Further Particulars FELS

Further Particulars FELS

/ Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Information for applicants
CREET Full-time Postgraduate Studentships
Grant: / Anticipated rate £13,660 pastudentship(pro rata)
Closing date: / 15 February 2011 / Interview date: / March / April 2011

Information included in this pack:

Section: / 1.0 / The Studentships
1.1 / Studentship details
1.2 / Studentshipsin CREET
1.3 / Person specification
2.0 / Applying for the studentship
2.1 / How to apply
2.2 / Application information
2.3 / Preparing your proposal
3.0 / Benefits and facilities
Section 1.1:Studentship details
The Studentships / CREET is offeringfully funded or partially funded studentships
Reports to: / Director for Postgraduate Studies
Location: / Walton Hall, Milton Keynes
Studentship type: / MRes followed by a 3 year PhD (1+3) or 3 year PhD studentships
Section 1.2:Studentships in CREET

The Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) at the Open University is offering a limited number of fully fundedandpartially funded full-timestudentships. CREETis one of the leading education research units in the UK. It is an internationally renownedcentre of excellence, pursuing innovative and rigorous research that influences policy and practice. CREET research is multidisciplinary and is united by:

  • a focus on learning through diverse media in a wide range of social, cultural and disciplinary settings;
  • a radical, challenging approach to established orthodoxies in policy, pedagogy, theory and research methods;
  • a major thread of socio-cultural theorising with researchers working in clusters across fourbroad themes.

Applicants who are able to fully fund themselves are very welcome to apply to CREET. There is currently a vibrant international community of students studying our MRes and PhD programmes.

Successful candidates will be expected to live in, or within easy reach of Milton Keynes.

Educational Futures theme

Research in CREET is based around the substantive challenge of building educational futures through research and we welcome students to contribute to this. Within this broad framework CREET’s work coheres around four substantive themes:

  • Knowledge, Communication and Creativity
  • Future Practices,Pedagogies and Policies
  • Changing Childhoods; Changing Adulthoods
  • Innovative Research Practices

The work within the themes positions CREET’s research at the intersection of social, technological and economic change and underscores that the Centre’s research concerns the conceptualisation of both contemporary and next generation educational practices and technologies (involving the theorising and instantiating of new spaces and places for learning and teaching, both formal and informal; virtual, physical and blended). CREET’s development of evidence-based understandings of education involves interdisciplinary, innovative multi-methodological forms of inquiry – working in partnership with key stakeholders.

It is expected that applications are located within supervisors’ research areas. Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors either directly or via Anne Foward to discuss their proposals prior to submission.

Research Clusters and Research Groups

CREET research is organized within the following four clusters and each cluster is made up of up to 3 smaller research groups. This table gives you an overview; detailed information is included below.

Cluster / Research Group / Research areas
Childhood and Youth Studies / Child and Youth Studies Group (CYSG) / Youth studies
Anthropology/sociology of childhood
Cross-cultural/international childhoods
Children's rights, creativity, gender, sexuality, popular culture and media
Student, youth participation and 'voice'
Infancy and pre-school
Language and literacy, especially in relation to disability
Cognitive processes such as executive functioning and inner speech
Education Studies / Pedagogy, Learning & the Curriculum Research Group (PLAC) / Pedagogy and assessment
Curriculum; the literacies of schooling and everyday lives, creative teaching and learning
Early years; equity, diversity and social justice
Policy, Professionalism, Leadership and Lifelong Learning Research Group (PPLL) / Professionalism, professional identities and policy
International Developments in Teacher Education across Societies & Cultures (RITES) / Teacher education
Professional development
Language and Literacies / Applied Language & Literacies Research Unit (ALLRU) / Academic and professional literacies
Language, literacies and online learning
Discourse in everyday contexts
Language and creativity
Bilingualism and language choice
Metaphor in discourse
Educational Dialogue Research Unit (EDRU) / Understanding and promoting educationally productive dialogues, including argumentation
The technological mediation of learning and teaching
Processes of learning and teaching in the creative arts
Open Languages Research Group (OLRG) / Technology-enhanced language learning
Language learning
Language teaching
Education policy and practice in the context of language learning
Technology Enhanced Learning / Computers & Learning Research Group (CALRG) / Informal learning
Social networking for learning
Learning design
Open Educational Resources
Science and Mathematics Learning
Digital scholarship
Learners’ experiences
Technology and Learning Research Group (TLRG) / Informal learning
Technology adoption
Networked and online environments
Social networking for learning
Mobile learning
Emergent technologies
Higher Education Policy & Practice Research Group (HEPPRG) / Learning in higher education
Higher education practice
Scholarship of teaching and learning
HE learning in an interconnected world
Evaluation of HE policy and practice

