School of Education
Research and Enterprise Conference


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11am to 12pm

Adaptations to research methods, teaching and learning in the wake of Covid-19: International experiences 


Room 1

Chair: Dr Marlon Moncrieffe, University of Brighton, UK. 


1. What are the possibilities for educators teaching and learning with young people in virtual reality?

Marlon Moncrieffe , University of Brighton, UK
John Mwangi, St. Paul’s University, Kenya
Chaste Uwihoreye, Uyisenga Ni Imanzi, Rwanda

This presentation shares on our adaptations to an international research project, framed as consolidating learning in analysis and evaluation of the findings from our collation of four AHRC GCRF funded research projects based in East Africa:

  • Mobile Arts for Peace Project (Rwanda)
  • Young peoples’ interpretations of civic national values (Kenya)
  • Connective Memories (Rwanda)
  • Reanimating Contested Spaces (Rwanda)

In generating the consolidation of learning aims, objectives, aims and questions, face-to-face seminars were to be held at the University of Rwanda in Autumn of 2020 with a variety of stakeholders including teachers, policymakers, civil service organisations, community leaders, and young community activists. However, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic prevented these seminar meetings from occurring, therefore imposing a reframing of our methods for research.

We share how our adaptations to the project led us to create a cross-cultural consolidation of learning space using virtual reality technology meaning that all four projects could be brought together as one. From this, we discuss what we envisage as future possibilities for working via this digital and arts-based approach in teaching and learning with educators and young people. In the Global South context, one of the points of learning has been the digital divide challenge.

Some of the young people could not fully participate in our Zoom online meetings for sharing ideas and discussion for the construction of our virtual reality learning space. An additional learning and reflection point remains how the project gains can be sustained post the funding framework. In our reflections, we propose possibilities of joint fundraising but also embedding some of the project ideas and outputs with young people engaged peace clubs in formal and informal settings.


2. Supporting teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic through research engagement

Cat Scutt, Chartered College of Teaching, UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put huge demands on teachers (along with many other professions), resulting in a need for increased and targeted support to develop teachers’ expertise in delivering distance learning, support their wellbeing and ensure that CPD is not de-prioritised (Muller and Goldenburg, 2020).

In this presentation, we will discuss approaches taken by the Chartered College to support teachers during this time through engagement with research, including by our evidence-based wellbeing support programme, Teach Together; our new online teacher development programme, the Certificate in Evidence-Informed Practice; and our research reports, training and resources, including on using technology to support evidence- based teaching, considering both the design and development of these approaches and their evaluation.


3. Young people in times of the Coronavirus – Participatory Research

Urszula Markowska-Manista, University of Warsaw, Republic of Poland.

This paper will present on research (the first of this kind in Poland) initiated by and addressed to young people exploring matters that concern them in the situation of the coronavirus. This research was carried out in cooperation between young people from the Polish Council of Youth Organisations and us-academics.

The research aimed at preparing the young to conduct research, supporting their participation in research and via research, giving them a voice (Article 2, CRC) while stressing their way of perceiving the world (Markowska-Manista 2018). The research explored how the epidemic had influenced the functioning of young people in Poland in five selected areas: education/ health and relations/ personal development and social activity/ the labour market and material situation/ access to information vs fake news. The research examined changes in these areas; how orders and bans are perceived by young people and to what degree they are in line with their needs.

While these issues require further exploration oriented towards the next stage of adapting to the difficult, unprecedented, and unpredictable situation, the research can be helpful in understanding the situation of young people in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic in the abovementioned spheres. It can be a valuable source of information for the development of adequate support mechanisms for young people and recommendations for adults working with youth.


Room 2

Chair: Dr Keith Turvey, University of Brighton, UK. 


1. Is the age of Covid-19 the end of the age of enlightenment in Russia?

Kamil Nasibullov & Nataliia Kopylova
Kazan Federal University, Russian Federation.
Kutafin Moscow State Law University, Russian Federation.

Online education has grown exponentially over the last year in Russia. University professors had to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, acquire new technical skills and competences. The age of COVID-19 in Russia coincided with Russia’s protests caused by the worsening standards of living and limitation of political and economic freedom. The Russian government reacted to protests and independent political expression by prosecuting opposition politicians and leading popularisers of science and by introducing several restricting laws.

The Internet was the only place where representatives of academia would freely discuss policy developments and criticise the government’s actions. University professors launched independent educational projects at that time, for instance, Russian Open University website and open-access educational programs.

These projects, however, have become strictly controlled by the government since the adoption of amendments to the Federal Law ‘On Education in the Russian Federation’ regarding ‘enlightenment activity’. Under the new bill, which came into force on June 1, 2021, free discussions on politics, culture, religion, and ethnic identity is now placed under the control of the state. ‘Enlightenment’ as a form of political activism is at serious risk.


2. Children in times of a pandemic – dilemmas of adult-imposed prohibitions and orders

Dominika Zakrzewska-Olędzka, Maria Grzegorzewska University, Republic of Poland.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic life has moved to the Internet. Many states have introduced numerous limitations in adults’ and children’s social functioning, interrupting family connections, on which the societies were based for centuries. This new situation has particularly affected children, who, for their own and their families’ safety, have been cut off from the possibility to participate in activities that used to be part of their daily lives. In order to examine this situation and analyse the challenges experienced by families with children, an online quantitative- qualitative study was conducted through a questionnaire with open- and closed-ended items.

