article published in the UK Guardian on 11/10/2013 entitled ‘Genetics outweighs teaching, Gove advisor tells his boss’. The article reported a leaked document written by special advisor Dominic Cummings to the then UK Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. The article generated 3008 on-line comments from the public. These comments offered a naturalistic opportunity to understand public opinion regarding Cummings’ suggestions and ideas. A content analysis of n=800 of these comments was conducted, coding them on the basis of their level of agreement/disagreement with the ideas and opinions expressed in the article. Of all of the aspects of education mentioned, Cummings’ views on genetics were commented upon most frequently and were subject to the highest level of opposition from commenters, but also the highest level of support. Findings offer insight into the challenges faced when conducting public discourse about the relevance of genes in education.
Hopefully, by sharing this research through a presentation, fellow academics will get the opportunity to experience some research in the relatively under-researched field of public perceptions of genetics in education but also the chance to see an example of online content analysis – an exciting and emerging methodology.

Young people leaving care: plans, challenges and discourses

Catherine Lamond

The Queen’s Speech on 18th May included reference to the need to tackle the difficulties faced by care-leavers. This comes within a context of national concern about the difference in life chances between care-leavers and young people in general (DfE, 2015). These problems persist, in spite of numerous initiatives and interventions. My research aimed to examine explanations and justifications made by the adult participants about plans for their care-leavers. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews from an opportunistic sample of four young people and the key adults who worked with them. Critical discourse analysis, following Fairclough’s three-layered model (2003), was used to interrogate the data. Findings indicated that the long-standing problem of young people having to leave care too early still persists. It also appears that theories drawn from the psychology of child development influenced the professionals’ constructions of the young people, thereby limiting the responses which adults can offer. It is proposed that neoliberal discourses of individual responsibility and continuous self-improvement support systems which encourage young people to leave care before they are ready. Two concepts of chop (for example, end of school phase) and churn (for example, staff turnover) are used to examine how the frequent disruptions in the life of a looked-after child are exacerbated by points of rupture which are caused by the structures of children’s services. This study adds to calls for increased stability for young people, particularly in residential care, and questions current approaches to multi- agency working and ‘giving young people a voice’. Recommendations include the provision of independent visitors for foster carers, and that planning for the future should begin at a much earlier stage .
DfE (2015) Outcomes for children looked after by local authorities. [online]. [Accessed 1 November 2015]. Available at < https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/outcomes-for-children-looked-after-by-local-authorities>.
Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing discourse: textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.

Key words: care-leavers, critical discourse analysis, neoliberalism

Web 2.0 to Policy 2.0: Co-creation of policy in post-compulsory education

Nigel Ecclesfield

In 2002 O’Reilly sketched out the topography of emerging Web 2.0 technologies in a meme map that set out the key affordances of those technologies. The authors have been engaged with public sector post-compulsory education and exploring the impact of technology on the management and operations of providers in the post-school sectors and the development of local and national policies to address contemporary educational concerns. It is our contention that current debates on the use and influence of digital technologies plays up the potential of those technologies to change the nature of post-compulsory education e.g. MOOCs with their focus on informational content and the delivery technologies, rather than the institutional and policy context in which the content and technology is applied.
This focus on technology, without a consideration of the context in which it is used, has been described by Winner 2010 as “tools without handles” and by Morozov 2013 as “cyber-utopianism”. This paper sets out a rationale for organisational and personal engagement in the formulation of policy, building on our work on an organisational architecture of participation Garnett & Ecclesfield (2008), to address those concerns and incorporate the authors more recent work (2013, 2014) on the nature of post-compulsory education, open scholarship, professional practice and organisational development.
The paper explores how Web 2.0 technologies can be developed in Post Compulsory Education organisational contexts to foster engagement and support collaboration by participants and so enable providers and their constituencies to become key determiners of the content and direction of policy instead of the policy “wonks” (Morozov 2013) or audit agencies such as inspectorates and funding agencies with their centralising agendas. We characterise this dialogical governance approach as Policy 2.0 and will outline how this can be supported by collaborative technologies, and the use of conceptual tools such as the “Policy Forest” to engage specific audiences in education with a range of perspectives and agendas within a given policy context.
Recent government and EU policy has changed the nature of post-compulsory education in the UK without significant input by learners, practitioners or provider organisations into the policy formation, notwithstanding recent initiatives such as FELTAG the English Ministerial advisory group. Policy 2.0 has evolved from earlier projects like the Xchange policy conferences by engaging learners and the wider community into local initiatives (e.g. “MOSI-ALONG” Manchester) and draws on these experiences to set out a model for the co-creation of policy.

Using electronic portfolios to support the integration of workplace learning and vocational education and training in the Scottish construction industry


In recent years the prevalence of e-portfolio systems in vocational education and training has been on the rise. Initially considered little more than digital repositories, they have become synonymous with the development of meta-cognitive skills and are widely recognised as being effective mechanisms for recording and creating value from workplace learning.

A case study of the existing integration of e-portfolios into a modern apprenticeship program delivered by a Further Education provider is presented, and a coherent approach to future development, design and implementation of learner-centred portfolios is proposed. This qualitative study aims to establish the extent to which e-portfolios can enhance academic and vocational learning experiences and outcomes in the construction industry in Scotland. Drawing on cultural consensus modelling, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, the study creates a narrative of learner experiences and employer expectations of e-portfolios. In particular, the key challenges of communication, collaboration and consistent training opportunities are discussed. The FEAT model (functional, educational, administrative and technical) is adopted to frame the common themes emerging from the research. The research will be of particular value to further education institutions, student groups, awarding bodies and training and funding agencies.

Three key research questions are posed:

1. What are the conceptual understandings of implementing e-portfolios in vocational education and training within the research community?

2. How effectively are (paper-based) portfolio systems currently used to support the integration of workplace learning and college based learning in the Scottish stonemasonry and conservation industry?

3. What are the perceptions of key stakeholders in the industry towards developing a robust e-portfolio framework supporting the training of modern apprentices in Scotland?

Early results suggest that existing mechanisms for integrating workplace and college-based training are ineffective. Common themes emerging from the research include inconsistent training opportunities for apprentices working with a diverse range of employers, insufficient opportunities to engage in critical thinking and problem solving in the workplace, lack of communication between key stakeholders in the apprenticeship training community and a general willingness to explore the integration of learner-centred e-portfolios into the existing curriculum.

This research is being carried out as part of Masters of Education Programme at the University of Strathclyde.

Understanding leadership in higher education from a disability perspective

Stephanie Brewster

There is considerable evidence of widespread exclusion of disabled people from the labour market generally. Despite recent progress within HE to respond to increasing student diversity (Bebbington 2009), there is still a distinct lack of positive profiling of disabled people as academics. This situation has been described as one of “widespread institutional discrimination against disabled staff” in the lifelong learning sector (Fullick 2008:1). Furthermore, there is a serious lack of disabled people in senior, strategic and leadership positions in the sector; they are disadvantaged in terms of promotion and career aspirations with few role models at senior levels.
This research project, funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, explored how disabled members of staff perceive leadership and whether they consider themselves to be leaders. It also explored the barriers preventing them from taking on a leadership role and how they could be supported to overcome these challenges.
Conducted in one West Midlands university, the project took a mixed method approach. An anonymous online questionnaire was followed by interviews and focus groups with disabled staff. Data was gathered from 66 questionnaire respondents, 12 focus group participants and six interviewees (with some individuals responding in more than one way).
Findings revealed that the majority of disabled participants already held leadership roles (either formal or informal) or aspired to do so. Some participants experienced negative stereotypical conceptions of disability and the misconception that leadership and disability are mutually exclusive/ incompatible. Some individuals identified particular challenges presented by specific additional needs. There was wide consensus regarding inadequate opportunities and support to engage in leadership.
Findings led us to conclude that there is a need for culture change in relation to both leadership – to make it more compatible with the full inclusion of disabled staff in HE- and to disability – such that the disabling barriers are addressed. Only then will disabled people’s unique contributions to the organisation be fully valued.

Bebbington, D (2009) Diversity in Higher Education: Leadership Responsibilities and Challenges. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education; Series 2: Publication 2
Fullick, L (2008) From compliance to culture change; Disabled staff working in lifelong learning. Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning, NIACE

Transforming students’ attitudes toward social issues through the development of the Sociological Imagination: Results of a three-year cross-cultural study

Dr. Marni Westerman

While the development of a sociological imagination is one of the most important accomplishments according to professors within the discipline, ways to cultivate and measure it require further development. This paper reports the results of a three year-long research project involving data from students at a UK and a Canadian postsecondary institution. Both qualitative and quantitative data was gathered to explore how participation in Sociologically-oriented courses and programs contributed students’ understanding of marginalized groups.
We began the exploration of transformation by measuring attitude change among first year Sociology students in two very different institutions: one that is structurally diverse and one that is not. Diversity infused modules were constructed and administered by the principle investigator in introductory Sociology courses in the two institutions. The Intolerant Schema Measure (Aosved, Long, and Voller, 2009) was used to collect data on student attitudes towards marginalized social groups. The results of this study suggest that diversity infused content, whether delivered in a structurally diverse setting or not, had little effect over changing levels of tolerance toward minority groups over the period of one semester.
The results of the first phase of the research led us to contemplate something beyond attitude change as an indicator of the development of the sociological imagination. Experiences that encourage the development and application of the sociological imagination can arguably be paths to transformative learning because they encourage disorienting dilemmas (experiences that challenge previously held ideas and beliefs The second and third phases of the project involved preliminary explorations regarding transformative learning and the sociological imagination based on focus groups and survey data collected from the UK participants (who were members of a cohort). Focus groups with cohort members were conducted in April 2013 and the Learning Activities Survey instrument (King, 2009) was administered to all consenting members of the cohort in April 2014. Results indicated that formal and informal discussions with peers about controversial issues and service learning experiences (which led to disorienting dilemmas) contributed to transformative learning among members of this cohort.

To teach or not to teach? Skills, placements and aspirations: employability in education studies – findings from collaborative research

David Menendez Alvarez Hevia


Teresa Bradley (T.J.Bradley@warwick.ac.uk)
Warwick University
Caroline Bradbury Matthews (Caroline.B.Matthews@stu.mmu.ac.uk) Manchester Metropolitan University

This paper presents findings from a collaborative research project that explores ideas about employability in education studies. The project was undertaken by small research teams formed by lecturers and students from three partner institutions. Data was gathered through an online survey and semi structured interviews at a wide range of HE institutions across the UK who offer undergraduate education studies programmes. Interviews were conducted with participants representing students, lecturers and course leadership. Researchers particularly elicited views on perceptions of employability and attitudes to the importance of developing it within HE programmes, finding that the extent to which the development of employability was implicit varied. For some employability was seen to be grounded in providing CV writing and interview techniques whereas for others it meant developing self confidence and transferable skills including criticality. In addition, there was consideration of how possible career trajectories were marketed and considered within courses and how students’ initial aspirations were consolidated or transformed as their degree progressed. The extent to which teaching was seen to be the only choice was an obvious aspect to consider. Furthermore, researchers gained knowledge on the use of placements and how successfully they nurtured employability. It was interesting to note how placements contributed to either limiting or expanding students’ perceptions of career choice. Similarly, some disparity became apparent between students’ and course providers’ perceptions of the purpose of placements. These issues and their implications will be explored in detail in this paper.

To belong or not to belong: methodological tensions in collecting research data

Lynn Richards

This paper offers an exploration of an ongoing doctoral research study into the lived experiences of contemporary students within an Institute of Education in one post-1992 University. A narrative inquiry methodological approach is employed in order to privilege the voices of students, as narrators, with the intention of revealing the interface of student-University engagement, with a particular focus on the concept of belonging. At a time when the Higher Education landscape within post-1992 universities is undergoing changes in regard to its student demographic, together with the emphasis upon retention, progression and achievement, the issue of student belonging is finding its way into academic parlance. This study encompasses a participatory framework which is complemented by the use of creative methods for data collection; photo- and metaphor-elicitation methods offer ways to reveal notions of belonging to add depth and detail to the storied narratives of a small selection of second year students. As a way of foregrounding the voices of a changing demographic, research participants have been selected from those representing First Generation Students; that is, those who are first in their family to attend University. Methodological issues are examined within this paper to reveal the complexities of ethical considerations, power relationships, and working within a person-centred approach. Some tentative suggestions are offered from preliminary findings of this study, which is currently at the data collection stage of enquiry.

The ‘flipped’ classroom: Education students’ perceptions of an innovative approach to learning in a research methods module

Sam Shields

The teaching of research methods can be described as ‘dry’ and a flipped approach was adopted as a more innovative and engaging pedagogy with three different Education undergraduate programmes. The premise of the flipped classroom being students prepare for the session with video lectures and reading prior to the taught session. The traditional lecture is then replaced with a range of scaffolded activities intended to develop and enhance learning further. The research literature on the flipped classroom is generally positive arguing that it is an approach which encourages active learning prior to and during a session. A phenomenological methodology was used to explore the various ways in which students see and experience the flipped classroom. An online questionnaire asking students to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach was administered. Variations in relation to how students appeared to understand the flipped classroom were identified. These ‘categories of description’ included: tensions between the role of lecturers as ‘experts’ and ‘facilitators’, perceived limitations of students adding to the knowledge of other students and the extent of ‘value-added’ learning in the timetabled session activities. A series of recommendations are based upon these findings to ensure that students develop effectively within sessions having completed the preparatory tasks.

The value of plurality and the future of Education Studies

Marie Morgan

Traditionally, non-vocational forms of higher education have been rooted in coherent visions of ‘higher’ learning which have generally been situated within disciplines. However, freedom from the restrictions of disciplinary boundaries is perhaps one of the most significant strengths of Education Studies. The wide range of disciplines and approaches that underpin and inform Education Studies programmes have not only contributed to its development as a subject in its own right, but also provide a rich and diverse foundation from which to study education and through which to explore a wide range of educational issues and themes. But such diversity raises many tensions and brings many challenges to the development of programmes who seek the continued development of meaningful forms of non-vocational higher education. The tensions that emerge from within the subject are furthered within the general landscape of higher education which is increasingly informed by new discourses, such the discourse of employability, which prioritise new values. Taking a philosophical approach, this paper explores some of the many tensions and challenges that arise in the development of Education Studies programmes and argues for the necessity to seek educational value in the plurality that characterises them.

The use of debates as a teaching strategy in increasing students’ critical thinking and collaborative learning skills in Higher Education

Zeta Brown

This paper will explore the use of debates as a teaching strategy that has the potential to heighten students’ critical thinking and collaborative learning. Students undertaking a Childhood studies degree had weekly debates that linked media represented topics to theoretical content from the module. This module covered a range of theoretical and practical perspectives in relation to the child, family and society. Therefore, weekly debates included the changing nature of childhood, the diversity of family relationships, childhood obesity and the differing ways in which children are socialised. The research focused on students’ perspectives on the use of debates as a teaching strategy in this module. The data was collected using a card-sort and structured interview questions. This research found students held positive perspectives on its use to further critical thinking and presentation skills in session. However, this research found that students sought more structure and placed importance on all students contributing for learning to be extended further. This paper will reflect upon the use of debates in this module and critically consider how the use of debates could have been adapted to better meet the needs of these students and further enhance critical thinking and collaborative learning.

The role of attachment theory in education and implications for training: Is “love” a forbidden disposition in education? Mary Wood and Ioanna Palaiologou

Ioanna Palaiologou

The concept of attachment has influenced the early childhood education . In England since the introduction of the EYFS curriculum framework there is a mandatory requirement in all early childhood settings that host children from birth to five to allocate a key person.

A vast volume of research aims to investigate how quality of provision for young children is enchanted and thus enables their learning well being and growth. One of the key issues that have been debated within the English early childhood education system is care and education and a number of studies try to investigate the role of attachment theory across the sector. However, this research is still limited and dominated by the care versus education debate. There is also discussion on the role and responsibilities of the key person in early years settings as well as a debate in regards the qualifications of people who work in the sector.

Thus, this research project aimed to investigate the early childhood studies undergraduates students’ perspectives on the role of the key person in relation to attachment theory. There are two main research objectives:

1. to investigate whether ECS students have core in depth understanding of attachment theory and its implications in early childhood education
2. to examine students’ perspectives on how they can provide “love” and “affection” to young children whilst still maintaining fully professional relationships with the children and their families.

This is a small scale qualitative longitudinal study. Data from group interviews and session observations was collected over four years of third year students in ECS from one university.

Analysis of the results indicated that although students believed that attachment theory is important, they appear to have only a rudimentary understanding of attachment theory. There was a conflict between students’ views on attachment and the early years settings managers’ views. Finally, there is a lack of recognising their role as key persons and the complexity of the role within the EYFS curriculum.

The Role of Assessment Feedback in Developing Student’s Academic Buoyancy

Tristan Middleton

Research reveals strong evidence connecting educational resilience (Wang 1994, 1997) and educational buoyancy (Martin et al. 2010) with academic success (De Baca 2010, Martin & Marsh 2008). The predominantly convergent nature (Delandshire 2001) of summative assessment is largely based on a deficit model where judgments of success are made by a perceived expert. This results in challenges and setbacks in academic achievement that can be seen as unexceptional aspects of the learning journey from the perspective of some undergraduate students (Putwain et al. 2007) but for others can be potentially damaging. This research focuses on these typical challenges rather than more exceptional chronic issues which impact on academic learning and argues that academic buoyancy (Martin & Marsh 2009) is a key factor in academic success as it helps students cope with such setbacks.

This research stems from an interest in the relationship between assessment feedback and academic buoyancy and a belief that in order to scaffold student’s learning (Vygotsky 1978) and effectively support the development of their academic buoyancy, there is a need for a better understanding of i) the choices made by students following assessment feedback given by the lecturer, ii) what students are looking for in feedback and iii) the impact on students of assessment feedback as a result of different formats in which feedback is provided. The assessment feedback given by academic staff may focus on the mechanics of a task, but potentially miss an opportunity to develop the buoyancy of students.

This research project aims to explore how undergraduate students view the usefulness of feedback, how they understand their strengths and difficulties as a result of feedback and their understanding of the feed-forward potential for their future academic work. After an initial pilot with a sample of 19 students emergent themes were identified which are now being explored further with 100 undergraduate students studying BA Education Studies. They are being consulted through the use of a semi-structured questionnaire with follow up focus group interviews. This student centred project aims to inform the professional learning of teaching staff in effective ways to offer feedback such that this repeated interaction between staff and students through the year is favourable and develops student buoyancy, thus facilitating assessment for resilience.

The risky terrain of student writing

Verity Aiken
Getting to grips with academic writing is inherently labyrinthine for anyone. But what does this feel like for students in today’s high cost high stakes Higher Education system? Increasingly, research suggests that students are all the time more becoming consumers of Higher Education and that by extension, their approaches to study being progressively framed by utilitarian tendencies (Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion 2009). This paper explores undergraduate student views and experiences of academic writing by using the concept of Risk and offers an alternative viewpoint to ‘student as consumer’ thinking. In doing so, the risk framework examines how students perceive and manage risks associated with their own writing in a way that is more reminiscent of other forms of
endeavour, such as work, relationships and politics. Drawing on an ongoing series of individual semi-structured interviews, the paper suggests that whilst student motivations within HE can be framed as consumer-based, with student writing resembling ‘checkpoints’ to confirm (or otherwise) that they are ‘on track’, there also exists a hidden dynamic in the way students practice, perceive andexperience their own writing that is rather different from consumer or utilitarian-based orientations.
This paper will explore how students express an appreciation of the value of creativity, ownership and risk-taking in writing, but concurrently, how this is viewed as a luxury and therefore a risk that is not necessarily afforded to all. The implications of these findings are indicative of the way in which students are not passively developing consumerist behaviours in relation to student writing – but are consciously aware of the precarious nature of HE study that is ultimately connected to an uncertain future.

The Professional, Policy, Politics and ‘Successful Futures’

Andy Reynolds
The aims:
  • To introduce the key education policy initiatives in Wales such as the Donaldson Review of 2015
  • To reflect upon the challenge of this and the other recent policy initiatives to the educational professional in Wales
Over the 1999-2015 period, Wales has used devolved powers in education. This paper will contain a detailed review of recent education developments in education policy and practice in Wales and the political context will also be discussed. Key initiatives including the WA ‘Qualified for Life’ strategy (2014), the Donaldson Curriculum Review : Successful Futures’, the Foundation Phase (3-7), the Enterprise Troopers programme, the new Workforce Council, Qualifications Wales reforms, the Welsh Bac, the new Teacher Training Centres and the ‘New Deal’ for the educational professional.
There will a brief analysis of the power of politics within the country and a discussion regarding the possible continued effect of political influence in education policy in the short, medium and long term. The paper will then finally reflect upon these very recent strategic developments and the possible future challenges to the key stakeholders, including the teaching profession.
Conclusion: To generate discussion regarding the use and efficacy of recent Welsh education policy

The nature of teachers’ work in a primary Academy school: an ethnographic case study

Marlena Chrostowska
This paper presents the preliminary findings of an ongoing PhD study on teachers working in a primary Academy school in England. The research is undertaken with the motivation to illuminate, describe and make sense of the changing nature of teachers’ work and the live experience of the working environment of a primary Academy. Through my research, I aim to describe the culture of a primary Academy school and the realities of teachers’ work. The rationale for this study lies in the growing number of primary schools that have acquired an Academy status as a result of the Coalition Government’s educational reforms. In 2010, the Coalition Government for the first time
invited primary schools to become Academies. This allows state-funded schools to govern themselves independently of local authority control.
This research adopted an ethnographic case study approach using participant observations, photographs, documentary analysis and ethnographic interviews as the methods of data generation. The fieldwork started in September 2014 and it is planned to continue until July 2015. Since September, I have spent four days a week in the school working alongside the research participants who are primary teachers working at Sunnyside Primary Academy (pseudonym) located in the North West of England. Some of the results to date indicate that the teachers’ work is constrained by policies both at school and national level. A few changes that occurred in the school include the change in the management structure and the pay of the staff.

