Now showing items 21-40 of 4999

    • An Automated Approach for Geocoding Tabular Itineraries

      Santos, Rui; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Martins, Bruno (ACM Press, 2017)
    • A Modified Bordered Construction for Self-Dual Codes from Group Rings

      Gildea, Joseph; Kaya, Abidin; Tylyshchak, Alexander; Yildiz, Bahattin; University of Chester; Sampoerna University; Uzhgorod State University; Northern Arizona University (Jacodesmath Institute, 2019)
      We describe a bordered construction for self-dual codes coming from group rings. We apply the constructions coming from the cyclic and dihedral groups over several alphabets to obtain extremal binary self-dual codes of various lengths. In particular we find a new extremal binary self-dual code of length 78.
    • Composite Constructions of Self-Dual Codes from Group Rings and New Extremal Self-Dual Binary Codes of Length 68

      Dougherty, Steven; Gildea, Joe; Kaya, Abidin; Korban, Adrian; University of Scranton; University of Chester; Sampoerna University ; University of Chester (American Institute of Mathematical Sciences, 2019)
      We describe eight composite constructions from group rings where the orders of the groups are 4 and 8, which are then applied to find self-dual codes of length 16 over F4. These codes have binary images with parameters [32, 16, 8] or [32, 16, 6]. These are lifted to codes over F4 + uF4, to obtain codes with Gray images extremal self-dual binary codes of length 64. Finally, we use a building-up method over F2 + uF2 to obtain new extremal binary self-dual codes of length 68. We construct 11 new codes via the building-up method and 2 new codes by considering possible neighbors.
    • “Cautiously Optimistic” Older Parent-Carers of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities response to the Care Act 2014

      Gant, Valerie; Bates, Claire; University of Chester
      This paper discusses potential opportunities for best practice in the UK that may be brought about by the Care Act (2014). Carers in the UK were given new rights within this legislation with a focus on needs led assessment. The underpinning philosophy of the Care Act is to streamline previous legislation and offer a framework for carers and people in receipt of care, to enable a more personalised approach to care and support.
    • Understanding self-respect and its relationship to self-esteem

      Clucas, Claudine; University of Chester
      The concept of self-respect has received little attention in the psychological literature and is not clearly distinguished from self-esteem. The present research sought to empirically investigate the bases of self-respect by manipulating adherence to morals together with interpersonal appraisals, or task-related competence, in hypothetical scenarios (Studies 1a and 1b) and a situation participants relived (Studies 2 and 3). Participants’ levels of state self-respect and self-esteem were measured. Studies 1-3 found main effects of adherence to morals on self-respect, with self-respect mediating the effect of adherence to morals on self-esteem, but little support for competence and interpersonal appraisals directly influencing self-respect. Self-respect uniquely contributed to anticipated/felt self-esteem alongside competence or interpersonal appraisals. The pattern of results supports the conceptualisation of self-respect as a component of self-esteem associated with morally principled conduct, distinct from performance and social self-esteem. The findings have implications for our understanding of self-esteem and moral behaviour.
    • Police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses

      Mattison, Michelle Louise Ann-Marie; Dando, Coral; University of Chester; University of Westminster
      Attempts to enhance episodic retrieval focus largely on verbal strategies which do not always address the limited or impaired free recall ability of vulnerable witnesses. Asking a witness to draw while recalling episodic information has long been deemed an effective method of improving communication and cognitive performance. Thus far, research has revealed these effects within laboratory settings but with scarce attention paid to real-life interview practice. In this paper, we explore police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses. A sample of specialist practitioners (n=85), comprising of vulnerable witness interviewing police officers (n=50) and Registered Intermediaries (n=35) completed a self-report questionnaire. As expected, frequent use of drawing was reported by both practitioner groups, and there was a positive correlation between reported use and perceived effectiveness. There were similarities between groups in reported techniques employed when using drawing, but some differences were apparent and these were attributed to the differing functions in police and Registered Intermediary roles. Overall, a consensus between empirical research and practice is evident, but these findings warrant further exploration in order to establish whether such practice is wide-spread.
    • Toponym matching through deep neural networks

