Tag Archives: mixed methods

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 Team – Jessica Runacres

Name: Jessica Runacres

Role at BCU: Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant pic

Research Interests:

  •  Social prescribing
  • Community Health

Research you are currently working on:

  • A concept analysis of social prescribing
  • An explanatory sequential mixed methods design to understand the concept of social prescribing.

Research methodologies you are using:

  • A concept analysis of all the academic literature which mentions social prescribing and / or social prescription in the title and / or abstract.
  • An explanatory sequential mixed methods design. So, quantitative data analysis of a large data set which will lead to research questions for qualitative investigation through interviews with service users and focus groups with healthcare professionals. A regression analysis will hopefully be used as part of the quantitative analysis but this is dependent on the amount of missing data in the datasets collected.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on research: The NHS digitalisation agenda deadline is fast approaching meaning patient data will need to be stored effectively electronically. Also, the use of medication as the first option for mental health conditions is becoming an important debate, with the emerging use of aspects of social prescribing and the NHS’s efforts to save money social prescribing could reduce the burden on healthcare services.

I have conducted preliminary investigations into the data collected by a social prescribing service and found the data quality to be low. There was a huge amount of missing data, out of 795 rows of patient data only 1 patient had all their information completed. This highlighted the importance of correct data collection to ensure lack of patient information or hard evidence on social prescribing’s effectiveness does not become a barrier to its uptake. After talking to the healthcare professionals who fill in patients’ data I found that they did not understand its importance from a research perspective and considered taking notes on a laptop to be an impersonal approach to healthcare, instead preferring to take notes by hand and then transfer them onto the system at a later date. This leads me to believe that training on the importance of correct data collection may be necessary to ensure patient data is stored correctly and safety meaning research can be carried out on the data to prove social prescribing’s effectiveness ensuring services gain funding in the future.


Most influential research you have read/seen: Kimberlee (2013) suggested that just 20% of health outcomes are attributable to clinical care whilst socioeconomic factors account for 40% of all influences on health and wellbeing.

Kimberlee, R. (2013) Developing a social prescribing approach for Bristol. Project Report.Bristol Health & Wellbeing Board, UK. Retrieved from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/23221. Accessed on 05/01/2016

Advice for new researchers: Use referencing software such as Endnote and reference as you go. It saves so much time.