The Factors that Influence Student Teachers’ Efficacy

Sarah Elsey and Sean Starr
The research comes at an opportune time when significant restructuring of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in England is occurring and when processes for the accreditation of teachers are being questioned. The Primary Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course in this study is unique, in that it does not conform to the usual traditional pattern of Teacher Education. The trainees after starting the Course in February 2015 will graduate in December and will be in a unique position to start employment January 2016.
This paper examines how a group of student teachers who had started their training perceive a range of common factors that highlight the influences on their self and professional efficacies.
A card sort approach was used to clarify and categorise commonly held viewpoints and further information obtained through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.
The findings outlined the subjective factors that were influential elements contributing towards students’ self and professional efficacies. Learning environments of different origins were considered as having an influence on the students’ perceptions associated with experiential learning on their journey to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
Student teachers experience a multifaceted range of beliefs as they shape their educational practice. In this process of interaction, their teaching efficacies are not static but are continually evolving. While these influences interplay constantly in each students’ lives, they are selective in their own perceptions and worldview.

The Dragon in the Room: Pedagogical reflections on teaching and learning in a bilingual environment

Nia Young and Anne-Marie Smith
In universities in Wales, some undergraduate courses are offered in two languages: English and Welsh. The recently established ‘Coleg Cenedlaethol Cymraeg’ seeks to promote and increase Welsh language provision in HE. This reflective paper explores the experiences of students and lecturers in a setting which enables total engagement through Welsh or English. Often, the option to use Welsh is limited to assignment writing but some courses are offered entirely through the Welsh language. While this offers many benefits to first-language Welsh speakers who are better able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in Welsh, it also creates two distinct groups of students. This study compares two such groups, both studying identical degree courses delivered for the most part by the same staff. However, the Welsh-medium group is much smaller (n = 15) than the English-medium group (n = 59). Questionnaires were given to students of both language groups concerning the potential for drawing these two groups together and the responses give an interesting insight into students’ views of their studies according to their chosen language. This is considered alongside reflections from two lecturers teaching the same module (one teaching in Welsh and the other in English) on their experiences with these two groups. The results are used to consider issues of best practice when providing the same content to two groups that differ in size, ethnic/regional diversity and language use. Recommendations are made for pedagogy and policy to allow all students access to the full range of university experience while maintaining first-language use.

The Cruel World of Forced Academisation: Senior Leadership Experiences at Macadamia Primary School

Trevor Male

In October 2012 Macadamia School was placed in Special Measures under the terms of the revised Ofsted School Inspection Framework of September 2012. This reformulated Grade 3 introduced a new category entitled “requiring improvement” which raised the requirement for what is considered to be acceptable performance. From an overall grade of ‘Satisfactory’ in the previous inspection in January, 2011 the school was now judged to be ‘Inadequate’ in three of the four categories. Subsequently it was placed in Special Measures which thus made it prone to the opportunity for the Secretary of State to require it to become an Academy. This option was invoked and this research reports upon the effects of the impact of that judgement and the early stages of the forced academisation process on school leaders.

‘Macadamia’ is a pseudonym used because the school has been subjected to the external application of processes in order to effect and accelerate central government policy and this appears to resonate with the notion of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It is a large mixed gender primary community school in the North of England with a population of 536 pupils aged 3 to 11 years. Following the inspection the Local Authority suspended the governing body and appointed an Interim Executive Board (IEB). No changes were made to the senior leadership team at that time, but the school was partnered with a larger ‘successful’ local primary school.

The research reported here is drawn from semi-structured interviews with the headteacher, some governors, including the chair, and the attached local authority inspector which produce evidence that demonstrates the negative impact caused by the twin effects of the school being placed in special measures and the enforced academisation process. The principal researcher was a member of the governing body of the school and was present during the initial series of extraordinary governing body meetings convened to consider the implications of the situation arising from the Ofsted report. She was thus in an excellent position to see the impact of the twin processes at first hand, an outcome assessed to be a multiplying rather than added effect

The headteacher subsequently left the school and the final act of the deposed governing body was to approve the preferred sponsor who already has responsibility for many other schools within the local region. By October 2013 the school had full academy status with an interim headteacher.

The case for a new dimension of teachers’ professional knowledge. The impact of policy initiatives on the practice and perception of brain based methodology

Jacqui Elton

This research reports on the findings of a doctoral case study based in a local authority (LA) in northern England into the practices and perceptions of brain based methodology by secondary educators.

Although the nascent academic field continues to grapple with many of the arguments that will ultimately define the discipline of educational neuroscience, there are concerns about the prevalence (or the misappropriation) of the use of quasi neuroscience taking place within education (Hruby, 2011; Ritchie, Chudler et al, 2012). To distinguish it from the genuine, if extremely limited educational applications of neuroscience, educational methodology based on unsafe and unsound brain science continues to be classified as “brain based”. Here it is argued that “brain based” is essentially a tautological description of learning originally mooted by “edu-prenuers” who proposed that the adoption of a brain compatible teaching methodology would lead to the preferential state of faster, deeper and more expansive learning. Introduced in the mid-1990s, mainly under the evocative label of Accelerated Learning, this ‘brain based’ methodology appeared to gain early popular traction amongst educators.

In the LA in question, pressures across the secondary education phase prompted an authority wide implementation of a teacher professional development programme based on the pedagogical tenet of Accelerated Learning. Consequently an entire cohort of secondary teachers were thus not only formally exposed to, but were actively encouraged to integrate brain based methodology into their existing pedagogical framework to improve examination results across the LA.

The little research available on the use and perceptions of brain based methodology appears to suggest it remains popular and practiced. This research seeks to discover if this is the case and more specifically what factors can account either for the continued popular application or demise of brain based methodology. Methodologically challenging due to local socio demographics, this study captures the qualitative perceptions of key educators in the LA on the concept of brain based learning and compares this to classroom practice. Data collection methods encompass non-participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and documentary analysis.

The results question whether brain based methodology was ever substantially practised, and suggest that its current limited practice can be accounted for by performativity, efficacy and pedagogical concerns. Following on from dominant extant models (Shulman,1987: Banks, Leach and Moon, 1999) the key implication of this research is that there is a case for a new dimension of teacher professional knowledge based on neuroscience, that of neuroscientific pedagogical knowledge.

(400 words)

Banks, F., Leach, J. & Moon, B. (1999) New Understandings of Teachers Pedagogic Knowledge. Learners and Pedagogy. J. Leach and B. Moon. London, Sage.
Hruby, G. G. (2011). “Minding the Brain.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 54(5): 316-321.

Ritchie, S. J., E. H. Chudler, et al. (2012). Don’t try this at school: the attraction of ‘alterative’ educational techniques. Neuroscience: The good, the bad and the ugly. S. Della Sala and M. Andersen. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching:foundations of the new reform, Harvard Edcational Review, 57: 1-22.

The Art and Silence of Anti-Racist Education


Critical race theory argues that there are two dimensions of anti-racist work: economic and cultural. Anti-racist practice seeks to address cultural aspects of discrimination through challenging thought processes, attitudes and discourses. Policies have included prohibiting offensive language such as racist name calling to protect certain ethnic groups from abuse. However, when set against a backdrop of media stories presenting immigrants as a threat, such silencing discourses can lead to resistance, blocks and fears that become difficult to communicate. This research explores ways in which arts projects can support education about issues of racial diversity when these prove difficult to articulate. Qualitative data has been collected through interviews with White teachers and students’ and observations of participation in diversity arts projects in schools in Devon. Silences and absences permeate the research process and the findings to such an extent that they have become meaningful and purposeful elements of the data. Fears of ‘looking racist’ (Leonardo 2009) are found to lead to silences, pauses and caution in my research interviews. School students express anxiety about discussing ethnicity in educational contexts, for fear of being called racist. Fear can thwart the dialogue necessary for working through troublesome issues of ‘race’ and racism. When fears and blocks are left unaddressed, silencing discourses are in danger of pushing racist language and behaviour away from the gaze of the teacher, whilst they continue in corridors, the playground and local community. Students’ stories of the presence of racism stand in contrast to teachers’ reports of its absence. Initial analysis highlights ways that arts projects can speak across the silences, making visible the absences and providing a medium for engagement.

Teaching Critical Reflexivity Using an African Metaphor: The Hippo in the Room

Joe Gazdula

Social research is inherently entwined with the researchers’ own personal bias and values. The aim of this case study report is to consider approaches to teaching postgraduate education researchers how to recognise and advise of this in their research. A key aspect in teaching social science is the need to impart the knowledge for students to advise of the partial nature of their research (Butler, 2005). Using critically reflexive observations gives the researcher a method of advising how knowledge gained from their research has been affected and formed by their own position in the research (Finlay, 2003). It conveys the power relationships of the supervisor, researcher and participants in the research (Bondi, 2009), and underpins the nature of the researcher’s personal perspective. Students are reluctant to be critically reflective (Adriansen and Knudsen, 2013) as they can feel threatened by the reflective process (Borochowitz, 2005), feel they can sit apart or outside their research and write without bias (Gursti-Pepin and Patrizio, 2009) and/or feel critical reflection may damage their research findings, (Fook and Askeland, 2007). The objective of this paper is to explore the effectiveness of an approach to overcoming this reluctance to reflect developed during a research module in Zambia. Here students discussed personal bias by likening it to an encounter with a dangerous, unseen animal, and identified similarities with a hippopotamus. This animal is difficult to tame, dangerous, hard to deal with, can remain hidden for a long time, appears unexpectedly, cannot be ignored, and awareness the main defence. Anecdotal reports suggested this improved the early adoption of critical reflexivity in the research of this group. This metaphor was then used as a key discussion point on a postdoctoral education programme in the UK and investigated using focus group discussions before after class. The investigation was based on the following questions: How would you define personal bias? What effect will your own personal bias have on the results of their research? How would you deal with personal bias? What role might critical reflexivity play in your research? Did the hippo metaphor aid their understanding of personal bias and the need for critical reflexivity? If so how? On analysis of the replies students reporting a greater understanding personal bias, recognition of the importance of being critically reflexive, and felt the metaphor of the hippo had been instrumental in their understanding.

Teachers’ Perceptions of the Role of Social Media in Student Engagement

Richard Farr and Joe Gazdula

This paper presents a review of the possibilities and pitfalls of using social media as an educator. The use of computers in the classroom has already revolutionised teaching and learning, but the pace of change is still accelerating: as the 21st century began, a democratisation of the Internet (later referred to as “Web 2.0”) made increased levels of collaboration and interaction the new norm: anybody could share media, publish their thoughts and communicate in new, richer ways… but the vast range of opportunities now available has introduced new problems as well.
Most young people (i.e. students) have embraced social media and new means of communication that are on offer, but teachers are slower to adapt. One reason is the development effort required to migrate an educational activity to a new format: another may be that teachers are not convinced that appropriate standards can be maintained in cyberspace where their ability to control the experience is reduced.
How can professionalism be assured where teachers’ profiles, avatars and timelines are publicly visible? How can an educational experience occur amid a constant drizzle of information, some of it highly personal? Can a medium that is an integral part of students’ social life also play a part in their education, or will teachers struggle to build useful platforms on the shifting sea of technologies and trends?
The aim of the paper is to inform practitioners of best practice in the integration of social media, based upon the experiences of university-level educators who were interviewed to discover the extent to which they made use of social media in their teaching and related interactions with their students. Their concerns and past difficulties were recorded, as well as their achievements and aspirations for the future of social media in education. The result is a set of indicators that should make the integration of social media a safer and more enjoyable experience for all.

Teacher Agency and Education Policy Change – an exploration of the impact of teacher involvement in successful education policy change using the context of teacher education and professional learning.

Paul Campbell

Involvement of teachers at the early stages of education policy change processes has been proven to promote a greater sense of engagement and willingness to work with and promote the success of a policy change (Baumfield, et al, 2011). The arguably predominant absence of teachers in this process however results in numerous agencies consulting on and redeveloping policy in an attempt to guide teacher’s practice in a way that will make the change intended, but result in a lack of impact and policy changes that are made to merge with current practice and cause minimal disruption.

Flawed power structures in the policy making process has implications for the involvement and impact of teachers in the reform or change process and thus the engagement in the implementation and evaluation process based on pre-determined policy goals and importantly, the perception and reality of policy success (McConnell, 2010).

My study aims to establish if teachers were involved to a greater degree in the early phase of the formulation of the policy change agenda rather than simply the implementation, would this result in successful and sustainable policy change that ultimately has high positive impact for learners across the education system?

I aim to answer:

• How is the role of the teacher in planning for and executing policy change in teacher education and professional learning currently conceptualised in the literature?

• What role do teachers view themselves as having in the policy change agenda, implementation and evaluation stages?

• What role do teachers believe they should have in the policy change process?
-What are the tensions between how teachers are currently involved in the policy change process and what the
role they believe they should have?

This study aims to acquire an understanding of the teacher’s role in and beliefs about policy making and develop a model of teacher engagement in policy conception, development and implementation based on the analysis of the data collected. Data will be obtained from semi structured interviews, as well as attitude scales used to analyse the perceptions of teachers as well as key figures within the policy making field in Scottish education (Mills, 2011; Cohen, et al, 2011).

Early results indicate that greater involvement of teachers in decision-making and policy development is the strongest predictor of both teachers’ sense of efficacy and professional fulfilment. Teachers’ willingness to participate in different policy-making process varies depending on the context or subject matter (Sarafidou & Chatziioannidis, 2013; Smylie, 1992).

Synthetic phonics in English Primary Schools: screaming checks, nonsense words and (how do you) say ‘ho ho ho’?

Howard Gibson

The politics underpinning the statutory arrival of synthetic phonics in English primaries has enervated many an eminent literacy expert of late. Prof Wray, referring to the Rose Review that led to the 2012 requirement that all primary schools in England must teach it ‘first and fast’, said, ‘Government ministers, and Rose himself, try to dress the report’s recommendations as based on a consensus derived from research. This is actually nonsense… What has actually happened is that pressure groups with axes to grind (and, usually, teaching programmes to sell) have caught the ear of politicians and the Rose Review was never going to be a balanced interpretation of the evidence’ (Wray, 2006; see Hynds, 2007). Prof Clark has reasoned that ‘there is no evidence to support phonics in isolation as the one best method, nor for synthetic phonics as the required approach’ (Clark, 2013). Prof Dombey has argued that the government needs ‘to think about much more than phonics if we are to help our children become effective and committed readers and writers’ (Dombey, 2013). The politics of teaching reading has never been dull.

This paper looks not so much at the broader politico-educational debate, nor the veracity of the numerous claims for a more balanced approach to teaching reading, but at problems associated with the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check (2012) in which pupils are required to sound-out ‘pseudo words’. Leaving aside issues of stress, cost and reporting ‘failure’ to parents, there is evidence to suggest it fails fluent readers who look for meaning in nonsense words by offering ‘storm’ for ‘strom’ or ‘groom’ for ‘proom’ (see Walker et al. 2013; NAHT, 2012). Although a child’s accent is to be accepted (DFE, 2012), it is also problematic in that it still fails to deal with Frank Smith’s ‘ho ho ho’ conundrum (think ‘hot’ ‘hour’ ‘honest’ ‘hoist’) or the pronunciation of a nonsense word like ‘sheb’ (think ‘shed’ ‘sheep’ ‘sheik’ ‘sherbet’), for grapho-phonic complexities still haunt English orthography. There is also emerging evidence to suggest that such a screening test may also have adverse and enduring consequences for the development of pupils’ skills and attitudes to reading that last into adulthood (e.g. Thompson et al., 2009).

SYMPOSIUM Taking Exceptional Student Dissertations to Publication

Ciaran O'Sullivan, Rachel Eileen Fenlon, Andrew Grace and Melanie Parker

In this symposium two undergraduate students talk about the origins of their third year research enquiries, the theories that shaped them, and their findings. In addition, both students will discuss their experiences of taking undergraduate work to publication, and suggest ways in which their dissertations could be published. We welcome contributions from other students and educators with similar experiences of, or questions about, developing outstanding undergraduate work for publication.

Rachel Fenlon’s autoethnographic study explores her experience of taking over a community education group for adults with literacy difficulties. Utilising a personal narrative approach to share her story and present her experiences, she looks at the effect running the group had on her, focusing especially on the challenges she faced and her emotional responses to them, as well as how her relationships with friends, family and colleagues have been affected, with a particular reference to embodiment. Rachel also examines the ethical implications of using an autoethnographic methodology and considers the challenges and therapeutic benefits she encountered as the subject in an autoethnographic study. This study adds a valuable, alternative, personal perspective to the limited body of knowledge in this area, and it is hoped that the findings are thought-provoking and encourage others in a range of educational settings to consider the effect new experiences and change have on a person in their personal capacity, rather than just their professional one.

Andrew Grace won a University award which funded his research trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He adopts an autoethnographic method of inquiry to reflect the powerful impact his research journey had and how homophobia still affects him, and to discover how his Zionist stance was questioned – and ultimately changed – by his research findings. Andy’s research unpacks the troublesome issues relating to bilingual and democratic education as practiced in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; how have some multi-lingual schools managed to exist so peacefully when racist attacks take place outside on a daily basis? What can we learn from this in tackling prejudice/homophobia in British schools? Both Alternative Education in Israel & Palestine and Homophobia in British Schools focus on the key theme of prejudice: how to overcome, tackle and address it in schools; how to provide a voice to minorities often excluded from educational policy; and, above all, how a seemingly insurmountable battle in the Middle East can teach us about the future of education in Britain.

SYMPOSIUM Becoming researchers: A collaborative effort to conceptualise research as a pedagogy in Education Studies programmes

David Menendez Alvarez Hevia

The symposium presents the journey of a group of undergraduate Education Studies students and lecturers exploring forms of conceptualising “research as a pedagogy” in research units of the programme. The symposium covers a series of student-researcher presentations in which small pieces of research work, together with personal reflections on the process of “becoming researchers”, are presented as the outcome of their engagement with an element of the Education Studies Curriculum. The final part of the symposium discusses common points, tensions and implications emerging from this collaborative effort.

This project has been driven by the idea that learning is not limited to content transmission from knowers (experts/researchers) to ‘blank slate’ or ‘deficient’ individuals and the necessity of building practices that reinforce the special role that University plays in democratic societies towards the democratisation of knowledge (Biesta, 2007).

Through engaging together in a collaborative research project in which students are positioned as partners (Healey, Flint, & Harrington, 2014), this project opened up opportunities for the participants to get access to the academic world in previously inaccessible ways. Students and lecturers are able to discuss the teaching-research-knowledge experience in terms of encounters (Biesta, 2013) that invite them to revisit the value of research and research units for Education Studies programmes. Data generated from students and lecturers reflections on the process of teaching/learning about research is used to illustrate the discussion.

Structure of the Symposium:
– Introduction and overview of the research project
– Student presentations (UG Education Studies Students)
– Findings and conclusions: impact on students & lecturers perception of research as a pedagogy

Biesta, G. (2013). The Beautiful Risk of Education. London: Paradigm.
Biesta, G. (2007). Towards the knowledge democracy? Knowledge production and the civic role of the university. Stu Philos Educ 26, 467-479.
Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: The Higher Education Academy.

Abstract Topic: Innovations in Education Studies; Student perspectives on Education Studies
Abstract Keywords: Research as a pedagogy; collaborative research; Student experience;
Additional Authors: To be confirmed

Additional Notes: This is a Symposium presentation (45mins- 1h slot) in which different papers are presented by students and lecturers who participate in a collaborative research project funded by CELT (MMU). The name of the students participating in the symposium will be provided later.

Symposium – Education Studies at Plymouth University: Critical Studies on Inclusive Practice in Education

Joanna Haynes

Submitted on behalf of Gemma Howard and Penny Qi, with Suanne Gibson and Joanna Haynes

In this symposium undergraduate students of Education Studies talk about the origins of their third year research enquiries, the theories that have shaped them and the findings of their small scale data collection and analysis. Both students have set out to investigate an aspect of provision for children with specific educational needs.

Penny Qi’s study focuses on communication and explores barriers to children’s communication at school and the impact a lack of communication skills has on a child with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), in terms of their self-esteem. It originates in reflections on her early life as a young child moving countries, learning additional languages and her experience as a multilingual child in the English primary school system. The research has been informed by her reading of the 2008 Bercow Review of provision for children’s speech, communication and language needs and literature on factors influencing the adjustment of immigrant children to schooling. She reports on the outcomes of her study of a group of primary school children with identified SLCN, and her use of picture prompts to initiate conversations with the children about their experiences at school.

Gemma Howard’s research project stems from her passion for learning outside the classroom and observations made during a voluntary work placement in a school’s ‘eco-club’ involving outdoor pursuits with children identified as having ADHD. Gemma’s study draws on Kaplan’s (1995) Attention Restoration Theory and subsequent empirical research on the relationship between natural environments and low levels of ADHD symptoms. Gemma’s study explores alternatives to medication in making educational provision for children with ADHD. Her presentation reports on the findings of her qualitative study involving in depth interviews with a range of education practitioners.

