There are many staff and postgraduate students who are actively researching into a wide range of projects, and our numbers are growing. We encourage and support new research through our expanding doctoral programmes, the Doctorate in Education (EdD) and our MPhil/PhD programmes.

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Recent Submissions

  • A critical autoethnographic study of the experience of the older secondary school teacher in England: a socio-political and emotional model of their Body without Organs

    Moran, Paul; Fenech, Elaine (University of Chester, 2023-05)
    This research explores the lives of ‘older’ secondary teachers as they inhabit an educational landscape that has changed significantly during their careers. It employs a postmodern critical autoethnographic methodology as a vehicle through which to examine their experiences, as professionals who now exist in a neoliberal, marketised model of education, where they have been commodified. The work focuses on how their experiences of education have moulded their values and identities and provides empirical evidence showing that maintaining these fundamentals is challenged and compromised in the educational landscape that they work in. There are imperatives for this study. The UK population is ageing, and people will be forced to work for longer in the future. However, professional challenges that older teachers face are driving them out of the profession prematurely. This is at a time of crisis in education, where there is a failure to recruit and retain teachers, so arresting the exodus of older teachers would partly address the significant, long-standing recruitment issue. The evidence demonstrates that older teachers experience a loss of voice and agency. They are subjected to performative regimes, that measure that which is readily measurable, in an education system that has a functionalist agenda, with an economic purpose. This regime quells their creative desires and limits their opportunities to collaborate and to share their significant knowledge and experience. Older teachers are not afforded the same promotion and developmental opportunities as younger teachers and are subject to ageist stereotypical assumptions about their continued ability to function at a high level in teaching. This is despite their will to continue to develop and seek new opportunities. The evidence demonstrates that they do not feel professionally valued, despite the wealth of experience that they have to offer, and the research reveals their voices and the significant emotional impact of this on them. Drawing on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (2013a, b) and my empirical evidence, I construct a socio-political model of the older teachers’ “Body without Organs”. This Vitruvian Teacher model incorporates aspects of their professional lives that sustain them, together with those that significantly challenge them. The critical narrative that emanates from the research gives rise to suggestions for sustaining these teachers in fulfilling careers.
  • Mini-museums as a nexus for storytelling and pedagogy

    Poole, Simon E.; Parkin, Harry; Southall, Helen; University of Chester (University of Chester, 2024-02-14)
    This research project aimed to explore the potential of storytelling pedagogies in educational settings, and to assess the feasibility of creating mini-museums in schools. Through the involvement of two primary schools in the Northwest of England, the project was able to collect primary data and refine plans for the introduction of artefacts and storytelling methods in other schools. The research assistants conducted interviews and used the 'Crazy 8' sketching technique to collect information about typical users, preferred type of product, preferences regarding colour schemes and visual design, typical contents, accessibility aspects, access and security issues, and other requirements specific to the school.
  • Perspectives of Time

    Poole, Simon E.; University of Chester (Malmö Theatre Academy and Lund University, 2024-02-01)
    A poem in repsonse to the All Our Relations project funded by Malmö Theatre Academy and Lund University. The work was undertaken in Eastern Sweden over the course of several days working on eco-pedagogical approaches.
  • Editorial: Innovation, AI and the future of Education

    Poole, Simon E.; University of Chester (RECAP, University of Chester, 01-02-2024)
    A co-authored piece with ChatGPT 3.5 for Editorial on Innovation, this piece discusses with AI, the future of Education given AIs meteoric rise and inevitable use. Focusing politically on the challenges that education might face in terms of innovation. This piece was heavily edited to create a more seamless discussion.
  • Quality Assurance of Edsential’s Trinity College London’s level 4 certificate for music educators programme of study

    Poole, Simon E.; University of Chester (RECAP, University of Chester, 2023-08-28)
    A Quality Assurance report for Cheshire West and Chester's music traded services, operating under the CIC Edsential. This was a new programme of music educator study. Under the auspices of Trinity Colleges level 4 programme.
  • Crafting a Sense of Self: Exploring amateur arts-based practice within a university business school context

