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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Research Strategy and Structure
Education as a subject has a long history in the College, with a culture of excellence in pedagogy based on research and scholarship, and is designated as a College investment area. The School of Education sees its research as a means of sustaining its reputation for, and commitment to, high quality pedagogy both in schools and in higher education. Concern for teaching, learning and assessment informs the School's research priorities. From 1996, systematic and targeted support for staff research became central to the School's research strategy, with the aim of increasing cohesion between researchers and intensifying research effort in areas of strength. Our strategic aims have been to (a) increase external research funding; (b) improve the number and quality of research publications; (c) boost research degree completions, and (d) enhance collaboration with practitioners. The increased quality and quantity of activity evidenced in this submission in comparison with achievements in 1996 fully justifies this strategy. Collaborative activity has created greater intellectual integration, helping to generate increased research momentum and output. A central concern is that publications reach potential users, including those who construct policy and those who implement practice, as well as academics.

A. Research Groups
Since 1996, the priorities described above have enabled the School to concentrate its research expertise and activities into three research groups: Identities and Inequalities, Science and Environmental Education, and Developing Learning. All staff entered locate their research within at least one of the above groups and three contribute in two, enabling cross-fertilisation of knowledge, skills and perspectives. Staff collaborate in providing support for drafting and submitting research bids, a strategy which has secured external funding for research, for example, in professional training and in young children's behaviour.

Identities and Inequalities: (Collinson, Evans, Fuller, Hockey, Rolls, Scott-Baumann, Woodward). This group focuses on professionals and their clients in higher education, schools, and the health education sector. Its work concentrates on the training and routine practices of these professional groups and on issues relating to inequality and exclusion which impact upon their occupational lives. Sociological frameworks of analysis underpin research within this group. Research has been published predominantly in journals with sociological, educational and health orientations, with a target audience of academics, policy-makers, professionals and practitioners. Staff have also given numerous international conference papers (see RA6a). Key areas of research activity are described below: research degree education; the training of professionals; inequalities in education.

Research degree education (Collinson, Evans, Fuller, Hockey): Collinson and Hockey have analysed aspects of research degree policy in the UK and conducted empirical studies of research degree supervision in the social sciences and in art and design. Their work has examined academic socialisation, the formation of academic identities, and the acquisition of research skills amongst novice academics (doctoral students). Hockey is listed in RA2 with articles relating to the supervision of social science degrees and has additional output. Collinson has one paper examining supervisory problems in practice-based doctorates, and another critically analysing research methods training in doctoral programmes. Fuller (with Boulter and Denicolo, University of Reading) researches PhD examining, a process which constitutes a professional rite of passage for both doctoral students and novice supervisors, with a view to improving practice. Evans has published on doctoral writing and is researching the relationship between biography and success in doctoral studies.

Training of professionals: (Collinson, Fuller, Hockey, Rolls, Scott-Baumann, Woodward). Collinson and Hockey both examine the occupational culture and work practices of contract researchers, while Woodward, in a jointly edited book, focuses upon women managers' experience of gender inequalities in higher education. In addition, her co-authored book uses research evidence for developing policy and practice to manage equal opportunities in higher education (both books listed in RA2). Fuller and Scott-Baumann research professional partnerships in the context of teacher training. Rolls has researched the education and training of professionals in health and social care, with particular emphasis on their health education/health promotion role. Drawn from a project now completed, her listed publications examine the nature and assessment of education and training as well as the relationship between higher education institutions, as training providers, and the workplace, as a place of learning. She has obtained £119,000 funding (Clara Burgess Trust, 2000-02) to study childhood bereavement services. The study will consider service development, particularly the education and training needs of paid and unpaid workers, as well as their relationship to local education services.