Gemma Howard and Penny Qi with Suanne Gibson and Joanna Haynes

Studying Education at the dawn of Islam

Imran Mogra

Islamic and Muslim educational pedagogy has come under intense media and public scrutiny in recent years. This paper provides a brief overview of the early major developments impacting upon later development both in the UK and elsewhere. The topic is vast and, therefore, only some of the embryonic themes will be identified to show that the emergence of the religion of Islam and of Islamic educational pedagogy are inextricably related. Based on selected historical narratives, the paper also traces their interrelationship in broad terms to illustrate teacher and learner practices and surveys informal learning contexts at the dawn of the prophetic era and is followed by an account of the establishment of the first formal educational setting in approximately 611-616 CE. It ends with an exploration of the varied ‘types of schools’ which were established during the Makkan period to cater for the needs of the nascent community.

Student teacher perceptions of controversial issues faced in primary education

Dr Richard Woolley

Teachers in primary education encounter a range of issues with their learners on a day to day basis, some of which are sensitive or controversial for a number of reasons, for example: questions of appropriateness within curriculum; the strongly held views of parents/carers, children, colleagues or members of the community; and issues of age-appropriateness.

It is now thirty years since the first major texts on teaching controversial issues were published (Carrington and Troyna, 1988; Stradling et al., 1984; Wellington, 1986), and nearly twenty years since the Crick Report (QCA, 1998) set out the case for citizenship education. Crick suggested that children need to address controversial issues in order for them to develop the skills necessary to deal with them knowledgeably, sensibly, tolerantly and morally. In order for such learning to be facilitated effectively, teachers need to be equipped with the necessary strategies, knowledge and confidence. This is a challenging concept within initial teacher education and schools, where time is felt to be tight and PSHE remains non-statutory.

The theoretical framework of this paper considers the significant place of education in the socialisation and enculturation of children, in the light of student teacher perceptions. This requires that student teachers develop critical pedagogies as a means of promoting equity, pupil voice and democratic structures in schools. It explores student concerns about facing sensitive and controversial issues with their pupils and how these have changed since a comparable study in 2008 (Woolley 2010, 2011). All participants were in their final year of study during 2015-16 and based in the education system in England: their training routes and the schools in which they were training came under the same Ofsted inspection / regulatory framework. An online survey sought to elicit student teacher perceptions of a range of issues. The objectives were to:

• establish trainee recall of course content;
• identify trainee perceptions of sensitive/controversial issues;
• establish which issues trainees anticipate encountering in their first teaching post; and
• identify the issues the trainees are most apprehensive about facing, with reasons.

Graded scales were used to elicit responses to the first three elements, and the fourth provided opportunity for open responses accompanied by unlimited free—flow text input.

This paper identifies issues highlighted by the student teachers, with the potential to inform contemporary debates about the content of both courses of teacher training and degrees in Education Studies.

Student engagement through academic writing: process reflections of a community of enquiry

Diahann Gallard

Student engagement is a broad term that is used in HE to convey the ways that students are involved, participate and are represented. Engagement through academic writing, leading to the co-production of a peer-reviewed student journal ‘Spark’, has been the focus of engagement with students from the Education Studies and Early Childhood Studies programmes in the Faculty of Education, Health and Community at LJMU. This student journal publication was intended to showcase and celebrate high quality academic writing produced by students, however, we have also found it an opportunity to realise and engage student-researcher aspirations among undergraduates. ‘Spark’ evolved within a community of enquiry framework and has a team approach to the editing and publication processes. The ‘editorial team’ of Spark, comprised of students and staff, have worked together to organically restructure the editorial process of the journal. Primarily, the aim was to enable students to see themselves as researchers, ‘producers of knowledge’ (Neary, 2009) and participants in academic and scholarly activity. Later, revisions to the process further allowed representational and democratic voice of students to emerge, as student-researchers engaged in authentic academic practices, particularly in relation to writing and editorial decision making. This presentation will provide an overview of the process, and will include the reflections and perspective of the students and staff who have been part of the editorial team. It will give consideration to the benefits and limitations of enquiry led methods, solution focussed process and democratic practice within the context of an Education Studies programme. Finally, there will recommendations made for others to take account of when looking to engage students through their academic writing or in a community of enquiry.

Diahann Gallard, Angela Daly, Dr Elizabeth Smears, Angela Garden, Lewis Parry, Leanne Mills
Liverpool John Moores University

Storying student ecologies of belonging: a participatory research study of students’ interfacing with the Academy

Lynn Richards

This paper will explore how the contemporary lives of undergraduate students impact on their engagement with the Academy and, by implication, how the ways in which being a Higher Education student are incorporated into their current lifestyles. Framed within the broad topic of student engagement, the paper considers the evolving nature of the topic and its concomitant absence of student voice within the current literature (Trowler, 2010). At a time when universities, certainly those post-1992 universities, are endeavouring to compete with each other for student allegiance, the topic of student engagement is key to issues of retention, attainment, and progression; student attrition brings with it loss of revenue and subsequent reduction in statistical measures of success. The nature of what constitutes student engagement is therefore a necessary prerequisite in order that it can be effectively utilised. The ability to respond to students’ needs and welcome all comers is premised on the Academy being aware of current ways of being a student. This paper reports on a pilot study, within a professional doctoral thesis, of second year undergraduate students in a Faculty of Education as a way of uncovering student lives in the ‘here and now’ and gathering stories of how students engage with the Academy on an ongoing, everyday basis; this presents itself as a gap in the current literature. The research employs a narrative study of lives using participant action research methodology. Findings focus on the affective dimension of belonging where meanings ascribed to places are discursively constructed by students.

Trowler, V. (2010) Student engagement literature review. York, UK: HEA

Starting from the Discipline: The Development of Early Career Academic Leadership


This project was funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, and the paper will be presented by Mr Steve Harris and Dr Terry Nolan.

The concept of Organisational Leadership is undergoing renewed scrutiny by academics and practitioners across all sectors of industry and public life including within the UK Higher Education Sector. This research was commissioned by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) to help remedy an apparent reluctance on the part of ‘early career’ academics (ECAs) to take on leadership roles. Research data points to generally confused perceptions regarding the expanded remit of a modern academic that goes beyond research and teaching, into administrative management, societal engagement and the demands of an increasing neo-liberal agenda for market-oriented approaches to Higher Education.
The intial focus of this research was to determine whether leadership needs differ between academic disciplines. Interviews were conducted with ECAs and HoDs from across three discplines in three HEIs with respondents drawn from ECAs in each discipline together with acting or past Heads of Department. Using a Phenomenological approach, interview data was collated under thematic headings.
Although disparities were observed in the types of work-related objectives set by academics from the Russell Group university compared with those from the other two institutions, no distinctions were apparent in respect to what leadership means or how appropriate competencies may be developed. Moreover, an ambivalent attitude prevails towards the general notion of leadership and its applicability to the academic role. The overriding impression is that leadership somehow ‘happens’, to a greater or lesser degree, during the course of a typical career. Nonetheless, leadership does appear to surface across all academic roles at some point. Its development in individuals also appears to emulate the ‘apprenticeship’ model whereby differing levels of leadership are expected of academics by virtue of their qualifications and experience, even in situations in which they have received no formal training.
In order to add structure and help reduce ambivalence around the issue, Hogan and Kaiser’s (1995) model of generic leadership competencies has been adapted to fit the variety of roles likely to be undertaken by academics. The model’s four ‘Domains’ makes the distiction between ‘Intrapersonal’, ‘Business/Academic’, ‘Interpersonal’ and ‘People-Leadership’ competencies and, in so doing, supports the validity of both the individual-centric and the ‘distributed’, group-centric notions of leadership within the academy.
Finally, provisional suggestions are offered with regards to the indentification and development of leadership potential from the initial recruitment stage, together with the developmental methods most appropriate for the task.

Special Educational Needs and inclusion: is the education system providing meaningful education for all?

Eleni Lithari and Larissa Sturgeon

Autism is a very common Special Educational Need (SEN); children with Autism attend both mainstream and special settings, depending on where they are on the spectrum. This study is based on the ideals of inclusion in modern English schools, discussing their practices and ethos they have, with the aim to discuss how inclusive they really are. The meaning of inclusion has changed over time and the question is if the school system is indeed inclusive, or if settings are using the term ‘inclusion’ for practices that are simply the opposite.

These ideas are mainly underpinned by using a highly interesting case study: that of 7 year old autistic twins, who go to two different settings. One of them attends a mainstream school and the other one a special school. The children’s mother was interviewed about her and her children’s experiences with both settings. Through this case study, school practice from both setting is scrutinised, since both seem to fail to support the children’s needs and provide a meaningful education. Multiple and critical mistakes are made and examples of bad practice in both settings is discussed. The discussion also lends itself to the mainstream/special school debate, especially in light of the most recent Code of Practice and government plans to re-open special schools.

Further framing the mainstream/special school debate, research based on the experiences of individuals with dyslexia is also used, as a way of showcasing different school practices and how they are experienced by the people that they affect. The second study, also interview-based, is only used to further strengthen the point about exclusion within an ‘inclusive’ context. The data from both studies is used to argue that although many schools claim to be inclusive and to educate children of varying levels of SEN, in reality practices can be very disabling for both the children and their parents, contributing to a very negative educational experience.

Smoke, Suspense, and Scheherazade – Using Theatrical Devices to Engage the Student: a joint tutor-student action-research project

Rob Baker

A raft of the standard HE Business curriculum emanates from realist ontology: for instance business analytics; quantitative methods; and decision-making under uncertainty. Consequentially a constructivist learning scheme, in the sense of socially-constructed knowledge gained through real experiences and the exchange of perspectives about the experience with others (Piaget & Inhelder 1969; Vygotsky 1978), is misaligned. This domain’s knowledge is, in the main, declarative – and therefore according to Bruning et al. (2011, p17) – “stifles creativity and discourages independent problem-solving and strategy building”. The Business School lecturer’s challenge to make the pedagogy engaging and active means that innovative classroom tactics must be brought to bear.

The paper reports work-in-progress on a joint tutor-student action-research project undertaken in 2015/16 at Sheffield Business School, part of Sheffield Hallam University, entitled “Smoke, Suspense, and Scheherazade – Using Theatrical Devices to Engage the Student”. The mixed-methods study was designed by a team of volunteers – 14 students and 4 lecturers. Additionally, the students provided qualitative data as focus group contributors, developed several examples of teaching sessions incorporating their ideas and gained valuable academic experience by presenting their findings at conference.

Taking as a fundamental Hains-Wesson’s (2011, p22) premise that “… students are generally more motivated by teachers who use performance based teaching practices than those who do not”, the study challenged orthodoxy in session planning, for example the linear sequence of ‘introduction-development-recapitulation’ favouring instead deployment of learning ‘hooks’ – magic tricks, number puzzles, props and artefacts and cliff-hanger endings that all served to catalyse excitement in learning. Homological explanation – linking knowledge in one discipline to seemingly disparate knowledge in others, Bruner’s ‘interdisciplinarity’ (Bruner 1966) – was one of a number of other tactics explored.


BRUNER J.S., (1966). The culture of education. MA: Harvard University Press.

BRUNING, R.H., SCHRAW, G.J., & NORBY, M.M., (2011). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction, 5th edn., New York: Pearson.

HAINS-WESSON, R (2011) ‘The impact of performance skills on students’ attitudes towards the learning experience in higher education’, Issues in Educational Research, 21(1) pp 22-41.

PIAGET, J., & INHELDER, B. (1966/1969). The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books.

VYGOTSKY, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Chapter 6 Interaction between learning and development (79-91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Short educational ICT-interventions increase knowledge and behaviour in media literacy

PerBergamin and Egon Werlen

Media literacy is a critical issue when learning within technology enhanced learning environments (Buckingham, 2013; Hobbs & Jensen, 2009; Simon, Kosnik, Rowsell, & Williamson, 2013). It is still debated controversial how to integrate it in curricula. Within our research we have noticed, that also short interventions, if they are interesting enough for learners, have positive effects on their media literacy. In this context we have evaluated the media courses offered to secondary students by a Swiss telecom provider to improve their media skills. Five modules teaching about “The fascination of digital media”, “Law on the Internet”, “Social Networks”, Surfing safely”, and “Cyber mobbing” were investigated. Each module consists of 45 minutes teaching by an external specialist. To measure media literacy we used three factors of the competence model of (Gnahs, 2010): Knowledge, Motivation (Interest) and Skills. The objective of the survey was to measure the efficacy of these short interventions and to observe if knowledge and desired behaviour is still elevated after one month. A questionnaire was built up, testing some crucial knowledge of the content and skills that where of fife modules and to measure the above mentioned factors. The course group (n=175) and the control group (n=284) filled in the questionnaire at two points of measurement (before and a month after the media courses). The students are from 31 classes in 16 school of fife Swiss Cantons. The mean age is about 14 years. In the course group 55% are males, in the control group 47%. We calculated indexes for each module and a general index. The general index increased significantly in the course group compared to the control group. The effect can be estimated as moderate. The values of the single modules increased also in a moderate range with the exception of the module “Law on the Internet” with a high effect. Another interesting outcome is, that students with a low index before the course got the highest increase. Gender and grade showed no influence on the results. This evaluation shows, that it is possible to improve media skills of secondary school students also with short educational interventions. That is an amazing and promising result. A repetition of the one month effects and a evaluation of the long-term effects of the media courses over four to six months is under progress.

Shifting attitudes and critical thinking in students of Childhood Studies


This paper presents the results of a pilot study to explore the ways in which third year students in the School of Education feel their attitudes and critical thinking skills have developed since beginning their studies. The study focuses on students on the BA Childhood studies and uses the notion of ‘threshold concepts’ (Meyer and Land 2006) to explore how ideas of childhood conveyed in particular modules could lead to what Perkins’ calls ‘troublesome knowledge’ (Perkins 1999).
The pilot study adopts a mixed method approach; the first is the Critical Thinking Test to evaluate the critical thinking skills of the cohort; the second will use focus groups to elicit students’ personal narratives about their journey ‘through’ key concepts and ideas learnt and discussed in Childhood Studies modules. The latter data provides rich insight into the challenges faced by students and also the strategies adopted to navigate through ‘new’ knowledge. The participants are part of a cohort of final year undergraduate students; six English medium and six Welsh medium students.
The results are used to inform practice within the School of Education, and in broader terms how instruction in analytical thinking skills facilitates the development of critical thinking in students.

Restorative Practice: Resolving conflict, Supporting well-being, Delivering positive behaviour. What’s the catch?

Sue Ainsworth

The paper aims to demonstrate the positive impact that can be achieved by training primary pupils, school staff and parents in Restorative Practice as a means to resolve conflict and support well-being in the classroom and wider school community. Limitations of the approach will also be considered. Through analysis of case studies in identified areas of disadvantage in both Wales and Ireland, where Restorative Practice training was delivered to whole school communities, evidence will be demonstrated of the promotion of improved pupil/staff relationships and well-being within primary schools. Despite the training offered to parents of pupils and multi-agency workers, the increased use of a restorative approach outside the schools will be shown as negligible. The paper will consider the validity of a restorative ethos that is a proven effective tool for promoting positive behaviour management and pupil well-being but does not appear to easily extend outside the classroom.

Reflections on career transition of a man on moving from specialist policing into Early Childhood Education as an academic

Patrick Meehan

Constructing a professional identity in a male-dominated, traditional occupation such as the police force (Bittner,1974, Bayley 1979, Fielding 1988 & 1994) has been examined by the literature. Literature on career transition in educational organisations focuses on the personal capabilities and skills of the postholder for the demands of the job (such as Nias 1989, Dunning, 1998, Corn 1993, Draper and McMichael 1998, Daresh and Male 2005). However, there is limited research that examines career transitions from male dominated professions into female dominated professions such as the field of early childhood education (Haase, 2008, Timmerman and Schreuder, 2008, Cushman,2009).. Thus, this research project draws upon the philosophical ideas of “habitus” (Bourdieu, 1988, Bourdieu and Passerson 1977/2000) and the concept of “being and becoming” (Delouze and Guattari, 1980) and investigates the dimensions involved in professional males’ career transition from male dominated occupations to the field of early childhood studies. The research objectives of the projects were to examine:

1. The construction of professional and occupational identities (based on Britz,1997, Paoline, 2003) and the reconciliation of the situational self with substantial self (based on the work of Nias,1989)

2. The concepts of working personality (based on Skolnick, 1966) and habitus Bourdieu, 1988, Bourdieu and Passerson 1977/2000).

3 The differences in the constructions of pedagogic practice and knowledge acquisition in former and current occupation in terms of pastoral kindness (Clegg and Rowland,2010) versus professional authority (Leatherwood and Hey, 2009) through the work of Delouze and Guattari (1980) on being and becoming.

This research project is based on a longitudinal auto/biographical methodology and used educational biographies to collect data as it aimed to gain an in depth understanding of how one is moving away from one post that holds a professional identity to a new one. This methodology offered the research project a rich narrative that analysis has revealed the plurality and complexity of dimensions during the career transition. The key findings of this project suggest that in constructing a professional identity from a male perspective that moved into a female dominated field, there is a need for greater empathy, kindness and recognition to overcome personal self image and feelings of isolation and inadequacy. It also found that male professionals in early childhood struggle with ontological insecurity due to the stereotypical ideas and “academic press” that western societies have constructed for the role of males and females in the field. It was found that the career transition process has personal, organisational, occupational and cultural dimensions and requires a set of skills to reinvent oneself mentally emotionally and physically.

To conclude it is important to recognise the high levels of self-doubt and prior life experiences of male professionals in early childhood and what implications this incudes for curricula and training in the sector. Although there is a vast body of literature and research concerning the role of males as professionals in the field of early childhood, a male moving into the field brings with it a unique set of circumstances relating not only to the occupational expectations or standards but also to the personal and organisational dimensions hence an underpinning danger of homogenization of males in ECS to the aims of the market and government targets.

Reflecting on Einstein’s advice: a personal journey in creating an experiential approach to the development of undergraduate literature reviews

Paul Wiseman

This paper presents a framework which supports undergraduate students undertaking a literature review and has been used to good effect over the last three years. The framework divides the task of writing a literature review into seven steps which if followed will guide the student through the process; a task that many undergraduate students find challenging and stressful. By providing this support the framework also alleviates the demands upon the project supervisor and reduces tutorial fatigue.

Wiseman, P. (2016) Reflecting on Einstein’s advice: a personal journey in creating an experiential approach to the development of undergraduate literature reviews. Innovative practice in Higher Education. 2(3),pp.40-47

Reconsidering British Values

Howard Gibson

Today all state-maintained schools in England are required to ‘promote’ – not merely teach – ‘fundamental British values’. This ‘active duty’, to espouse the values of ‘democracy’ ‘the rule of law’ ‘equal treatment’ ‘individual liberty’ and ‘tolerance’, is inspected by OFSTED to ensure compliance (OFSTED, 2015). Already some schools have failed. The law is controversial. Muslim leaders have reacted by suggesting the policy will engender inter-cultural suspicion, while some Catholics have argued there is ‘no phrase more sinister and pernicious than the oxymoronic ‘British values’’ (Catholic Herald, 2015).
The quest for social glue at a time of multi-ethnic complexity is not new but this latest policy is rife with difficulties. It presents a version of England reminiscent of M.V. Morton’s rosy and uncritical 1930s travelogue, In Search of England, or, more recently, Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island that, in its humorous adulation of ‘Marmite, village fetes and country lanes’, left out ethnicity and class antagonisms and was demonstrably unhistorical and apolitical (Parekh, 2002). The current vision is perhaps more attuned to Scruton’s England: An Elegy (2000) that Eagleton has ridiculed as a ‘vulgarly sentimental hymn to the English countryside, a land which may have been green but was rarely pleasant’.
The paper argues three things. First, the rise of sentiment for ‘little England’ along with a quest for British values is concomitant with the decline in trust for multi- and inter-culturalism and that this is to be regretted. Second, despite the requirement that teachers promote British values, the list bypasses nuance, complexity and contradiction. What, for example, constitutes the right to ‘freedom of speech’ without clear consideration of the purpose of hate-speech or journalistic satire (al la Je suis Charlie)? Surely it is sometimes more moral to disobey a law than to obey it? Does ‘tolerating’ Adam Walker’s membership of the racist British National Party, while serving as a secondary-school teacher, verify Marcuse’s thesis of ‘repressive tolerance’? And, thirdly, might teachers now be in danger of becoming advocates of awkward political assumptions, closer to patriotism than many would like, rather than engaging their students critically in what ought to be ‘valued’?

Primary School Teachers’ Perceptions of Risk: Emerging findings from a study of theoretical conceptualisations of risk and their impact upon Pedagogical Practice

Sarah Dauncey
Understanding teachers’ views of risk is important and necessary as their opinions have been associated with the declining freedom children are experiencing in primary school (Bundy et al., 2009). Despite risk being a prevailing topic amongst researchers it has yet to be clearly understood (Cooper and Faseruk, 2011). Early childhood researchers have suggested that it is beneficial for teachers to share their perceptions of risk (Howard, 2011) and to make sense of their beliefs so that they can share a common goal of providing children with the best opportunities to play and learn (Trotman et al., 2012).
The paper will examine how risk is perceived in existing literature. This will then be used to contextualise the emerging findings from the pilot phase of a larger PhD study of teachers’ perceptions of risk in their day-to-day practice and the key factors that influence their perceptions. In this initial phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted with year one teachers from primary schools in South Wales. Emerging themes include teachers’ fears of litigation from parents and the role of social media.

