Tag Archives: students as consumers

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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