Inequalities in education: (Fuller, Woodward). Both researchers focus upon inequality in institutional and informal settings. Fuller's publications report empirical research into young (school age) women's educational and social identities, while Woodward examines methodological issues in researching young women's lives and identities and reflects on organisational inequalities. Fuller has also researched school exclusion, with Riley and Rustique Forrester (Roehampton). Funded by Lancashire LEA (1998-2000, the project drew on pupils' experience of exclusion and re-integration into mainstream education. It has been disseminated through national and international conferences and inter-professional seminars within Lancashire. A book is in preparation. Fuller and Woodward disseminate their research through academic conferences and publication in sociology and methodology journals. Funded research (£18,000 via the College's TQEF allocation) will begin in May 2001 into the learning experiences of disabled students in higher education. The project will inform the widening access and participation in higher education agenda and contribute to College policy development.

Science and Environmental Education: (Lakin, Littledyke, Ross). Researchers in this group concentrate on constructivist pedagogy, which acknowledges and uses learners' previous experience and understanding in the teaching and learning process. Their work informs development of teaching courses and the wide range of other professional activities in the School as well as being aimed at an academic audience. Work in science and environmental education has been targeted for particular support during this assessment period in order to increase the number and productivity of staff in an already successful area. Staff work in collaboration on the science of environmental issues and their listed publications are concerned with problems of construction of meaning during the teaching and learning process.

Littledyke analyses constructivist methodology, critiques national curriculum developments in science, and presents empirical research into primary teachers' attitudes, views and practices in science and environmental education. Ross's listed publications focus on the problems pupils face in constructing scientific understanding during the teaching and learning process. He applies constructivist principles to the scientific understanding of environmental problems; analyses the use of scientific language in teaching; and presents an original framework for the classification of materials that is designed to help pupils understand the relationships between materials' chemistry and their properties. Lakin examines the potential of science education to develop environmental understanding; exemplifies this through a method for assessing ecological value; and presents a substantial rationale and methodology for addressing the full science curriculum at KS3.

The group disseminates its work at academic and practitioner conferences and workshops, thereby reaching and influencing audiences of teachers as well as teacher educators and academics. During the assessment period Lakin gave papers and led workshops at 6 ASE events, while Littledyke gave 6 papers, including at BERA and ASE conferences. Ross led workshops and gave papers and posters on 18 occasions, predominantly in ASE and ASET national and regional conferences but including 2 at an international conference (see RA6a).

Developing Leaming: (Catherwood, Charlton, Coles, Evans, Fulcher, Fuller, Scott-Baumann, Terrell). This group includes staff whose research was entered in 1996 in the Management of Behaviour (Charlton, Coles) and Oracy and Literacy sub-areas (Terrell). While that work continues, research in the group has extended to cover a wider range of ages and topics, particularly with the contributions of Catherwood, Evans and Fulcher (whilst at the College: entered as A*). Frameworks underpinning the group's research now include contemporary behavioural, experimental cognitive and developmental psychology, and a sociological component in the research of Evans and Fuller. Research in this group focuses upon the impact of television on children and child development in the early years.

Impact of television on children: Charlton and Coles, with Gunter (University of Sheffield) and Hannan (Plymouth University) concentrate on the impact of television on children's social and educational activities and behaviour in St Helena, comparing the situation before and after the arrival of television on the island. Listed publications include empirical studies of children's social activities and more theoretical consideration of the relationship between children's behaviour and their use of television. Work in progress aims to test the hypothesis that viewers may acquire violent or anti-social behaviour patterns from their viewing, yet not practise them. The project succeeded in its 1996 goal of attracting ESRC funding (1997-2000, £43,000). The research has regularly attracted the attention of both academics and international media. It aims to enhance the understanding and management of children's behaviour, with a view to informing pedagogy and the research has been published in outlets with a predominantly psychological orientation, including journals with practitioner readership.