Primary Education Studies- a different voice, a different choice

Lynwen Roberts

In this symposium, two senior lecturers discuss their experiences of developing a revalidated degree programme in Primary Education Studies in a transformed university.
The University of Wales, Trinity Saint David has recently undergone a major merger and is now a transformed University with three campuses across South Wales, and one in London. The group also comprises two colleges of Further Education – Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion. New faculties have been formed, and new systems have been developed. The five yearly cycle of revalidation of the BA Primary Education Studies programme has also occurred during this period of change.
The voices of students and the Faculty have been responded to in the newly revalidated programme which will be taught from September 2014. The BA Primary Education Studies degree at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David is in an unique position, offering the programme through the medium of Welsh, through the medium of English and bilingually. A major programme in the Faculty of Social Sciences, the BA Primary Education Studies is one of two degree programmes available in the UK (UCAS 2014) which focus on education studies in the primary phase. Placement activities, a range of assessment methods and optional modules at Level 6 will develop graduates’ skills, capacities, attributes, knowledge and understanding for employable and sustainable futures.

Practitioner Research: perceptions, practices and products

Rachel Jackson

This paper reports on the initial findings of a PhD study in which the researcher is concerned with the proposal for ‘evidence-based’ education and asks the question: ‘How can practitioner research be developed in the current policy context?’. As part of this strategy, policy makers favour randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (Goldacre, 2013, p.4). Here practitioners implement research findings established by external others, rather than conducting their own enquiry. In addition to this, a series of ‘Research Priorities’ have been published, advocating that teachers ‘themselves must play an increasingly important part in building a common evidence base’ (DfE, 2013, p.4). Whilst it appears, from a policy perspective, that evidence-based practice is desirable for a self-improving education system, it is not clear how this aspiration can be translated into practice.

My paper will report on the results of an online survey (n=100) and semi-structured interviews (n=6) investigating teachers’ perceptions about evidence-based practice working across age phases and in the variety of educational contexts available in England. In particular, it investigates teachers’ experiences, and attitudes to research and related opportunities and constraints. Analysis will explore relationships between type of school, extent of research engagement, enthusiasm for research, and teacher agency.

As well as these initial findings, my paper will consider how this knowledge will inform the next phases of the study. These will include:
(a) an ethnographic study of research practices in order to investigate the socio-cultural influences within an educational organisation that may impact on practitioner enquiry and;
(b) an evaluative study of research activities within a particular school to investigate the products of R&D activity.

Post-neoliberal youth policy and its effects on youth service provision: the molar force of policy in youth service assemblage


This paper presents findings from an ESRC-funded research project about youth work practice and subjectivity in the context of youth service policy. I explore the changing nature of policy related to youth services in the continuing aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007/8, and the effects on local service provision.
The research took place between 2010 and 2013, during the greatest upheaval to youth services in over 50 years, and in a wider policy context of austerity, localism and ‘open public services’ reform. These reforms have dramatically reduced financial flows to youth services, and introduced new policy narratives of ‘social investment’ accompanied by novel organisational forms, networks, and contractual arrangements that have changed the nature of risk for service providers. I argue this collectively amounts to a distinct phase of ‘post-neoliberal’ policy making in education and youth services. Meanwhile, ‘youth’ has changed as economic conditions have accelerated longer-term trends towards greater complexity and attenuation of transitions into adult life.
This paper works with Deleuze & Guattari’s notions of assemblage and desiring-production to develop education policy sociological analyses appropriate to the fluidity and mobility of policy and public services at this time. This approach takes seriously the idea of policy as a force that not only enforces categorisations and symbolic territories, but that decodes and deterritorializes in processes that see long-inscribed categories of youth service and public and voluntary organisation lose definition. The project consisted of 10 ethnographic case studies undertaken over two years in youth services across England. This conceptual and empirical basis is used to consider the constitutive force of policy in its interaction with the materiality of local communities, by exploring the productive interconnections of policy discourse, subjects, buildings, localities, and monetary flows.
In this paper I follow the molar lines of policy to argue that contemporary youth service assemblage serves to destabilise characteristic aspects of youth services in the UK. The terms of ‘social investment’ have driven forms of service evaluation that support ‘impact investment’, and have created heightened insecurity around youth practitioner employment. Open-access, community-based provision has become increasingly unthinkable, while project forms of working dominate that rely on deficit categorisations of young people, and that shorten relationships and formalise interactions with young people. Ultimately, I claim that post-neoliberal policy making has further diminished the capacity of youth services to operate politically even as young people suffer growing social and economic injustice.

Positive Failure – A New Hypothesis Against Mandatory Success.


This paper will consider current research, including research undertaken by myself on if failure in a safe and secure environment in education is beneficial from a student, curriculum and national point of view. In my forthcoming PhD research I will seek to add evidence to the outcome for children of ‘persistence’ which will play a key role in the international study being undertaken with CREC, NFER & the DPC in the study:
‘How early Childhood Education Contributes to Children’s Outcomes’

My position from a theoretical standpoint is congruent with Donald Schon’s (1963) essence in that, we constantly find ourselves in disorienting situations [in learning] which must be conceptually ‘re-framed’, and until we discover through ‘frame-experiments’ a conceptual frame-work for the new situation we cannot even begin to determine what the relevant facts are, or what evaluative criteria apply.

My methodology will include a qualitative, transformative and appreciative inquiry approach driven by ethnographic observation of four teachers with a long-term objective of having a positive impact on children’s future life chances and social mobility. I will also use quantitative data from the study mentioned above. I propose to explore the alleged high stakes testing & mandatory success culture in education and contextual/policy reasons for this. How does this effect teachers self-efficacy, ability to take risks and what traits are being passed on to the children?

Portals between worlds: A study of the experiences of seven groups of children aged 7-11 years from six different primary schools in Wales making music outdoors

Dylan Adams and Gary Beauchamp

There has been increasing interest in the educational value of outdoor learning around the world and in the United Kingdom (UK). This is reflected in the statutory curricula of each country. At present, however, there has been little research into the potential of music-making in the outdoors.

This study investigated how changing the physical location of learners’ music making, to outdoor environments, impacted on children aged 7-11 years. Seven classes of children and their teachers, from six different primary schools, created music for a ceremonial performance in various outdoor locations in Wales. These activities were video-recorded and after their musical performances, the children were interviewed using video-stimulated reflective dialogue (VSRD) in semi-structured interviews. Their teachers also took part in semi-structured interviews, but without the use of VSRD. The resultant iterative analysis of data revealed four overlapping and interwoven themes: freedom, emotion, senses and agency.

In addition, the interviews revealed that the combination of the setting (including the ritual structure of the activity), the move from the school setting and the four themes (emotion, senses, freedom, agency) contribute to create a ‘vortex’ effect, potentially drawing the children into a state of liminality and peak experience, before achieving a state of calm focus. All of these factors are summed up in a tentative model of the impact of music-making outdoors with children aged 7-11 years.

Political Discourses of Higher Education:- The Discursive Separation of ‘Academic’ Learning from Skills Required for Progression in Ideological Reform Agendas

Richard Sanders

As with New Labour, contemporary political discourses of education centre upon economy driven ideological reform, with recent developments also aligning the coalition government with a neoconservative reform agenda (Ball, 2013). This reform climate can be seen to be engendering top down autocratic control (McGettigan, 2013), where the voice of academic practitioners is becoming increasingly marginalised. This reform context highlights a discursive distinction between ‘academic’ learning and the skills perceived to be required in terms of students’ progression from university (Willetts and Cable, 2011). Separate ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ pathways are suggested for education and this signals the belief within the political domain that ‘public good’ ideals do not sit neatly with economic imperatives (Collini, 2012).

Drawing upon practitioner perspectives at Newman University – and utilising Critical Discourse Analysis as a methodology (Fairclough, 2009) – discursive reform meaning configurations (Fairclough, 1995) within grey literature (Alberani et al, 1990) are inspected and critiqued. Through the inspection of how these meaning configurations are transformed down to a micro institutional context, the authors are seeking to enter into a constructive debate around what is needed for undergraduate student progression within higher education. Here, the discursive separation between ‘academic’ learning and skills required outside of university is specifically brought into question.

These experiences at Newman University, as well as the experience of others within HE (Sarson, 2013), suggest that the current reform agenda will not successfully address issues of student progression. The analysis highlights the importance of formative learning for students – in terms of its reflective, metacognitive and critical functions (Mills, 2002) that cannot be easily quantified and valued economically (Collini, 2012). Here we would argue the distinction between ‘academic’ learning and ‘vocational/technical’ skills is not useful for students in terms of progression, and a more nuanced, shared stakeholder understanding is required. In order to move the focus of reform from an individual stakeholder to a collaborative group, the authors of this paper suggest that stakeholders should adopt the position of ‘professional activists’ (Sachs, 2000) to find an agreed way forwards that will be centred upon the needs of undergraduate student progression.

Alberani, V., De Castro Pietrangeli, P. & Mazza, a M. (1990) ‘The use of grey literature in health sciences: a preliminary survey’, Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 78 (4), pp.358–63.

Ball, S. (2013) The Education Debate. 2nd Edn. Bristol: Policy Press.

Collini (2012) What are Universities For? London: Penguin.

Fairclough, N. (2009) ‘A dialectical – relational approach to critical discourse analysis in social research’ in Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (eds.) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE, pp.162-186.

Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Longman.

McGettigan, M. (2013) The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and The Future of Higher Education. London: Pluto Press.

Mills, V. (2002) ‘Employability, Globalization and Lifelong Learning – a Scottish Perspective’. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 21, pp.347–356.

Sachs, J. (2000) ‘The Activist Professional’, Journal of Educational Change, 1 (1), pp.77-95.

Sarson, S. (2013) ‘Employability Agenda isn’t working’, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 21 March [Online]. Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/employability-agenda-isnt-working/2002639.article (Accessed: 25.3.13).

Willetts, D. & Cable, V. (2011) Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32409/11-944-higher-education-students-at-heart-of-system.pdf (Accessed: 25.6.13).

Policy and Practice: Tensions in Professional Identity of Newly Qualified Teachers

Sam Shields

A study was designed to address research questions raised by Pillen, Beijaard, and den Brok (2013) regarding tensions in professional identity of newly qualified teachers (NQTs). These tensions include 1) the shift in identity from student to teacher; 2) mismatch between desired and actual support; and 3) contradictory conceptions of learning to teach. This paper reports on data gathered from questionnaires sent to 85 NQTs. Preliminary findings relate NQTs’ backgrounds, training routes, and school contexts to the types of tensions they identify and how they resolve these conflicts. Based on our findings, we outline the next stages of research into how to support beginning teachers during training and into their NQT year.

Pedagogic mediation as a developmental tool for lasting change?

Helen Lyndon

This PhD research explores different listening methods answering the question ‘how do we better listen to children in early childhood settings?’ Previous researchers (e.g. Clarke and Moss 2011, Kara 2015) have inspired a creative approach and the desire to seek out new and innovative ways of listening to children and this research has built upon this creative field. Following Oliviera-Formosinho’s (2014) four stages of mediation the researcher worked alongside children and practitioners to develop listening practices within the setting. Pedagogic mediation supported mutual respect, empowerment and lasting change. Working within a praxeological paradigm this research has used ethnographic techniques to follow the story of three settings within an early years cluster. Photo-elicitation, family voice, co-constructed drawings, concentric circles etc. were refined and developed with practitioners as each setting developed their own listening techniques whilst also developing an overall community of practice (Wenger 1998).
Ethical principles were central to the research, particularly with this praxeological paradigm as power relationships needed to be addressed on a variety of levels. Anonymity of the practitioner and children were guaranteed as data was collected at a setting level only. Setting anonymity is afforded as the three case studies will be drawn together to provide a single narrative. The settings were fully informed throughout and EECERA ethical guidelines were discussed with stakeholders.
The two stands of ‘listening methods’ and ‘pedagogic mediation’ have been analysed and themes identified within and between these strands, for example the relationships, power and isomorphism. In keeping with a praxeological approach the settings have ownership of these findings and have assisted in the analysis of evidence.
Successful listening methods have been disseminated through the local cluster and further collaborative strategies discussed. Pedagogic mediation offers an alternative approach to CPD which promotes lasting change through an isomorphic approach.
This paper will address the successes and limitations of pedagogic mediation as a developmental tool and explore the changes and challenges encountered.
(this PhD research is funded though bursary from the Centre for Research in Early Childhood CREC)

Paradigms of Education under the Network Society


This paper is argumentative in the sense that it supports a proposition, reflecting broader trends in the literature, while looking to anticipate its outworking in shaping the future. Drawing on Castell’s network theory, and making use of an analysis framed by institutional activity mapping and forms of critical discourse analysis, the paper explores the idea of global convergence, homogenisation and forms of isomorphism across institutional objectives in education. Forms of policy control such as dissemination, harmonisation, standardisation and agenda setting have accelerated and become more pervasive or possible in the networked society. Stripped to its essentials this paper concludes that no foreseeable termination or significant discontinuity can be anticipated in the short, medium and perhaps long-term future. In conceptualising the dominant discourse of education as programmed by the interplay of networks, their coordination and forms of network power, public education looks destined to become narrower and continuously refined in the service of the new capitalism.

Neocolonial Tensions and Conflicts on Identity of Indigenous Students Attending International Schools in Nigeria


This paper examines the conflicting narratives of identity of indigenous students attending international schools in Nigeria and argues that international schools promote neo-colonialism, causing indigenous students to consider themselves as something more superior to more traditional Nigerian people in terms of culture and intellect.
Neo-colonialism takes the form of neo-liberal globalisation as a tool for propagating and maintaining western imperialism in developing countries. International education is seen as agency for the promotion of this form of globalisation. The goal of providing education with international mindedness is commonly stated in the mission statements of international schools. However, they are faced with the dilemma of meeting the stated aims of internationalism and globalist demands in their practice at the same time. These demands entail the transmission of a globally dominant western culture through the use of the curricula, ICT and pedagogies. Furthermore, the schools are managed through organisational structures that reflect the culture and values of their originating countries and affiliations. The local culture is relegated to institutional marginalization in the form of the superficial inclusion in the formal curriculum and annual celebrations of national cultures.
Findings from questionnaires, vignettes and interviews from 5 international schools in Nigeria showed that student identity conflicts are underpinned by an ideology struggle between individualism promoted by the international schools and communitarianism which is the ideology of their indigenous community. The paper concludes by suggesting that neo- colonial structures, which are embedded in international education, devalue the local culture and contribute to the identity conflicts experienced by indigenous students.
Author: Nkechi Emenike, Doctoral Researcher, University of Hull, United Kingdom

Meritocracy and Social Mobility through Education: An Obtainable Aspiration or Political Myth

Caroline Lohmann-Hancock
In the Report ‘Bridging the Social Divide’ there is a clear focus on increasing social mobility through education (SMCP, 2015). Current UK policy contests that social mobility is the reward for those able to engage with meritocracy through intellectual ability and high levels of motivation and they are then considered as deserving of success. This paper contests that within the UK meritocracy is socially constructed and thus weighted through the acquisition of what Bourdieu calls cultural capital in favour of the wealthy elite rather than based purely upon equal access to educational (Cosin, 1997: 122).
. . . by the age of 16, children from the most disadvantaged families who were high-achieving at 11 are typically out performed by pupils from the best-off families who were average achievers at age 11 (Gov.UK, 2014).
UK policy is set within a structural-functionalist perspective where meritocracy is legitimised and given an illusion of agency when in reality cultural capital ensures that upward social mobility is an unobtainable myth (Durkheim cited in Dillon 2010; Udagawa, 2013). Within this context social mobility could be considered obsolete, as to function it necessitates the persistence of inequality and the preservation of the ‘status quo’. This illusion of meritocracy encourages the poor to aspire to upward mobility through ‘hard work and education’ whilst ensuring the status quo. The aim of this paper is to consider the implication of this illusion of agency through education for learners and society at large.

Making Policy in Scottish Education: Can we do it differently?


This paper focuses on the processes by which policy is made and implemented in Scotland, using the implementation of ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (Donaldson, 2011) as a case study. In particular, it identifies powerful actors in the spaces of policy mediation and implementation, and explores the many ways in which a policy agenda can become silenced, distorted or strengthened as it is translated by a policy network.

In short, ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ is a policy text that contains fifty recommendations for the improvement of teacher education in its entirety. Education policy-making in Scotland is often described as ‘consultative’ and ‘participative’ (Menter & Hulmes, 2008), and is said to reflect some of the values commonly associated with Scottish education, such as meritocracy, democracy and egalitarianism (Raffe, 2004). However, it has been suggested that a certain degree of mythology may surround such claims (McPherson & Raab, 1988).

The current implementation of ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ provides an interesting opportunity to explore this further. Over the last three years, two partnership groups have been established by the Scottish Government to discuss and plan the implementation of these recommendations: the National Partnership Group (NPG) and the National Implementation Board (NIB). Both groups can be considered as policy networks that provide a space for the mediation of policy between actors from a number of bodies in Scottish education (Sorenson & Torfing, 2008).

This paper draws on data from thirty semi-structured interviews conducted with members of the NPG and NIB and the analysis of working policy documents. Concepts from theories of democratic network governance (Sorenson & Torfing, 2008) and techniques from policy network analysis (Ball & Junemann, 2012) have been used to conceptualise the work of the NPG and NIB, while elements of Actor-Network Theory (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010; Latour, 2005) have been employed for the mapping of actors’ interests and agendas.

Although the NPG and NIB appear to act as spaces in which those involved in Scottish education can input to the policy process, initial findings have shown that there are other networks in which the ‘real’ policy-making takes place. We have successfully traced the way in which policy actors have used their positions within these networks to limit, distort and drive forwards specific parts of the policy agenda. In doing so we have identified a number of interests and political agendas at work, and revealed an unbalanced distribution of power within these formal ‘partnership’ groups.

Listening to our ‘diverse’ students and preparing learning futures to enhance the retention and academic success of all. Reflections on a HEA International Scholarship 2013-2014.

Suanne Gibson

Dr Suanne Gibson (Plymouth University) and Mrs Alison Mc Lauchlin (Hertfordshire University)

Against a backdrop of what some perceive as a failed rights agenda for students with ‘disability’, this study began as a quest to find a way forward, to look beyond rights legislation and develop an inclusive pedagogy linked to ‘relationship’. Initially the work looked at questions of ‘disability’ then moved on to engage with ‘intersectionalities’. This resulted in a broadening of focus to encompass a wider scale study providing rich layers of understanding regarding student diversity and university experience.
With centres of student stakeholders and facilitators working within university settings in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the U.S.A. the aim was to include groups of students who, on the basis of self selection, considered they represented diverse components of their university’s student population. ‘Diversity’ was defined as representing self identities linked to disability, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and/or socio-economic background.
On average, 300 undergraduate students of education were invited to take part in an online survey at each centre. On the basis of survey responses, a small sample group were selected from each centre to form follow up focus groups where discussion and data analysis took place. The focus groups explored participants’ understandings of ‘diverse learners and/or learning’, ‘inclusive forms of education’ and ‘experiences of inclusive provision at university’.
This paper reflects on some of the project’s findings, considers what participants perceive as important questions for the future of inclusive higher education and engages with what appears to be the important matter of ‘relationship’ in the quest to strengthen diverse learner outcomes. This paper has been written by the project leader with input from project participants- students and centre facilitators.

International higher education development: unfolding the field


This paper is a summary of my recently completed PhD thesis. The project set out to critically examine the field of higher education development, as one which is overly focused on and regulated by socio-economic inequality and welfare, and determines
educational purpose in poorer, or ‘developing’, countries accordingly. My question was whether mainstream development approaches to higher education are really contributing to the provision of more equal education services, or whether they risk reintroducing inequality by treating the priorities of poorer countries differently. In short, do development approaches actually hinder higher education in poorer countries, not least by trying to ‘envelop’ them within globalising theoretical discourses and agendas? Part of the question, then, involves looking at whether others are able to bring their own educational values to the global higher education table, or whether understandings of the purpose of universities are still governed by a fondness for Western traditions or market demands. To allow for the possibility of the former, some of the latter’s grip needs to be loosened, if the contributions of all are to be valued equally. Development is seen less as universal progress applicable to all, but contextualised, a process of ‘unfolding’ from one’s own situation. The role of education is to see that that ‘unfolding’ occurs participatively and responsibly.

To investigate whether there are educational values or purposes common to universities globally irrespective of socio-economic imperatives, I began the study with a historiographical look at their growth in terms of both ideas of its purpose, and how
purpose is realised in actuality. I then traced the emergence of the discourse of international development, and the role that higher education has come to play within it, showing how the field of international higher education development has simplified the notion of university purpose for its own devices. The thesis then looked at underlying assumptions about human nature, common to both transcendent ideas of university purpose as well as the development discourse. To avoid the limitations of these assumptions, I argued that a theoretical approach is required that can engage with questions of hybridity and multiplicity in both the history and future of universities, without reducing those questions to abstract ideas. The approach I propose draws upon the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, whose ideas about dialogue and answerability help to understand how the contingency of the local and the generalising tendency of global discourse can be brought into discussion.

International Experience for Engaged Global Citizens in Education

Phil Bamber

This paper reports upon a Higher Education Academy Departmental Development Grant delivered by the BA Education team at Liverpool Hope University from January 2012 until April 2013. The aim of this project was to produce a workable framework for university teaching staff to design a curriculum that enables students to develop a rich and complex understanding of what it means to be an ‘Engaged Global Citizen’ and test it out in a series of different learning contexts. The intention was to explicitly avoid producing a set of instrumental knowledge, skills and attributes but instead place values and dispositions (such as openness to difference, diversity, the other, self-respect, commitment to change and toleration of uncertainty and ambiguity) at the heart of the whole learning process. Crucially the project team has sought to demonstrate how these values can be nurtured and developed through different types of learning experience.