      Santos, Rui; orcid: 0000-0001-5981-9924; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; orcid: 0000-0001-9904-0288; Calado, Pável; orcid: 0000-0001-6478-229X; Martins, Bruno; orcid: 0000-0002-3856-2936 (Informa UK Limited, 2017-10-31)
    • The personal benefits of musicking for people living with dementia: a thematic synthesis of the qualitative literature

      Dowlen, Robyn; orcid: 0000-0003-2982-7039; Keady, John; Milligan, Christine; Swarbrick, Caroline; Ponsillo, Nick; Geddes, Lucy; Riley, Bob (Informa UK Limited, 2017-09-08)
    • A Numerical Feasibility Study of Kinetic Energy Harvesting from Lower Limb Prosthetics

      Jia, Yu; orcid: 0000-0001-9640-1666; email:; Wei, Xueyong; orcid: 0000-0002-6443-4727; email:; Pu, Jie; email:; Xie, Pengheng; email:; Wen, Tao; orcid: 0000-0002-3216-6967; email:; Wang, Congsi; email:; Lian, Peiyuan; email:; Xue, Song; email:; Shi, Yu; orcid: 0000-0003-3891-7175; email: (MDPI, 2019-10-10)
      With the advancement trend of lower limb prosthetics headed towards bionics (active ankle and knee) and smart prosthetics (gait and condition monitoring), there is an increasing integration of various sensors (micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, strain gauges, pressure sensors, etc.), microcontrollers and wireless systems, and power drives including motors and actuators. All of these active elements require electrical power. However, inclusion of a heavy and bulky battery risks to undo the lightweight advancements achieved by the strong and flexible composite materials in the past decades. Kinetic energy harvesting holds the promise to recharge a small on-board battery in order to sustain the active systems without sacrificing weight and size. However, careful design is required in order not to over-burden the user from parasitic effects. This paper presents a feasibility study using measured gait data and numerical simulation in order to predict the available recoverable power. The numerical simulations suggest that, depending on the axis, up to 10s mW average electrical power is recoverable for a walking gait and up to 100s mW average electrical power is achievable during a running gait. This takes into account parasitic losses and only capturing a fraction of the gait cycle to not adversely burden the user. The predicted recoverable power levels are ample to self-sustain wireless communication and smart sensing functionalities to support smart prosthetics, as well as extend the battery life for active actuators in bionic systems. The results here serve as a theoretical foundation to design and develop towards regenerative smart bionic prosthetics.
    • Numerical methods for solving space fractional partial differential equations by using Hadamard finite-part integral approach

      Yan, Yubin; Wang, Yanyong; Hu, Ye; University of Chester; Lvliang University
      We introduce a novel numerical method for solving two-sided space fractional partial differential equation in two dimensional case. The approximation of the space fractional Riemann-Liouville derivative is based on the approximation of the Hadamard finite-part integral which has the convergence order $O(h^{3- \alpha})$, where $h$ is the space step size and $\alpha\in (1, 2)$ is the order of Riemann-Liouville fractional derivative. Based on this scheme, we introduce a shifted finite difference method for solving space fractional partial differential equation. We obtained the error estimates with the convergence orders $O(\tau +h^{3-\alpha}+ h^{\beta})$, where $\tau$ is the time step size and $\beta >0$ is a parameter which measures the smoothness of the fractional derivatives of the solution of the equation. Unlike the numerical methods for solving space fractional partial differential equation constructed by using the standard shifted Gr\"unwald-Letnikov formula or higher order Lubich'e methods which require the solution of the equation satisfies the homogeneous Dirichlet boundary condition in order to get the first order convergence, the numerical method for solving space fractional partial differential equation constructed by using Hadamard finite-part integral approach does not require the solution of the equation satisfies the Dirichlet homogeneous boundary condition. Numerical results show that the experimentally determined convergence order obtained by using the Hadamard finite-part integral approach for solving space fractional partial differential equation with non-homogeneous Dirichlet boundary conditions is indeed higher than the convergence order obtained by using the numerical methods constructed with the standard shifted Gr\"unwald-Letnikov formula or Lubich's higer order approximation schemes.
    • Recruiting cancer survivors into research studies using online methods: a secondary analysis from an international cancer survivorship cohort study.

      Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Pendrous, Rosina; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Swash, Brooke; University of Chester
      Recruiting participants into cancer survivorship research remains a significant challenge. Few studies have tested and compared the relative use of non-clinical online recruitment methods, especially in samples of adult cancer survivors. This paper reports on the feasibility of recruiting a representative cohort of cancer survivors using online social media. Two-hundred participants with a cancer diagnosis within the past 12 months were recruited via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) into a longitudinal questionnaire study. Different methods of online recruitment proved to be more effective than others over time. Paid Facebook boosting, Reddit posts, and Twitter adverts placed by existing cancer charities proved most helpful in reaching our recruitment target (contributing 27%, 22% and 32% respectively). Recruiting online achieved a more demographically and clinically representative sample for our study: our sample was younger, less heteronormative, including those with a range of clinical diagnoses, primary and recurrence illness, and patients who had both completed and were still receiving treatment. This was certainly not a quick method of sample recruitment but that could have been optimised by focussing only on the three most effective methods describe earlier. Whilst we found that online recruitment is significantly lower cost than traditional recruitment methods, and can reduce some biases, there still remains the potential for some biases (e.g. excluding much older participants) and ethical/methodological issues (e.g. excluding those without access to the internet). We outline our recruitment strategy, retention rates, and a cost breakdown in order to guide other researchers considering such methods for future research in cancer survivorship.
    • Hereditary surname establishment in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds: a diachronic analysis

      Parkin, Harry; University of Chester
      A study of the local development of hereditary surnames in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds in the 14th century, looking at how it may differ from the apparent national patterns of hereditary surname adoption, and the implications for further surname research
    • Acculturation and Food Intake Among Ghanaian Migrants in Europe: Findings From the RODAM Study

      Osei-Kwasi, Hibbah Araba; email:; Boateng, Daniel; Danquah, Ina; Holdsworth, Michelle; Mejean, Caroline; Terragni, Laura; Powell, Katie; Schulze, Matthias B.; Owusu-Dabo, Ellis; Meeks, Karlijn; orcid: 0000-0003-3032-405X; et al.
      Abstract Objective This study examined the role of migration and acculturation in the diet of Ghanaian migrants in Europe by (1) comparing food intake of Ghanaian migrants in Europe with that of Ghanaians living in Ghana and (2) assessing the association between acculturation and food intake. Design Data from the cross-sectional multicenter study Research on Obesity and Diabetes among African Migrants were used. Food intake was assessed using a Ghana-specific food propensity questionnaire (134 items and 14 food groups); foods were grouped based on a model of dietary change proposed by Koctürk-Runefors. Setting Ghana, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Participants A total of 4,534 Ghanaian adults living in Ghana and Europe, with complete dietary data. Of these, 1,773 Ghanaian migrants had complete acculturation data. Main Outcome Measure Food intake (the weighted intake frequency per week of food categories). Analysis Linear regression. Results Food intake differed between Ghanaians living in Ghana and Europe. Among Ghanaian migrants in Europe, there were inconsistent and small associations between acculturation and food intake, except for ethnic identity, which was consistently associated with intake only of traditional staples. Conclusions and Implications Findings indicate that migration is associated with dietary changes that cannot be fully explained by ethnic, cultural, and social acculturation. The study provides limited support to the differential changes in diet suggested by the Koctürk-Runefors’ model of dietary change.
    • The Gift of Leaven: A new feminist theological praxis for urban church

