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Archive for the 'Research matters' Category

Helping social science undergraduates to navigate their first piece of qualitative research

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 March 2024

Credit: AS Art media / Adobe

Jon Swain

Many social science undergraduate programmes include modules where students are asked to carry out a small piece of qualitative research. This usually takes the form of interviews with real people. Although sample sizes are usually quite small (2-5 people), getting to grips with the resulting data can nevertheless be daunting for a novice researcher.

This blog post outlines the guidance I use with my own BA students, which, they tell me, is a clear and an effective method of showing them how to organise and begin to analyse interview data. The beauty is in its simplicity. (more…)

Policy relevant social research – looking to the future at TCRU

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 9 November 2023

Small boy pointing on woman's lap, in front of white blossoming bushes

Credit: Culture Creative / Adobe.

Alison Lamont and Alison Koslowski.

This is the third in a series of blog posts celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) and launch of Social Research for our Times. Following Peter Moss’s reflection on the founding directions of TCRU under its first director, Jack Tizard, and Claire Cameron and Eva Lloyd’s post showing some current strands of its work, we look to the future. In particular, we examine some of the ongoing challenges facing TCRU as we continue to work on delivering research with the strategic aim of informing policy. New, but quickly familiar challenges emerge: the slippery question of ‘impact’ and how to get research findings into the right hands at the right time, as well as the age-old fight to secure funding, now in a ‘post-Brexit’ landscape. In the conclusion to Social Research for our Times we consider these in connection with the local challenge of sustaining our research identity and our research. We focus on a) how we communicate our research findings, and to whom; and b) how we strengthen links with existing and prospective partners, especially now with European partners.

This post explores two modes of working that are already in action among TCRU colleagues and are promising avenues for building the Unit’s policy relevance. (more…)

The Thomas Coram Research Unit at 50: looking back to look forward?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 31 October 2023

Group photo at a garden party celebrating TCRU's 50th anniversary. Credit: Mary Hinkley for UCL.

Credit: Mary Hinkley for UCL.

Peter Moss.

In a contemporary context of profound transitions and converging crises, it seems time to reconsider and reprioritise the role that social research can play in creating public policies, including services, that are relevant to rebuilding a world that is more just, more democratic, more sustainable and more caring. In this scenario, strategic social research, including an element of experimentation, may have a major part to play in what has been described by one commentator, Geoff Mulgan, as ‘expand[ing] our shared possibility space, the options for our societies… to populate our fuzzy pictures of the future with complex, rich, plausible [i]deas, pictures of the possible’.

Such concerns and such an approach are not new; they were founding principles of the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU). They have, though, not always been easy to sustain. As TCRU marks its 50th anniversary, it is an important moment to reiterate that broader (more…)

Can we level the social sciences playing field? Reflections from CLS’s first-ever summer school

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 October 2023

Blurred figures of football players in red and yellow kit on a sunny green sports field.

Credit: Annanahabed / Adobe.

Charis Bridger Staatz.

The year 2023 marked many things: the coronation of the UK’s new King, the coinage of the term “Barbenheimer”, and, perhaps most importantly, the inaugural Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) Year 12 Summer School ‘Harnessing the power of longitudinal research for policy impact’.

Our motivations behind the summer school were twofold: to contribute to widening participation efforts in general across the higher education sector, and to support greater diversity in the social science researcher pipeline. Our experience showed the real potential of programmes that give under-represented school students the opportunity to work directly with university departments on scholarly research, especially when that is over an extended period. Such programmes can make a distinct contribution to showcasing that university is a realistic, and hopefully desirable place for young people to be. They can also be incredibly rewarding for the academics who lead them. (more…)

How should research, policy and practice interact in the interests of education?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 October 2023

What Matters in Education series from the ESRC Education Research Programme.

Gemma Moss.

In the run-up to the next general election, each of the political parties is beginning to set out what they see as the key issues in education and what they would like to change. This is a good moment to review the extent to which party-political priorities reflect concerns widely shared by the general public, the practitioner community and the research community – and the role the research community might have in helping to shape that debate. Just how research, policy and practice can best interact are live questions for the social sciences. (more…)

Our Changing Society – charting political, social and economic change over nine decades

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 18 May 2023

Commuters walk around a London station. Some are blurry with movement. Image credit: Chris Mann via Adobe Stock.

Commuters walk around a London train station. Image credit: Chris Mann / Adobe Stock.

Aidan Riley.

