Education studies and teaching courses at Brighton news

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My MA research has made a real impact

Having been a qualified primary teacher for six years and in education for over 10 years, Theresa Nimoh, decided to study an MA. She chose the Education MA at Brighton to ‘deepen her knowledge of teaching and learning’.

Following the MA Theresa submitted an article on her MA research project to an academic magazine – the article will be published on the 12th July in Forum Magazine.

We caught up with Theresa to learn more about her time on the Education MA at Brighton and the impact of the research she carried out:

My career

Theresa Nimoh

I have over 10 years of classroom-based experience and have been a qualified teacher for 6 years. I trained at Goldsmiths in London and obtained a PGCE qualification.

I have had the joy of teaching a range of primary school children. This has helped me to build a practical understanding of supporting and challenging children in their learning, across many subjects.

I particularly enjoy the interconnectedness between the different subjects, for example maths and music or art and maths. Over the years, I have enjoyed having input into curriculum design and leading subjects such as geography, history and mathematics.

Why I studied an MA

I wanted to deepen my knowledge of teaching and learning with academic rigor and to feel part of a community.

The University of Brighton is a great university – it is very inclusive and has high levels of academic quality through its staff. This helped me to challenge my own thinking, as well as learn from different perspectives. I knew that I was going to be allowed to be my authentic self and be challenged to develop.

Working and studying

I was keen to have the opportunity to work and study at the same time and knew I would be well supported at Brighton to do so. I was able to work full time and undergo a part time MA.

Everyone works differently; I personally found it useful to map out my time in the lead up to deadlines so that I could make sure that I had time to switch off and could see when I could do my work in my most productive hours. A top tip we were given was to have a research journal / diary to write down reflections as you read and encounter new ideas.

Over the course, I could see that the way I was reading and writing evolved much more critically as I developed my own academic voice.

The skills and knowledge I gained

The tutors were amazing in helping us develop our collective study skills, particularly through taught sessions, discussions, and readings. I was able to develop my skills as a researcher and explore my positionality in relation to my research.

My critical reading and writing skills developed and they were and are symbiotic- in that they sharpened one another!

Discussion was also an important part of the course and presenting to colleagues, who were less familiar with my project, was also important. This helped me to develop the overall clarity in writing about my project.

For me, the MA was very much about looking inwardly as well as making a small and important contribution to the educational landscape.

I completed my MA with a distinction. I intend to complete a PhD/EdD in the future.

Studying at Brighton

The Falmer Campus is centred around nature and was a place I felt comfortable to study at. The lecture rooms were easily accessible, and the library and its team were very helpful.

The course team were outstanding and always approachable! They provided high levels of motivation especially during COVID and provided engaging and informative lectures. We also were encouraged to form critical study groups to discuss and develop our own thinking.

I most enjoyed the sense of community from ‘critical friends’ on the course and I had fantastic tutors who were and are so knowledgeable and promoted our independence in navigating research and new and familiar literature.

My experience was great under my course leader Dr Soo Sturrock – all the tutors were experienced and knowledgeable and I thank each and every one of them. 

My MA research project

The research and reading I undertook was in a topic area that I was and am passionate about as a practitioner researcher. It also shared similarities and differences to other projects undertaken by colleagues on my course, which I found illuminating.  I learned so much from others- whether it be methodology discussion or a critical question about a shared reading or my own writing.

My research project aimed to explore an important gap in the intersection of mathematical reasoning, talk and talk cue cards. My research was titled ‘Key Stage 2 Children’s Experiences of Talk Cue Cards to Support Mathematical Reasoning (Case Study of 8 Children Working in Pairs)’.

I chose it because I had noticed an important theme across many of my observations over the year, which I considered worthy of investigating at MA level. Irrespective of attainment levels, I had observed that children appeared to have difficulties reasoning mathematically.  Often adult perspectives inform research. In this project, children were at the heart of the research, in order to understand more about their experience of mathematical talk and reasoning.

The impact of my dissertation

The impact of my dissertation is that it allowed me to examine my own classroom practice through the lens of the children, with implications for other classes and primary schools and policy. Talk deserves its place in mathematics and in any subject.

I have had the chance to share my findings with other practitioners and also shared the positive impact of allowing learners to have their own copies of stem sentences and questions, rather than these being on the wall. Children found that talk cue cards help provide a helpful starting point for talk.

My dissertation also explored how some children modified the stem sentences, after becoming much more familiar with them, or added words to make their partner’s response much more specific within the mathematical context.

I don’t believe this would have happened without the rigour of doing the MA!

My advice to future students 

  • Go for it – it is never too early or late to start!
  • Keep asking questions when you read. Why have they said this? Who holds an opposing view?
  • Don’t be too precious about a viewpoint – it can change.

Learn more about studying an Education MA.

Kerry Burnett • June 12, 2024

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