    Devarakonda, Chandrika; Adams, Jeff; Marshall, Julie (University of Chester, 2023-12)
    This research uses arts-based practice in a pivotal role both as a research context and methodological means, within a university business school setting. A personal creative rupture, challenging my sense of professional self, prompts the central research aims to: (1) analyse how amateur arts-based practice shapes university business school lecturers’ sense of self; (2) gain new understanding of creative learning processes applied to a business school context, and (3) explore the use of an artefact-based data collection method to elicit rich participant narratives around selfhood. Participant voices of a micro sample of business school educators are at the heart of the research. Narrative accounts of their lived creative experiences illuminate and synthesise perceptions on sense of self and place, both creatively and professionally, and how it can be subject to various practices. Their symbolic artefacts steer conversational style interviews, supporting a social constructivist orientation. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus acts as a central mode of analysis. Case analyses collate and re-frame participants’ stories about shaping of selfhoods. The instrumental nature of artefacts is explored in prompting sensitive, private and potentially inaccessible insights into crafter and professional selfhoods, challenging the role of more conventional research methods. Perceptions of amateur creative practice, from a university business school perspective, reveal how the two seemingly disparate worlds intersect. For some business school lecturers, their creative practice plays a large part in their lives. For others it is more functional. Findings suggest the varying degree of intersectionality is influenced by the inner structures of habitus alongside external structures within fields of practice, drawing on the duality of Bourdieu’s sociology. Through heuristic processes the transformational nature of habitus is investigated. Findings identify the enabling and constraining nature of embodied dispositions. This contributes fresh insights into creative and professional selfhoods, including value systems, attitudes to risk and coping strategies for practice in navigating change and sense of agency. What has been identified are potential alternative routes to gaining insight into creative processes and practice and transformation of selfhoods, within the already fast-growing domain of arts-based methods Findings show unifying and varying benefits and impacts of creative practice on both personal and professional selfhoods as university business school lecturer. Amateur creative practice varies including motives, cognitive and affective benefits, degrees of engagement and attitudes to risk. The research offers a deeper layer of reflexivity on educational philosophy, perceived tensions and the value of creative intelligence within a university business school context. It also offers valuable perspective on the responsibility as educator in creating safe temporal and mental space to nurture business school learner creativity.
  • Performativity and self-efficacy of A-level students during a period of discontinuity

    Lambert, Steve; Bacon, Jo; Thomas, Alex (University of Chester, 2023-04)
    This exploratory case study investigates the impact that the discontinuity to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, had on the students who were unable to take two series of high-stake examinations. The study examines student self-efficacy in the build-up to final A-level exams, interrogating how the teacher allocated grade process and the periods of lockdown impacted on the student body. The study reflects growing concerns about how government decisions aimed to control the COVID-19 virus have manifested in educational settings and may well effect schools and colleges for many years to come. The conceptual framework that underpinned this research arose from the work of Bandura (1977) on self-efficacy with the specific field of interest being how levels of Academic Self-Efficacy (Zimmerman, 1995) were impacted by a disjointed educational journey. An interpretive approach is adopted, utilising mixed method case study to focus on the students at one educational institution. The empirical data was collected through five stages with the first involving longitudinal quantitative analysis of the student body, followed by two focus groups, which enabled purposive sampling to select five final cases. After interviewing the five students to gain a deeper understanding of their experience, three staff from different institutions were interviewed to triangulate the data. The quantitative and qualitative data was scrutinised using inductive content analysis with three resultant themes emerging. The first was the wider impact on wellbeing that the discontinuity has created, the second was a decline in students' attitudes toward education and the third regarded changes to future plans following the experiences of the pandemic. The findings indicate that for some students the return to ‘normal’ education and the potentially inflated GCSE’s, have been as much of a challenge as the pandemic itself. Accordingly, this thesis begins to ask questions about the culture of neoliberalism and performativity which transcends education and whether the pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink. This will bring into scope Foucault’s (1982) concepts of power, surveillance, and regulation and Ball’s (2015) work about educational discourse. This research falls at a time where there is limited existing literature which substantively explores the impact of the pandemic on the ‘COVID-19 class’, therefore the novel findings from this research offer a unique window into the lived experiences of students during the COVID-19 discontinuity. Although this research offers no practical guidance about how to alter educational policy or practice, all educational institutions could apply the findings noted as they set out on strategic planning for the future.
  • Physical education mentors in initial teacher training: who cares?