      Dawson, Claire L (University of Chester, 2019-09)
      This thesis documents my research quest into the post-regeneration community of Bootle, North Liverpool. A Housing Market Renewal Initiative had decimated the area. As a Church of England minister, I was struggling to find signs of life and had no theological paradigm in which to situate my ministerial practice. My argument is that the current arborescent theology and practices of the Church of England have excluded the phronēsis of white working-class women and have failed to deliver a life-sustaining praxis for urban church. I argue for a reprioritisation of the poor and the inclusion of marginalised voices; allowing these voices to shape and define the academy as opposed to letting the academy shape which voices are to be heard. I came to this research holding a feminist and liberative theological standpoint: prioritising and privileging the voices of women and those on the margins. My research design adopts a feminist and narrative methodological framework in its quest to uncover the hidden phronēsis of the Bootle women. The transcripts of their lives are analysed using a thematic network analysis which generates three global themes: hope; placed and particular; and the death space. This thematic network is the main finding of my research quest and is the Gift of Leaven: the distilled phronēsis of the Bootle women. This research project is multidisciplinary. The Gift of Leaven is brought into conversation with voices from social science; public urban theology; feminist theology; and urban geography. Through a spiralling process of theological reflection the strands of a new feminist theological praxis for urban church are defined. What I produce in this thesis is a new feminist praxis for urban church from the underside of life and from voices that are notably absent from academia and ecclesiology. This new praxis is not a carefully-crafted mission action plan of how the Church should engage in urban life. What is offered instead is a new way of seeing and feeling the urban. This is situated within the lo cotidiano and objects of the ordinary and is revealed through fragments; it is new women’s knowledge coming to birth in women’s story and women’s song. It does not readily offer quick social or theological fixes to life’s fissures. It provides a way of flourishing and life from a different paradigm, and that paradigm is the phronēsis of the Bootle women. It is the women themselves who become the heralds of good tidings and the God bearers. They bring the Gift of Leaven for the whole community so that bread may be baked and the wounded body fed. The task is now to make space so their voices can be heard.
    • Visual communication in the 21st Century: A study of the visual and digital communication experiences of post-Millennial university students

      Maheshwari, Vish; Moss, Danny; Lyon, Andy; Sillitoe, Kathleen L (University of Chester, 2018-08)
      Higher education (HE) visual communication students, who are considering careers in the creative industries of advertising and marketing, need a high level of skills in visual and digital literacy. However, students born after 1995 (post-Millennials), now entering HE, appear to present with fewer visual communication and digital skills than previous cohorts. This research provides a case study of post-Millennial students and examines the extent to which they are learning visual communication skills through their use of widely available digital media technologies. Four groups of post-Millennial students were investigated: one group of Level 4 Computer Science students; two groups of Level 4 Advertising students, from different years; and one group of Level 6 Advertising students. The students were surveyed using interview, questionnaire, observation and focus group. The resulting data was coded and analysed to extract themes. A further layered analysis, using a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) framework, was then carried out. Using this CHAT framework, deviances were found within the activity system of this HE advertising programme delivery. The most fundamental change was in the dissonance found between the student participants’ and HE’s learning objectives. This was in the context of a complete reversal of the relative importance of the communities within the students’ activity systems. They had become ‘flipped learners’. These CHAT related findings are arguably relevant to wider HE settings. The research also found that the students in the focus groups had a high dependency on the Internet. They used it to search for, and download, images and text. They also preferred to use the Internet to source knowledge or information, rather than to approach staff. Their visual literacy skills appeared to be weaker than those of previous cohorts. Despite their weaknesses, many students had a high level of confidence in their own ability that was not reflected in their work. A strong theme of ‘need for speed’ was highlighted, with many students believing that speed of production was more important than the quality of an artefact in professional work. The systemic changes highlighted by the CHAT framework, together with the research’s other findings, suggest potential implications for the teaching of HE students of visual communication and for the future of the creative industries. Further research is indicated in the areas of the effects of young people’s: use of the mobile phone on visual literacy skills; perception of industry needs; increasing dependency on the Internet for the acquisition of knowledge; and their need for speed.
    • Development, Digestibility and Oxidation Properties of LC3PUFA Nanoemulsion and Its Effects on Sensory Profile of Food

