Conceptualised as a professional learning community, this research priority area provides opportunity for members to both ‘reinvent practice and share professional growth’ (Stoll and Seashore Louis, 2013) through collective learning. We also draw upon Wenger’s notion of ‘communities of practice’ and ‘peripheral participants’ in understanding and responding to the experiences of our students.
Developing students as professionals
Many undergraduate and postgraduate students at the university are studying professional programmes that may be regulated by professional bodies. This theme provides opportunity to explore the tensions between the academic aspirations of the respective degree programme and the requirements and demands of the professional body and/or workplace. By bringing together the student body and professionals in practice we seek to achieve symbiosis between the workplace and the university. This aligns to the intentions in the green paper Fulfilling Our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice
. A range of pedagogic research initiatives are currently underway looking at the relationship between the professional context and professional and academic learning. Lynda Kay and Adeela Shafi’s research looks at the tensions and opportunities of designing assessment opportunities at Masters level
on the MEd programme in the light of the ‘school improvement’ agenda.
Teaching excellence in higher education
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) requires Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to demonstrate excellence in teaching and preparation for the workplace. This theme hosts research into outstanding pedagogic practice across the university, where students are equal partners in this endeavour. Jenny Hatley, Rick, Tristan Middleton, Sian Templeton and Adeela Shafi are looking at the ways in which students’ resilience and 'academic buoyancy' can be enhanced through assessment modes. By engaging with students in relation to their personal learning experiences the research team is aiming to respond with assessment feedback that is innovative, relevant and co-constructed by the students. Similarly, academics at the university engage in action research to enhance their professional practice and seek to develop students’ agency, voice and participation. Research into GCSE Mathematics re-sits provides the focus for a symposium to be held at the University of Gloucestershire on 8 October 2016 .
Enhancing professional practice in the workplace
This theme is outward-facing, engaging with professionals in diverse workplaces. It employs applied research and knowledge exchange activity to inform and enhance practice. Examples include the research project, 'Closing the Gap’, a partnership initiative between Gloucestershire County Council, schools across the region and the School of Education at the University of Gloucestershire. At the heart of the initiative is the desire to work collaboratively to address issues that contribute to pupil underachievement and as such, there is a moral imperative to address complex issues. The initiative spans both the primary and secondary phase of education and schools are welcome to join at any time.
Interrogating professional practice: a policy perspective
This theme provides opportunity for members of the research priority area to develop expertise in policy analysis of professional contexts, such as public sector practice. The theme has the potential to open channels of discussion between policy makers and those who decode and enact policy in professional contexts. Examples include the conference ‘Professional Practice in an Age of Extremism’ where Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England and Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, Professor Trevor Cooling, Dr Lynn Revell, Professor Alison Scott-Baumann and Professor Hazel Bryan engaged with academics from a range of universities to consider the implications of Prevent, ‘fundamental British values’ (Department for Education, 2012) and notions of extremism for education and higher education today.