Development in the early years: (Catherwood, Evans, Fulcher, Fuller, Terrell). Terrell draws upon experimental cognitive psychology to research the development of early literacy and mathematical skills. His work has a high degree of currency in the wider community, as reflected in two joint initiatives with the Hornsby International Dyslexia Centre. Firstly, the Centre funds a full-time PhD studentship (£26,190, 1998-2001) in the School, as part of a project aiming to assess literacy and mathematical skills in pre-literate children. It is anticipated that the project will have practical utility in determining the likelihood of reading failure at infant and junior school levels. The second initiative is a research-based postgraduate diploma in SpLD, which currently has over 150 students in 20 countries. Evans and Fuller emphasise the importance of eliciting very young children's perceptions of their schooling in order to understand educational and social outcomes. They contextualise children's learning by reference to parents' and teachers' understandings of children's development and education. Catherwood concentrates on the emergence of fundamental cognition (attention and memory) in very young children and the factors that impact on these capacities. Her work on infant visual memory has attracted external funding (ESRC, £37,988, 1998-2000, £16,681 since her appointment to the College) and focuses on understanding the conditions that impact on infants' potential for learning in the family and more formal educational contexts. Her research has implications for the design of environments for the professional care and education of young children and for further research into the timetable of development for brain organisation in early life, thereby offering a valuable reference point for clinical appraisal of early learning difficulties. Catherwood also continues to research with Fulcher the relationship between learning and emotion, and in particular explores the way in which, through learning, negative states of mind can become associated with conditions that are neutral. Fulcher obtained Welcome Trust funding for this research (1997-2000, £70,000; of which sum £44,849 was received during his time at the College). Dissemination of research has been through conference papers and publication in academic and practitioner journals.

B. Promoting and Sustaining a Research Culture
The School fosters a research culture in a number of ways. In terms of external links, it has hosted visiting academics from Marmara University, Istanbul and OISE at the University of Toronto, which enhance the international nature of research in the Identities and Inequalities group. Recognising the value of such collaborations, the School provides financial support for staff engaged in these various international research teams. Projects with the Universities of Marmara, Los Andes, Toronto and Melbourne have received such support during this assessment period. In addition, an open Education research seminar series, to which external speakers are invited each year, and other Faculty and College seminar series introduce a further dimension of exposure to external research. Established researchers have responsibility for developing the work of new and promising researchers. They and other targeted staff may have reduced teaching responsibilities in order to pursue specified research activities, for example, developing external research relationships or concentrating on bidding for external funding. All staff entered as research-active, and a number of those who have not been entered on this occasion - but whose work should come to fruition in subsequent years - have been actively supported in developing their research. Where appropriate, they are encouraged and supported to register for a research degree by part-time study.

The vitality of the School's research student culture is demonstrated by the number of students who completed research degrees in the assessment period (15 PhDs and 1 MPhil) and by the 24 students currently registered. The College recognises this success by investing in full-time research studentships. Research Centres on each campus give research students access to office space and all appropriate IT facilities, while they are all entitled, and some are required, to undergo research methods training. The Faculty Research Director chairs a student-led advanced research seminar series in which students discuss their work in progress and common interests, and practise giving presentations. Originally an Education initiative, the College operates a residential research methods summer school open to both full- and part-time research students. All students are encouraged to publish and to give conference papers, either on their own or jointly with a supervisor, and are eligible for funding to do so. Many part-time research students are employed in schools, colleges and HEIs, researching aspects of educational practice. Their research informs their own and colleagues' practice and in this way has a direct impact on improving educational practice.

C. Research Infrastructure
Three levels of committees and procedures (College, Faculty and School) manage research in the College. Reporting to Academic Board, the College Research Committee has institutional responsibility for research policy and for annual monitoring of all aspects of research in Faculties. Faculty Research committees oversee research activities at Faculty level and receive reports from Schools. The College Research Degrees Committee oversees all aspects of the research degree programme from registration to examination. It recommends the award of research degrees to the College’s Academic Board. It is supported by Faculty Research Degrees Committees, which undertake initial vetting of proposed registrations and play an important part in monitoring student progress. Among other responsibilities, the Graduate School administers a training programme for research degree supervisors, manages research methods training (currently leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods), and works closely with the College Research Degrees Committee to oversee all central aspects of the research degree programme.

The School has overall charge of research management for Education. The Head of School (HoS) has responsibility for staffing and staff development, in particular, allocating workloads annually in a process that balances research targets with teaching loads as part of the staff development scheme. A panel of experienced researchers is responsible for organising the allocation of monies in relation to research plans. The HoS is an ex officio member of the Panel, while Hockey and Fuller are Chair and Coordinator respectively. The latter also deals with much of the day-to-day oversight and monitoring of staff research which comprises reading drafts, suggesting new projects and schedules, supporting colleagues in the supervision of research students, contributing to the enhancement of a research culture by introducing external visitors and mentoring those new to research. In addition senior Education staff are involved in research management in the College as a whole. Woodward and Fuller are Chair and Vice Chair respectively, and Littledyke and Catherwood are members of, the College Research Degrees Committee. In addition, Woodward, Fuller and Littledyke are also members of the College Research Committee.