Childhood and Youth Studies:Members of the interdisciplinary Child and Youth Studies Cluster draw on a range of approaches and research methodologies, including developmental psychology, childhood studies, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, cultural studies and cultural...[more...]

Education Studies:United by a common interest in pedagogy, professionalism and policy, researchers in this cluster, employ qualitative methodologies to explore teaching and learning in formal and informal contexts in homes, schools, Higher Education and work- based settings....[more...]

Language and Literacies:Researchers in Language and Literacies recognise the centrality of language to the social and cultural contexts within which learning and language use takes place. Underpinning our work is the development of innovative research methods, including: the use...[more...]

Technology Enhanced Learning:We carry out research into new uses of technology in a wide range of teaching and learning contexts. This includes research that focuses on networked and online environments, innovative technologies, emergent pedagogies and online learner experiences and...[more...]

If you would like any further information about CREET please visit our website on

For further information about research at The Open University please visit the Research School Website on

or the research degrees prospectus

Child and Youth Studies Cluster

CYSG - Child and Youth Studies Group
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Professor David Messer
This group draws on a range of disciplinary approaches and methodologies, including developmental psychology, sociology, education, anthropology, ethnography and cultural studies. The research encompasses studies of children’s and young people’s experiences, learning, development and social participation. Of concern are the institutions and social practices that shape their lives, and the cultural and personal constructions of childhood and youth that mediate these processes. Research priorities reflect the diversity of childhoods (for example, related to social, economic and cultural contexts), the diversity of children’s lived experiences (for example, related to age, gender, parenting/family experiences, abilities, disabilities and mental health), and the role of representations in developmental processes.
There are good contacts with local schools, playgroups, maternity hospitals, youth groups, etc. The research facilities include equipment for eye-tracking, video recording and video analysis, these support data gathering in the group’s observation suite and in other settings. There are 10 post-graduate students associated with the group and we have obtained research related income since 2001 of over £1,800,000.
Applications are invited for full-time research degrees. You should have a good degree in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, education, childhood studies or any other related discipline plus an interest in children or young people.
Applications are particularly welcome from students who are interested in one of the topics under investigation by members of the group, although other areas of interest will be considered. Please explore our web site to find out more about our research and the research interests of potential PhD. Supervisors If you would like more information, or help with your application, please contact us by email.