By working intensively with undergraduates and tutors in an Education Studies programme at Liverpool Hope University, the project has been undertaken in four distinct but inter-related phases. The result has been a strategy that can be adapted to fit undergraduate programmes not only in Education Studies but in related subjects where an international dimension is integral. The essential features of our project have been:

• curriculum interventions informed by student voice / experience
• a diversity of disciplinary and cultural backgrounds of tutors
• a reflexive approach by tutors involving examining their own personal beliefs and values
• flexibility in development of actions
• a rigorous evidence- based approach
• a focus on transformative learning
• a partnership with external organisations with expertise in global education
• use of social media and networking

The single most important outcome of the project has been to produce a pedagogically sound framework based on concepts of transformational learning, which transcends some previous homogenised approaches which can be instrumental and gloss over ambiguity and differentiation. This will be presented here in simple diagrammatic form where the intention has been to provide a heuristic device that teachers can use and/or revise to put their own contextual details into that will fit with their learning contexts and their students’ needs.

Innovating the Field of Education Studies: Knowledge Technologies as assemblages


The present paper reflects on professional practice and innovations in the context of a first year (Level 4) module – Culture, Curriculum and Technics – offered as part of the BA Education Studies at London Metropolitan University (UK). The module explores a number of important questions about the relationship between technology, knowledge and society and begins to think about how our ideas about each of these contribute to an understanding of what education means. The module also explores what contribution education, knowledge and technology might make to the sustainability of the human era known as the anthropocene. With these highly theoretical (and also philosophical) questions the module moves beyond the scope of what is normally covered in a first year undergraduate module. It seems therefore important to reflect on broader questions, such as, what a knowledge technology is and how this presents a new epistemic position about education. Through the content of the module and the theoretical notion of ‘assemblages’ from Deleuze and Guattari, the present paper will argue that the knowledge technologies themselves present an ‘assemblage’ which extend our understandings of the world and how we come to learn about the world. This opens up new possibilities and innovative practices for teaching and learning within Education Studies as a specific field of study that may have the potential to widen our understanding of the discipline.

David Blundell, Principal Lecturer in Education Studies, London Metropolitan University

Jessie Bustillos Morales, Lecturer Education Studies, London Metropolitan University

Sandra Abegglen, Lecturer Education Studies, London Metropolitan University

Informal Learning within the Context of a Public House

Stephen Lake
Learning can be considered to take place in environments other than formally constructed settings such as schools, colleges & universities, home-schooling, tutoring and other organised or regulated scenarios. Further to this, strategies that incorporate learning also consider environments such as museums and libraries. The purpose of this paper is to gain an understanding as to whether a public house can provide an environment which can promote informal learning, with regard to lifelong learning, in adults.
An analysis of literature based on social learning theory, the transfer of knowledge and research on widening participation, provides insight into how entering into the social sphere of a public house can promote ideas of informal learning. Literature on the potential of using the PH in this manner such as particular, ‘Informal Learning and Widening Participation’ (Cullen et al, 2000), restricts the discussion to pub quizzes. This study will use a case study approach to observe the social interactions taking place within a public house. Positive and negative aspects of how informal learning can take place within a public house will be synthesised with current knowledge on informal learning, social learning theory, and initiatives allowing widening participation and lifelong learning to take place.
As this study is an assessment item for a current module, the results and conclusions are yet to be ascertained. Completion is due in early May with the intention to present considered a part of the assessment.

How to de-programme a University student

Dr David Thompson

This is a discussion paper, based upon the practitioner’s reflections of a new module taught to second year undergraduate students studying Education Studies. The module, Interpretations of Education in Film, literature and Art, was designed to encourage an alternative and more creative approach to thinking about the study of education. It asks students to consider how teachers, schools and pupils are portrayed in popular culture and what we can learn from this process, as well as to reflect on to what extent these representations can be applied to their own experience of the education system and the types of teachers they might aspire to become. Students are also encouraged to consider how the themes of the module can be translated into transferable skills.

In some ways students act as co-facilitators, creating knowledge as they develop their own interpretations. Student feedback has suggested that this creates a highly enjoyable experience, but also provides challenges for them; raised on a menu of didactic teaching, SATs and teaching-to-the-test. The paper was inspired by a discussion with students early in the module and in a focus group at the end; it revealed that in their previous education they had few opportunities to think laterally, act creatively, or even be asked for their views on subject content.

Furthermore, to integrate the aims of the module into learning outcomes and module-specific assessment, a number of new criteria were introduced to the assessment brief. This included the awarding of percentage points in the marking process that rewarded innovative and creative approaches to the assignment. An aim was to enable students to express themselves through metaphors, semiotics and symbolism as they reflected on images and scenes that helped compare and contrast between the “reel” world of film and the “real” experience of the education system.

Practitioners are now beginning to question historical approaches to teaching and learning and consider ways in which teaching creative thinking in Higher Education can support students’ learning and employability. In preparing students for success in business and academia, it has been suggested that the top intellectual skill is no longer critical thinking, but rather creative thinking. Many organisations need students graduating from University able to think and initiate creativity and innovation for themselves rather than slavishly follow current trends. Some academics point to a revised model of Bloom’s taxonomy where evaluation and synthesis is exchanged for creativity at the apex of the pyramid.

Previousely creative thinking was perceived as something reserved for the arts and humanities. However creative thinking can reach across all disciplines. It is now taught in education, business, and psychology. A cross-disciplinary approach has replaced what used to be exclusively artistic.

Dr David Thompson
Senior Lecturer
Institute of Education
Faculty of Education, Health and Well-being
University of Wolverhampton


How do students’ beliefs about education studies affect their performance and study choices

Cathal OSiochru
Education Studies can be taught using a disciplinary approach (combining Philosophy, Psychology, History, Sociology). Within such a formulation students are challenged to balance and synthesize their understanding of these disciplines in their classes and assessments. In some course structures students are even required to choose one of the four disciplines they wish to study in more detail. Research argues that a number of personal factors influence academic performance and choices, not least the students’ epistemological beliefs; namely their beliefs about how knowledge works and where it can be found (Cano, 2005; Hofer, 2000; Schommer, 1993).
In O’Siochru (2015) I found that the level of match between a student’s personal epistemological beliefs and the epistemological beliefs presented in their classes / assignments predicted their academic performance such that a closer match was a reliable predictor of higher performance. However, this study focused only on those courses in which there was a single discipline for the students to master.
In this presentation I will explore my initial findings from a new study which examined how the combination of disciplines within an Education Studies course might affect this relationship between student beliefs and performance. I aim to establish if students have distinct epistemological beliefs for each discipline. I also seek to explore the relationship between the students’ epistemological match in each discipline and their academic performance. One question I hope to answer is whether their beliefs in each discipline are equally important in relation to their academic performance. Long term, I want to know if these disciplinary epistemological beliefs will influence their study choices over the course of their degree.

How boys keep falling behind in secondary education and what policy makers can do.


GCSE and A-Level courses form the core of British secondary education. Her I report an analysis of 12 years of exam scores (2001-2013), with a focus on sex differences. Although both boys’ and girls’ exam performance improved considerably between 2001 and 2010, the percentage of boys attaining A grades was consistently lower than that of girls in nearly all GCSE and A-Level subjects, and boys were underrepresented in most A-Level subjects. Further, there remains a strong division between the sexes in subject choice, with more boys in STEM topics and more girls in social sciences, care, and languages. The latter finding implies a failure of policies to increase girls’ participation in STEM fields; based on this, the talk discusses recommendations for future research and
policies in regard to gender and education.

Going beyond Compliance: Sustaining career-long professional learning and professional standards.


Symposium proposal

Regulation of the teaching profession through professional standards is seen in many education systems as a key driver for maintaining and improving teacher quality. The focus on teacher quality continues to preoccupy policy makers at national and international levels and ‘quality’ has featured prominently as part of the overarching themes at three out of the four International Summits on the Teaching Profession that have taken place since 2011 (Asia Society, 2013). One of the issues is supporting teachers’ ongoing development and progression once they have achieved formal registration and recognition as a teacher, for example in England through the award of Qualified Teacher Status or in Scotland by confirmation of having met the GTCS Standard for Full Registration. Papers within this symposium will discuss this challenge of moving beyond compliance with mandatory professional standards to develop sustained professional learning for all teachers and leaders.

In Scotland in recent years there has been considerable focus and effort to conceptualise the nature, form and challenge of adopting career-long approaches to teachers’ professional learning and progression. This has resulted in the development of a new professional Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning. This has not occurred in isolation but has formed part of a major systems wide programme of reform of teacher education that has included the development of a new ‘Professional Update’ scheme, revised procedures for annual professional reviews and development of a Masters’ framework for ongoing professional learning.

These initiatives reflect ongoing policy development and debate on the purposes of standards for the teaching profession in Scotland and the relationship between professional standards and teachers’ professional learning.

Professional standards are now very much part of the landscape of many educational systems. Nevertheless, questions have been raised about the design, purpose and use of professional standards in education. In particular, with regard to the question of the use of standards, there are significant debates about whether standards are simply regulatory or whether they can also have a developmental function.

The papers within this symposium begin by surveying some of the debates about professional standards in teaching followed by an overview of the way in which the use of standards has evolved in Scottish teacher education. The focus then turns to the current set of reforms related to teachers’ career-long professional learning (Donaldson, 2010) and the place of standards in this reform programme. The papers will consider some of the issues that emerged during the development of the recent set of standards (GTC Scotland, 2012) and their related use and conclude by exploring the implications of professional standards for professional learning across a career.

Acting as discussant, Dr Maria Flores will facilitate small group discussions enabling participants to discuss the papers presented and approaches outlined before responding to the issues raised in a final plenary.


Paper 1

‘Evolving concepts and practice in regulation and development through professional standards.’

Dr Margery McMahon,
School of Education, University of Glasgow

Paper 2
‘Going beyond compliance – policy development and engagement in redesigning ‘career long’ professional standards.’
Gillian Hamilton, Head of Education Services, General Teaching Council Scotland

Paper 3
‘The Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning – supporting teachers’ continuing development.’
Rosa Murray, Education Advisor, General Teaching Council Scotland

Paper 4
‘Leadership development through professional standards’
John Daffurn, Scottish College for Educational Leadership

Getting our hands dirty with research: student insight into collaborative educational research

David Menendez Alvarez Hevia


Rebecca Suart (R.M.Suart@warwick.ac.uk) Warwick University
Eva Knapova (eva.knapova@stu.mmu.ac.uk) Manchester Metropolitan University

This paper shares the experience of a group of education studies students from three partner universities who have been involved in a collaborative research project. The study takes a ‘student-lecturer’ collaborative approach to explore students’ and academics’ attitudes to employability on education studies degrees. Our discussion addresses the benefits gained by students as co-researchers considering their experience constructing knowledge with both lecturers from partner institutions and the insights gained from students on the same degree. Firstly, we will explain how the power dynamics between ‘lecturer as expert’ in the initial stages of the project shifted to a more equal team as students became more comfortable and confident in the contribution they could make. As student researchers we were able to work in the larger project cohort, across universities and with other academics to gain invaluable insights into the world of academia. These experiences have diversified our thinking in ways that would not have been achievable without access to a broad range of views from teams/lecturers and from the experience of visiting different universities. Finally we conclude with a discussion about how this process has benefited us personally and how we plan to use this experience in the future.

Exploring the continued professional development of higher education professionals as they participate in online social spaces.

Muireann OKeeffe

This study is embarking on an exploration of online activities and practices of a group of higher education professionals and endeavours to investigate if online activities are influential to academic professional development. Various studies have investigated how the participatory web can empower academic researchers. Some anecdotal evidence exists that participation in online spaces can support professional development.
Systems have become common place to assure quality of higher education and support the continuing development of academic staff. The establishment of centres for teaching and learning, which offer qualifications in learning and teaching practices aim to enhance quality of teaching in higher education. Demands from the government and European Commission require the professionalisation and development of academic staff in higher education. A recent survey of academics working in Irish higher education reported that while formal approaches to accreditation of teaching and learning activities are valued, openings for informal peer exchange and more non-formal approaches are also called for.
In light of this I wish to explore the participation and engagement of a specific group of Irish higher education professionals in informal online social spaces and investigate if this particaption is influencing their professional development as academics. Participants of this research are consenting graduates of an academic development programme from an Irish higher education institution. This research takes a case study approach as it presents the online practices and activities of this group of participants. In the research I will seek to answer (1) what the online activities and practices of these higher education professionals are; (2) How are the online activities and practices supporting the professional development of these higher education professionals?; (3) What the barriers and enablers exist in engaging in online activities and practices?

Data is currently being collected through the exploration of the online social spaces of participants. During this investigation a list of common practices and activities is being assembled. Next semi-structured interviews with participants about their practices and activities will be initiated.
I propose to thematically analyse the data and present findings of this analysis in June. Thereafter my study will continue and if necessary I will carry out further data collection with other higher education professionals outside of the initial participant group. While this research is exploratory, interpretative and limited to a confined context of Irish higher education professionals, findings from this study might lead to recommendations for the encouragement of online activities with academics for their potential professional development.

Exploring Stories of ‘Becoming Student’

Suanne Gibson

Issues surrounding transition and becoming student have been highlighted in research as troublesome (Merrill, 2015; Christie, 2009; Palmer et al. 2009). Recent policy developments have resulted in student learning experiences that are not always positive (Burke, 2013; Morgan, 2013) indicating that students can feel ‘disempowered, lack confidence and feel completely unprepared for university study’ (Hirst, 2004: 70). They particularly struggle to ‘decode’ new and unfamiliar practices (Gourlay, 2009), experience confusion and mixed messages regarding academic conventions, much of which is implicit or hidden within the curriculum. Rarely do we explore such experiences with our students, nor do we utilise, beyond formal settings, the peer and linked peer ‘resources’ that exist in terms of students’ critical reflections at key stages of their academic careers.

Academics and students at Plymouth University addressed these questions as part of a qualitative research project 2015-16, entitled “Becoming Student”. In the first stages project members explored their own personal stories. These ranged from poems to artwork and speech from which themes and questions were drawn for use in subsequent Focus Groups. Two Focus Groups were established each comprising of approximately three to six undergraduate students from the Institute of Education along with two project members as facilitators. Each group was representative of the university’s diverse student body.

This paper explores the stories that were shared and draws out findings which move research forward in this field. It is hoped the outputs will make an impact in terms of supporting students as they experience and manage the demands and challenges of transition and growth when ‘becoming student’.

Exploring and engaging with the failings of ‘Inclusion in Higher Education’. Is a post-rights inclusive future possible?

Suanne Gibson
There is confusion surrounding ‘Inclusion’. The aims and drivers of inclusive education (IE) as experienced in the 1990s to early 2000s, in the UK and globally, emerged from a ‘successful’ disability rights movement with its depiction of the medical model as pejorative and promotion of the social model. In education, what we currently experience are messy attempts at IE alongside growing collective anxiety and confusion, as some governments take reactionary policy steps. This paper engages with the ubiquitous and complex question of ‘IE’ in the UK with specific reference to the intersectionality of ‘disability’ and its location within the University. It will problematise the UK rights agenda of the 1980s–1990s, locate and reflect on the complexities and conflicts of Inclusion and consider the need for new pedagogic developments. Such developments, it will be argued, emerge when one applies a critical eye to the impact of hegemony and ‘silence’ on the experiences of those with ‘disability’. This approach has been developed in other areas of social justice and diversity, that is, class, gender and ‘race’, and it is argued that such an approach is needed with regard to ‘disability’. It is proposed that post-rights pedagogic developments linked to this may provide a sturdier basis from which UK inclusionists, in particular university educators, can locate their future work.

Expenditure and displacement impacts of mobile higher education students:


Students in higher education are highly mobile, they move between countries and within countries to seek education. Typically this involves young adults moving from home to access the higher education institution of choice. From the point of view of an individual student and his family significant amounts have to be spent to pay for term time costs. These are at least partially funded through saving incomes earned locally. These term time expenditures are then spent at the place of study, typically a central city. This gives rise to a spatial demand-shift effect, where students increase consumption where they study and reduce consumption where they are from. Because of this, the location of HEIs can have an important impact not only upon their host economies but also on the localities where students originate from. This paper analysis the flow of students within Scotland and the resulting spatial shift of consumption expenditures. Student records data are used to determine the origin and term time destination of Scottish HE students and HE students in Scotland, allowing for differences in mode of study and term time accommodation. I analyse the flow of students in and out of Scotland, as well as between central and peripheral regions within Scotland, focusing on the Highlands & Islands (H&I) and its interaction with the Rest of Scotland (ROS). Using survey-based expenditure profiles and a custom built 2-region Input-Output table the economic impact of these student flows are estimated for both sending and receiving regions.

Expanding horizons or ruining Disney? An investigation of students’ experience of threshold concepts in Childhood Studies

Anne-Marie Smith, Nia Young and Tansy Swerdlow
Meyer and Land (2003) identified ‘threshold concepts’ as being points in subjects which open the door to students’ understanding. A pilot study conducted last year indicated that Childhood Studies students were required to engage with a number of such concepts during their studies and that these altered their way of thinking about children and their experiences. However, this study also suggested some of these ideas represented ‘troublesome knowledge’ (Perkins, cited in Meyer and Land 2003 p.7) for students (e.g. gender as a social construct). These topics were considered emotionally taxing to engage with either be cause of the content or because the ideas did not fit students’ previously held beliefs about childhood. At these times, students reported being less willing to accept or engage with these ideas. The pilot study was limited in that it only consulted year 3 students. In order to help students of Childhood Studies navigate these topics, the present study engages with all three years of the BA Childhood Studies course. Focus groups have been used to explore students’ views of the topics being examined along with a roadmap drawing task. From this, the key threshold concepts for each year group are identified along with how troublesome these ideas are felt to be. The results are discussed in terms of how to develop the Childhood Studies course to best support students through this journey. In particular, consideration is given to helping students engage with troublesome topics in order to increase critical discussion in their work.

Examination of teacher’s perceptions to the impact of introducing robotics to enhance ‘Future Skills’ within the classroom

Nick Young and Gary Beauchamp

The aim of the research was to study  teacher perceptions of ‘future skills’ with the introduction of robot kits to their classrooms.

Children entering school inhabit an ever-increasing digital world and their personal, social and educational lives are increasingly intertwined with technology in various, rapidly changing forms. Full participation in modern society and the workplace already demands increasingly high levels of digital competence and that process can only continue into a future that we cannot imagine (Donaldson, 2015).  Poor PISA results, identification from the Steering ICT review in Wales and a growing demand from employers for school leavers to be armed with ‘future skills’ has led to curriculum reform within Wales. Therefore this study examined ‘future skills’ which included; collaboration, problem-solving, computer programming and robotics from 5 participating schools in South East Wales. Four primary schools and one secondary school were selected along with 30 student teachers to take part in the project. These schools all had taught basic computer programming and the children were aware of how to code.  Schools were given a robot kit and brief instructions were provided to programme the behaviour and movement of the robot. The brief was kept short to encourage diversity and originality in how pupils could interact and create using ‘future skills’ to engage in the project.

The qualitative data was explored and pupil’s ‘future skills’ engagement was reflected upon and teacher perceptions were recorded. The study utilised questionnaires and interviews completed by teachers and student teachers involved in the project.

The study found an increase in collaboration between pupils who used blogs, you tube and Skype to work through problems together. The common notion of ‘the teacher’ was questioned in this project as pupils led sessions and taught teachers and student teachers. Pupils, teachers and student  teachers worked together to solve problems and the process of computational thinking was reflected upon to logically overcome these problems. Schools noted that through self-evaluation, pupils were encouraged to reflect on what they had been able to achieve and to plan their next steps within the project.  ‘Personalised learning’ that was able to take place a pupils followed their own interest and coded the robots to do things that they were interested in.

Everyday Ethics: Student writing as a not-so-benign area of research

Verity Aiken

The notion of an ‘ethics creep’ (Haggerty 2004) refers to the ways in which official ethical approval protocols do not merely reflect an appreciation and acknowledgement of research participants’ rights (and the potential harms of research in general), but also become disciplining technologies that are fostered by an ever-increasing desire to follow rules and avoid certain risks. The danger, Haggerty (2004) suggests, is that ethical approval becomes divorced from ethical practice. I draw from my own research that has been conducted via the research aim that is: to explore the infiltrating nature of risk in Higher Education by examining undergraduate student approaches to academic writing. At first glance, student writing is a topic that seems relatively benign, provoking limited and easily identifiable ethical issues. However, this paper explores how even the research endeavours that seem benign in nature and ethically straightforward can conjure unanticipated ethical issues along the way. I therefore offer this paper as a case in point to demonstrate how even the seemingly benign research topics are peppered with unanticipated ethical dilemmas that are unlikely to become visible until the researcher is actively researching. Drawing from my own experiences as a researcher, I reflect upon the differences between, on the one hand, securing ethical approval before researching, and the predicted and predictable ethical issues that were raised during the ethical approval processes, and on the other, I recount the unpredicted and unpredictable ethical issues that were experienced during the actual research process. In summation, I propose that ethical consideration must be seen as an ongoing process to be alert to rather than a perfunctory stamp of approval to receive clearance from, and that ethics is everyday, commonplace and yet unforeseeable, for even the most seemingly benign areas of study.

Europeanising Higher Education: Intergovernmentalism and Neofunctionalism in Higher Education Policy

Sarah StJohn

In the quest for a brighter economic future in Europe, we find education at the core of the European Union’s current ten-year growth strategy, the Europe 2020 Strategy, in which it frames education centrally to a series of interrelating targets. However, since education was omitted from the Treaty of Rome, and although – still today – Higher Education cannot be considered as a fully fledged area of Community competence, a marked development in Community involvement in Higher Education can be noted.

