Pedagogic Research Group

What is the Pedagogic Research Group?

The University of Wolverhampton Pedagogic Research Group is a peer-support network for staff engaged in pedagogic research. It is led by Christine Hockings, Professor of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Sessions will be delivered by a range of internal and guest speakers. 

The aim of the group is to encourage the implementation of pedagogic research to support educational practice across the institution. Pedagogic research is seen as original investigation carried out to gain further knowledge and understanding of Learning and Teaching. This is important as research can help to underpin teaching, and teaching can help to underpin research. Knowledge gained and shared can be used to develop policies, curriculums, and teaching methods for the benefit of students and academics.

There are three Clusters within the overall Pedagogic Research Group that focus on:

Pedagogy, Assessment & Curriculum (PAC) – This Cluster includes digital learning as well as academic development

Inclusivity and Diversity in HE (IDHE) - This Cluster includes research on retention, attainment, and progression.

Lifelong learning and employability (LLE) – this Cluster includes learning in the professions and work based learning.

These Clusters were derived from colleagues’ individual research interests and are aligned to the University’s strategic priorities.  Each Cluster is led by a Professor of Learning and Teaching in HE and will develop programmes of activities specific to their particular interests, in additional to those of the general Pedagogic Research Group.

All University staff with an interest in pedagogic research or pedagogic development are invited to attend monthly sessions and join one of the Clusters.

Programme and Speakers

The following sessions are scheduled to take place. Click for further information and to book your place.

All sessions take place between 12:30 - 14:00 (15:30 for Double Session). The venue will alternate between City and Walsall and meetings will take place in the last week of the month where possible (Tuesday or Thursday). 

Extended sessions / workshops may be run according to demand and availability of guest speakers. Each research Group may also hold events etc., specific to the theme alongside this generic programme. 

Full details of sessions and speakers will be made available and advertised beyond the PedR group.

Wednesday 25th January 2017

Venue: City MD165

Time: 12:30-14:00

External Speaker: Professor Tansy Jessop

Research Informed Teaching: Debunking myths and devising strategies

Research Informed Teaching has been around since the birth of the modern university at Humboldt University in Berlin in 1810. Yet its practice remains patchy and elusive. This workshop explores common myths about research informed teaching which prevent academics and students from fully engaging in it. These include the prevalence of a ‘facts first’ approach in university teaching; the belief that only a select band of students are capable of doing research; and that it is best practised in research-intensive universities with research-active staff.  The session will go on to scope out disciplinary and generic RIT tactics, shifting students from the prevalent idea that “university is just like school, only faster” (Elton 2001). Finally, the session will highlight strategies for embedding an institutional culture of research informed teaching.

Tansy Jessop is Professor of Research Informed Teaching at Southampton Solent University. Tansy’s main research has been about assessment and feedback through leading the ‘Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment’, TESTA project. TESTA has been a catalyst for thinking about assessment and feedback from a programme perspective, for more than 50 UK universities. Tansy’s publications include work on narrative research methods, social justice, learning spaces, and assessment and feedback. In her role at Southampton Solent, Tansy has strategic responsibility for developing research informed teaching.  

Tansy Jessop pedagogic research group


View 'Demystifying Reseach Informed Teaching' presentation slides: here



Research wordle

Teaching wordle

 Research Informed Teaching

Research Informed Teaching wordle


Thursday 23rd February 2017

Venue: Walsall Campus WA033

Time: 12:30-14:00

Internal research seminar: Professional Learning & Development

This session of the Pedagogic Research Group focuses on the research carried out by two colleagues in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Sara Smith and Jacky Laverty.  Both are in the final stages of the their PhDs and both are working in the area of developing professional practice / professional identity within the healthcare professions.  Their work focuses on students, graduates and the workplace and they will be sharing their findings as well as the methodologies (grounded theory and audio diaries) with us.  Please read their abstracts and book your place.

  • Lunch will be provided (please provide details of any special dietary requirements using the 'contact' link when booking)
  • Book your place via Eventbrite:



‘Doing the Portfolio’ – Pre-registration training for biomedical scientists and developing the capable practitioner

Sara Smith University of Wolverhampton

Biomedical scientists (BMS) carry out a range of laboratory based tests that are an essential component of the patient care pathway. Pre-registration training forms the basis for development of professional capability and entry onto the professional register. This study draws upon research into work- based pedagogy and the learning environment and utilises a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore the current programme.

