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
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.
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.
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).
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 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
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
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.
A. Staff Development and Support
D. Staff Departures
Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL
Last updated 17 October 2003