Monthly Archives: December 2015

Reflecting on the first two months

Written by Rebecca Snape, Graducate Teaching and Research Assistant, Birmingham City University.

becky snapeHi, I’m Becky, and I’m new (ish) to BCU! It’s been two months since I started my PhD, so I thought that writing a blog would be a good idea to reflect on my experiences so far. I should probably start by introducing myself. I’m 22 and am originally from Staffordshire. I previously studied at Keele University, where I completed my undergraduate in English and Education Studies, and also studied for a Masters in Education Research. I handed in my Masters dissertation at the start of September and, two weeks later, moved to Birmingham to start the PhD ‘journey’.

I’m currently in the process of formulating my research questions but, broadly speaking, I’m hoping to look at teachers’ perceptions and experiences of creative writing pedagogy at Key Stage Four. I’ve delivered various Creative Writing workshops in schools for the past few years alongside my studies, and Creative Writing also formed a substantial part of my degree, but I now want to examine some of the issues I have encountered through an ‘academic’ lens. In the initial stages of formulating a research proposal for my PhD, I outlined that I wanted to look at the Creative Writing A-Level, but I ended up moving away from that, which is good because a decision has (unfortunately) since been made to withdraw it. So, at a time when creative writing is still struggling for the recognition I feel it deserves at policy level, I’m keen to hear teachers’ thoughts about its place within GCSE English and even other subjects.

My first two months at BCU have been very enjoyable, and I’ve found my supervisors and everybody in the department to be incredibly supportive and welcoming. So far, I’ve mostly spent my time reading and writing about my area to develop my knowledge. My Masters research examined Higher Education policy and Widening Participation, whereas my PhD topic is really rather different, so I’m still adjusting to the new area at the minute. Having said that, I’m slowly but surely getting to the point now where I’m considering my potential methodological and theoretical approaches to the research. It’s exciting to see my thoughts developing!

Other than the research, I’ve spent my time working towards the PGCert in Research Practice, which PhD students undertake when they start their course. I’ve also attended research cafes, conferences and clusters to get to know the faculty a little better and hear about other research going on. There’s so much going on in the faculty to get involved with, which provides a lot of opportunities for development. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can contribute to the department as my PhD progresses. Here’s to the next three years!