Findings highlight the practicalities of integrating professional registration training into a programme of study. Three main factors are identified as providing barriers: Role Conflict, Expectations and Ownership. The interactions and intersections of these result in identification of the two themes of ‘doing the portfolio’ and ‘gaining BMS currency’.  The curriculum is guided by positivist epistemology and the portfolio has assumed an apparent dominance as an objective measure of learning which reflects the typology of practice within the laboratory. The practice of the individual student and their progress, ‘gaining BMS currency’, has become lost resulting in challenges to supporting capability development.

Smith, S. (2010) To blog or not to blog: supporting the development of critical reflection The Biomedical S‌cientist (June) p428-429

Smith, S., Brown, D., Purnell, E. and Martin, J. (2015) ‘Flipping’ the Postgraduate Classroom: supporting the student experience. In: Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Transgressing Boundaries. Eds Layne, P. and Lake, P.  Series: Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education, Vol. 11. Springer Publishing International

Smith, S. and Martin, J.  (2014) "Practitioner capability: Supporting critical reflection during work-based placement – a pilot study", Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning: 4 (3) pp.284 - 300

Smith, S., Ganesan, R. and Martin, J. (2016) Flipping The Practice Based Pathology Laboratory—Can It Support Development Of Practitioner Capability For Trainee Pathologists in Gynaecological Cytopathology? Journal of Cancer Education PP 1-7 First online: 07 May 201

Smith, S., O’Gara, E. and Khechara, M. (2016) Developing student capability in a biomedical science award – peer supported learning through video. Proceedings of EDULEARN16 Conference 4th-6th July 2016, Barcelona, Spain ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4 Conference proceedings

Smith, S. and Khechara, M. (2016) ‘Technologizing’ the Postgraduate Classroom. Proceedings of EDULEARN16 Conference 4th-6th July 2016, Barcelona, Spain ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4 Conference proceedings

Smith, S., Khechara, M. and Laverty, J. (Jan 2017) Sage research methods Cases - Comparative Thematic Analysis: Evaluating the Placement Experiences of Healthcare Students in the United Kingdom) Online publication


I have worked for over 20 years in the field of biomedical science as a registered biomedical scientist, training officer and training centre manager before becoming a senior lecturer in biomedical science at University of Wolverhampton.  My EdD focuses upon supporting the development of practitioner capability and the development of integrated work based placements in HEI awards. As a Practitioner-Researcher I also collaborate with colleagues in NHS Trusts on innovative projects focusing upon the use of technology to enhance the student learning experience and support continual professional development.

Sara Smith



Professional identity development during the transition into professional practice: newly qualified Healthcare Science practitioners’ reflections on experience

 Healthcare Science encompasses a range of professional groups whose role is to support the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and includes Respiratory Physiologists the clinical practitioners who are the focus of this study.   Becoming healthcare professional demands graduates adjust from studying the complexities of practice to enacting practice within a clinical environment. 

Higher Education has a key role to play in the development of highly qualified and skilled graduates teaching theoretical and formal knowledge whilst preparing students for the work-place.  However, the educational provision for Healthcare workers has experienced movement towards a competency based approach to training which emphasises assessment of observable tasks / procedures (Jarvis-Sellinger et al, 2012).  Concerns regarding this reductionist competency based approach have been discussed in relation to professionalism and professional identity development.

This study is grounded in social and workplace learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) recognising the importance of social interactions and the socially mediated nature of identity formation.  The Self-Aspect Model of Identity (Simon 2004) proposes that individuals actively seek meaning and continually engage in self- interpretation, examining aspects of personal experiences in social roles, relationships and situations and the interrelationship between these.  A metaphor for a self-aspect may be to consider this to be the place an individual occupies in a social world, their position.

