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Current Members

Director: Julia Gillen

Associate Directors: Mary Hamilton & Uta Papen

Life President: David Barton


Current PhD Students

Robert Blake

Robert has worked in Basic Skills and Academic Support both as a teacher and teacher trainer, in Further and Higher Education. He is currently an Academic Support Tutor in the Student Learning Development Centre. He specialises in working with the science faculties and works with a range of home and international students on a range of immediate learning needs. His interests are in practitioner related matters concerning student learning and academic literacies, particularly text revision and the writing practices of university departments. The focus of his PhD research is on the student perspective concerning how HE students learn and develop academic writing practices through drafting and refining their assignments.

Margarita Calderon

I am interested in researching literacy practices and methods in developing countries. My PhD aims to compare the meaning construction that Chilean early childhood pupils develop regarding two different literacy methods. In particular, it focuses on the differences that may be in meaning construction for children who learn to read and write with top down or bottom up methods. In addition, I am interested in studying the beliefs and family literacy practices in the Chilean context to analyse the relation between meaning construction and literacy family practices and methods.

Kathrin Kaufhold

I am researching the development of students as writers in the context of UK higher education while they are becoming members of the academic community. To this end, I want to explore students’ academic as well as everyday writing practices, online and offline, over time. My aim is to establish how far online networking tools might provide a “third space” in mediating between academic and everyday writing. My PhD project evolved from previous research on academic writing development supported by an online social networking environment (

Michelle Lawson

Michelle Lawson is studying British migration to the Ariège region of southwest France.  She is particularly interested in how these ‘lifestyle migrants’ construct and define their identities as settlers in France.  She is using an ethnographic approach that includes the study of a online forum for migrants to examine the discourse and dynamics of this community.

Virginie Theriault

My study endeavours to find out if the literacy practices used in support groups (e.g. courses on social and professional integration) for young Quebeckers aged between 16 to 25 years old with low levels of formal education can make a positive contribution to their personal and professional life and can play a role in increasing the place of literacy in their lives. I will use ethnography as a methodology and the two main methods selected are participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Two community-based organizations from Quebec (Canada) will participate to this project. See the CÉRTA website for further information about my publications and professional background.

Jonathan Tummons

Jonathan Tummons is researching assessment as textually mediated activity within a community of practice. For more information on his research see Jonathan Tummons' Lancaster University website. At the University of Teeside, Jonathan Tummons is senior lecturer in education in the School of Social Sciences and Law.

Other students:

  • Angela Brzeski
  • Maximilian Gold

Recent PhD students

Jonathon Adams

My main area of interest is the analysis of literacy events involving texts mediated through computers and devices in face-to-face situations.  I used microethnographic approaches to analyse interactions between L2 English speakers talking about web-based media in a university classroom context. My work draws on multimodal interaction analysis and other areas of research involving situated sign usage to study interactions involving mediating computers, objects and interactive, non-linear texts. The research aimed to describe and to try to understand how people talking with such texts employ language in conjunction with other communicative resources when also faced with the complexities of digital media and mediating devices.

Awena Carter

Awena's doctoral research investigated how dyslexic children develop literacy as a result of a post progressive pedagogy. Her interests are in literacy as a social practice and in the pedagogical implications of this understanding of literacy in educational domains, especially with regard to dyslexic primary school children; and in constructivist philosophy and issues of self-hood and identity, especially with regard to literacy development as an empowering agent.

Ian Cheffy

Ian has particular interests in literacy in the context of development, basic education for adults, and multilingual education. Having worked as a literacy practitioner in Cameroon for 10 years, and subsequently as a trainer of literacy practitioners in developing countries, he conducted research in Cameroon, making use of a social practice view of literacy to explore the meanings of literacy for individuals and literacy programmes in a rural area of the country. He is a member of SIL, an international NGO specialising in the development of unwritten languages through the provision of writing systems, literature, training and education, and serves on the Executive Committee of the British Association for Literacy in Development.

Ruby Chen

Ruby Chen gained her PhD student in the Department of Linguistics and English Language in 2011.  The title of her thesis is: Adolescents' linguistic practices in College-affiliated Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) in Taiwan. Ruby is currently working at the Wenzao College of Languages in Kaohsiung.

Sau Kew Chong

Sau Kew Chong gained her PhD in 2011. She is currently a Research Fellow with the Education Research Office at the National Institute of Education, Singapore. She is particularly interested in using a social lens to study how reading and writing are undertaken in school settings. Part of this interest stems from her work as a school teacher in primary education prior to her postgraduate studies. Her doctoral research focused on how school literacy can be conceptualised broadly within New Literacy Studies by examining the meanings of people's ways of using reading and writing in and outside classrooms in two case study schools in Singapore. This research builds on her previous study on literacy pedagogies for supporting first and second language learners' writing in the Australian schools. At present, she is investigating the role of extra-curricular activities on learning in schools in Singapore.  