The expansion of Community competence into the field of Higher Education can be tested in the framework of the two rivaling theories: Intergovermentalism and Neofunctionalism. Intergovernmentalists argue that a policy area will not be created if that is not the aim of the member states; while Neofunctionalists argue that a policy area could develop due to the process of spillover regardless of the member states’ preferences. The aim of this paper is to establish the extent of neofunctionalist theory in the development of Higher Education policy and whether there is evidence of intergovernmentalist theory.

The research method to be adopted is documentary analysis by means of collecting two sets of official documentation produced at the European level. The first set will consist of documents that directly address Higher Education, while the second set will consist of those that are related to Higher Education. The study will endeavour to span the period from the first document to the most recent. By analysing the documentation linked to Higher Education and the sequence of these two sets of documents, it will be possible to suggest whether activities in Higher Education at the European level have resulted from spillover or whether they were the result of intentional expansion to the European level.

The literature makes the strong case that member states have kept a tight hold on their control in Higher Education, resisting its release to the supranational level. Therefore, the hypothesis proposes that development in Community competence in Higher Education is predominantly a result of spillover in the framework of neofunctionalist theory. However, development has occurred intentionally in the framework of intergovernmentalist theory when cooperation has taken place on member state terms and outside the Community arena.

Ethnicity, Young People and ‘othering’ ‘Its’ like we don’t exist’; transitions from school to nowhere


This paper aims to explore the experiences of young people growing up in urban areas in the West of Scotland via community led youth work projects that aim to reengage young people categorised as NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training). By looking at their varied and complex biographies it will address young people’s experiences and perceptions of their communities and their transitions from education to the workplace. Getting lost in the transition from education to work is one of the key risks of social exclusion for young people which may lead to subsequent involvement in anti-social behaviour and crime (Bynner and Parsons, 2002; Yates and Payne, 2006; Finlay et al., 2010). The study is undertaken in a youth work organisation in an inner city ward in Glasgow.
The preliminary study explores conversations with four young people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who discuss their transitions from school to finding a positive destination. The data was analysed and the findings from the emerging themes used to answer the research questions below.
1. To what extent and in what ways do the young people perceive their culture and ethnicity impacting on their educational attainment and ability to reach their full potential?
2. How do young people negotiate the stepping from one setting to another/one culture to another? Such as school/home/street/community, etc.
3. How successful is community education as an alternative method of re-engaging disaffected youth back into education, employment or training?
Hayward et al (2008, p18) found that the people from the same ethnic minority groups (Afro Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) also highlighted by Smeaton et al “Parts of our schools system can match the best anywhere in the world but overall our school system is not world class. It systematically fails certain groups of children: children from poor backgrounds, looked after children, children excluded from school, children from certain ethnic groups”, are identified as failing to go onto positive destinations. This indicates that there is a link that these young people who are disadvantaged at school, do not go onto positive pathways once they leave school.
The findings cannot be generalised to the population as a whole, as the sample was very small and not a representative one. However, some interesting insights have been gained from the data which make a valuable contribution to the recent policy debate on the issues of resilience and self-direction. These have implications for further research in schools to investigate the validity of the findings.

Establishing Educational Success in the Shadow of the Neuroscientific Education Agenda

Thomas Feldges

Our paper focuses upon the current debate around Educational Neuroscience (ENS) or Mind-Brain Education (MBE) in relation to efforts to establish a firm scientific foundation for educational efforts. By way of a conceptual argument we claim that ENS or MBE will – at most – be able to provide a particularised view upon individually instantiated, enabling neurological/cognitive structures. We maintain that ENS/MBE can thus not facilitate for an all-encompassing explanatory account of learning and that therefore a more diverse methodological approach is necessitated when trying to establish educational success.

In a first step we argue that ENS/MBE is based upon the cognitive-neuroscientific agenda as pre-dominant in scientific psychology (Schröter, 2011). Although we will not focus upon the debate around the neuronal and cognitive level of description (Rose, 2009; Silva, 2007), we will nevertheless critically point towards the inherent limitations of such an approach that finds its focus within individually realised, internal structures of mental processing.

With our next move, we introduce the concept of Bourdieu’s (1993) field to match the educational setting. This is the place where educational transfer takes place, embedded in multitude of tacit but nevertheless sense-making interaction patterns (Bourdieu, 1985). We utilise the system-theoretical approach as developed by Luhmann (1987) to conceptualise this constantly unfolding dynamic of the field to argue that this reaches beyond the focus of both, the learning and the teaching individual.

These dynamics, conceptualised by Luhman (2002) as referential and sense-providing interaction-patterns are external to the individual. We argue that these thus remain beyond the explanatory reach of ENS or MBE. They manifest themselves within an unfolding dynamic within these Bourdieusian fields and require an on-going and skilful assessment by the experienced educator. We maintain that this implies that any successful ‘reading’ of these referential relations requires an educator’s experience-based skill that manifests itself along an interpretative approach as first developed by Weber (2005).

We conclude that the argued-for necessity for the application of a skills- and experience-based, interpretative repertoire by the educator, implies that:
a) successful educational transfer appears to be much more of an art than a science.
b) But if that is so, then the purely scientific approach of MBE or ENS cannot sufficiently account for all the relevant aspects of education.
c) And that seems to yield important implications for any empirical research regarding educational practice.

Equality, Education and Elephants


The Salamanca Statement (1994) endorsed the idea of inclusive education, contending that mainstream schools with an inclusive culture are ‘the most effective means of …..building an inclusive society and achieving education for all’. Raising the achievement of all learners by identifying and breaking down barriers to learning is a difficult challenge, particularly when education systems are struggling to collaborate rather than compete, to develop a consistency rather than uniformity of approach, and to raise and maintain quality standards in relation to outcomes for pupils. This paper looks at current practice in systems both in the UK and across Europe, and the major challenge facing those systems in identifying barriers, drivers and levers for change, and creating a sustainable framework for inclusive education.

Enhancing professional practice


Enhancing professional practice

Professional learning communities (PLCs), and the associated idea of ‘professional capital’ (Fullan and Hargreaves, 2010) have become a significant potential approach to professional development (see Watson, 2014 with respect to schoolteaching; Davies, 2012a with respect to healthcare).
In this paper I address two issues with respect to PLCs. The first is to distinguish between ‘anarcho-populist’ models of PLCs and centrally planned use. Whilst Fullan and Hargreaves discuss, by enlarge, centrally planned use of PLCs, the origins of PLCs lie in small scale local responses to individuals’ collective desire for professional development. I argue that of crucial importance to the efficacy of PLCs are the characteristics of its anarcho-populist form. I question whether this is fatal to the centrally planned approach lauded by Fullan and Hargreaves.
The second is to question, and critique, the use of the metaphor of ‘capital’ in relation to professional learning embodied by PLCs. Developing arguments previous articulated (Davies, 2012b), I argue that the metaphor of capital is problematic in general, not only in the context of ‘professional capital’. However, in relation to a discussion on two models of PLCs, the metaphor emerges from, and connects with, a more centrally planned (and large scale) approach to PLCs.
In conclusion, I argue for the importance of anarcho-populist models of PLC and they ways in which more centrally planned approaches are parasitic upon the characteristics of these local forms. Drawing on Kolodny’s (2010) account of partiality in relationships, I put forward an alternative to ‘professional capital’ which asserts the local, activist and collaborative nature of professional enhancements through anarcho-populist PLCs.


Davies, R. (2012a) ‘Interprofessional Education and the idea of an educated public’, Journal
of Vocational Education and Training, 62(2)
Davies, R. (2012b) Professional capital: transforming teaching in every school, Journal of Education for Teaching, 39(1), 144- 146
Fullan, M. and Hargreaves, A. (2010) Professional Capital: Transforming teaching in every school, Teachers College Press, New York.
Kolodny, N. (2010) Which Relationships Justify Partiality? The Case of Parents and Children, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 38(1), 37-75
Watson, C. (2014) Effective professional learning communities? The possibilities for teachers as agents of change in schools, British Journal of Educational Studies, 40(1), 18-29

Encouraging students to become researchers through collaborative research.

Cathal OSiochru

Over the past decade an increased emphasis on undergraduate research has led to the introduction of compulsory research methods courses in the second year of undergraduate social science degrees. Although the study of research methods is seen to be of critical importance in terms of preparing students to undertake independent research in their final year, the most appropriate pedagogical approach for its teaching remains hotly debated.
One pedagogical approach which offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional didactic style is to involve students as ‘co-creators’ and ‘partners’ in the teaching-learning processes. This approach has been applied in a wide variety of courses and found to produce higher levels of student engagement, increased ownership of their learning by students and enhanced transferable skills. When applied to the teaching and learning of research methods, this approach could be described as a ‘collaborative research approach’ where students learn about research through collaborating with their tutor on a shared research project. The staff and students work as partners on this project, sharing responsibility on selecting the direction and design of the research as well as its execution.
This paper will present the findings from a study carried out to evaluate the impact of implementing a collaborative research approach in an undergraduate research methods course. The study itself is the product of one of the staff-student projects on the course and combines both staff and student reflections on their engagement with this approach to learning research methods. Initial findings, showing that the use of a collaborative approach in the study of research promotes both student engagement and the development of a researcher identity among the students will be discussed.

Employability and Career Choices in Education Studies: A Recent Graduate’s Reflections

Rebecca Snape

“What can I do with Education Studies if teaching doesn’t work out for me?”

The above is a common question that I was asked when working for recruitment events in a previous role. My assertion, which I will present in this talk, is that Education Studies (ES hereafter) can lead to a range of careers beyond teaching. Moreover, these other careers do not necessarily have to be a fall-back option, and could in fact be seen as feasible options right from the start. Thus, I will show how the multi-faceted nature of ES allows for opportunities beyond school teaching.

To explore these issues, I will use myself as an ES graduate (2014) case study. Utilising a personal narrative autoethnographic approach, I will explore my journey from choosing my university options through to becoming an educational researcher. I will critically evaluate these experiences in order to highlight how I arrived at my rather unorthodox career choice. As a researcher who firmly believes in multiple realities, I will also reflect upon the careers of my graduate peers. In doing this, I hope to challenge traditional career trajectories. I do not seek to undermine the dominant career path but rather to highlight alternative routes.

I will highlight how these personal experiences relate to wider implications for career choices and employability in ES. I will then finish with some reflections about how the Higher Education landscape has changed, contrasting my experiences with my brother’s (a current first year ES student) to highlight some of the challenges facing today’s students.

EFL Materials in public schools’ classroom in Saudi Arabia. An investigation of the extent to which teachers engage in materials/textbooks development in order to design learning experiences to meet the needs of their students as an indicator of teacher autonomy.

Sultan Albedaiwi

This study aims to investigate the ways in which teachers use, design and examine their teaching materials, and use the prescribed textbook as an indicator of the extent to which they feel able to respond to the needs of the learners in their classrooms as an indicator of a move towards exercising autonomy. It also aim at exploring the ways they carry out their activities inside classrooms and how such activates could be influenced by the ministry of education rules, the provided teaching materials and textbooks.

The study explores the different responses of the teachers to the prescribed textbook and the extent to which they engaged in materials development to adapt or supplement what was provided. It also outlines how through use, design and evaluation of teaching materials teachers are able to enhance their professionalism.

Data was collected through triangulation of policy analysis, classroom observation and interviews of six male EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers in Saudi public schools and analysed using Narrative and Grounded theory approaches.

There was a clear relationship found between a teacher’s sense of autonomy and his/her teaching qualifications. The study also identified a number of new constraints on autonomy, constraints specific to the context, and stemming from both institutional factors and personal factors from the teachers themselves. Ways to effectively reconcile these constraints are suggested.
The hybrid approach adopted for this study proved useful in uncovering much rich information about teachers, teaching materials and teacher autonomy, and a number of ideas were found to accord across the data. However, a number of contradictions in the data remain. It is clear that in some instances, whilst teachers perceive themselves to be autonomous beings in control of their teaching and learning, their real-world behaviour in the observation was not entirely consistent with such a perception.

Finally, the study concludes that more research is needed into the way that teachers can develop autonomy through the use, design and evaluation of their teaching materials and engagement in materials development. Such further study would shed light on the various constraints that inhibit autonomy (both institutional and personal), for which mediating solutions could be found, and all with the aim of promoting and developing teachers’ levels of autonomy and their role as materials developers.

Education Studies: a research ‘journey’ from North Carolina to Cardiff: learning outdoo rs with teachers and practitioners in rain, snow and sun through conversations, observations and reflections

Chantelle Haughton, Julie Burke and Gary Beauchamp
This paper reports on emerging findings from a collaborative research ‘journey’ by two researchers in USA and Wales working as ‘email-pals’ to examine teachers’ and practitioners’ experiences in the facilitation of learning and development in the outdoors.
The work is situated in a context where a strong emphasis is being placed on outdoor learning in USA and Wales. The research explores the current issues, constraints and practitioners’ attitudes and engagement in outdoor learning to enhance knowledge, skills and understandings which positively promote outdoor learning (Bobilya, Ake, Mitchell, 2011; Cook, Velmans, Haughton, 2012; D’Amato & Krasny, 2011; Louv, 2005; Zint, Covitt, & Dowd, 2011).
Outdoor educators in the USA were interviewed and observed in a range of settings from forests to beaches where learners had space and freedom to explore ideas in challenging, muddy, cold, unpredictable environments as well as in the sunshine. In Wales similar interviews and observations were undertaken in a range of settings.
The research explored teachers’ and practitioners’ motivations, insights, educational backgrounds and values as they provided opportunities for children to work, play and learn outdoors. Themes which emerged related to empowering learners to take risks, act independently, problem solve spontaneously and explore new places and materials creatively. In addition, methodological tensions emerged between observation, facilitation and interference.

Education Organisations and Learning in a Digital Age

Trevor Male, Sulaiman Alshathri and Amin Alzahrani
All education organisations in the 21st Century have the opportunity, particularly through digital computer technologies, to enhance or change the nature of learning. Such technologies can enable new approaches as to how learning is delivered and assessed (Technology Enhanced Learning), the nature and extent of learning provision (eLearning) and how to support learning in other educational settings (eSupervision). The papers presented in this symposium will examine the broad picture and potential impact of digital technologies globally (Male) with examples of research projects in action from Saudi Arabia on Blended Learning (Alshathri) and Distance Supervision (Alzahrani).

Education for Transformation: Critical Pedagogical Thoughts, Practice and Paulo Freire

Mark Wilson

This conceptual paper aims to discuss the role of educators from a critical pedagogical paradigm. It will consider the historical context and major influences on critical pedagogy and explore the implications for, and relevance of, Freirean theory on educational practice today. It will be argued in this paper that educators must be concerned, and committed, to advancing democratic ideals and raising critical consciousness – an awareness of the learners’ social reality through reflection and action – in order to enable students to think critically about the world and to develop the confidence and capacities to transform it.

Learning is active; it’s experiential and experimental – based on dialogue, questioning, exploring and discovery. The aim of education is to develop similar qualities in the learner (Dewey, 1916; Freire, 1973). Rather than teaching what to think, education should be concerned with the teaching of how to think. It is widely argued that education continues to suffer from narration sickness, whereby the content, in the process of being narrated by educators to students, remains detached from reality, disconnected from the world and lifeless (Freire, 1970; Illich, 1971). Yet education has the capacity to be transformational (Freire, 1970). This paper concludes that education should be less about the acquisition of decontextualised facts; and more a process of critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanisation. However, a problem that might arise is that if one has to be told about critical thinking then it’s likely that one will not get it anyway. Thus, this paper explores these issues focusing on the questions:

1. How do educators make students actually become engaged in issues of social justice?
2. Is a critical pedagogy enough to do this alone, or even relevant?


Dewey, J. (1916/1997). Democracy and Education: An introduction to the Philosophy of
Education. New York: The Free Press.
Freire, P. (1970/1996). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Freire, P. (1973/2005). Education for Critical Consciousness. London: Continuum.
Illich, I. (1971/1973). Deschooling Society. London : Calder and Boyars

Education as Fictitious Commodity: The Strange Non-Death of ICT


Graham Downes and Peter Jones

It is a common-place in Education Studies that education is increasingly subject to processes of marketization and commodification. This paper seeks to specify the nature of education as a commodity and explain how and why it both resists commodification and takes on, dialectically, a particular commodity form. Drawing on Marxist accounts of the commodity, neo-Marxist reappraisals of culture as commodity and Polanyian perspectives on fictitious commodities, the paper argues that current understandings of marketization produce a reification of education as fetishized educational commodity which obscures the social relations and production of value at moments of both discourse and practice. This argument is then used to explore the specific example of how discourses and practices of ICT produce particular commodity forms of education in the fictitious education market of school choice.

Education as a tool for ethnic minority community cohesion: An exploration into Liverpool’s Somali community and the use of multicultural education in a secondary school to promote integration

Ashley Kirwan
This study examines the nature of contemporary multicultural education in a secondary school and questions whether it may become a tool for gearing both teachers and pupils towards the creation of initiatives to assist the integration of the heavily deprived Somalian community in Liverpool. The research itself contains a multitude of transferable findings, which may be applicable in future ethnic minority or multicultural teaching studies. By triangulating data collected from both interviews with teachers and members of the Somalian community alongside a series of focus groups with pupils from one secondary school in Liverpool, a thematic analysis was conducted. This led to the identification of various perceptions of the issues facing Somalian children in the British education
system, the utility of multicultural education and importantly fills a significant dearth in knowledge regarding the links between multicultural education and the opportunities for it to become a catalyst for change in the fortunes of deprived ethnic minority communities. Isolation, lack of cultural understanding, lack of support, racism and language barriers were issues previously identified and affirmed in this study. However, ‘divide within the Somali community’ and ‘disinterest in learning about local ethnic communities’ emerged as two themes upon which it is necessary, combined with the former, unresolved issues, for both future researchers and educational policy makers to uptake interest in, if community cohesion is to occur.

Education and Devolution in Wales: Heaven or Hell?

Caroline Lewis

Within recent years there has been no doubt that higher education has faced challenges on a significant and unprecedented scale. With the responsibility for student fees now lying firmly on the shoulders of the students themselves, this new conceptualisation of the university student as a consumer seems to have polarised opinion. For some is a positive rebranding that emphasizes accountability (MacMillan & Cheney 1996, McCulloch 2009) while for others it is a damaging metaphor that is altering the very fabric of higher education beyond all recognition.
Within Wales in particular, these changes have been particularly acute. The formation of the Welsh Assembly in 1999 and the devolution of education policy from Westminster to Cardiff Bay has resulted in a series of challenges laid squarely at the feet of higher education institutions within the Principality. Calls for merger and the introduction of fee subsidisation for Welsh students studying across the UK have resulted in concerns for the continued viability of Welsh higher education institutions within an increasingly competitive environment.

This paper seeks to evaluate the efficacy of Welsh Government policy in relation to higher education based on a critical analysis of the ideological framework under which it has been developed. There is today, a clear demand for mass higher education and a global demand for high skilled labour (MacMillan & Cheney 1996, McCulloch 2009), but has the desire for a distinct Welsh agenda and a seemingly nationalist approach to policy formation actually resulted in more negative than positive outcomes for higher education? This paper will also seek to provide a perspective on the likely challenges ahead for the Welsh Government in developing a higher education framework that will address the needs of all in the widening global marketplace.

EDUCATING THE FREELANCER – Employability in Scottish Educational Policy and Art & Design Students

Sara MacLean

Employability is pervasive in current educational policy and practice with very little consideration to where the concept emanates from or how it shapes individuals’ subjectivity. Taking a realist governmentality approach, this paper utilises critical discourse analysis examining both the governmental discourse of policy and the discourse of those it looks to govern, in this case Scottish further education art and design students. It finds that the creative ethos and the discourse of employability share similar beliefs in self-responsiblisation and meritocracy and that these are present in both policy and research participants’ discourse. However, the process of governmentality is complex and rational technocratic causation would over-simplify the messy, muddled social reality.

Early Years Mentors: from principle and policy to practice and assessment

Tracey Edwards

This PhD is in its initial stages and the purpose of this research is to ascertain the effective role of a work-based mentor within the early year’s (EY) sector. Mentoring is a complex and multifaceted role and the development of the Early Years Teacher (EYT) has created debate and discord within the sector regarding status and pay. For some practitioners this has been seen as an imposed change in the EY community of practice (Wenger, 1998; Paler and Locke, 2013).

As this PhD design is in its early stages, the current focus of this research is on the initial literature reviewed and how this has influenced the development of this research so far. There is a focus on the complexity of defining the mentoring; potentially as coach, councillor and ‘critical and professional friend’ (Andrews, 2010). Within the EY workforce this identity is compounded by the context of the EY sector which is situated mainly in the provision of Private, Voluntary and Independent settings (PVI). The EY sector is predominantly part-time female workforce offering an array of qualifications, organisation and structure. Underpinning this sector is a discourse of dialogic and collaborative communities of practice (Hammond et al, 2015). The EY sector is situated predominantly within an educare curricula framework; whose EY practitioners have, over the past 10 years, been under a plethora of professional reform. The most recent change has been initiated following the Nutbrown Review (2012). The emergence of Teachers in the EY has highlighted the need for collaborative partnerships across work-based settings, and with, higher educational institutes. Thereby advocating the role of setting based mentor as pivotal in the training process.

