Projects

A selection of our recent research is listed below.

More information can be found at our complete list of projects.

Everyday student mobilities

Kirsty Finn is currently researching issues around student (im)mobilities in Higher Education. This includes an SRHE-funded project (Everyday Student Mobilities, 2015) which explores the experiences of students who commute in order to participate in Higher Education, and emerging research into the implications of BREXIT upon international student mobility programmes such as the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS).  Broadly, these projects are concerned with (in)equalities of access to Higher Education, as well issues related to belonging and citizenship cultivated in and through everyday and international movements. The Everyday Student Mobilities project has generated important insights into the ways in which travel and transport impact upon students’ sense of emotional wellbeing, their place-making strategies and divergent use of space on campus (for learning and leisure), and their orientations towards sustainable ‘green’ practices and digital mobilities.

Read more about the Everyday Student Mobilities project

The Dynamics of Knowledge Creation: Academics' Writing Practices in the Contemporary University Workplace

This 2 year ESRC project starting in January 2015 focuses on the changing nature of academic work. Academic life can be very diverse, including research, scholarship, teaching, and public engagement, and it involves both carrying out these activities and administering them. We see the principal role of an academic as being to produce, shape and distribute knowledge. Writing of many different kinds is central to this endeavour.

Many different factors have been transforming the nature of academics’ writing practices in recent decades. New digital technologies have changed both the tools we use to write with and the kinds of writing we do. Maintaining a blog or tweeting regularly are very different kinds of activities from preparing a journal article or writing a lecture. The ubiquity of email communication in universities brings its own pressures. Managerial accountability practices designed to measure and assess knowledge production and dissemination lead to new writing practices, such as writing impact statements and performance review documents.

Read more about the Dynamics of Knowledge Creation project.

Exploring 'lad cultures' in higher education

The project aims to explore the 'lad cultures' in higher education from the perspectives of a variety of staff across six universities. 

Drawing on the perspectives of staff at six universities, the research will address the following research questions:

1. In what ways are lad cultures manifest in different higher education contexts?
2. Are these manifestations problematic and, if so, how?
3. Are universities working to tackle lad cultures and, if so, how?
4. Does more need to be done to tackle lad cultures in H.E and, if so, what?

Read more about the Exploring 'lad cultures' in HE project.

Brathay

Difficult life transitions: learning and digital technologies

This study explores elements of difficult, complex transitions in an important contemporary context that have not been previously researched; findings could have wider potential implications for supporting learning practices. Lessons learned from an evaluation of digital technology use among groups of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) will be deployed in another context, enhanced by additional approaches with another group of people who often need support during a difficult transition; that is, members of the Armed Services returning to civilian life.

Read more about the Difficult life transitions project.

Pedagogic quality and inequality in university first degrees

The Pedagogic Quality and Inequality in University First Degrees Project was a three-year longitudinal investigation of sociology and related social science degree courses in four UK universities, which were given the pseudonyms Prestige, Selective, Community, and Diversity Universities in order to reflect their different reputations. The departments at Prestige and Selective have been regularly rated in the top third of UK higher education league tables for their research and teaching in Sociology, while those at Community and Diversity have been regularly rated in the bottom third.

Three years’ intensive fieldwork produced rich data sets, including: in-depth interviews with 98 students eliciting biographical stories and their perceptions and experiences of higher education; 31 longitudinal case studies following students throughout the three years of their degree programmes; a survey of over 700 students; interviews with 16 staff; analysis of video recordings of teaching in each institution in each year of the degree (12 sessions); analysis of students’ assessed work (examples from each year); a focus group discussion with tutors from all four institutions about students’ assessed work; as well as documentary analysis and the collection of statistical data relating to the four departments.

Read more about the Pedagogic quality and inequality in university first degrees project.

MultiMAP: The Role of Multimodal Artefacts in Learning at Postgraduate Courses

The pedagogical and theoretical aims of the project are to explore:

    1. the processes of creation and the role of multimodal artefacts in postgraduate education courses to support the pedagogical aims of analysis, critique and the development of multiple perspectives to concepts and knowledge building
    2. the affordances of multimodal artefacts in learning as distinct from language-based resources.

The “learning” here is formulated as conceptual development (Blunden, 2012), critical, rhyzomatically branched and pluralist forms of understanding and creating (Sousanis, 2015) towards a knowledge building community (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 2003).

Read more about the MultiMap project.