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27th October 2021: Listening to the voices of children and young people

Listening to the voices of children and young people

Speaker: Professor Mel Ainscow

Date: Wednesday 27th October

Time: 1pm

The views of students can provide important insights into school policies and practices. However, capturing such information presents many challenges, not least that of breaking down social barriers that may limit the willingness of young learners to speak freely. This lecture will use examples drawn from studies carried out in schools to explain how such barriers can be overcome. A feature of the approaches recommended is an emphasis on creative ways of engaging the views of children and young people.

Mel Ainscow is internationally recognized as an authority on the promotion of inclusion and equity in education. Previously a head teacher, local education authority adviser and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, his work focuses on ways of making schools effective for all children and young people. A distinctive feature of his approach is the emphasis he places on carrying out research with schools and education systems to promote improvements. A long-term consultant to UNESCO, Mel is currently working to promote equity and inclusion globally. He is also a consultant to an initiative organised by the Organization of American States, which is supporting national developments in nine Latin American countries.


CANCELLED: 24th November 2021: Pitfalls and benefits

***Unfortunately, this lecture has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.***

Some pitfalls and benefits of cross-national collaborative research

Speaker: Dr Ralph Leighton

The open lecture this month (November) will be given by Dr Ralph Leighton who will be addressing some issues that arise from using focus groups and semi-structured interviews with young people with regard to their perceptions of their role, status, and future as citizens. The construction of a schedule for semi-structured interviews revealed divergent understanding of educational terms and structures when preparing to interview school students for a project which involved interviewing 100 upper secondary students in England and Sweden in gendered and age-specific groups as well as social science/ citizenship teachers. The resulting discussion between researchers highlighted assumptions and clarified previous confusions, enabling deeper analysis of data. Preliminary and post research discussion between researchers revealed further assumptions and clarified previous confusions, enabling deeper analysis of data.

The lecture will discuss some of the following key elements:

  • assumptions made by researchers,
  • parameters for, and the reality of, selection of research samples,
  • conduct of focus group and interviews,
  • transcription of recordings,

Dr Leighton will also discuss the divergent understanding of educational terms and organisation between researchers from different disciplines, countries of origin, and countries of professional practice. 

Brief biography

Dr Ralph Leighton is an Associate Tutor at both the University of Glasgow and Canterbury Christ Church university. He has taught in schools in England for 22 years before establishing and leading the Citizenship PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University until his [semi]retirement in 2019.  He was also PGCE Programme Director and a GCSE Chief Examiner, and his research into teacher education and on Citizenship Education, a compulsory subject in England's National Curriculum, has been widely published.

Essential reading

Griffiths, M. (1998) Educational research for social justice: getting off the fence Buckingham: OUP

Leighton, R. and Nielsen, L., (2020)  ‘Part 1’ The Citizen in Teaching and Education. London: Palgrave pp3-67

Nussbaum, M. C.  (2011) Creating Capabilities  Harvard: Harvard University Press

Ragin, C. C., (1987) The Comparative Method Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

15th December 2021: I wish I had moved away from ANOVAs years ago: Interpreting ‘ratings’ data with mixed models

I wish I had moved away from ANOVAs years ago: Interpreting ‘ratings’ data with mixed models

Speaker: Dr Chris Hands

Date: Wednesday 15th December

Time: 1.00pm

Zoom registration link:

Like many researchers, much of what I do involves asking participants to provide (ordinal) ratings - responses to Likert-type questions, or providing ratings of stimuli, indicators of attitudes, etc. Historically, I (and many others) have largely ignored the fact that general linear model approaches (e.g., t-tests, Analysis of Variance) are far from perfect for interpreting these types of dataset. In my talk, I will present some recent research that I have conducted which looks at how emoji and text interact to influence perceptions of both messages and their senders. This is important when we consider that emoji are so very common in our digital lives – social media, interpersonal communication, commerce, and increasingly in healthcare and education. Instead of repeating my historical mistakes (and those of my colleagues who have published before me), I have used cumulative mixed models to interpret the isolated and combined effects of key co-variates. I will provide a beginner’s guide to these analytical approaches, in an attempt to further my journey towards redemption. This talk will be helpful for those of you who work with ‘ratings’ / Likert-type data, or other ordinal data responses.