Claire Coulton

Claire's thesis working title was 'Negotiating the technology minefield: Family responses to the discourses of youth and technology'. The aim of the study was to understand how parents and their children negotiate these discourses in their everyday lives, and how this may affect their take up and use of digital technologies, ICTs and the internet. Using an ethnographic approach, I worked with five case study families and drawing upon a range of research methods, including interviewing, participant observation, document collection and photographic evidence. See Claire Coulton's website for further information.

Vicky Duckworth

Vicky Duckworth's research interests include practitioner and collaborative research methods, participatory action research and linking research and practice. She is interested in issues of empowerment and egalatarian approaches to teaching and learning and violence in relation to learning. Vicky Duckworth now works at Edgehill University.

Stella Kachiwanda

Stella is now at the University of Malawi.

Stella gained her PhD in 2009. Her PhD research investigated literacy practices of minority language speakers in Malawi and whether written information texts in minority languages constitute their everyday reading and writing. Her study also investigated policy formulation processes at institutional level with regard to the production/distribution of information texts in minority languages.

Eleanor Kwan

Carmen Lee

Carmen is now at Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Carmen is interested in issues of language and literacy in relation to computer-mediated communication. Her doctoral research explored the text-making practices involved in Instant Messaging (IM), a real-time online messaging system involving at least two participants. The study also examined how IM users draw on different linguistic resources in the production of text messages.

Zoe Nikolaidou

Zoe's doctoral research was on the literacies drawn upon by NVQ candidates when developing professional portfolios. Her main research question was the links between portfolio literacies and those developed as part of the candidates’ workplace practices. A further concept she looked at was the formation of identity within a knowledge-based economy context and the way portfolios contribute to such a process. She used Activity Theory as an analytical lens and explored the ways that it could be combined with a New Literacy Studies framework in order to examine literacies in context. She also had a strong interest in qualitative research and ethnographic methods of data collection. Her research was funded by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation.

Carole Sedgwick

Carole investigated academic literacy practices of MA thesis writing on English Studies programmes in a university in Hungary and a university in Italy. She adopted an ‘ethnographic style’ approach to her research. Her aim was to identify contexts that shaped thesis making. She was particularly interested in how practices of thesis making in these case studies related to notions of transferable, comparable and readable undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications across Europe,  which are aims articulated for the Bologna Process. She is interested in 'ethnography as epistemology' and in academic literacy practices research, particularly with regard to standardisation of assessment practices. She is a senior lecturer at Roehampton University. .

Jing Sheng

Jing's (2009) PhD dissertation was on Chinese Migrant Children's Multiliteracy Practices in Britain. She is interested in issues of literacy, multi-languages, and identity formation. She is particularly interested in children's out-of-school literacy practices, such as home literacy, digital literacy, literacy associated with entertainments and the role of literacy in children's identity and language change. Jing Sheng now works at Beijing Capital Normal University.

Lynde Tan

Lynde is now at National Institute of Education, Singapore.

Lynde Tan gained her PhD in the Department of Linguistics and English Language in 2011.  The title of her thesis is: Adolescent literacies, multimodal textual repertoires, and digital media: exploring sites of digital literacy practices and learning inside and outside school.

Lee James Tipton

The main focus of my doctoral work is the exploration of textually mediated space. This research is located in a variety of social spaces, such as hostels for offenders, where I am attempting to more fully understand the nature of our multiple and often complex interactions with text in space and place. I am particularly interested in exploring how power functions within such spaces and are working on developing a framework for analysis of textually mediated space that focuses on the intricate relationship actor, text and space play in the process of generating meaning in our social worlds.

Ming-i Lydia Tseng

Lydia's doctoral research was concerned with understanding more about EFL students' learning of writing and with looking at the role of classroom interaction in the development of academic literacy. Her general interest is in the area of language education: the teaching and learning of literacy in the context in which English is used as a second or foreign language, the integration of research with classroom teaching and learning (especially 'Exploratory Practice'), critical pedagogies and curriculum design. She is also interested in genre and critical discourse analysis, with the focus on awareness-raising of literacy as a social practice.

Sandra Varey

Sandra held an ESRC 1+3 studentship (an MA followed by a PhD) in the Department of Educational Research. Having taught Adult Literacy in a college of further education for four years, her research in this area adopted a social practices perspective to focus on adults’ literacy lives. One of Sandra’s current research projects revisited former literacy students to explore the relationship between adults’ aims at the outset of a literacy programme and their reflections on/evaluations of their learning experiences. Other areas of interest include the link between adults’ literacy lives and identity, along with the relationship between practice, policy and research in Skills for Life in England.




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