This research aims to conceptualise through rich and thick narrative description how reflection-on-experience influences the development of professional identity in newly qualified healthcare science practitioners.   During the nine months immediately post-graduation as newly qualified practitioners transitioning into clinical practice five participants recorded a monthly audio reflective diary.  These reflective diaries provide insights into the ways that newly qualified practitioners perceive their professional development. The transcriptions of the audio diaries were explored to reveal newly qualified practitioners perceptions regarding the development of their professional identity and integration into their community of practice.  Participants also completed a visual diagram at the beginning and end of the study to represent their perceived positions.  This visual representation required participants to consciously engage in judgement concerning their perceptions of professional identity and integration within practice

Initial findings suggest that newly qualified practitioners visual representation of their position within their community of practice is inconsistent with that presented within the narrative of their audio diaries.

Key Words          Professional identity, transition, reflection, community of practice, positioning


 Jarvis-Sellinger, S., Pratt, D. & Regehr, G., 2012. Competency Is Not Enough: Integrating Identity Formation Into Medical Education Discourse. Academic Medicine, 87(9), pp. 1185-1190.

 Lave, J. & Wenger, E., 1991. Situated Learning; Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 Simon, B., 2004. Identity in Modern Society: A Social Psychological Perspective. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.



Jackie Laverty

I initially studied Chemistry at Nottingham University graduating in 1985.  I was fortunate to obtain a post within the NHS and for over 25 years worked as a Respiratory Physiologist in a number of different NHS Trusts within the West Midlands area.   I combined my clinical role with a teaching post at the University from 2004 eventually becoming a full time academic member of staff in 2013.  I am currently award leader for the Healthcare Science (Physiological Science) and Medical Physiology and Diagnostics programmes.

In 2009 I completed my Masters in Education at the University of Wolverhampton and was awarded the Caparo Prize for my research project / dissertation.  I am currently undertaking a part time PhD in Education at Oxford Brookes University. 

My research interests are within the areas of initial and continuing practitioner development, with a focus on the development of professionalism in a healthcare setting and in the role of reflection and reflective practice in practitioner development.  My PhD research explores the development of professional for newly qualified healthcare science practitioners as they transition into clinical practice.


Tuesday 04th April 2017- postponed

 Due to unforseen circumstances this meeting has been moved to 13th June 2017. Please see below.

Wednesday 24th May 2017

Venue: Walsall Campus, Samuel Johnson Building,  WN201

Time: 12:30-14:00

Theme: Enhancing Learning Using Augmented Reality

External Speakers: Brian Smith and David Physick


 Outline of the session

A 1.5 hr workshop/session, which is suitable for staff development to enhance the student experience and development of new pedagogic practice; considering the learning affordances created by Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Both terms have been used interchangeably in Higher Education to mean interactive three-dimensional spaces where learning could occur. Donning head-mounted displays, viewing virtual surroundings in stereoscopic vision whilst listening to spatialized sound can be a leap of faith for some learners; conversely VR can be a powerful tool to expand the learning beyond the classroom. Alternatively, augmented reality allows student to engage in the real world environments with overlays of digital information.

 What’s the aim?

Higher Education is changing. Learning is multifaceted and requires continuous evaluation of student needs in a digital world. The approach adopted here is to make sense of the pedagogic principles used in VR and AR. From Brian Smith’s research studies, he can explain VR and AR modus operandi causing immersive learning.

  Who can benefit?

  • Universities seeking to enhance the student experience
  • Academic staff revisiting and refreshing their teaching style
  • Academic staff and learners exploring three-dimensional spaces.

 What will be presented?

An exploration of VR and AR learning examples, the drivers for their development, learner impact and research outcomes. Smith’s (2016) ‘Five Levers’ framework will be used to explain the combined nature of five human conditions within the VR and AR learning:

  • The associations between identity, presence, co-presence, emotional intelligence and immersion optimise learning in the cognitive space.
  • Case studies showing the outcome of academic identity within learning activities and delivery of excellence.
  • Examples of where presence and co-presence respects differentiation and fosters learner success.

The outcomes include

  • Shared understanding and vision how to enhance student experience; VR and AR.
  • How to encourage communities of practice to naturally occur in three-dimension learning spaces.

