Category Archives: Meet the Team

Meet the team that make CSPACE

Meet the Team – Mary-Rose Puttick

Name: Mary-Rose Puttick

MR

Role at BCU: PhD Student / Assistant Lecturer

Research Interests:

  • Issues faced by refugees / asylum seekers which influence marginalization / integration
  • Inter-cultural communication with second-language parents around U.K. legislation such as Safeguarding, FGM, and Prevent
  • Complex identities of culturally-diverse migrant mothers attending Family Learning classes
  • Empowering second-language parents with low-literacy skills in their first language by drawing on alternative cultural ‘literacies’

Research you are currently working on: I am currently working on my PhD in which I am exploring the concepts of identity and community from the perspective of culturally-diverse, second-language mothers in Birmingham Family Learning classes. Within this I’m also looking at the impact that the government’s Prevent strategy has had on these women. I am aiming to volunteer with some of these groups and to explore creative methods to represent their voices, drawing upon their trajectories and cultural histories.

Research methodologies you are using: At the moment I’m exploring some creative methodologies such as Laurel Richardson’s crystallization process as a way to incorporate the voices of parents from different countries in diverse ways which may be more fitting to their cultural traditions and histories such as oral testimonies, poetry, as well as other art forms

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Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: The experiences I have gained in teaching ESOL/Family Literacy in adult/community education for the past 12 years has really stimulated my interest in the complex identities of individuals from diasporic communities and how these can be influenced by wide-ranging social, political and cultural factors from the different countries in which they have lived. These factors can create inclusion and exclusion within and between cultural groups. I’m hoping that by carrying out research into this area, it will help to produce some practical outcomes in different educational contexts, such as improving communication strategies between schools and second-language parents, and providing Family Learning classes which are more tailored to the specific needs of different cultural groups.

Most influential research you have read/seen: I’ve recently read two books by Irene Gedalof and Fatema Mernissi which both originated from their PhD theses and which have been really inspiring in directing me with my current research. Gedalof’s ‘Against Purity’ focuses on the imbalances of white Western feminism in terms of gender with other forms of difference such as race, ethnicity, and nation and points to the consideration of multiple factors by Indian feminists in considering the identities of women from diasporic communities. Fatema Mernissi was a Moroccan feminist and sociologist. I’ve read one of her books so far ‘Beyond the Veil’ which questions predominant discourses of Islam being the main cause of oppression for Muslim women and focuses instead on the political manipulation of religion.

Advice for new researchers: One of my supervisors advised me to write regularly, even very rough drafts. I have found this really useful in helping me to keep track of what I’ve been reading and to get into the habit of frequent critical/analytical writing.

Mini fact about you: Some of my favourite things to do are: cycling, yoga, charity shopping, art galleries, and visiting my family in San Diego.

Meet the Team – Shannon Ludgate

Name: Shannon Ludgateshan

Role at BCU: PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in Early Years

Research Interests:

  • Touchscreen technologies
  • Young children in early years
  • Social learning
  • Activity Theory
  • Teaching and Research relationship

Research you are currently working on: I am currently working on my PhD, which looks at young children’s experiences using touchscreen technologies in early years settings. This study focuses on children aged three and four years old.

Research methodologies you are using: My research has taken a mixed-methods approach to collecting data. By researching in this way, it has enabled me to collect quantitative data through an online survey and observations, alongside qualitative data from interviews and observations of young children’s uses of touchscreen technology.

This was done through a multi-case study approach, which allowed for a comparison within and against other case studies in the study.

Advice for new researchers: Considering I see myself as an organised person, I would suggest that new researchers, particularly those doing PhDs to get on top of organisation. Planning is essential in order to have a structure, and to give you a clearer idea of how your time might pan out. That being said, be flexible too – you do not know what might happen from one month to the next, so be prepared for set-backs.

Be passionate and enthusiastic about your research – let your interests lead you to where you research. Don’t be afraid to do something new!

Mini fact about you: I am the only left-handed, red-headed person in my family. I am a statistical anomaly with blue eyes and red hair.