Educational Studies Cluster

PLAC – Pedagogy, Learning & the Curriculum Research Group
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Dr Chris Walsh
Research in PLAC focuses upon socio-cultural approaches to pedagogy, learning and curriculum. PLAC members and research students come from a range of national and international educational contexts and have interest and expertise in a range of disciplinary approaches and methodologies, including psychology, linguistics, ethnography, sociology, educational history and cultural studies.
Members of the group have ongoing national and international research projects based in schools, playgroups and youth groups, as well as excellent contacts with policy makers, professional associations and other research associations such as NFER, BERA and so on. We collaborate with international colleagues, are involved in comparative studies and projects and regularly host visiting scholars.
Applications are particularly welcome from students who are interested in one of the research topics listed below, although other areas of interest will also be considered. Please explore our CREET linked web site at
Research Topics
  • socio-cultural studies of issues related to agency and identity, equity and inclusion in classrooms, school and early years settings
  • socio-cultural and socio-historical studies into the development and implementation of the literacy curriculum, in particular the teaching of reading, writing and languages
  • socio-cultural studies of creative teaching and learning in the context of literacy education in the primary phase
  • research into teachers’ identities as readers and writers and the pedagogical consequences of their positioning in the classroom - building on, or linked to, the UKLA Teachers as Readers project or the UKLA Building Communities: Researching Literacy Lives project (see
  • socio-culturally informed investigations into literacy difficulties such as dyslexia and other issues that affect learners with disabilities
  • early years education and care, especially in relation to the dynamics associated with pedagogical approaches, the development of learning and professional identities
  • research into the implementation of the national policy on assessment for learning, with a particular concern for the ways in which recommended strategies are implemented in practice and are engaged with by students.
  • research into young people’s visions for education, building on, or linked to, the work of the Schome project and the Aspire Pilot
  • the use of participatory video and other methods to investigate childhood and cross-cultural understandings of children’s lives and practitioners’ professional identities
  • psychological studies of caregiver-infant relations, cognitive processes and representations in children (e.g. graphical representations, implicit-explicit representations)
  • research into aspects of the content, production and reception of gendered representations of science, technology, engineering and maths for children and young people in broadcast media, linked to the work of the Invisible Witnesses project. See project website at

PPLL - Policy, Professionalism, Leadership and Lifelong Learning Research Group
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Dr Roger Harrison
Members of this group are engaged in researching the interlinked areas of policy making and implementation, leadership in formal and informal settings, the nature and importance of professionalism in relation to policy and practice, and the nature of adult learning and learning in the workplace – life long learning. Our work draws on a wide range of methodologies and theoretical perspectives from across the social sciences, but there is a strong thrust of ethnographic research in our work.
A central area of interest for policy research has been the effects of recent educational policy implementation on those involved at different levels of the education system, whether teachers, further education lecturers, education managers and administrators, parents, or learners of all ages. There has also been inquiry into the role of research in relation to teachers' professional development, in evidence-based policymaking and creative teaching and learning.
Leadership research has focused on the implications of national training provision and national policies for leadership development practice and professional learning. Central areas of interest are the nature and effectiveness of alternative leadership models, leadership in the context of extended schooling, and leadership in professional development. We are also developing a strong interest in the wider field of leadership and practice in non-formal educational settings, notably youth work, and approaches to professional development through work-based learning and learning in the workplace. A strong international focus is developing in our work.
RITES – International Developments in Teacher Education across Societies & Cultures
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Professor Frank Banks
New communication technologies and education in developing country contexts
There is a substantive literature and research base around the impact of new communication technologies in the developed world. This is far less true, however, of developing country contexts. This research area, drawing on field work (most probably in Sub-Saharan Africa), would explore particular aspects of the potential of such technologies to improve and expand educational opportunities.
The work of teachers in developing country contexts
This research area is focused particularly on Sub-Saharan Africa. Over one hundred million children of school age are out of school in Africa. It is estimated that 2–3 million extra teachers will be needed to supply expanding school systems. However, millions of existing teachers are unqualified and in many countries HIV/Aids is significantly affecting the teaching population. Through case study field work in designated countries this research area will explore aspects of the work of teachers today and identify implications for future policy and practice in teacher development.
Teacher development
This research area is focused on teacher professional development in primary and secondary schools. There is a wide litereature in this area covering aspects such as subject knowledge and understanding; pedagogic content knowledge; development of teaching and assessment skills; understanding teaching and learning; networking; and leadership and management skills. Models for supporting professional development from early career stage through to leadership roles may include a focus on personal needs; ownership of professional growth; developing skills to carry out classroom- based enquiry and focused practical strategies for improving teaching and learning. In addition, in the context of workforce reform, teacher professional learning and development includes working alongside teaching assistants in both primary and secondary schools. Research in this area will explore teacher professional development at different phases of schooling and different career stages and the impact of teaching assistants and their work in schools.