The total research sample consisted of 158 adults from all over Poland, including urban and rural areas. It was deliberately carried out from the perspective of adults, not to burden additionally children in the sensitive context of the epidemic. The results of the study show the diverse problems faced by families in everyday life in the era of pandemic, including issues related to the form and effectiveness of the functioning of educational institutions, maintaining work-life balance and the impact of constant fears, limited mobility, and access to social services on family and social relations.

Aforementioned findings of the research can constitute a valuable source of information while creating adequate support mechanisms for families with children in the situation of spatial-mobility limitations and developing recommendations for local authorities and educational institutions in the matter of creating solutions adequate for the context of social functioning of the above-mentioned respondents.


3. Education in times of crisis: Teachers’ experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic

Lisa-Maria Muller, Chartered College of Teaching, UK

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, schools around the world moved to emergency remote teaching (Hodges et al., 2020) within a very limited timeframe to ensure children’s continued access to education. This radical shift in education provision came without much warning, support, or training.

According to an analysis of PISA data (Moreno and Gortazar, 2020) only 65 per cent of 15-year-olds are enrolled in schools where principals think that teachers have the necessary pedagogical skills or training to integrate digital devices into their teaching, which shows that some teachers may lack the training or confidence to teach remotely.

In this presentation we will therefore discuss findings from our three ‘Education in Times of Crisis’ reports which focus on the potential impact of school closures on students’ learning and wellbeing, teachers’ attitudes towards distance learning and evidence-informed approaches to distance learning. The aim is to better understand how teachers were affected by this crisis and how best to support them going forward.


Room 3

Chair: Dr Mark Price, University of Brighton, UK. 


1. Lockdown learning in postgraduate education research degrees: pedagogy and partnership

Jane Melvin, Mark Price, Hyleen Mariaye, Tejwant Mohabeer & Shalini Ramasawmy

University of Brighton, UK
Mauritius Institute of Education, Mauritius

This presentation considers the experience, learning and becoming, associated with postgraduate (masters and doctoral) study in educational professional practice, re-situated through the shift to online learning, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is further contextualised within an evolving transnational partnership across the programmes considered. The research questions:

  • What are the affordances and limitations of learning in an online environment for postgraduate education research students?
  • What can we learn from this in continuing to develop a transnational higher education partnership in postgraduate study?

Informed by Eckersley et al.’s (2016) aspects of postgraduate student experience, the King’s Fund model (Pratt et al., 1998) of co-evolutionary partnerships and Raelin’s (2016) re-imagined leadership as collaborative agency, a descriptive case study approach is taken, with narrative accounts from students and tutors. The study evidences affordances of online learning, particularly the opportunity for developing student-centred communities of learning. However, participants expressed an appreciation of the value and continuation of face-to-face contact, arguing the affordances of online learning do not replace face-to-face teaching and learning at postgraduate higher education, but rather complement and deepen it. The success of collaborative leadership providing a focus and impetus for continued transnational partnership learning and evolutionary development, is also evidenced.


2. Unlocking education

Charlotte Haines Lyon, Joan Walton, Linda Walz & Graham Bright
York St John University, UK
Institute for Children and Youth Mission, Nottingham, UK

Unlocking Education is an ongoing research project based at York St John University, exploring education under and beyond the pandemic. Focus groups were held with a range of education practitioners and students after each English Lockdown (June 2020 and April 2021). The aim was to explore experiences of education under lockdown and to provide a space to rethink the future of education. For the purposes of this paper, we will be focusing on the focus groups comprised of Higher Education practitioners.

Analysis of the data suggests of a lack of agency experienced by participants and the “illegitimation” participants experienced through being “dismissed, censored, or simply ignored by [institutional] structures” (Bucholz and Hall, 2005, p. 603), despite a desire to shape education after the pandemic. Drawing on Couldry (2010) and Giroux (2021), we argue that it is vital for educators and researchers to create spaces for critical exploration of issues in education and their implications for practice. This will help not only reimagine education but to “reimagine the connection between freedom, agency, and justice.

Freedom has to be understood as the freedom to participate in and shape society rather than being removed from it” (Giroux, 2021, p. 207).


3. Students leading the research

Carmel Capewell & Dr Sarah Frodsham, Oxford Brookes University, UK

The COVID-19 situation could have led to taking an approach that research is too hard at this time because of face-to-face research bans by many universities across the world.

Alternatively, we saw it as an opportunity to explore students and lecturers Higher Education experience of learning and teaching. Receiving a grant from the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) is enabling us to explore how learning has changed for Higher Education students and what are some of the challenges they have faced.

Using an adapted Photovoice methodology via Zoom is demonstrating how resilience and perseverance are both needed to maintain momentum in these unprecedented times. Students create images with captions then discuss them in a self-facilitated participant-led forum. Volunteer students have then analysed the data and created themes about their learning environments. This research explores applying the principles of student-led research and the benefits to be derived from it.


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