 Speaker Biographies

Brian Smith

Brian Smith

B‌rian graduated from Lancaster University with a bachelor's degree in Organisation and Management Studies in 2004, and went on to earn a Post-Graduated Certificate in Education, and in 2008 completed a Masters in Education (eLearning) at Edge Hill University. In 2012, he was awarded the Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow for excellence in developing inspiring and innovative new models of learning and teaching. This work extends into his PhD studies to understand learner behaviour and ontological needs in the classroom, blended and online learning.

   David Physick

   David Physick

David Physick is a leadership development consultant.  He has worked with a range of organisations from blue-chip PLCs to universities, schools and hospitals, even a religious order of nuns.  His work seeks to explore how simulations can be created that deepen understanding and enable application and utilisation of the acquired knowledge.  We live in an age of experience; going to university is an experience.  How can VR and AR enable a university to differentiate its experience from its competitors? 

     download abstract and bios (PDF 191K, Downloads file)



Wednesday 31st May 2017

Venue: MC228, Millennium City Building, City Campus

Presentation Time: 12:30-14:00

Informal Networking: 14:00 - 15:00

Theme:  Contract Cheating

External Speaker: Associate Professor Wendy Sutherland-Smith from Deakin University Australia

Title of presentation: ‘Why do students contract cheat and what can we do about it?

Contract cheating is a global issue of increasing concern in the UK as in Australia (Adams, 2015; Lancaster & Clarke, 2007). Many contract cheating sites guarantee that their products are undetectable – which undermines one of the many purposes for assessing student work (Lines, 2016). When students buy bespoke academic assignments from third party providers and submit them as their own for assessment, it destabilises the primary aims of learning and prevents students attaining the graduate skills and competencies necessary for future employment. It also threatens the foundations of quality learning, reasons for assessment outcomes and university reputations if a media scandal occurs.

This seminar focuses on two aspects of contract cheating: ‘Why do students do it’ and ‘What can we do about it’?

Responses from a 2015 national forum of student advocates across Australia provide insights into why students engage in contract cheating behaviours. In Australia, as in many nations, student advocates are the contact point for students when allegations of contract cheating enter formal processes. Their viewpoints have not been published (Sutherland-Smith, Dawson and Walker, forthcoming) and may assist all staff to actively reduce opportunities and motivations for students to contract cheat.

An ongoing research study by the same research team involving marker training with purchased bespoke essays also provides hints for markers about detection of contract cheating and greater understanding of assessment design features that may deter contract cheating.


Adams, R. (2015). Cheating found to be rife in British schools and universities. accessed 28 December 2016.

Lancaster, T. & Clarke, R. (2007). The phenomena of contract cheating. In T. Roberts (Ed.) Student plagiarism in an online world: Problems and solutions (pp.144-158). Hershey, USA: Idea Group Inc.

Lines, L. (2016). Ghostwriters guaranteeing grades? The quality of online ghostwriting services available to tertiary students in Australia.  Teaching in Higher Education: 1-26.



Associate Professor Wendy Sutherland-Smith is Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Psychology at Deakin University in Australia. She has researched academic integrity issues, such as plagiarism, collusion and most recently contract cheating since the 1990s. She completed her doctoral research on plagiarism, the Internet and international student learning in 2005, which was published by Routledge, London in 2008. She has published extensively in the field of academic integrity and her most recent book chapter, ‘Academic integrity in the digital age’ appears in the Handbook of Academic Integrity (2016, Springer). Wendy has presented her ongoing academic integrity research in Australia, UK, Japan, Middle East, USA, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand. Wendy is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal for Educational Integrity.

  Wendy Sutherland-Smith




Tuesday 13th June 2017


Venue: MA133, Wulfruna Building, City Campus

Time: 12:30-14:00

Theme:  Exploring Learning Spaces Through Narrative Enquiry

External Speaker: Maggi Savin-Baden


Learning Spaces and Research Spaces

 Maggi Savin-Baden, University of Worcester

The ability to have or to find space in academic life seems to be increasingly difficult since we seem to be consumed by teaching and bidding, overwhelmed by emails and underwhelmed by long arduous meetings. Whilst it is important to recognize that ideas and thought are often generated and prompted through discussions and meetings, it is also essential that space for reflecting, thinking and writing are seen as important for the development of academe and the positioning of the academic self within it. Currently there seems to a lack of realization that we are losing ground because we are losing space. At the same time there is an increasing fight between learning space sand research spaces which is deeply troublesome. To ignore the importance and the required development of research spaces is perilous and could damage criticality in the academy. Research spaces are often seen as difficult and separate spaces. Yet they are (or should be) part of the life of every academic. They should be seen as ‘movement image’, where research space is not seen as separated sites but are all interconnected intersections, he suggests:

   . . . every place is regarded as a knot tied from the strands of the movements of its many inhabitants, rather than as a hub in a static network of connectors. Life is a meshwork of successive foldings, not a network, in which the environment cannot be bounded and life is forged in the transformative process of moving around.

 (Thrift, 2006: 143)

This talk explores the concept of learning spaces and research spaces, in the context of narrative inquiry. It suggests these spaces are ones in which staff often recognize that their perceptions of learning, teaching, knowledge and learner identity are being challenged. Yet these often hidden spaces are invariably not valued by university leadership and industrious colleagues nor recognized as being important in our media populated culture. This talk sets out to challenge notions and expectations that ideas and thoughts really can be generated in cramped, over-populated offices, awash with email and a constant stream of people, and argues instead for a need to recognize, promote and even (re)create new and different opportunities for learning and research spaces to emerge in academic life. I will therefore argue that:

 The creation and re-creation of learning and research spaces is vital for the survival of the academic community

  1. The absence of learning and research spaces is resulting in increasing dissolution and fragmentation of academic identities
  2. Learning and research spaces need to be valued and possibly redefined in order to regain and maintain the intellectual health of academe


 Thrift , N, (2006) ‘Space’ in Featherstone, M., Venn, C. (eds) Special Issue on Problematizing Global Knowledge, Theory, Culture and Society, 23, 139-146.

  Download Abstract: Learning Spaces and Research Spaces (Word doc 16k)




Maggi Savin-Baden is Professor of Education at the Univer- sity of Worcester, UK. She has gained external funding to research and evaluate staff and student experiences of learning for over 20 years, and her most recent funded research is in cyber influence. Maggi has over 50 research publications, has published 13 books, and is currently completing a book on researching education for a digital age. In her spare time she bakes, runs, rock climbs, and attempts triathlons.

Maggi's blog:


Presentation Slides: Maggi Savin Baden slides Learning Space and Research Space (PDF 1,005K, Downloads file)

Thursday 29th June 2017


Venue: City Campus MC228

Time: 12:30-14:00

Theme: Interim findings from Wolverhampton Strategic Priority projects

Speakers: Dr Rebecca Butler & colleagues and Dr Martin Khechara & colleagues


Does a 'Good' Learning Space, as Determined by the Student Body, Lead to Enhanced Teaching and Learning and/or Student Satisfaction?

by Dr Rebecca Butler & colleagues

Despite huge investments in new learning spaces across the HE sector very little is understood about the relationship between learning and the spaces designed for learning. Although many studies have been carried out with regard to how students feel about the learning spaces they use, research tools have not been developed (or satisfactorily combined) to enable the relationship between preferred spaces and enhanced learning outcomes to be fully understood (Cleveland, 2014). Students often feel they learn better in modern, well lit, air conditioned spaces, but this is not convincingly supported by data or observational evidence (Douglas, 2001; Scott Webber, 2004; Temple, 2007).

This mixed methodology study, which included a student survey, formal space audit and observational studies sought to discern how students explore and negotiate the formal and informal spaces the institution provides and how they ‘own’ or transform these to become learning environments. Understanding how students utilise space and learn within the spaces they inhabit, will enable the HE sector to actively harness and enhance those spaces for independent and co-learning opportunities and design better learning spaces in the future. This presentation will reveal the initial findings and highlight the progress made towards unpicking the complicated relationship between space and learning.

Cleveland, B. (2014). The evaluation of physical learning environments: a critical review of the literature. Learning environments research. [online], 17(1), pp. 1-28 .

Douglas, D. and G. (2001). Evaluation of the physical classroom by students and professors: a lens model approach. Educational research [online], 43(3), pp. 295-310.