 

Meet the Team – Adam Whittaker

Name: Dr Adam Whittaker

adam WRole at BCU: Research Assistant in Music Education

Research Interests:

  • Music Pedagogy (both current and historical)
  • Historical models of intellectual thought
  • Musical applications of rhetoric
  • Music in media as educational tool
  • Assessment in Music Education

Research you are currently working on:

  • Historical uses of musical examples, particularly in fifteenth-century manuscripts
  • Practical music examinations
  • Reception history of Early Music as an educational tool
  • Music assessment in schools

Research methodologies you are using: As I come from a background in musicology, my research methodologies centre on the examination of objects as texts, reading not only the contents of the page but also what the page itself can tell you. There are so many things that we have missed over the years by being preoccupied with what texts tell us and not considered how they tell us nearly enough. The development of this type of approach in my PhD has extended to my other areas of research activity, seeking to recontextualise information in a way that casts new light on its primary contents.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: The ways in which we perceive research in education is changing. My work considers ways in which older historical models might have applicability in this context of change, and how these can develop skills and knowledge in untapped ways. I’m looking forward to thinking about this a lot more and developing innovative ways of delivering historical content for the skills agenda.

Most influential research you have read/seen: The work of Ron Woodley, Margaret Bent, Bonnie Blackburn and Rob Wegman, to name a few, was highly influential on my work in musicology. Joseph Dyer’s work on the place of music within historical university models sparked my interest in historical models of intellectual thought. These led me to models of pedagogy and, ultimately, to CSPACE!

Advice for new researchers: Time spent away from the desk can help bring things into focus. Take in some air and listen to the birdsong! There’s no substitute for hard work but being glued to the desk is not always the best thing!

Mini fact about you: When I’m not reading about/playing/listening to music, I like to watch motorsport!

Meet the Team – Suzanne Savage

Name: Suzanne Savagesu

Role at BCU: Doctoral Researcher and Assistant Lecturer

Research Interests: Observations of classroom practice, teacher learning and teacher professionalism, how to capture teaching “quality”

Research you are currently working on:

  • The use of digital video recordings in the observation of classroom practice
  • Reflexive observation practice in HE teaching
  • The TEF and teaching “excellence”
  • Video as surveillance in schools and colleges

Research methodologies you are using: Bourdieu’s participant objectivation informs my work on classroom observation. The teacher observation process in most schools and colleges is driven by what Bourdieu calls doxa, the taken-for-granted-assumptions which are never questioned. There are huge questions about the validity and reliability of the conclusions made when observing a complex environment such as a classroom, yet these issues are seldom addressed in the literature. In order understand this process better, my research is designed to observe the professional dialogue between an observer and teacher when they utilise a digital recording of a classroom lesson. At the heart of this study is the practice and conceptualisation of the method of observation itself, and I am utilising Bourdieu’s participant objectivation to turn the instruments of my research onto my own inquiry. This is fascinating reflexive journey which has caused me to question my own doxa and to reconceptualise my own ontological and epistemological understanding.

Methods I am currently using include: Video recorded observation of professional dialogue; video elicitation (stimulated recall) interviews.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: Central government policy is geared towards a marketised education sector which believes that profit is the best incentive to ensure quality. In higher education, however, we must continue to problematize this assumption. Once students become consumers, where does this leave the relationship between educator and student? Can learning be bought? Is the sole purpose of education employability?

Most influential research you have read/seen: Dr. Matt O’Leary’s work on classroom observation is bringing about a paradigm shift in how we conceptualise “quality” in education. He is the first researcher to seriously and methodically question the premise and practice of the performative observation regimes that rule UK schools and colleges. When I was working as a Teacher Educator and Coach in FE, I knew there was something deeply wrong with how we purported to “measure” teacher performance. But Matt’s first book, “Classroom Observation” delved into the historical development of this system and systematically revealed the erroneous assumptions underpinning current practice. I now am incredibly fortunate to have Matt as my Director of Studies here at Birmingham City University.

I shall leave for another blog post my other great influence: Paulo Freire.

Advice for new researchers: Firstly, collaboration is vital. A special alchemy happens when you bring inquiring minds together to explore ideas. Secondly, don’t see theory as a difficult add-on to your research. Your world views permeate everything you think and write. Learn to understand your underlying theory, and then relentlessly question it to avoid complacency.

On a practical note, I have found Evernote to be a very useful tool for managing all my research literature.

Mini fact about you: I have lived in several different countries and I speak Spanish and Dutch fluently.