As course leader for one of the undergraduate and graduate EYT routes available there have also been reflections on this year’s academic experiences and observations of the mentor, mentee relationships. This has further influenced the direction of this research design and has led to possible methodological  directions; such as taking a sociocultural perspective in considering the value of practice in the EY’s community (Wenger, 1998) . Engestrom’s ‘Activity Theory’ (1979) is also considered as a conceptual framework in terms of history, context and participant positioning in the EY sector.

Do Screencasts Really Work? A Study of Their Effect in the Teaching of Quantitative Methods

Rob Baker and Jayne Revill
This paper, presented in practice based format, drills down to a core 2015 Conference theme. It reports a case study evaluating the benefits of screencasting over the learning experience provided by tutor interaction and intervention alone. The recent generation of business tutors have been encouraged to ‘innovate’ and pursue e-learning methodologies almost without question. The paper’s investigators raise perceptual awareness by rethinking their practice and this conventional wisdom in the light of the experimental results.
‘Screencasts’, in this case, were video clips demonstrating Microsoft Excel’s functionality, coding and application recorded by a tutor, and made available as learning material either at the introduction of the particular topic, its consolidation or for later reference.
The experiment was conducted on student learning on a Level 4 (first year undergraduate) ‘Business Analysis’ module across Business programmes in 2014-15 at Sheffield Business School. The case study comparative was with the previous cohort 2013-14. The module introduces quantitative methods and Microsoft Excel modelling of business’ hard-systems problems (after Checkland, 1981). Screencasts of Excel’s functionality, techniques and its application to the context of a developed case study were prepared. The 2014-15 cohort were granted access to this material whereas previous deliveries had no such resource. The sample was around 1200 students across the two cohorts. The consequences of access to the screencasts was measured in relation to the student’s final module grade and statistical significance is reported.
It is hypothesised that the benefits of screencasts in this context are students’ deeper understanding
of quantitative analytical methods and their application, and an amplified confidence in their ability
to articulate the taught content.

Disentangling from Normalcy: The Co-constructed Narrative of an Education Studies Teacher

Melanie Parker and Abbie O’Brien

This paper will share an innovative and creative approach to researching the experience of disability through an Education Studies Programme. This has been realised through the development of a collegiate auto-ethnographic approach, which has drawn the academic experience and the student voice to the surface in a co-constructed narrative. Underpinned by a Posthumanist methodology, which draws on the “tangled lines” (Wyatt, et al, 2010:730) of Deleuze and Guarttari, we will be demonstrating the use of a sharing space for “becoming” (Deleuze, 1995:137) through the use of ‘show and tell’ snippets of memory and story, as a method for encouraging the “flow” (Deleuze, 1995:7) of discussion for this unique data collection methodology. The presentation will also share initial findings from the research.

Deleuze, G. (1995) Negotiations 1972-1990. New York : Columbia University Press
Wyatt, J., Gale, K., Gannon, S., & Davies, B (2010) ‘Deleuzian Thought and Collaborative Writing: A Play in Four Acts’, in Qualitative Inquiry, 16(9) pp.730-741

Discomfort, Avoidance and Shame: Teaching and Researching Dangerous Knowledge

Joanna Haynes

Joanna Haynes, Heather Knight and colleagues from Plymouth University Institute of Education.

Conflict and controversy are to be expected in university teaching, but higher education pedagogic discourse tends to minimise the trouble and disturbance involved in generating sophisticated knowledge. Knowledge is ‘dangerous’ or ‘troublesome’ when a sense of disturbance is experienced; when certain concepts are difficult to communicate or grasp; when the subject matter is politically or morally sensitive; when tutors or students experience or express strong and unexpected emotions; when group dynamics become problematic. This presentation reports on an ongoing pedagogical research project on teaching and researching dangerous knowledge. A key aim is the development of insights and critical responses to the ethical and emotional complexities of working with disturbing knowledge in higher education. A key question is how to work with such complexity so that it becomes educative.

Over the last three years, with funding from Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at Plymouth University, a group of staff have been logging tutors’ accounts of difficulty or disturbance in their work. In this study tutors were invited to report on occasions when they experienced a sense of danger in their classrooms or in other interactions associated with their university work, such as tutorials or placement visits. The project team developed and used a writing frame to prompt and log dialogues with participants. These were mostly face to face and occasionally electronic dialogues. We have previously presented at BESA conference with second year Education students who became involved in logging and analysing their own experience of disturbance and danger in their university studies. In this presentation we give examples of major themes from emerging from our cross-coded analysis of the collected tutor accounts. These have included risk, discomfort, shame, avoidance and diminishing professionalism. These themes are discussed in the context of literature on ethical and emotional dimensions of teaching, reviewed and discussed by the research group.

Developing the Leadership Capability of School Principals at Public Intermediate Schools in Kuwait

Ibrahim Alhouti
Kuwait is facing a set of challenges in its education system. Some of these challenges are related to the quality of education and some are related to school administration, especially in training programmes and leadership skills. To avoid these challenges, the Kuwait Ministry of Education has established a long-term strategy to reform the education system, and the Ministry gives the schools the main value in this strategy. These challenges increase the pressure on school leaders. Consequently, the quality of school principals is significant in these reforms; they should have the capability to lead the schools during the reform process. Educational leadership is given wide attention across the world because of its position in schools and thus in our lives. Therefore, schools need to be guided by leaders of a high quality, which prepared well to give them the capability to be effective leaders. This is a research project aims to help with the development of the leadership capability of principals in intermediate schools in Kuwait by looking closely at their skills and the preparation and development programmes that are available to them. Ten intermediate school principals will be interviewed in order to understand directly from them the qualities that they consider school principals need to lead public schools in Kuwait and whether or not their preparation was good. It also aims to explore different leader preparation programmes that are now available in other countries and to look at which ones may be suitable for the Kuwaiti context.

Designing a New Model

Tina Page

The form and structure of teacher training throughout much of Europe is changing in response to a range of pressures including increasing problems with teacher retention, a greater role for schools in training, growing concern with quality management and government austerity. France, Germany and England have very different conceptions of the position of the teacher as regards key issues such as styles of teaching, ability to adapt the curriculum and pastoral care. Do the changes in teacher training in England encourage the development of a radically different kind of teacher from the old model, do such changes take the form of a convergence on a new model moving away from old patterns or are the distinctive old models simply adapted to the changed teacher-training environment?

To address these critically important questions my research examines the changes to the structure and content of ITE programmes to gauge their impact on the quality of teacher training in each country. In each country the method of inquiry is semi-structured interviews with key personnel in three teacher training institutions, in France, in Germany and in England: the programme director in each institution with overall responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of the training, and teacher trainers, in charge of teaching methods and pedagogy for cohorts of students training to be teachers either at primary or at secondary level. Teacher training institutions in all three countries are faced with similar problems such as teacher retention and attrition, shortage subject areas, the perception of teaching as a profession. The drive for raising the attainment of school pupils in each country has led to a plethora of government initiatives in schools, and scrutiny of the effectiveness of teacher training.

Debating the use of in – class debates in Education Studies: A comparative investigation into the use of debates as a teaching strategy in Higher Education

Zeta Brown and Mark Wilson
This paper investigates student’s perspectives on the use of debates as an in-class teaching strategy in Higher Education. In limited research carried out in this area debates are considered to compliment other teaching strategies and provide variety in teaching to keep students actively engaged in the content (Oros, 2007). Moreover, debates are seen to provide students with increased active involvement in their learning to “…learn more effectively by actively analysing, discussing, and applying content in meaningful ways rather than by passively absorbing information” (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, in, Kennedy, 2007, p.183). Debates, according to Walker and Warhurst (2000) enable lecturers to stand back from delivering taught content and provide students with the space to educate one another. In doing so the literature tells us that the use of debates provides students with a mastery of content and the development of skills such as critical thinking (Brown, 2014; Zare and Othman, 2013).
However, the structures of these debates are diverse and as such have been carried out in a variety of ways in research. This paper considers differing debate structures that were planned at levels four, five and six to represent the student’s level of study. In this research students at the University of Wolverhampton and University of East London carried out comparable debates in terms of structure and provided their comments in questionnaires. The findings will focus on matters including student’s perspectives on the use of debates as a teaching strategy and their
perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of the debates structure at each level of study.

Consumerism, enterprise and charity: looking good, making money and assuaging guilt

Alex Kosogorin

Does the citizenship curriculum and/or education as a whole engender an attitude in children that our main social obligations are market driven such as consuming, making money (enterprise) and charitable giving (to assuage guilt)?

In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world all citizens should have an awareness and understanding of global issues, poverty and inequalities. Renner et al. summarise Paul Farmer’s conception of global inequalities ‘as falling into one of three categories: charity, development or social justice’ (2010, p. 44). They suggest that charity uses a deficit model where the ‘‘server’ operates on the ‘served’, using a deficit model, i.e. ‘they’ are seen as intrinsically inferior’ (ibid.).

Charitable campaigns, such as Red Nose Day, have become an integral part of many primary schools’ annual calendar. This feeds into the dominant discourse that charity through benevolence is seen as intrinsically ‘good’. In this model the ‘best’ response to these existing inequalities is to enact change through charitable donations of money and/or time.

When describing the Make Poverty History campaign, Andreotti criticises the fact that ‘the use of images, figures and slogans emphasised the need to be charitable, compassionate and ‘active’ locally (in order to change institutions), based on a moral obligation to a common humanity, rather than on a political responsibility for the causes of poverty’ (2006, p. 42). She then summarises Dobson in stating that ‘justice is a better ground for thinking as it is political and prompts fairer and more equal relations … being human raises issues of morality; being a citizen raises political issues’ (ibid.).

Does the current education system therefore prepare young people to adequately deal/cope with the major global challenges of the 21st century or does it simply, through a focus on a charitable discourse, contribute to the reproduction of Goffman’s concept of ‘civil inattention’ (1972, p. 385). What strategies do we employ to conveniently not see what is really going on in the world? Is this convenient blindfold applied by others or do we all apply it ourselves in order to cope with the enormous challenges and inequalities that exist in our world today?

Can a compulsory education system be subversive or does it simply contribute to us ‘becoming submerged in a new “culture of silence”’ (Shaull in Freire 2000, p. 33) whereby we focus our main social obligations on consuming, making money (enterprise) and charitable giving (to assuage guilt).

Haynes, J., Gale, K. and Parker, M. (2015). Philosophy and Education: An introduction to key questions and themes. Abingdon: Routledge.
Andreotti, V (2006) ‘Soft versus critical global citizenship education’, Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 3, Autumn, pp. 40-51.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed (30th anniversary edition). London: Continuum
Goffman, E. (1972). Relations in Public. London: Penguin
Haynes, J., Gale, K. and Parker, M. (2015). Philosophy and Education: An introduction to key questions and themes. Abingdon: Routledge.
Oxfam GB. (2005) Education for global citizenship a guide for schools. [Online] Available at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/~/media/Files/Education/Global%20Citizenship/education_for_global_citizenship_a_guide_for_schools.ashx (Last accessed 17/3/16)
Renner, A., Brown, M., Gina Stiens, G., and Burton, S. (2010) A reciprocal global education? Working towards a more humanizing pedagogy through critical literacy. Intercultural Education, 21 (1), 41–54.

Conceptualising Research in Education Studies Programmes

David Menendez Alvarez Hevia
Research is a constitutive element of Higher Education and a very important component of Education Studies programmes. These programmes comprise specific units or modules dedicated to introduce theoretical and practical issues about educational research. This paper discusses the experience of an Education Studies lecturer reflecting on his teaching practices and interactions with undergraduate and postgraduate students on the subject of research. This study takes an action research approach influenced by the “discipline of noticing” (Mason, 2002) and aims to provide arguments to understand how research is conceptualised within the current political, organizational and institutional changes that are taking place in a post-92 Higher Education Institutions in which this study is contextualised. The barriers constraining the transformation of teaching practices associated to research units and the emergency of different discourses about university, student identity and perception of change, are identified as key elements used to articulate different forms of conceptualising research. Finally, this paper also provides an example of direct implications for the design and implementation of research units, further research in the area and the understanding of Education Studies as a distinctive subject in its own right.

Children’s engagement with digital and non-digital activities

Aderonke Folorunsho

This research explores children’s engagement during interactions with digital and non-digital activities. It focuses on the engagement and behaviours that occur when children interact with these digital and non-digital activities and if children interact differently with them. This work is based on a number of literature and research that investigate children’s learning with digital technology especially iPads such as Aldhafeeri, Palaiologou and Folorunsho, 2016; Couse and Chen, 2010; Disney et al., 2014; Marsh et al, 2005.

A mixed method approach was employed and the design for this research is based on the FraIM: Frameworks for an Integrated Methodology developed by David Plowright (2011). The FraIM is designed to help researchers carry out small scale empirical investigations of educational and social issues using mixed methods. The aim of the framework for this research is to support the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods in this research process to ensure the successful study children’s interactions with digital and non-digital activities. Observations were carried out with children of ages three and four in an early childhood setting using observation checklist (Leavers scale of Involvement and Engagement) and written observation. Consent from participants’ parents and management of the early years setting were granted before embarking on data collection.

Early findings have revealed that iPads can engage children to an extent and that children’s interactions with digital and non-digital activities are similar. Therefore, it may be argued that children may not be engaging differently with digital activities as it has been argued in literature. The findings from this research will highlight any other findings that are of interest and contribute towards the subject of children and iPads in early childhood education.


Aldhafeeri, F., Palaiologou, I., and Folorunsho, A. (2016) Integration of digital technologies into play-based pedagogy in Kuwaiti early childhood education: teachers’ views, attitudes and aptitudes, International Journal of Early Years Education, pp.1-19.

Couse, L.J., and Chen, D.W. (2010) A Tablet Computer for Young Children? Exploring its Viability for Early Childhood Education, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43 (1): pp. 75–98.

Plowright, D. (2011) Using mixed methods: Frameworks for an integrated methodology. SAGE Publications: London.

Disney, L., Barnes, A., McDowall, J. and Geng, G. (2013) Observation of children’s engagement when playing iPads,  In The 21st International Conference on Computers in Education: pp. 616-621.

Marsh, J., Brooks, G., Hughes, J., Ritchie, L., Roberts, S. and Wright, K. (2005) Digital beginnings: Young people’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies. Sheffield UK: University of Sheffield.

Children of Migrant Workers in Urban Public High Schools: An Analysis of the Dual Role of Education


With the development of the reform and opening up process in China, millions of people from rural areas are migrating into cities. However, the household registration is often applied strictly and this limits access to a range of rights and benefits. These migrant workers fail to secure permanent residency on an equal footing with registered urban residents even though they work in the city. This rural-urban segregation has consequences beyond access to political and economic rights and resources, and has deepened to shape cultural and ideological perceptions. This deepening has a profound influence on the children of migrant workers moving to study in urban high schools. Though nowadays children of migrant workers can study in urban public schools alongside local resident, the rural-urban structural conflict still exists and impedes social relations between rural-urban groups.
The research will investigate difficulties or opportunities encountered by children of Chinese migrant workers after they have entered urban public high schools and as the face the realities of contact with city culture. The research will explain what kind of role education plays in effecting such children dealing with rural-urban cultural conflict. By using questionnaire, in-depth interview, different reactions and experiences of children of migrant workers to their school lives would be described and explained comprehensively in this research.
The discussion on the role of education, as an agent of cultural reproduction and an opportunity for multi-cultural fusion, is mainly based on Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Cultural Reproduction and Inclusive Education Model. There exists difference in children of migrant workers’ adaptation to urban life. Some children of migrant workers have negative reactions, such as failing to joining urban students’ groups, appearing resistance to teachers’ low evaluation, spending money irrationally to chase “fashion” and fallen behind in study. Meanwhile, some react more positively like active social interaction with urban students and teachers and more hard-working study. This two opposite attitudes are constructed by the dual function of education. Education, as an agent of cultural reproduction and an opportunity for multi-cultural fusion, influences children of migrant workers on different adaptations to rural-urban cultural conflict. Moreover, to clarify dual roles of education is a feasibility examination of the implementation of Chinese inclusive education in seeking a balanced and coordinated development between rural and urban areas.

Can the use of a Grade Point scale enhance the grades of Education Studies’ students? A pilot study based on the use of an alternative mark scale for a module within the Primary Education Studies programme at UWTSD

Sue Ainsworth

In the light of recent discussion concerning degree classification, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has been considering the adoption of a different mark scale in place of the current percentage scale. A short pilot based on the use of an alternative mark scale (an alpha-numeric scale) was run within several faculties, including the Primary Education Studies programme 2015-6 within the School of Social Justice and Inclusion. The outcomes will inform the University’s final decision.

This paper describes the process of piloting a new mark scale in the light of a review of the University’s approach to undergraduate degree classification and the implementation of a new Student Record System. It reflects on issues including the conversion of marks and communication with Education Studies’ students and lecturers.

With no clear consensus across the Faculties, the outcomes of the pilot are identified, in terms of differences in the marks awarded and any perceived benefits such as external perception and common practice elsewhere in the HE sector. These include a greater willingness amongst staff to award higher marks when using an alpha-based scale and a recommendation to implement provision to record Grade Point Average (GPA) as a parallel marking system, in the event that this becomes standard practice in the sector.

Recommendations from the pilot project are considered as are the implications for degree classifications in the future.

Biology Education to promote Responsible Global Citizenship


In the United Kingdom and Europe there have been a number of attempts to engage school science with citizenship education (Jenkins, 2006). In addition, the need for responsible global citizenship and sustainable development has recently been emphasized (Johnston, 2011). However, literature reports challenges for developing the link between science and citizenship education from the perspective of science educators (Davies, 2004).
Biology teachers working in the secondary schools of Scotland are now required to consider citizenship issues within their subject teaching because the new Curriculum for Excellence promotes the adoption of integrated and interdisciplinary approach to citizenship education. Research findings show that teachers’ beliefs are a decisive component in reforming education and in the implementation of the programs (Pajares, 1992; Bybee, 1993; Handal and Herrington, 2003; Underwood, 2012).
Therefore, this study explored biology teachers’ perspectives on dealing with global citizenship education in the context of school biology. The understandings of how biology teaches make choices about curriculum design and pedagogy and how they interpret and mediate biology in their practice as citizenship educators in a period of educational innovation can inform other science curricula in Europe which aim at linking school science with citizenship education.
Twenty biology teachers from twelve different Local Authorities of Scotland participated in semi-structured, in depth interviews. Aim of this study was to identify different ways in which biology teachers experience the phenomenon of educating for global citizenship and how this relates to their interpretations of the links between school science and global citizenship education.
The specific research questions addressed by the study were: how do teachers conceive global citizenship education in their role as biology teachers? How do the different perspectives look like? What aspects of biology are highlighted as fruitful areas for linking to global citizenship?
A phenomenographic analysis of the transcripts has employed to explore emergent patterns in the teachers’ conceptions of global citizenship education in the context of biology instructions. Iterative readings of the interview transcripts revealed interrelation between school biology and global citizenship education and differences in the understandings of the biology educators, concerning the nature of teaching global citizenship through science. Findings of this study were categorised in an emergent taxonomy with the following major categories: (A) global social justice context; (B) sustainable development, biosphere and environment conservation; (C) individual development.

Behavioural Problems in Preschool children from Teachers’ perspectives in Saudi Arabia

Mrs Basma Alghufali

A real code of practice or policy on behaviour problems (BP) is not available yet in Saudi. This may be
due to confusion and a lack of clear understanding about BP in preschool children (PC) in this country. This study is based on Western literature to obtain a definition of BP that is consistent with Saudi culture. Theoretically, Vygosky’s (1978, 1986) socio-cultural theory is the basis of this research. It suggests that behaviour and family life are social constructions. Thus, behaviour is constructed through culture and should be viewed in the child’s social and cultural environment.

The aims of the research
This study aims to investigate early childhood teachers’ perceptions of what they perceive as behavioural problems

Mixed methods are used in this study. This includes employ post positivist and interpretative paradigms. Ethical approval has been obtained from the Ethics Committee at the university. An interviews with teachers has been conducted.

Although the research is in progress, the results of the focus group confirm that there is no policy
or code of practice for teachers to follow to deal with BP. Moreover, there is miscommunication between parents and teachers and a lack of clear understanding of the meaning of BP.

There is a real need to develop a code of practice to deal with BP, and this should be based on a definition of BP that is suitable for a Saudi context

Autonomy and The Four Capacities


The purpose of the Scottish curriculum is encapsulated in the four capacities of a CfE, namely, to create successful learners, effective contributors, responsible citizens and confident individuals. These capacities, along with their associated skills, values and dispositions, all point, it seems, to a highly individualistic conception of the aims and purposes of education (see Biesta, 2008). I wish to question this claim.
While there seems to be little reasoned support for the selection and espousal of these four particular capacities and the values they embody, some justification can be found in A Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2004). The reasons advanced for the four capacities are based on the virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity. Seemingly an arbitrary selection (Gilles, 2006), these values have been prized in varying degrees by many philosophers such as Aristotle and Rawls, and have underpinned the enduring idea of a liberal education (see Hirst 1972; Nussbaum, 1998).
In this conceptual paper, I will argue that the capacities might be seen as embodying the ideals of a liberal education, more particularly that they may embody the ideals of autonomy, a concept that, in its various guises, has over time shaped philosophical thought about the person. In the liberal philosophical tradition, the separateness of persons is a basic fact for normative thought and action. It is the individual who is to be educated, where education is seen as the ‘deliberate, purposeful activity directed to the development of individuals’ (Hirst,1972:391). The deeper idea is that, following Seneca (1995), students’ minds should be liberated from habit and tradition, to question the status quo and cherished values. Students should be nurtured to be critical so that they can increasingly take command of their minds, so taking responsibility for their own thought and actions. Autonomy, thus, should be an important aim of education (Dearden, 1972).
Autonomy is not, as has been conceived by poststructuralists and critical theorists, necessarily individualistic, rational and abstract; and autonomous agents are not in danger of being too self-sufficient, removed from meaningful relationships to be participatory and leading members of their communities. Such beings are firmly rooted in the social world of persons, developing their plans, goals and values in social relations with others. Indeed, autonomy is valuable in any field in which we can advance reasons for action. These aspirations are articulated in a CfE.
I will not suggest that the capacities are not unproblematic. Inevitably they are since they embody values deriving from (representatives of) the state or some supposed national narrative about the nation’s values. I am not unaware either of the criticisms that we are educating human capital to be harvested for economic wealth creation. I will acknowledge such issues. I propose that we approach CfE from a different, perhaps now unfamiliar angle, given the predominance of postmodernist and poststructuralist thought in educational discourse, to ask if there is a positive account to be made of a CfE and the four capacities.