      Zhou, QiQian (University of Chester, 2019-02)
      The long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC3PUFA) in human diets are mainly derived from oily fish and fish oil based supplements. Currently, the consumption of oily fish in the UK is far below the recommended level. LC3PUFA's non-fish sources such as algal oil with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are particularly important for vegetarians, non-fish eaters, and pregnant women. In previous work, high DHA vegetative algal oil load 50% w/w was successfully used to develop an oil-in-water nanoemulsion system suitable for functional food enrichment. The aims of this study included to investigate the effect of selected emulsifiers on oil-in-water nanoemulsions of algal oil prepared using ultrasonic technology. To improve the stability and digestibility of nanoemulsions within an In vitro digestion model. To examine the oxidation stability of nanoemulsions of algal oil and bulk algal oil with composition and droplet size changes during a 5 weeks storage trial at a temperature of 4 °C, 20 °C and 40 °C respectively. To evaluate sensory properties and consumer acceptability of food products with the incorporation of resulted nanoemulsion and find out possible relationship between the sensory profile of foods and the characteristics of added nanoemulsion. Nanoemulsion of LC3PUFA algal oil was developed with selected 6% w/w emulsifiers, including Lecithin (LN), Tween 40 (TN), Tween 60, equal ratio of Tween 40 and lecithin (LTN), 50% w/w Algal oil and 44%w/w water using a homogenizer and ultrasound processor. The results show that the nanoemulsion has been stabilised with selected emulsifiers (LN, TN & LTN) and the smallest droplet size of nanoemulsion was obtained using the combination of lecithin and Tween 40 at ratio 50:50. The In vitro digestion experiments were conducted with a model of fed state gastric and duodenal digestion using method of Lin et al (2014). The results show that the omega-3 oil nanoemulsion (LE/TW 50:50) were stable over 60 min in the gastric phase, in contrast omega-3 nanoemulsion (LE 100%) was destabilised at the gastric phase in 60 min, in which the droplet size diameter was significantly larger than at the beginning of gastric phase (P ≤ 0.05). The droplet size, fatty composition and oxidised compounds were measured to compare bulk algal oil and nanoemulsions stabilised with lecithin (LN) and Tween 40 (TN) solely and in combination (LTN) over a storage period of 5 weeks at temperatures of 4, 20 and 40°C. The results show the droplet size of nanoemulsions had no significant changes for samples stored at tested temperatures over 5 weeks storage. There were no significant differences in DHA composition within the weeks and temperatures used. For the GCHS analysed results, the increase in temperature to 40 ºC and storage time had a significant effect on the development of propanal for all samples (P≤0.05). Nanoemulsions prepared with lecithin alone had significantly higher development of propanal in week 1 at both 40 ºC and 20 ºC (P≤0.05). Lecithin (sole and combination with Tween 40) had more significant increases in oxidised volatiles at 40°C, which may be due to the instability of linoleic acid found in lecithin molecules which located in the outer layer of the oil droplets. There were no significant increase in oxidised compounds from the beginning to the end of storage for all tested samples stored at 4 °C. The sensory testing was also conducted on white sauce incorporated with omega-3 nanoemulsions with selected emulsifiers and bulk algal oil. The results show that the sensory attributes and overall acceptability of foods enriched with omega-3 nanoemulsion were statistically significantly lower than that of control sample (P≤ 0.05). Overall, the smallest droplet size of nanoemulsion was achieved with combination of lecithin and Tween 40 at a ratio of 50:50 by using ultrasonic processor. The stability and digestibility of nanoemulsion with the combination of lecithin and Tween 40 was improved in an In vitro digestion approach. A storage period of 5 weeks and temperature have no significant effect on the droplet size of tested nanoemulsion samples. However, there is a significant increase of the oxidised volatiles at 40 °C for all samples. Sensory testing show the white sauce with nanoemulsion has a stronger fishy taste and less overall liking than with bulk oil, indicating the smaller drop size is more ready to spread and reach the sensors of the mouth.
    • The impact of work based learning: A creative exploration of learners’ experience