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Meet the CSPACE Team – Eddie Hulbert

Name: Eddie HulbertEddie

Role at BCU: PhD Researcher and Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant

Research Interests: Family Learning, Adult Education, Literacy, Ethnicity

Research you are currently working on: My PhD is looking at Family Learning initiatives in Birmingham. My research questions are:

  • What does family learning mean to parents, children and practitioners?
  • What does best practice look like in different contexts?
  • How can best practice be implemented in all family learning institutions?
  • Can a framework for monitoring the benefits of family learning be established and embedded into institutional practice?

Research methodologies you are using: I am going to carry out case-studies of 3 Family Learning providers. I will use semi-structured interviews with families and practitioners and observations of learning sessions. I also plan to use Visual and Sensory ethnography and Discourse Analysis.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: It is an exciting time to be within the School of Education at BCU as the school is expanding and the links between teaching and research are getting stronger!

Most influential research you have read/seen: Black Masculinities and Schooling: How Black Boys Survive Modern Schooling (Sewell, 1997)

Advice for new researchers: Don’t be afraid to try new and innovative techniques whilst carrying out your research.

Mini fact about you: I have a trainer addiction (currently on 18 pairs and counting!)

Meet the CSPACE Team – Victoria Birmingham

Name: Victoria Birmingham

Role at BCU: Full time PhD student and Graduate Reasearch and Teaching Assistant Vicky B

Research Interests: Primary School Education

Research you are currently working on: Assessment without levels in Primary Schools.

Research methodologies you are using: Mixed methods case study or how primary schools are assessing without levels. This will involve teacher interviews as the primary data which will be used with a comparison of teacher assessment and test assessment.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: There’s a very broad range of literature on assessment. It’s been both enjoyable and daunting to immerse myself into it. A very interesting area I’ve found is the research around the validity and reliability of teachers’ assessments, formative and summative. The over whelming influence on this is how the assessments are used and the matter of league tables is never far from the discussion. A number of reviews over the years have been commissioned by the government to advise on assessment. The two main reports from TGAT (Task Group on Assessment and Testing, 1988) and The Bew Report (2011). Both reports, years apart, do not recommend assessment data being used to rank and judge schools. The TGAT Report (1988) discusses concerns about using the suggested external test in league tables. The question I have in my head when reading these reports is what do we have these external tests and league tables for?

Coming into the PhD fresh out of teaching myself, I’d expected a lot of the research to be quantitative because quantitative data was predominant in schools. However, a vast majority of research on assessment is qualitative. This took some getting used to and was confusing at first. I didn’t understand why the research is mostly qualitative but schools are judged on quantitative data. The recommendations from the government are also based on quantitative data. Now I’m thinking a lot about whether learning can be measured quantitatively because of how many factors are involved. This is certainly something I’m going to delve deeper into.

Most influential research you have read/seen: It’s not one piece in particular. There are a number of key author in the field (Black, P; Wiliam, D; Harlen, J; Stobart, G) that I find the most useful but the biggest influence is when I find a completely different point of view and it really makes me think. That makes me question the conclusion I have come to and the context I’m seeing assessment in compared to someone who thinks differently.

Advice for new researchers: Have a system to record your reading including quotes you find useful and what you think about the article/book/report. I’ve also found that when I started reading things I didn’t particular know what I was looking for but as I got into it themes and reflections came to me a lot easier. So, don’t expect to get everything out of a piece of literature when reading it for the first time, it’s when you read other things and read it that you get the most out it.

Mini fact about you: I can sew pretty well and make all sort things.

 

Meet the CSPACE Team – Ian Axtell

Name: Ian James AxtellAxtell_Ian_main

Role at BCU: Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader for Music Education

Research Interests:
Bourdieu inspired:
What is the Field of Music Education?
Is the Universe of Discourse in Music Education under threat?

Shulman inspired:
How can Signature Pedagogy in Music Education be defined?

Research you are currently working on: How can Signature Pedagogy in Music Education be defined?

Research methodologies you are using: Humanistic and interpretivist phenomenography underpinned by Bourdieu’s perception of epistemic reflexivity.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: This is a fascinating time to be involved in education research since we are in an anti-intellectual turn in education policy discourse. There is an urgent need for genuine critical education research. The place of theory in education has been questioned but education research is responded by creating strong links between theory and practice through critical practice-based enquiry. The question remains whether genuine critical education research can save the education system from collapse under the false gods of knowledge-led curricular and evidence based research (or research that proves what policy makers have already decided).