Authentic Student Partnership: Space for Diversity and Inclusion

Richard Sanders, Nasrat Shaheen and Roger Willoughby
Linking with the themes of diversity and student perspectives, this conference paper provides insights into an on-going Students’ as Partners (SAP) project within Education Studies at Newman University. From the inception of the project in 2013-14 and responding to the question “Where do ideas come from?”-three undergraduates have taken the lead on research work aimed at supporting inclusive learning within Education Studies. This student-generated work is having significant impact on programme delivery and has raised a number of dilemmas that will be opened up for discussion.
Starting with an opening contextualisation of student engagement within the curriculum at Newman University, this paper will then present the initial design, outcomes and recommendations of the SAP project. Key recommendations include: diversifying the curriculum beyond Eurocentric perspectives; expanding the use of literature from ethnic minorities and a greater focus on the role of identity within the first year of the programme. Whilst the original project sat outside of the curriculum its recommendations relate directly to it, allowing for a consideration of tensions around performativity and authenticity (MacKenzie et al, 2007) within Higher Education.
Our engagement with student partnership is significant, as it cannot be separated from local and national ideological discourse (Ball, 2013). This highlights questions surrounding ‘British Values’ within the curriculum, and the differences between ‘re-inscribing hegemonic power relations’ (Taylor & Robinson, 2009) and authentic critical student dialogue (Freire, 1985). Finally, what spaces Higher Education may have to make interventions that value diversity and promote inclusivity are considered.

Audio Feedback Revisited: A Pastoral Dimension?

Steve Dixon

Audio feedback can be seen as the process by which tutors digitally record assignment feedback as an mp3 file, which is then either integrated or sent back with the assignment to the student. Set within wider discourses of an increased use of blended learning approaches catering for the needs of a new generation of digital learners, previous studies have highlighted how it has the potential to save academics’ time, particularly during periods of heavy marking loads, as well as being a medium preferred by students. However such studies have predominantly utilised a quantitative approach, with little research focused on the potential emotional impact of audio feedback, or indeed, how its use could affect student understanding of the feedback process. These, it is argued, are of crucial importance in understanding the impact of feedback, particularly when set in the wider national context, where NSS survey results consistently show lower satisfaction scores for assessment and feedback than for other aspects of students’ learning experience. This paper will report on the findings of both an extensive literature review and a small-scale pilot study, utilising interviews with first year Education Studies students, exploring their perceptions on the use of audio feedback, and its potential for facilitating an emotional and pastoral connection with marking tutors. The implications for first year undergraduates’ understanding of the process of feedback will also be explored, as well as how the use of audio feedback “fits” in first year undergraduates’ cultural and digital milieu. Finally, concepts of timeliness will also be discussed – both in the use of audio feedback to reduce marking turnaround times, as well as its pastoral potential, and whether students perceive its use may be effective at particular points within their degree course.

Attachment awareness in schools – a model in partnership working or a sell-out?

Richard Parker

Attachment awareness in schools has increasingly been seen as an important element in academic, professional and political discourse over the past ten years. It is argued that developing such approaches enhances the learning and school experience of vulnerable students, promotes well- being for staff and students, and enables appropriate provision to be made for those who find difficulty in coping with classroom situation.

If the development of attachment aware practice is to be successfully achieved, there needs to be a significant shift of emphasis at national level, in terms of government policy, frameworks for inspection, continuing professional development for teachers and initial teacher education. This shift also needs to take place at a local level, taking into account the changing role of local authorities, the role of academies, trusts, teaching schools, new third sector partners, and the new statutory role of the Virtual Headteacher.

Higher Education has a major potential role to play, as a local partner with schools , trusts, local authorities and other organisations, as well as a strategic partner with national organisations such as the National College for Teaching and Leadership, Ofsted and Teach First. Secondly, HE is a provider of training, and can offer programmes of CPD, including postgraduate masters programmes, initial teacher education and undergraduate studies. Thirdly, as research establishments, universities should be engaged both in action research on and the critical evaluation of attachment awareness.

These roles could be seen as potentially contradictory and ethically challenging, particularly when seen in the broader context of universities’ struggle for survival in a fragmenting world of partnerships, marketisation, reduced resources, and a political imperative to move all teacher education into schools.

Richard Parker will present a case study of the programme of activities developed by Bath Spa University on attachment, alongside Bath and North East Somerset(B&NES) Local Authority, local schools, the National College and a number of third sector organisations, including:

A pilot programme with B&NES schools
Training materials for teachers
Working with national groupings of virtual school headteachers
A partnership bid to develop a national research database, to inform a national quality standard
A Masters programme on Attachment and Learning

Richard will consider what criteria should be used to evaluate the success or otherwise of this programme, the extent to which it has impacted in any meaningful way on the everyday school experience of vulnerable young people, and the broader ethical and political issues raised.

Attachment aware schools, emotional and mental wellbeing: explorations in education policy

Richard Parker

This paper explores the changing paradigm for behaviour management within the English education system and asks whether the emergent ‘alternative’ approaches are truly transformational, or merely an obfuscation of a continuing neo-liberal ideology.

The New Labour government promoted a holistic approach to children’s behaviour and emotional needs, encapsulated in the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme and the Steer Report on Learning Behaviour. Since 2010 Coalition and Conservative governments in England have adopted a traditionalist rhetoric of discipline and punishment, promoting  simplistic behaviourist approaches  and deriding ‘those who bleat bogus pop psychology about ‘self image’, which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up’ (Gove 2013). At the same time’ government policy has emphasised support for individual pupils, relying on private and voluntary sector interventions to provide a ‘market’ of opportunities. Placing responsibility for such interventions with individual schools has led to a range of different local approaches.

There is relatively little empirical research on the effectiveness of alternative approaches, and virtually no theoretical analysis of their ideological implications, beyond crude neo-liberal suspicion of ‘soft’ strategies typified by Gove’s response, and neo-Marxist assumptions that they effectively support the status quo by cooling out legitimate anger and challenge. However the evidence which has emerged from projects at Bath Spa University indicates that, far from supporting the status quo – at least internally in schools – effective interventions require significant changes in school management and a whole system approach.

The Health Select Committee (November 2014), the Education Select Committee (December 2015), the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (November 2015) and even the Department of Health (March 2015) have made recommendations for increased training and support for teachers in responding to issues of mental and emotional health.  However, while adopting a rhetoric on improving mental health in schools, resilience and ‘character education’, formal government responses to these reports have avoided policy commitments and prescriptive approaches. Moreover, the adoption of alternative approaches does not necessarily offer protection against Ofsted failure, given the over whelming imperative for narrowly defined academic success, particularly in those communities where needs are likely to be greatest.

This current investigation asks whether government policy has changed , or whether the rhetoric has simply shifted. It further seeks to determine the extent to which alternative approaches have impacted on initial teacher education, CPD or actual classroom practice, and whether or not these can be seen as a challenge, or merely an adjunct to maintaining the educational and social status quo.

Arts Education and the Desistance Process: The Role That Agency Acquired Through Art Plays in Supporting Female Offenders During Incarceration and Upon Release


The role and place of the arts within prison has long been the topic of much research and discussion, with varying opinions on its relevance and outcomes in terms of rehabilitation. In the most recent review of the female prison estate, Robinson (2013) suggests that ‘life’ and ‘independence’ skills should be acquired in prison in preparation for release and that expansion of such skills would compliment the additional skills that women learn in prison and offer a very practical response to the difficulties that they describe in their lives in the community. This research supports the notion that access to the arts within prison can form the basis of fostering such skills in order to support and accelerate the desistance process through the forming of identify, independence, personal growth and self sufficiency. Using prisoner access to the arts as a catalyst for the development of agency within the desistance process, this study critically examines the impact of arts education on the female offender during incarceration, upon release and their integration back into society. Comparable research conducted at two UK female prisons in England involves the case studies of a cross selection of participants including: repeat offenders, first time offenders, foreign national prisoners, lifer prisoners and young offenders as well as ex-offenders in the community. If agency is at least as crucial as structure in maintaining a positive life course and abstinence from offending, then the outcomes from arts based activities within the criminal justice system may have an important role to play (Bilby et al, 2013, 13). Through a series of interviews, this study considers the ways in which agency acquired through the arts can be applied throughout the continuing stages of rehabilitation once a woman has been released from prison with the aim of establishing whether the impact of arts interventions can sustain to the final stage of the desistance process, when someone actually ‘gives up crime’.

Bilby,C., Caulfield,L., Ridley,L. (2013) Re-imagining Futures: Exploring Arts Interventions and the Process of Desistance. Arts Alliance UK.

Robinson, C. (2013) Women’s Custodial Estate Review. National Offender Management Service. October 2013.

An investigation into the effect of phonics teaching on reading scores in KS1

Paul Skillen and Bethany Murphy

As schools in England introduced the phonics checklist during 2012, the question of the best approach to teach children to read is again a matter for educational debate. Jolliffe (2004) claimed that the most effective way to teach children to read has been contested in schools for many years. Two different views of how to teach reading through either Whole Language theory or phonics have become contested strategies in this debate. Goodman (1998) described these competing pedagogies as ‘The reading wars’.
The aim of this research was to examine the effectiveness of phonics teaching on the ability to improve reading comprehension. This has been studied in two schools with differing demographics using observations interviews and test scores.
The results from test scores in both settings indicate that whilst phonics teaching made improvement on the phonics checklist, it did not correlate with improvement to reading test scores in the longer term. The observations and interviews with the practitioners in both settings investigated possible reasons for the test score outcomes. These are reported in themes of training, compliance and the style of pedagogy employed discretely to comply with the policy. The research concludes that an over reliance on teaching decoding skills is not appropriate for all pupils. Pupils who did not respond well to instruction on how to decode, were placed in lower reading groups despite being adept at meaning and comprehension.

An Integration of Collaborative Learning and Haptic Senses: A Cross – cultural Approach in Architectural Education

Koompong Noobanjong and Taisto H. Mäkelä
Contemporary architectural discourse exhibits that current scholarly foci have shifted to the influences of our bodily experiences and haptic senses in understanding the built environment. In January 2015, the pedagogical practicality of the said theoretical premise was explored, when a group of faculty members and students from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang, and University of Colorado, Denver, organized workshops and field trips to investigate artistic and architectural heritages in central and northern Thailand.
Informed by Kagan’s methodological approach in collaborative learning, the entire program was devised to foster cross-cultural learning among the participants. Operating in small teams, the participants conducted joint inquiries on many topics — ranging from architectural symbolism and iconography to materiality and building typologies — utilizing several techniques, media, and methods of representations.
A public exhibition of these project-based learning assignments essentially revealed that the partakers relied on their corporeal experiences and sensibilities to construct the perceptions of the places in which they had visited. Not only did the aforementioned finding provide a ground for this research to: (1) illustrate the significance of the haptic way of learning; but also (2) demonstrate the value of collaborative approach in architectural education, especially in a cross-cultural setting; and (3) further examine a number of crucial questions. For instance, how could studying the arts and architecture of other cultures advance an appreciation of the built environment as a constituent element in the shaping of cultural identity and vice versa? How could it help a person to reflect upon his/her own identity?

An exploration of female interest and attitudes towards studying Mathematics.

Paul Skillen and Olivia Naylor

The issue of female students choosing Mathematics at A level has been a subject of debate for some time. Despite GCSE results being relatively equal between boys and girls, the number of girls choosing Maths at A level remains disproportionately low. The work of Gates (2001) suggests that females lack confidence when choosing Mathematics due to an historical lack of equality in British society. This reluctance by female students to opt for Maths is further supported in the 2015 OECD report which outlines the lack of confidence reported by female students in approaching Maths as a subject option.

This research was conducted in a secondary school Mathematics department with Year 11 pupils. Five female students were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews regarding their perceptions of gender within Mathematics and their experiences of the subject.  A questionnaire for teaching staff was conducted to examine teachers’ attitudes regarding gender within mathematics, and how they employed specific teaching techniques to engage all pupils. Current Mathematics GCSE grades within the school were examined to identify if the opinions of students and teachers correlated with GCSE results.

The themes which emerged from the findings highlighted:

Parity of performance in GCSE results.

Fewer female students chose Maths at A level citing societal influence as a major factor.

Female students’ confidence in Maths was also determined by other people’s perceptions of their ability.

Organisational strategies in schools were also discovered as potential deterrents for female students choosing Mathematics at A level.

No coherent strategy to encourage female choice of Maths at A level.

Key words:  Mathematics, equality,  societal influence, female subject perceptions

Olivia Naylor
University of Chester

Academic responses to impact as a new indicator in the REF: exploring the implications for pedagogic research in HE

Dr Catherine O'Connell

This paper will report on preliminary findings from a study of academic responses to ‘impact’ as a new indicator in the UK Research Excellence Framework. In particular, the study explores differing narratives of impact in relation to educational research focused on the Higher Education sector. There has been considerable debate as to whether impact (as demonstrated by qualitative case studies) provides a counter-point to quantitative research outputs and a new narrative space for the sector to define broader conceptions of value and purpose or whether it induces a new form of performativity. Through an analysis of impact cases studies of HE-focused educational research, and interviews conducted with academics engaged in this field of research, the paper will seek to share insights into ways this new indicator is perceived to be influencing perceptions of, and practices relating to, pedagogic research in tertiary education.

Academic boredom among students in higher education: a mixed-methods exploration of characteristics and consequences

John Sharp

Academic boredom contributes usually adversely towards student engagement, learning and overall performance across a diverse range of settings including universities. The formal study of academic boredom in higher education remains, however, a relatively underdeveloped field and one surprisingly neglected in the UK. Adopting contemporary perspectives rooted in Control-Value Theory, details of a mixed-methods exploration of academic boredom among 235 final year undergraduates attending a single university in England are presented. Quantitative data from the principal survey instrument employed included measurement using the BPS-UKHE, a revised boredom proneness scale developed for use across the sector. Qualitative data arose primarily from ten research interviews. Findings indicate that about half of all respondents reported experiencing the most common precursors of academic boredom at least occasionally (e.g. monotony, repetition, time slowing down, lack of desire for challenge, loss of concentration and motivation to learn, restlessness); traditional lectures with a perceived excess and inappropriate use of PowerPoint stimulating the actual onset of boredom more than other interactive forms of delivery. Coping strategies when bored included daydreaming, texting and turning to social media. Boredom also occurred during the completion of assignments used to assess modules. Quantitative and qualitative differences between those identified as more prone to boredom than others extended to self-study (fewer hours), attendance (good rather than excellent) and final degree outcome (lower marks and a lower proportion of first and upper second class degree awards). Findings are considered valuable empirically, as well as theoretically, leading to recommendations surrounding boredom mitigation which challenge cultural traditions and pedagogical norms.

A Peirce – Vygotskian approach to the modality of second language education

James Ma
Over the past two decades, research within applied linguistics has brought to prominence the role of social mediation in learners’ internalisation of cognitive strategies relating to communicative activities, thus developing the implications of sociocultural theory for second language acquisition (e.g., Lantolf, 2000; Lantolf & Poehner, 2011; Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; Swain, 2000). However, given the ever-changing landscape of human interactions, a more nuanced understanding of multimodal communication and representation is arguably called for. Approaches to second language acquisition would thus need to move beyond the role of linguistic semiosis, as language is increasingly in its most productive sense, embracing an entire range of semiotic resources. Whilst scholarship has begun to dovetail the notion of multimodality with language and education, there would be a need to further theorise how the reality status is perceived through various modes of meaning and how the acts of meaning take place within an individual and between individuals.
Forging ahead with “semiotic philosophy as educational foundation” (Stables & Semetsky, 2014), this presentation explores new vistas for second language education. For example, a new dimension for research may be initiated, focusing on the relational function of modality in terms of “intramodality” (modes of meaning within an individual) and “intermodality” (modes of meaning between individuals). Given a second-language speaker’s act of meaning being induced by either the target-language, the first-language or the interplay of the two languages, he/she can experience a dialectics of thesis and antithesis cognitively and emotionally. This is a little-explored area within second language education. Informed by the co-articulation of Peirce and Vygotsky (Ma, 2014), the
presentation offers a detailed account of the Peirce-Vygotsky confluence for research into the modality of second language education, albeit a nascent step towards bringing such confluence into fruition.

A comparative study of students’ entry motivation at universities in England, Germany and Portugal

Dr Brendan Bartram

This paper outlines the rationale, aims and methodological approach adopted in a comparative research study currently being undertaken by the author. Despite a large number of studies focusing on the changing nature and landscape of higher education (HE), research scrutinising students’ reasons for entering HE still remains a relatively under-explored area (Round, 2005:9; Kennett, Reed and Lam, 2011:65). This study aims thus to investigate this issue and has a particular interest in exploring the perceived impact of the current economic climate on students’ expressed reasons for study. The following 3 research questions underpin the enquiry:

  1. How can university students’ motivation in the 3 countries be described?
  2. What motivational patterns, if any, are evident within and across the 3 national settings?
  3. To what extent and in what ways does student entry motivation appear to be influenced by current economic discourses?

Examining student views in three contrasting socio-economic settings will hopefully shed some light on how current discourses of austerity penetrate student understandings, expectations and aspirations in Europe, and an attempt will be made to identify and account for similarities and differences. The transnational focus therefore seeks to provide a lens on how these influences and discourses may be culturally mediated and inflected. The paper offers an overview of key themes and issues identified in existing literature, followed by a description of the project’s design. It is hoped that a presentation and analysis of initial survey findings will be possible by the time of the conference.

*‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’: using dreams as a research method to trouble un/conscious discourses in education

Emma Macleod-Johnstone

How many of us working in HE often struggle to survive rather than thrive? In challenging days of Neo-liberal times I kept asking ’[t]he question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy? (Albert Einstein, in Van Oech, 2011: 64) Hence in my research on ‘Myths, Madness, and Mourning in the Halls of Academe’, I sought to query the levels of un/conscious ‘denial’ regarding the effects of Parker’s (1997:4) rising tide of bellicose managerialism manifested in hierarchical lines of command and decision-making, centralization of power, massively increased bureaucracy, [and more] … and my lived ‘reality’ of being in the midst of it. For Jung, one cannot reduce the unconscious to its personal dimension; it is transcendent, and provides the vessels that carry us between ‘the realm of the unconscious and the phenomenal world of human experiences’. (Grey, 2008: 20) So, how did I get to this phenomenal world? How could I delve down through messy imbricated layers of personal ‘knowing’, and find a way to expose a ‘collective unconscious’ that surrounds experiences of being in an academic community?
I dreamt it all up! Here I explore the use of dreams to provoke ‘the irruption of transgressive data’ (St Pierre, 1997) in order to disturb and trouble performative discourses within the academy.
Grey, F. (2008) Jung, Irigaray, Individuation: Philosophy, Analytical psychology, and the question of the Feminine, London: Routledge.
Parker, S. (1997) Reflective Teaching in the Postmodern World: a manifesto for education in postmodernity, Buckingham: Open University Press
*Shakespeare, W. The Tempest, Act IV, Sc 1, 155-156
St. Pierre, Adams E. (2010) ‘Methodology in the fold and the irruption of transgressive data’, in International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol 10 (2), 175-189
Van Oeuch, R. (2011) A Whack on the Side of the Head, London: Primento Edition

‘Open all hours’: researching access, play and adventure in school grounds (a collaboration between Play Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and local schools)

Chantelle Haughton, Gary Beauchamp and Marianne Manello
This paper explored the perceived benefits and challenges for all stakeholders in the piloting of an innovative ‘toolkit’ aimed at increasing the use of school grounds outside school hours for adventurous community play. Wales has taken a leading role in developing play policy and this research builds upon this tradition, providing insight into ways of supporting and developing community play opportunities for children. Across Wales, Play Sufficiency Assessments suggest that school grounds are substantially under-utilised (WG, 2014).The paper considers critical issues which include: practical realities of widening the use of school grounds beyond usual hours; perceptions of risk and adventure; children’s right to play; community participation and impact; and practical realities of the intervention.
This action research project was undertaken in collaboration with Play Wales and local schools. It adopted a critical realist epistemological stance within which children were positioned as active partners and powerful actors within their local communities. The ‘toolkit’ was piloted in three schools from mixed socio-economic backgrounds and qualitative data was gained through semi-structured interviews, focus group activities and secondary data generated through implementation of the ‘toolkit’ (e.g. play audits). Education Studies and Early Childhood Studies students received training and took part in the implementation of the intervention.
Evidence suggests that school grounds across Wales are substantially under-utilised, demonstrating the potential value for school play spaces to become absorbed into wider community life.