      Scott, Deborah S (University of Chester, 2019-03)
      The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the impact of work based learning through a creative exploration of learners’ experience. The impact expected in work based learning is at personal, professional and/ or organisational level, and might extend beyond the organisation, to social order. However, the nature and extent of impact is variable, and sometimes not evident at all. This variability and apparent lack of impact is of pedagogical and economic concern for all parties involved in the tripartite work based learning relationship: learners expect to perceive some benefit from undertaking such a course of study; higher education providers need to show relevance to the working world; organisations assume there will be operational or strategic outcome from their employees’ engagement in work based learning. Wider than this, the significance of learning of relevance to the United Kingdom’s productivity is articulated in the government’s Industrial Strategy (GOV.UK, 2017). The investigation takes a narrative research approach to explore the experiences of recent Masters graduates of a negotiated work based learning programme for distance learners. The data were analysed using the concepts of Thirdspace, equality, creativity, and critical reflection. The creation of play scripts is an innovative feature of this thesis, representing an interpretation of participants’ stories about their work based learning experience. This imagined embodiment of learners’ experience facilitated greater empathy and understanding, supporting a critical perspective on the nature of impact. Insights emerging from the research suggest that impact was experienced by all research participants, but varied in nature and extent due to factors such as employment position; self-confidence, self-perception and personal experience; the culture and economic position of the organisation. Some participants’ employment position supported their use of their work based learning to instigate organisational change. For others, a marginal employment position offered opportunity to use learning for professional development. However, marginalisation might also hinder impact beyond the personal when combined with other factors such as an organisation’s financial constraints, and might prevent enactment of emerging radical ideas about the social order. Even when impact was deep, it might not be overt. A further insight was that collaboration was significant in effecting impact. This investigation offers a new perspective on impact in the context of work based learning, which highlights the creative, subtle and emotional aspects. The findings prompt review of teaching, learning and assessment practice leading to identification of strategies to accommodate and support students’ performance and development.
    • Humanism and the Ideology of Work

      Rigby, Joe; Harrison, Katherine; Ogden, Cassie; Cox, Peter; Mercer, Samuel J R (University of Chester, 2018-08)
      This thesis argues that humanism, despite being subject to a sustained critique within the social sciences over the past fifty years or more, continues to limit the critical and explanatory power of the sociology of work, preventing a fuller understanding of the nature of work under contemporary capitalism. Developing Louis Althusser’s (1996) critique of humanism and ideology, humanism is shown to be an ideological problem for the sociology of work insofar as it brackets, obfuscates or mystifies key social relations of work and, by extension, the class struggles reflected in those relations. Humanism presents a persistent and pervasive problem for the sociology of work, as both an explanatory and critical framework. Because of the persistence of humanism in the sociology of work, the problems of contemporary work – and the proposed ‘solutions’ to these problems – are located not in an analysis of the social relations of these realities, but in ideological discourses of human alienation and human self-affirmation. The thesis explores the extent of this ideological problem across three contemporary debates within the sociology of work: ‘postcapitalist’ discourse (Srnicek & Williams, 2015) and the emergence of a contemporary post-work imaginary; feminist discourses on the ‘bioeconomy’ (Cooper & Waldby, 2014) and theories of social reproduction in the context of sex work, tissue donation and surrogacy; and the figuration of labour and work within contemporary social scientific discourses of the ‘Anthropocene’ (Bonneuil & Fressoz, 2016). In each of these areas, the thesis demonstrates how much of the sociology of work continues to rely on humanistic ideas to provide a normative theoretical foundation and a critical edge. If the sociology of work is to provide a genuinely critical orientation for understanding the changing world of work, this thesis argues, then the critique of humanism remains a central task.
    • The Out-of-School Creative Practice of an Art Teacher