Jamieson, P. (2005). Moving beyond the classroom: Accommodating the changing pedagogy of higher education. Refereed Proceedings of 2005 Forum of the Australasian Association for Institutional Research, pp. 17 – 23.

Scott-Weber, L. (2004). In sync: Environmental behaviour research and the design of learning spaces. Ann Arbor, MI; The Society for College and University Planning.

Temple, P. (2007) Learning spaces for the 21st century. A review of the literature, The Higher Education Academy.


 Rebecca Butler

Biography: Dr Rebecca Butler

Rebecca joined the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wolverhampton in 2014 after over 8 years of working as a research scientist and team leader in the pharmaceutical industry.  This was at the start of the launch of the new Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) program which predominantly featured Team Based Learning (TBL) as the delivery method in order to enhance integration of the subject areas across the course. After a year of struggling in large flat-bed teaching rooms Rebecca was given the opportunity to design a new classroom space suitable for the TBL teaching approach. This new classroom was launched at the start of the 2016/17 academic year and Rebecca has also been working to evaluate its effectiveness. This lead to an interest into what is known about all teaching spaces in higher education (HE), how academics teach in then, how student’s use and value them, and how we should go about designing then. Vital knowledge considering the current HE climate where huge investments are bring made into redesigning and redeveloping HE estates.

Working with Jon Rhodes (COLT) and Prof Nazira Karodia (FSE), Rebecca has been working on this broader study into the learning spaces at the University of Wolverhampton with support from the WSP fund which will be the focus for this presentation.



Virtually virtual: The use of augmented reality to enhance the laboratory learning environment

S. Smith1, M. Aldridge2, J. P. Jenkins2 and M. Khechara1

1Faculty of Science and Engineering (FoSE)

2Faculty of Education Health and Wellbeing (FEHW)


The laboratory environment can be a daunting place where students are bombarded with information resulting in cognitive overload, disengagement and a feeling of being ‘lost’. Access to ‘on-demand’ information and ‘just-in-time’ support has been shown to overcome these barriers, promoting engagement and encouraging a more active learning approach. Technology provides a range of options to support this methodology and augmented reality (AR) is one approach where additional active content is made available for students to access as and when required.

This project investigated the use of AR to deliver space and object relevant meta-information and the impact of this intervention upon students’ responses to questions 1 - 4 of the national student survey (NSS). These questions evaluate students’ level of interest and stimulation and whether they feel challenged by their studies. In addition, students comment upon their tutors’ ability to explain things.

After an initial exploratory focus group two simple forms of AR were employed in a large level four science laboratory and a clinical skills laboratory for nurses at undergraduate level. Quick response (QR) codes enabled students to access digital content using a reader app on their mobile device. ‘Auras’ generated by the online and mobile device application Aurasma allowed students to discover additional content by simply pointing their mobile device camera at an image to reveal the linked video content.

An electronic questionnaire allowed both quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the interventions. Responses identified that provision of AR increased students’ interest in the subject area of their course, improved their engagement with the module and markedly boosted their satisfaction overall. However, concerns were expressed around accessibility to AR since Aurasma was not available on all platforms and devices.

Further work is required to determine why AR changes students’ perception of the quality of their course to reveal fundamental changes that can be made to increase student satisfaction overall and in particular level 6 students undertaking the NSS.


 M. Khechara image 2017

Biography: Dr Martin Khechara

Martin Khechara joined the university of Wolverhampton in 2008 and since this time has developed an interest in using technology to increase engagement in the classroom. This has especially included video and investigation of applications of the flipped classroom and flipped laboratory environments to promote deeper learning using the lecture capture software Panopto for delivery of content. His other main interest is the promotion of the public understanding of science to increase social capital in deprived areas through public engagement and is the first University of Wolverhampton’s Fellow of Public engagement for STEM.

For the second year running Martin has led a cross-faculty team of investigators on a priority project. This year Martin and Sara Smith from the faculty of science and engineering along with Matthew Aldridge and James Pearson – Jenkins from the faculty of education health and wellbeing have investigated the use of augmented reality in the laboratory learning environment.