The UK is home to a remarkable set of scientific studies that have tracked generations of people growing up in Britain over the last 90 years. These longitudinal population studies are unique in science and unparalleled elsewhere in the world – no other country has anything like them on the same scale.

Over those nine decades major political, social and economic changes have impacted every area of study participants’ lives. CLOSER’s ‘Our Changing Society’ resource provides this detailed historical context through a set of interactive charts and downloadable datasets to help you understand how these changes may have impacted people’s complex lives. (more…)

Being green in the UK: why we need a better understanding of the relationship between climate concern, behaviours and wellbeing

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 5 April 2023

Person wearing gardening gloves picking up discarded plastic bottle among other plastic litter on dry brown grass.

Litter picking. Credit: lovelyday12 via Adobe Stock.

by Lisa Fridkin, Neil Kaye, Katie Quy.

Much media attention is given to climate change denial and arguments over the impacts of human-driven climate change, as well as the actions of protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil. Meanwhile, the latest scientific reports offer a further stark warning on climate change, and call for top-down leadership to tackle the climate crisis with greater urgency. Data indicate that, in a broad sense, the British public is on board, with three-in-four Britons now saying they are worried about climate change, and many reporting they feel the UK government is failing in its duty to act. (more…)

TCRU@50: A listening, thinking and hopeful vocation

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 2 March 2023

Illustration of book covers, by TCRU artist in residence Nora Wuttke

Illustration of book covers, by TCRU artist in residence Nora Wuttke.

Les Back, Glasgow University, with an introduction by Mette Louise Berg.

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Thomas Coram Research Unit, a leading centre for research into children, parenting and families. Throughout the year we will be running a series of events and activities to reflect on the unit’s past, present, and future. For our first anniversary event we were delighted to be joined by former TCRU colleague, now Professor of Sociology at Glasgow University, Les Back. In conversation with former TCRU co-director Professor Ann Phoenix (UCL) and Dr Sivamohan Valluvan (Warwick University), the three speakers reflected on race, multiculture, and conviviality in the shadow of Brexit, COVID, and the Windrush scandal. Here we publish an abridged version of Les’ comments at that event, sharing his reflections on the ground-breaking work carried out by TCRU on race and identity, its formative influence on his own scholarship and career, and the importance of hope and listening in research. (more…)

IOE at 120: the mission to transform education and society continues, 2012-22 and into the future

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 8 December 2022

This is the last in a series of 12 blogs exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Emma Wisby sums up and wraps up our blog series.

It is important for an organization to have a sense of its history, to take opportunities to reflect on that journey as well as celebrate its contributions and achievements. That is what we have been doing this year at IOE, as it marks its 120thanniversary. It has been an opportunity to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have been a vital part of IOE’s impact. Central to this has been the IOE at 120 blog series, which in this piece we draw together and bring to the present day.

As the series has conveyed, organizationally IOE has taken many different forms:

  • from elementary teacher training college for London with just 58 students,
  • to the Area Training Organization for London, overseeing some 30 teacher education colleges,
  • and back to a single entity; from one of England’s esteemed ‘mono-technics’ or ‘specialist institutions’, alongside the likes of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Royal College of Art,
  • to a world-leading faculty within UCL.

In parallel, we see IOE’s influence on the field of education studies and then, over more recent decades, related areas of social science and the arts (more…)

We need more research about the South, from the South

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 4 August 2022

Colombian vice-president Francia Márquez, justiceforcolombia.com

Mainstream media barely reported the election of Francia Márquez, an Afro-Colombian woman from the bottom of the economic hierarchy, as Colombian vice-president.

Leda Kamenopoulou.

If we are serious about decolonising education, we must prioritise research from the South, and fund it properly.

Decolonising’ academia means challenging the dominance of knowledge produced by historically privileged contexts and groups, and it is a trend that has taken higher education by storm. In the last year alone, I noticed numerous conferences, workshops, seminars, projects and reading groups, all focused on decolonising education, psychology, curricula and reading lists, research methods and ethics, teaching and learning.

At IOE’s Department of Psychology and Human Development, we have just set up an ‘epistemic justice working group’ to help us address the power imbalances between North and South in knowledge production and sharing, by reflecting on our curricula, teaching practice, and research. It is important to clarify that ‘North’ and ‘South’ do not necessarily denote geographical location. Instead, the ‘South’ is a metaphor for spaces historically characterised by inequality, poverty, and economic, political and cultural disadvantage.

In this post, I argue that these decolonisation-themed activities will remain empty rhetoric until we are prepared to see the South as of equal value (more…)