      Bamber, Sally; Adams, Jeff; Lloyd-Johnson, Jude (University of Chester, 2018-12)
      This research aims to give a greater understanding of the impact my teaching role has on my creative practice as a self-portrait photographer. This aim has been researched and explored using self-portrait photography and personal experiences in and outside of the classroom. Using the street photographer Vivian Maier as inspiration, I have reflected on how using the techniques of another practitioner could influence my practice and teaching. Pursuant to this, I have produced a portfolio of Street and Home Life selfportraits. With the application of auto-ethnographic research methods and a/r/tography approaches, I explored the tensions and parallels within my creative practice and my role as a researcher and teacher. As a photographer, researcher and teacher, I have found that each of these roles and identities are intertwined and interlinked such that it is impossible to separate them. I found that my creativity does not generally follow a journey from initial starting point to final piece and taking photographs in the style of another photographer limited the generation of my own ideas. Therefore, as a result of my research, I propose that there are two types of art, school art and creative practitioner art. The former follows a set of rules and criteria and is primarily assessed on the merit of the pupil’s skill level by the schools’ examination board. The latter can be organic and sometimes stilted in its creation, but judged by either art critics or purchasers of the art practice.
    • Sermon listening among the Croatian Baptists: A New Approach Based on Congregational Studies and Rhetoric

      Seba, Enoh (University of Chester, 2019-04)
      The recent homiletical literature reveals the 'turn to the listener' as a widespread trend of attempting to minimize the gap between the pulpit and the pew and indicates the increase in the reappropriation of various rhetorical contributions. At the same time, the development of congregational studies has encouraged practical theologians to conduct empirical studies in order to explore the highly contextual nature of sermon listeners' involvement in the practice of preaching. The investigation of my immediate context, however, proves that preaching holds a precious place in the theology and life of Croatian Baptist churches, but also identifies the absence of empirical research that probes their preaching practice from the hearers' perspective. These are the reasons why this study is motivated by the following research question: What are the real expectations and receptiveness of the Croatian Baptists as sermon listeners, and how can these findings be utilised to improve the quality of preaching? To become able to articulate dependable answers, I conducted a qualitative field study based on a phenomenological approach, using semi-structured interviews with eighteen members of five local Baptist congregations located in four Croatian towns. The gathered feedback was interpreted by means of three rhetorical modes of appeal (logos, ēthos, and pathos) which served a purpose of identifying their actual expectations and (dis)engaging factors that direct their listening participation and sermon reception. The same data was submitted to critical theological reflection, aiming at the theological warrants for the constructive suggestions for the transformation of preaching practice. The findings from the research demonstrate that participants tend to hold a high view of preaching, and yet many of them report the unmet expectations which may lead to lowering their expectations. Among the most prominent interviewees' expectations are: hope that the sermon will provide direction in their everyday life, desire to meet God during the sermon and to have their devotional reading of the Bible enhanced by sermon listening, a longing to have their spiritual batteries recharged, and anticipation that preaching should question their status quo and challenge them to change themselves. Also, the study indicates that triggering the listeners' identification boosts their reception of the message and promotes their engagement. Although these particular findings are not generalisable, they nevertheless point to the possibility of an important implication: backing up the listeners' expectations with their active responsibility for the preaching may transform the entire practice into a constructive enterprise that bridges the gap between hearers and preachers. The specific suggestions, based on the study findings, to the preachers and listeners in Croatian Baptist churches may serve both as an illustration of how preaching can be reestablished as a truly congregational practice and as an impetus for further studies in different contexts.