Most influential research you have read/seen: Bourdieu, P (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Advice for new researchers: Join a community of thinking.

Mini fact about you: I am passionate about music education for all and how music can change people’s perception of the world around them.

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.

Meet the CSPACE Team – Matt O’Leary

Name: Matt O’Leary

Matt O'Leary - Office Photo - Feb 2016Role at BCU: Reader in Education

Research Interests:

  • Classroom observation
  • Teacher assessment
  • Teacher identity and professionalism
  • Teacher improvement
  • Teacher as researcher
  • Professional learning and development for teachers
  • Vocational pedagogy

Research you are currently working on: The impact of the government’s austerity agenda on further education; the politics and pedagogy of peer review in Higher Education; observing teaching in Higher Education

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Research methodologies you are using: In terms of my epistemological and methodological positioning, I am a mixed-methods researcher with understanding and experience of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. The research I am currently working on is predominantly of a qualitative nature (i.e. interviews, focus groups and document analysis)

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: I am committed to encouraging a collaborative, participatory approach to research, wherever possible and appropriate, as I am mindful of the need to develop researc1h capacity amongst staff in education departments that have traditionally been on the margins of university research activity. One of the priorities for me in developing a research culture in education is the creation of a vibrant and collaborative environment in which staff are encouraged to engage in thinking, discussing and writing about their practice. I have witnessed directly the way in which working collaboratively with and mentoring others can help to develop research and writing skills, along with building the confidence of staff to produce publications. Talking to members of staff on a one-to-one basis to understand their interests, needs and what kind of support is best suited to developing their research and writing capacity, is crucial starting point in creating such a culture.

For me one of the greatest challenges in education research at the moment has to be the issue of IMPACT of educational research. Putting to one side the issue of party politics and the selectivity of successive governments to listen to or ignore the findings of educational research, the research community is still faced with the challenge of making findings more accessible to wider communities.

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Most influential research you have read/seen: I’ve always found Stephen Ball’s work incredibly interesting and a big influence on my own work.

Advice for new researchers: Work hard continuously! There are no short cuts to becoming a successful researcher. Intelligence will only get you so far. It’s about putting in the hours and effort on a continuous basis. It’s also worth pointing out that you’re likely to come up against lots of obstacles and challenges as part of any research project, but don’t let this worry you as it’s a natural part of (research) life and the way in which you respond to them is an important part of your development as a successful researcher.

Mini fact about you: Cycling and cooking are my two favourite pastimes when I’m not working or spending time with my family.

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Meet the CSPACE Team – Dr. Victoria Kinsella

Name: Dr. Victoria Kinsellavic

Role at BCU: Research Fellow in the school of Education

Research Interests:

  • Creativity in Education
  • Activity theory
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Music Education
  • Art and Design Education

Research you are currently working on: I am lead and co-researcher on a number of arts and creativity projects:YM

  • Youth Music Exchanging Notes Evaluation
  • Koestler Trust Arts Gateway Mentoring Scheme
  • One Handed Musical Instrument Teaching Project
  • Saatchi Gallery/ Deutsche Bank Art Prize for Schools External Project Evaluation.
  • Stringcredibles Evaluation Project.

String

Research methodologies you are using: The research and evaluation projects consists of a mixed method research design which involves both qualitative and quantitative methods allowing a wide range of data to be collected. This enables the resulting research and evaluation to be as valid and reliable as possible. Engaging in the complex teaching and learning environment requires not just one way of knowing but methods that take into account diversity and difference.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: In England, the development of creativity in education is in a state of flux. The omission of the arts from the English Baccalaureate and challenges posed by school assessment and performativity measures can be viewed as indicative of discrimination against creative and cultural forms of intelligence.

Most influential research you have read/seen: Engeström’s (1999) activity theory has been most influential for my research. It provides an ideal framework through which a more holistic view of learning is possible. It accounts for different identities, intelligences, modes of learning, and pedagogical processes.

Engeström, Y. (1999) Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Engeström, Y. Miettinen, R. & Punamäki R. L. (Eds) Perspectives on activity theory .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 19-38.

Advice for new researchers: To talk about your work with your peers. I found casual discussions with colleagues often illuminated something about my work that I had not previously considered. This was most effective whilst drinking coffee!

Mini fact about you: I love going to rock concerts!