Language and Literacies Cluster

ALLRU – Applied Language & Literacies Research Unit
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Professor Guy Cook or Ms Joan Swann
This unit supports research on texts, discourses and practices within different learning contexts. With well established reputations in the fields of academic and professional writing, literacies and online learning, language and gender, language and creativity, talk and learning in and out of school, the discourse of public debate and metaphor in discourse, members draw on a range of interconnected disciplinary approaches in their work.
Are you interested in research in one or more of these areas?
  • Academic and professional literacies
  • Language, literacies and online learning
  • Discourse in everyday contexts
  • Language and creativity
  • Bilingualism and language choice
  • Metaphor in discourse
Although we work in different topic areas we are united through a common methodological and theoretical framing for our research, which is drawn broadly from applied linguistics, language and literacy studies. Members are carrying out their research in a range of diverse educational settings, in both formal and informal contexts, across the complete spectrum, through secondary and tertiary to adult and lifelong learning. Our research includes a particular emphasis on the implications of findings for policy and practice.
ALLRU members utilise and combine research methods which are consistent with their methodological, language-based focus. These include a range of qualitative and quantitative approaches including: linguistic ethnography; case study approaches; text and discourse analysis; systemic functional linguistics; corpus analysis; multimodal analysis; metaphor analysis.
EDRU – Educational Dialogue Research Unit
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Dr Caroline Coffin or Dr Rosie Flewitt
Understanding and promoting educationally productive dialogues, including argumentation;
EDRU members are currently engaged in an ongoing programme of research concerned with understanding and promoting educationally productive dialogues in diverse contexts, including, for example, early years settings, classrooms and virtual environments. A focus on the close analysis of data using linguistic or multimodal analysis and/or other methods would be very welcome.
The technological mediation of learning and teaching;
A number of ongoing research projects within EDRU are concerned with how technologies mediate learning-teaching interactions. Applications from students interested in e-conferencing or e-assessment are particularly welcome. A focus on the close analysis of data using linguistic or multimodal analysis and/or other methods would also be very welcome.
Processes of learning and teaching in the creative arts.
A key strand of EDRU’s work is concerned with conceptualising, studying and promoting collaborative creativity in diverse educational settings. Our most recent work investigates the processes involved when people collaborate together on creative projects. Our work spans a range of educational settings and has involved different student populations. We work across different areas and knowledge domains. Our interests include the study of collective creative writing, problem solving and music-making. We are also interested in dialogue mediated by social networking tools, and the dialogue that takes place in virtual worlds.
OLRG – Open Language Research Group
For informal discussions about a potential application please contact Professor Jim Coleman
Research in OLRG covers four main areas: technology-enhanced language learning, language learning, language teaching, and education policy and practice. Access to the largest language student cohorts in the UK, to a number of target languages, and to both face-to-face and online tuition permits research designs unavailable to other groups.
Technology-enhanced language learning
Research focuses on synchronous and asynchronous CMC tools (e.g. blogs, instant messaging and multimodal audio- and videoconferencing applications) and the use of integrated virtual learning environments for second language learning.
Sample topics:
  • Interaction and discourse
  • (A)synchronicity and language development
  • Affect, motivation and autonomy in online distance learning
  • Community building, the concept of “virtual presence”
  • Task design for independent/collaborative learning
  • Tutor training/student support
  • Intercultural communication and identity
  • Cultural practices
Language learning
Research is increasingly on learners, their experiences of learning, how they learn and how the learning can be enhanced.
Sample topics:
  • Second language acquisition in adult learners
  • Independent and supported learning
  • Different learning patterns in distance learners
  • Use of learning strategies
  • Learner confidence, affect and motivation
  • Intercultural narratives and learner identities
Language Teaching
Research into language teachers focuses on their roles and responsibilities, both generic and specifically with regard to language teaching.
Sample topics:
  • Distance or online tutor skills
  • Feedback (e.g. in distance or online settings)
  • Development of pronunciation
  • Task design (e.g. for distance or online activities)
  • Strategy training
  • Managing affect
  • Intercultural competence (e.g. development, evaluation and assessment)
Education policy and practice
Education policy and practice in the context of language learning.
Sample topics:
  • Secondary language learners and motivation
  • Primary language learning
  • Study abroad and student mobility

Technology Enhanced Learning Cluster