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Harper Adams University lecturer co-writes new guide with Higher Education Academy

Posted 8 March

“We realised that others had experienced the similar difficulties, so we approached the HEA, who agreed to work with us to produce something that would be useful to colleagues across the country, who were doing action research for the first time, perhaps as part of a PgC in Learning and Teaching similar to ours."

Dr Lydia Arnold

Dr Lydia Arnold

University researchers and students are set to benefit from a new guide co-written by a Harper Adams education expert.

Lydia Arnold, educational developer and principal lecturer at the university joined forces with Emeritus Professor Lin Norton, of Liverpool Hope University, to write a guide to carrying out action research.

Action research is a very practical and solutions-focused form of exploration, a way for teachers and those supporting learning to investigate and improve their teaching practice, and the student experience.

The publication provides an easy to read guide to what action research is, its benefits, and how to conduct it. It includes research case studies from Harper Adams, Liverpool Hope and other universities across the sector, and links to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF), the nationally-recognised framework for recognising practice within higher education teaching and learning support.

The guide and case studies have been published by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), and are available for free download from the HEA’s website.

Dr Lydia Arnold, whose roles include leading a Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) in Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education at Harper Adams said: “I wrote a guide for our own action researchers at Harper Adams because a lot of the literature on this topic is unnecessarily complex and doesn’t provide examples. This is particularly difficult for colleagues who have little or no experience of working outside of a scientific tradition. I wanted to simplify course material for use with my own students.

“We realised that others had experienced the similar difficulties, so we approached the HEA, who agreed to work with us to produce something that would be useful to colleagues across the country, who were doing action research for the first time, perhaps as part of a PgC in Learning and Teaching similar to ours.

“Once we had written the guide, we realised that the stories we were including were very helpful to others; they made action research more accessible and less mysterious. We put a call out nationally for colleagues to tell their own stories of conducting action research. We had a fantastic response from lecturers and those in other key roles who support learning in both universities and colleges, including colleagues in careers, laboratories and researchers who are beginning their teaching career.

“It was especially pleasing to be able to work with some colleagues for whom this is their first experience of publication. We wanted to find out about their experience of research as much as finding out what their research was about.”

The result is a collection of sector wide case studies that depict the different ways that action research is being used to drive learning and teaching enhancement.

Dr Arnold added: “The project grew to be larger than we ever imagined, but we hope the results help others to get started with their own research and encourage more sharing of action research across the HE sector.”

View the guide and case studies here.

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