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International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 21-23 July 2014
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Close-up, practitioner-led, ‘impact’-ful research in higher education: an example

The School of Education, The University of Sheffield, h.cameron@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

In keeping with the theme of close-up research in higher education and with reference to Murray Saunders’s think piece ‘The use and usability of research outputs: making a difference’ (2013) this paper will discuss the author’s doctoral study (Cameron, in preparation) as an example of purposeful, bottom-up research which may be impact-ful in higher education practice, as well as potentially fulfilling more conventional criteria for impact. The research involved a mixed discourse analysis of talk amongst dyslexic students in higher education with particular focus upon the subject positions taken up, offered, or rejected, and with attention to the ways-of-being these positions opened up or closed down for these students in higher education contexts. It also examined ideological constructions subtly reproduced in the students’ talk and considered the ways in which these ideological voices limited the ways in which the participants were able to construct their learning identities. The overarching aim of the research was to engage students, psychologists and educators in the area of higher education to better recognise the power of discourse in shaping action and identity. This research has the potential to be impact-ful (according to Saunder’s ‘think piece’ criteria) for the following reasons: i) it has a clear, practical purpose, as from the outset, the intention was to undertake research which would enhance the learning experience of students with the dyslexia label studying in higher education; ii) it is practitioner-led. The questions it sought to answer were born of years of practice in the field of specific learning differences in higher education; iii) it offers a clear path to engagement with the findings; and, iv) its critical realist stance and mixed discourse analytic approach allow for a flexibility in real-life application which acknowledges both cognitive and constructionist conceptions of learning. The purpose of this paper is not to offer an in-depth discussion of the findings of the author’s doctoral study (this will be done elsewhere), but to draw upon aspects of this research to make clear the value of in-house, practitioner-led, practically orientated research for direct impact upon learning and teaching in higher education.


Link to Full Paper (If submitted)

Conference Organisers

Paul Trowler
Lancaster University, UK

Alice Jesmont
Lancaster University, UK

Malcolm Tight
Lancaster University, UK

Paul Ashwin
Lancaster University, UK

Murray Saunders
Lancaster University, UK

Chrissie Boughey
Rhodes University, South Africa

Suellen Shay
University of Cape Town, SA

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