My initial degree was psychology, with the first year as a mathematics/psychology joint honours student. After an MA (Philosophical Issues in Psychology), I completed a PGCE in secondary mathematics and taught in various north-east schools. My PhD (2004) brought together my background in psychology with my experiences of teaching and learning mathematics. I considered the potential of teaching approaches which emphasise either visual or verbal understanding and the impact on learners who might favour one or other mode.
More recently, my interest in investigating the learning environment provided by schools has involved the more active participation of users (including students, teachers, non-teaching staff and the wider community). Participatory research approaches, which I have developed with colleagues in the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT), use a range of visual and spatial activities to both engage and empower participants in sharing their experiences and knowledge.
Currently I am Degree Programme Director for the EdD and teach on a range of ECLS and HaSS modules, mostly centred on research methods. In this role, I draw on my on-going research experience as a member of CfLaT.
My research interests centre on understanding and developing the physical learning environment. This includes examining the historical and research background to recent developments in school buildings, and investigating the participation of users (including students, teachers, non-teaching staff and the wider community) in the design process. I have become increasingly interested in how visual techniques, including photo elicitation and mapping activities, can facilitate such participation.
I help to support action research undertaken in CfLaT partner schools and by teachers involved with a number of current projects. My background is that of a quantitative researcher, and one of my roles is to provide assistance with quantitative methods and analysis.
HE Learning Environments Research and Development Project (funded by Newcastle University ESS)Classroom space: investigating and cataloguing primary school classroom space in north east England (funded by Winifred Smith Fund)
Learning for Change: Review of Rickleton Primary School’s premises (funded by NISR)
Exploring Independent Learning (in KS5 and HE)
Evaluation of Open Futures 2011-2013 (for the Helen Hamlyn Trust)
Jaswinder Jutla (EdD) Construction of Teacher Identity: The nature of becoming a secondary science teacher through an exploration of personal, professional and situated experiences: a case study
Tania Watson (IPhD) Understandings of disability and SEN in the compulsory education sector: relevance for practices in school, the experience of families and the effective inclusion of pupils presenting with challenging behaviours.
Helen Burns (EdD) Imagining Better Learning: an exploration of our understanding of imagination, its role in developing our learning and metacognition and how it can be nurtured through the visual arts
Alison Whelan (EdD) The impact and experience of teacher-researchers
Deborah Currans (EdD) Students as researchers in a primary school context
Rebecca Clavell-Bate (EdD) The experience of equine assisted learning for mainstream primary students
Abd Khalik Khassunah (PhD) Maintenance issues in Malaysian secondary schools
Adaoma Menkiti (PhD) The Motivators and Barriers to Students’ and Lecturers’ Efforts in Teaching and Learning in Nigerian Universities Learning Environments
Sheila McCarter (DAppEdPsy) How Conceptualisations of Learning are revealed by the use of Carpet Space in Primary Schools
Hajah Haji Bungsu (IPhD) Threshold concepts in learning in agriculture
Carl Towler (PhD) Paper Based Rapid Prototyping of a Dilemmatic Pedagogy for the Interpretation of Narrative Texts in Classrooms
Nguyen Du (EdD) Factors influencing teaching for critical thinking in Vietnamese lower secondary schools: a mixed method study focussed on history
Hannah Nichols (DAppEdPsy) ‘It’s like we are getting involved with their world’: an exploration of the environment that supports active learning with 2-3 year olds.
Jill Clark (PhD) The Journey of researching on to researching with –theoretical and methodological challenges within educational research
Lesley Scott (EdD) To what extent does policy and guidance impact on engagement with teaching and learning in a medical context?
Roger Handyside (PhD) A design based research approach to an educational challenge: Developing independent learners using a blended learning environment
Sarah Whyte (EdD) ‘Thinking about our feelings': A pedagogical innovation centred on the skills of emotional intelligence with Third Culture Kids
• Invited reviewer of research grants proposals for ESRC and the Estonian Research Council
• Invited reviewer for British Educational Research Journal, Learning Environments Research, International Journal of Research Method in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education and Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education (and other UK and international journals).
• Invited expert participant in a private seminar organised by the Capital Analysis Unit at the Department for Education addressing the question, 'What is the impact of the condition and suitability of school buildings on pupil and teacher outcomes (attainment, behaviour, teacher retention etc.)?' (London, Aug 2016). Invited to present expert evidence to the BCSE Great Schools Inquiry, addressing the question ‘What evidence is there of the link between school buildings/environments and educational achievement and broader outcomes for young people?’ (London, Nov 2009). Invited to make presentations about school design to Local Authority Education Committee (Northumberland County Council, 2005), CABE (London, 2006), inter-disciplinary conferences of policy-makers, professionals and academics (Westminster Education Forum: The Future of School Buildings, London, 2013; RSA: Designing and Managing Learning Environments, London, 2007) and to architects and educationalists as part of a series of interdisciplinary lectures (Nottingham Univeristy, 2009).
• Invited speaker for international conferences: "School, Space and Territory: British and French perspectives" organised by the LARHRA (Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes) and held at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Lyon, Nov 2013); "Schools for the Future" organised by Universität Koblenz-Landau (Koblenz, July 2014); “School policies and young people's use of places at school” University of Geneva, funded by Swiss national Science Foundation (Geneva, Oct 2014); 'School design and Pedagogy' organised by the University of Iceland (Reykjavik, May 2015).
• Advisory Group member for EPSRC funded project, ‘Designing New Schools – putting people at the heart of the process’, based at the School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, directed by Dr Rosie Parnell. Steering Group member for HEFCE funded project ‘Innovative, effective, enjoyable? Creating the evidence base to deliver productive academic workplaces’, based at the Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, directed by Prof Simon Austin.
Evaluating the Role of the Artist in Building Schools for the Future, Sept 2005 to July 2006: £7,000 (Arts Council England North East).
Facilitating participation in the design process at Seaham College, Feb 2007 to April 2008: £5,000 (Durham County Council)
Exploring the fitting of practice to context at Oakfields Community College, Feb 2011 to June 2011: £10,000 (Creative Partnerships)
Evaluation of Open Futures 2011-2013, June 2012 to Dec 2013: £29,000 (Open Futures Trust)
I am involved in the planning and teaching of two ECLS research methods modules: 'Research Strategies and Methods' (EDU8095), as Module Leader, and 'Research in Practice (EDU8995), as a lecturer. I also lead the first of the compulsory research methods modules taken by EdD students, Practices of Inquiry (EDU8010) and am actively involved in the other two compulsory doctoral methods modules (EDU8011; EDU8207). My teaching input within all these modules has varied but often includes mixed methods design, quantitative methods and visual methods. In addition I contribute to the HaSS module 'Qualitative Methods and Critical Analysis in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS8004).