    Jones, Luke; Tones, Steve; Foulkes, Gethin; Newland, Andrew; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University (Emerald, 2023-12-14)
    Purpose – The broad aim of this paper is to use Noddings’ theory of ethical care to analyse mentors’ caring experiences. More specifically, it aims to analyse how physical education (PE) mentors provide care, how they are cared for, and how this impacts their role within the context of secondary PE initial teacher training (ITT). Design – Semi-structured interviews were used to generate data from 17 secondary PE mentors within the same university ITT partnership in the north-west of England. Questions focused on the mentors’ experiences of care and the impact this had on their wellbeing and professional practice. A process of thematic analysis was used to identify, analyse, and report patterns in the data. Findings – The participants reflected established definitions of mentoring by prioritising the aim of developing the associate teachers’ (AT) teaching rather than explicitly providing support for their wellbeing. This aim could be challenging for mentors who face personal and professional difficulties while supporting the training of an AT. Mentors frequently referred to the support of their departmental colleagues in overcoming these difficulties and the importance of developing interdependent caring relationships. Receiving care did not impede mentors from providing support for others; it heightened awareness and increased their desire to develop caring habits. Originality – Teacher wellbeing has drawn greater attention in recent years and is increasingly prioritised in public policy. These findings highlight the value of mentor wellbeing and how caring professional relationships can mitigate the pressures associated with performativity and managing a demanding workload.
  • Simply academic or damaging. What are the implications of academic stereotypes for women?

    Richards, Joanna; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2023-12-13)
    Since the public intellectuals of the 1960s, there has been a shift towards the celebrity academic, as subjects such as history and science have transferred into popular television entertainment, often with female academics as the presenters. Using a case study of the British media, a post-feminist lens has been applied to examine how 17 celebrity academics have been represented. The use of gendered academic stereotypes such as the blue stocking, the school ma’am, the eccentric academic and the thinking man's crumpet were in evidence, alongside the male academic stereotypes of the hegemonic academic male, the nerd and the complicit male. With increasing numbers of women participating in the education workforce, one might expect gendered stereotypes to have become more positive. This research indicates that academic stereotypes should be added to the list of gendered stereotypes that need to be addressed as part of the work towards gender equality.
  • Humankind: Writing from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2022

    Poole, Simon; Parkin, Harry; University of Chester; Storyhouse (University of Chester Press, 2023-11-09)
    Collected writings from the Cheshire Prize for Literature
  • Becoming conservation champions through science learning

    Pope, Deborah; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2023-11-30)
    The chapter explores the theory and practice of teaching aspects of biodiversity and conservation to primary-aged children through the science curriculum.
  • Notes towards a pedagogy of be‐longing: Rewilding art and design education

    Poole, Simon; University of Chester (Wiley, 2023-10-18)
    This article reflects on 4 years of research activities in the fields of horticulture and creative praxis. The initial project was a personal one and set out with a simple methodology of collecting, observing, and recording a specific genus of plants, that of Mentha. But as the specific question of whether a garden can, or should, be thought of as a work of art was raised it developed into an interactive, more‐than‐human dynamic between the researcher and multiple species. Ultimately, this led to a consideration of the positionality and interactions of the creative practitioner as critical, in order to develop a transdisciplinary praxis that explores the ecological and transformative potential of learning and healing through gardening. Through a reflexive narrative approach, the role of gardening in education, therefore, is positioned as an art and design praxis and as a partial remedy for several salient, contemporary global issues and challenges. A praxis that if not the complete remedy might at least help, in part, to remedy the damaging ecological experiences of adult and child learners alike, and as such, this article concludes with a provocation for teachers as artists and activists.
  • Using EEG to measure resilience in postgraduate business students and its importance for future leaders