D. Supporting Collaborative Research
Collaborative research is an integral part of the School's research programme, hence internal collaboration between staff members on shared research topics is evident within the three research groups previously described. Collaboration with external users includes Littledyke's co-ordination of a collaborative research project with primary school teachers into children's learning of science through drama, funded by the TTA. Ross and Lakin, also with TTA funding, have created with teachers a CD ROM for schools' use, based on research into pupils' and students' learning of science issues. In each research group there are examples of staff involved in cross-institutional collaborative research. Catherwood, Charlton, Fuller, Lakin, Rolls, Terrell and Woodward all maintain such ways of working, as is demonstrated in their listed publications. Collaborative research as a means of staff development is discussed in 'Staffing Policy' and 'Young and New Researchers' below.

E. Relationship With Users and Government Policies
Some research and development activities in each research group are especially focused upon policy makers' and practitioners' agendas. The impact on policy and practice of Charlton and Coles's research in St Helena is evidenced by the DFID-funded 'St Helena Link', based at the College, whereby staff from the School, most recently Lakin of the Science and Environmental Education group, undertake six-week visits to the island to provide teachers with research-informed professional development in literacy, numeracy and science. Two externally funded projects on exclusion address a core Government concern to improve access and participation in school. During 1998 and 1999 Charlton and Jones's (University College, Worcester) QCA-funded research focused on the pedagogical implications of exclusion and has been disseminated through QCA workshops. Fuller was part of a team that included colleagues at Roehampton, already mentioned, and LEA members and officers whose research emanated from an LEA's wish to develop policy on a strong evidence base. Three staff who built up strong reputations for research-informed continuing professional development for teachers during their time in the School have now left to pursue those interests full-time. Corbett and Huxford now focus on the government agenda for the Literacy Hour, while Harper is involved in the scheme to provide national professional qualifications for headship (see also Staff Departures, below).

Woodward has directed two externally-funded projects that provided opportunities for research students to acquire practice in applied research, including a needs survey for a GP practice and a study of customers' views of service delivery for a local hospital. Rolls was invited to project manage a UK-wide initiative to develop standards in health promotion, resulting in the development and piloting of National Occupational Standards for Professional Activity in Health Promotion and Care (1995-97, £56,296, for whole period; 1996-97, £42,722). This complex initiative (under the auspices of the Care Sector Consortium, funded by the DFEE, the DOH and the NHS Executive and brokered through the Health Education Authority) was developed through multi-professional focus groups and questionnaires involving all stakeholders from government through to user groups. Subsequently Rolls was commissioned to lead two pilot projects: the first (1998) tested the use of standards in 6 settings, including a medical school and two higher education institutions that were involved in professional education and training. The second pilot (1998-99) considered the use of standards in a number of NHS settings, including their applicability as a commissioning tool, by Regional Education Consortia (responsible for commissioning education on behalf of the NHS from HEIs). A series of UK-wide dissemination activities accompanied each stage of work, including a launch of the standards in England, Scotland and Wales, and dissemination activities for specialist groups of policy-makers, NHS Regional Education Office Leads, service managers, as well as educators and practitioners. Curriculum materials (CD-ROM, books on primary and secondary level science teaching) generated by Lakin, Littledyke, and Ross, from the Science and Environmental Education group, show an engagement with the agendas of schools and teachers-in-training. Ross and Lakin received £10,000 (1998-99) from the TTA to develop a CD-ROM to support pupils' and students' understanding of scientific concepts associated with environmental issues. Ross, Lakin and Littledyke are developing a further CD-ROM to extend these materials, which is due for publication in June 2001.

