Meet the CSPACE Team – Dr Tony Armstrong

Name: Dr Tony Armstrong

Role at BCU: Director of PGR Studies in Education

Research Interests:

  • Professional Doctorates
  • Research supervision and developing supervisors
  • The austerity of theory in education
  • The PGR student experience
  • Historical research in education

Research you are currently working on: I am currently looking at the whole area of Professional Doctorates with a particular interest in EdD provision. Undertaking a Doctorate as an established working professional, often in mid-life and mid-career, has its own challenges and this is an area of research that is much under appreciated. Perhaps it’s my main contention that, as a consequence, in many ways Professional Doctorates invite a different approach to the process of supervision and the discussion of the impact of the Doctoral experience itself.

Research methodologies you are using: I am currently starting to look outside of what may be regarded as the well-established canon of research methodologies in education and drawing tentatively on ideas and arguments that have emerged within the arts and humanities. For example, more creative and active approaches to interviewing, participatory research and the mapping of alternative impact. In addition, I am also fascinated by the notion of history as practice and the wider public history movement that has grown in recent years. What can we learn from these new methodologies for educational research?

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: What we often define in professional discussions as educational research tends to have rather rigid and conventional boundaries and practices. Arguably, these boundaries and practices need periodically to be challenged in order to reinvigorate the field. The whole educational environment in which we currently work and operate is changing all around us with accepted nostrums in noticeable decline, yet this has still to impact fully on educational research itself.

Most influential research you have read/seen: I tend to use a constellation of ideas in my own teaching and research drawn broadly from the sociologist, philosopher and educationalist Pierre Bourdieu. Undoubtedly, his most influential writing for me over the years is often rather ignored by others: The Rules of Art published in 1996 and inspired by his study of Flaubert,

Advice for new researchers: Make a start and keep going. Dig where you stand and dance where you dig.

Mini fact about you: I attended a lecture by Pierre Bourdieu in Oxford but could hardly understand a word of it as he spoke in French for the whole hour.

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