    Lambert, Steve; Dimitriadis, Nikolaos; Venerucci, Matteo; DaSilva, Carlos; Taylor, Michael; University of Chester; University of York Europe Campus; Brain Propaganda; University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (OMICS International, 2023-09-25)
    This paper aims to examine the time individuals take to recover from adverse effects presented to them. This is important because leadership, particularly transformational leadership, primarily focuses on an individual’s social interactions and their ability to exhibit resilience within their workplace. Zehir & Narcıkara (2016) identify the need for resilience of individuals as this culminates in increased levels of organisational resilience, which is a necessity for ensuring the ability to cope which a changing geo-political landscape.
  • General Further Education Colleges: the continuing dilemma of organisational culture

    Lambert, Steve; McCarroll, Andy; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2023-09-04)
    The role of organisational culture in supporting organisational outcomes is well documented in the further education (FE) sector within the UK. The benefits of a strong and unifying culture are recognised as having a positive impact on staff and students. However, a cultural institutional dichotomy has been acknowledged between the business and educational needs of colleges within the FE sector since the advent of incorporation in 1993. This paper utilised an interpretive, hermeneutical approach to analyse the perceptions of principals, middle leaders and teachers, within three general further education colleges (GFECs) in England to determine if that dichotomy exists in their current operating environment. The paper concludes that while there are elements of a clash of business and education ideals, general further education college (GFEC) culture has moved beyond the narrative of being corporate and driven solely by the concept of performativity. The article contributes to the ongoing debate on FE purpose and establishes the importance of aligning macro and subcultures into a set of professional working practices within GFECs to support positive student outcomes.
  • Vegan Children in English Secondary Schools: Challenging Norms and Personal Impacts

    Devarakonda, Chandrika; Holt, James; Marshall, Heather (University of Chester, 2023-05)
    As a teacher, teacher educator, and ethical vegan, I have reflected on how animals are used, viewed, taught, and discussed in the school system. Inspired by the work of McDonald, Cevero, and Courtenay (1999), this study aims to explore the experiences of vegans, specifically their ability to challenge normative ideologies. However, unlike previous research, this study focuses on children in UK secondary schools. Giroux's (2001) concept of the hidden curriculum in schools is vital in understanding the experiences shared in this thesis, including the physical environment, school ethos, facilities, and relationships between staff, support staff, and pupils. Schools and education more broadly are viewed as imposing a typical culture that reflects the social structure and power relations of wider society. Importantly, this study highlights how education perpetuates a normalization of consuming animals, replicating existing cultural norms. This thesis provides insight into the experiences of young vegans as they navigate their school life within the context of the broader societal norms and values. The study identifies a gap in the current literature, which fails to consider the experiences of children and young people. The research aims to answer the question of whether vegan children in English schools can challenge the omnivore norm and examines their personal impact. Qualitative research methods were utilized to narrate and understand their day-to-day encounters. The participants are positioned as engaging in parrhesia, or truth-telling, to convey their experiences. This interpretivist practitioner-inquiry draws from a variety of methods, akin to a bricolage, to explore personal experiences and encourage participants to engage in critically reflective conversations. Through the research question "Can young vegans challenge the omnivore norm in English schools, and what is the personal impact?" this study concludes that experiences were predominantly negative, particularly in challenging the pervasive norm of animal consumption within schools. Young vegans faced limited opportunities to challenge these norms and incurred a high personal cost in doing so, which shaped their decisions and identity. These encounters extended beyond the classroom, curriculum, and lessons to the wider school culture. The hidden curriculum serves as a framework for understanding the reproduction and widespread support of overriding norms, including those of omnivores.
  • Guest editorial: Adult and higher education in changing global contexts: innovative theory and practices from Asian countries and beyond

    Lambert, Steve; Sun, Qi; Kang, Haijun; Archuleta, Kristi; University of Chester; University of Tennessee; Kansas State University; University of Central Oklahoma
    We are delighted to present this Special Issue (SI) entitled Adult and Higher Education in Changing Global Contexts: Innovative Theory and Practices from Asian Countries and Beyond to the esteemed readers of the Journal of Higher Education, Skills, and Work-Based Learning (HESWBL). The inspiration behind this issue stems from over two decades of research and scholarship presented at the Asian Adult Education Conference (AAE) (https://asianadulteducation.weebly.com/) originally known as the Asian Diaspora Adult Education Pre-Conference that has been organized in conjunction with the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC). AAE's mission has been to provide an academic forum for research and scholarship exchange, and mutual collaborations among scholars, researchers, educators, practitioners and policymakers in adult and higher education from the East, West and Rest. Since 2003, AAE has grown into the leading pre-conference at AERC, actively promoting research and co-constructing academic scholarship in the adult and higher education field.
  • Factors influencing perceived stress in middle leaders of education