Staffing Policy

A. Staff Development and Support
The School seeks to appoint staff with high quality professional expertise and research experience or potential. Most appointed during the assessment period have been at the beginning of their research careers. Our strategy for developing and supporting staff research has been to draw on the strengths of those with a strong profile in 1996 to develop their own research, particularly with external higher education institutions and other agencies, and to nurture internal collaboration with those who are less experienced. Working on a reduced teaching timetable, an experienced researcher supports other staff in each of the three groups. Charlton, Fuller, Hockey and Littledyke act in this capacity. The main form of support for targeted staff is the provision of periods of time to work towards clear research targets. In addition staff are able to claim reimbursement of fieldwork expenses. Contract researchers, have the same entitlement to support and development for research as other staff. During the assessment period, the School appointed a research administrator.

B. Young and New Researchers
Since 1999, College policy requires new teaching staff with less than three years' relevant experience to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Further and Higher Education. The course provides opportunities to explore the relationship between research and teaching and to research and write about professional practice in HE, thereby providing a basis for developing subsequent scholarly and research activity. Support for staff relatively new to research is a cornerstone of the School's strategy and has resulted in two members of staff (Lakin, Scott-Baumann) achieving 'research active' status. Lakin's activities were described earlier within the Science and Environmental Education group. Scott-Baumann had sabbatical leave in 2000 to focus on completing her PhD. Since 1999 she has also developed a project on the mentoring of new GPs, which will yield research publications in the future. Panting has co-written a number of published papers, but her status as a research assistant precludes her being listed as research active. Others not entered on this occasion have begun to develop or further develop as researchers. For example, Williams has researched the Literacy Hour and reading schemes, with financial support from the School. She has two articles accepted for publication. Barker, appointed in 1998, completed her PhD on student loneliness in 1999 and is now continuing the research into the impact of paid work on undergraduates' experience of higher education which she began with a SRHE Young Researcher award in 2000. She and Williams have each given a paper at an international conference, supported by the School. Together with experienced supervisors, each supervises a PhD student and is undergoing research supervisor training.

D. Staff Departures
During this assessment period the School has experienced some staff turnover. Huxford formally resigned in February 2001 to work for the National Literacy Strategy to which she had been seconded as Chief Trainer since January 1998, developing training materials for teachers. It is a matter of regret that that her output of training materials, built on research in reading undertaken during her time at the College, cannot be included in this RAE. The departure of Corbett and Harper in 1997 and 1999 respectively, has had less of an impact on the School's research culture since they had already moved wholly into teachers' professional development activities by the beginning of the assessment period. Fulcher was employed in the College for just 2 years, but the valuable collaboration built up with Catherwood continues.

Self Assessment
The College's decision not to enter social policy researchers separately into the 2001 RAE released two experienced researchers, Rolls and Woodward, whose integration into the School's activities counterbalanced other staff departures (e.g. Fulcher, Huxford). Rolls and Woodward make an important contribution to the Identities and Inequalities group, not least because they extend research capacity in continuing professional development and in equity issues and increase the group's potential to obtain external funding. Four staff entered as active in 1996 (Brown, Nutt, Palmer and Wright) now focus upon national and regional professional activities and are not entered this time as research-active.

The School has achieved the major targets set in 1996 and used to good purpose the funding it has received for research activities. In comparison with 1996, the School has a more firmly embedded and vital research culture, including national research collaboration with practitioners as well as academics. External research income has increased from £33,000 (1992-96) to £298,000, including Wellcome Trust and ESRC grants and substantial charity funding. The increased quantity and quality of staff publications can be seen by the fact that 13 staff each have four refereed publications, more than double the 1996 figure and almost all have considerably more than this. The School's already strong profile for research student registration is now matched by a comparable record of PhD completions. The rise from five completions in the 1996 submission to fifteen this time is evidence of growing expertise within the School, the success of the programme of College-funded full-time studentships, and the prudence of our 1996 plans to keep research student numbers in steady state. A high proportion of those completing their research degrees have found employment in universities, colleges, charities and social work and health services, at an appropriate level, and thus begin their careers with an existing portfolio of teaching, conference papers and publications. The research culture of the School promotes an expectation that research and scholarship are integral to professional life.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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