School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Richard Parker

Joint Degree Programme Director; DAppEdPsy Programme and Educational Psychologist

Background

Dr Richard Parker is a Joint Degree Programme Director (DAppEdPsy Programme) and Educational Psychologist at Newcastle University. His area of expertise is Applied Educational Psychology. 

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In common with all applied educational psychologists, I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology. In common with many - but not now a requirment - I also gained a teaching qualification, working for a while in what were then called Education Action Zones (in Hull). My experiences there - working with seven to nine year olds, many of whom experienced the effects of poverty on their daily lives - has left an indelible mark. To this day, I consider poverty to be the single factor most likely to debar children and families from actualising (to use the Rogerian term loosely) and making the best of the opportunities offered in our education system. I think there are numerous aspects of psychological theory - self theories, agency, resilience, attitude and behaviour change - that can help guide much needed responses to this issue.

Having trained as an educational psychologist in Exeter, qualifying in 1982, I have worked in Educational Psychology Services in Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire, Suffolk, Northumberland (twice), South Tyneside and Durham with promoted posts in three of these - both specialist posts and management posts.

 I have set up and run Portage (pre-school) services and worked with the National Portage Association to reshape its basic training curriculum. At the other end of the scale I have worked as a Specialist EP in FE, and held a number of management posts in Educational Psychology.

 Working both as tutor and educational psychologist from a critical realist world view, I am keen that we can clearly state what the psychological base is for our profession's distinctive contribution – as opposed to simpler statements of what tools we use effectively.

 Key psychological theories underpinning my interests relate to adult and professional learning and practice: Wenger’s (1998) social learning model, variants on the ideas of communities of practice and the work and ideas of Michael Eraut. The psychologies underlying educational psychologists’ favoured tools such as consultation and problem analysis are interesting too. Dewey’s ideas, information processing theory and (as above) Bandura’s ideas about self-efficacy and agentic behaviour are core, alongside Bruner’s ideas of ‘life as narrative’.

Finally, I feel we should never forget the stuff we learned as undergraduates: Piaget’s theories of equilibration and Lewin’s Field Theory still have significant import for our work as applied psychologists.

Not surprisingly then, my interests lie in the areas of: adult and professional learning and development, particularly how we can really be reflective practitioners; how to develop and maintain effective presentation skills; developing effective and manageable consultation in our work; and how experienced professionals develop and maintain their practice. My doctorate research looked at how Principal Educational Psychologists were preparing to support Trainee Educational Psychologists in Years Two and Three of their training.

 Other interests include decision-making and practice in assessment and the use of problem analysis frameworks, and I have a growing interest in what are known as attunement and intersubjectivity – all about what goes on in the social space between us all, which is a very important place for EPs to work!

Of particular importance in these times of austerity and so on, I am particularly interested in how education - and applied educational psychology - might or might not contribute to enhancing social justice. Influenced by the writings of Isaac Prilleltenski (a community psychologist) I am currently beginning to explore the relationship between educational psychology practice and social justice.

Further and - I suppose - also related to our work in cash-strapped times - I feel it's important to enhance our understanding of how applied educational psychologists go about the business of making a difference to the lives of those we work with. I hope to begin to look into this over the next year or so.

I recently completed a four-year stint as external examiner role for the Exeter Initial Training programme with my colleague Wilma Barrow, a task from which we both learnt a great deal that is of use in our work here. 

Teaching

I teach as part of the Doctorate in Applied Educational Psychology (DAppEdPsy) programme team. I have worked with the team since 2007.

Teaching responsibilities (in detail) naturally change year by year, but in common with the rest of the team I am personal tutor for two trainees in Year One, and support trainees in Years Two and Three in their practice placements and their research endeavours. A number of teaching responsibiites are shared with other team members.

Examples of recent and current teaching responsibilities include:

YEAR ONE 

  • Understanding views of the world and their relationship with practice and research
  • Developing skills for critical reading (and of course writing)
  • Academic formatting
  • Introducing Portage, together with its approach to understanding young children's behaviour
  • Play and developmental theories
  • Problem analysis frameworks
  • Play and learning
  • Introduction to supervision
  • Understanding assessment
  • Presentation and training skills
  • Understanding young children's behaviour
  • Functional analysis
  • critical understanding of psychometric assessment in applied psychology

YEAR TWO

  • Professional Identity
  • Solution circles and reflecting teams

YEAR THREE

  •  Preparing for viva
  • Revisiting professional supervision

 As a team, we also offer some teaching and other support to colleagues in local educational psychology teams. We have offered supervision, dynamic assessment, narrative practice.

I also have some teaching commitments beyond the DAppEdPsy. I offer a short practical session on how to accurately lay out academic writing and one about building a conceptual framework for research.

Research

Of particular importance in these times of austerity and so on, I am particularly interested in how education - and applied educational psychology - might or might not contribute to enhancing social justice. Influenced by the writings of Isaac Prilleltenski (a community psychologist) I am currently beginning to explore the relationship between educational psychology practice and social justice.

Further and - I suppose - also related to our work in cash-strapped times - I feel it's important to enhance our understanding of how applied educational psychologists go about the business of making a difference to the lives of those we work with. I hope to begin to look into this over the next year or so.

Publications