    Lambert, Steve; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2023-07-20)
    The role of middle leaders, that is those who report to a member of the organisation’s senior leadership, in bringing about improvements to schools is well documented. Yet middle leadership is often considered one of the most challenging roles within educational leadership, often under-conceptualised and theorised. Before we can look at the literature on resilience and any potential role it has in mediating against stress within the workplace, we need to know what stressors middle leaders in education experience. This paper outlines some initial findings from a study of 62 middle leaders, in England, exploring the key stressors they experience in their role. All participants were asked to complete a short online survey where they could enter free text when asked to identify the 5 stressors they most commonly experienced. Participants felt that staffing issues, followed by a lack of time and increasing workloads as the most prevalent issues. Commonly cited stressors such as inspections did not score highly, due to the temporary nature of the stress being induced. This is particularly important if staff are to be encouraged into leadership roles and senior leaders are to provide support for those already occupying middle leadership positions.
  • Dyslexia and technology

    Worsdell, Chantal; University of Chester (MA Healthcare, 2023-06-07)
    Chantal Worsdell considers the pros and cons of cutting-edge technology for dyslexia diagnosis/support, and whether concepts of embodied cognition can help ECEC settings embrace technological innovation.
  • An illusion of choice: The lived experiences of non-traditional students

    Bamber, Sally; Bacon, Jo; Hopkinson, Sharon C. (University of Chester, 2022-09)
    Students with a combination of A levels and BTEC qualifications make up a small but significant number of students entering higher education (HE) in England. There has been limited research into how these students make the decision to study a combination of qualifications or how they feel the combination has supported the transition to university. This study uses Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore the in-depth lived experiences of three students who entered HE at the study university with a combination of A level and BTEC experiences. The study considers the agency the participants perceive they had during decision-making at 16 and 18. It also explores how assessment methods have acted as a structure limiting agency in decision-making. The study considers how the participants’ combination of qualifications has supported their transition to university. Analysis of the participants’ lived experiences identifies three key themes: the impact of assessment type on the students, an exploration of the structures affecting decision-making at 16 and 18, and how post-16 qualifications affect their academic identity. These themes are embedded within the academic/ vocational divide present within the English education system, where academic qualifications are given greater symbolic value, especially for entry to HE. The study uses Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts of doxa, symbolic violence and social reproduction to identify structures that impact on the participants’ agency in their decision-making. It highlights the doxa of A levels as ‘gold standard’ in post-16 education. The study also provides supporting evidence for the continued academic/vocational divide in English post-16 education, through which symbolic violence is enacted on the participants. Symbolic violence is also identified in the government’s policies on assessment, where a focus on examinations reduces the participants’ agency. Indeed, recent changes in assessment in BTECs may limit future students’ opportunities to enter HE through this route. The thesis argues that government policies on assessment serve to reinforce the academic/vocational dichotomy and this may lead to social reproduction rather than widening participation to HE.
  • Using found poetry to explore creativity in the professional lives of English teachers

    Jones, Luke; Bamber, Sally; Matthews, Martin; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2023-04-26)
    This arts-based research considers creativity in the professional lives of English teachers in a school in England within the context of a progressively performative education system. In addition, it explores how found poetry can represent participants' voices in an illuminating and authentic manner. The teachers who participated in the study were able to scrutinise, reflect and comment upon the content of poems created from the words found in an initial interview transcript. This recursive process supports a credible way of seeing and knowing the teachers’ voices in a representation that gives a deeper understanding of the participants' creative experiences. The construction, interrogation, and presentation of the found poems reveal that the teachers of English believe they have reduced freedom to be creative or to act with agency in their professional lives. The reduced freedom to be creative stems from the normalising practices of working within a culture of performance. The restrictions are both tangible and self-imposed by the participants.

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