Session ASession BSession CSession DSession ESession F
SymposiumIndividual PapersIndividual PapersIndividual PapersWorkshopWorkshop
Venue: 1.47Venue: 1.40Venue: 1.31Venue: 1.30Venue: 2.03Venue: 2.09
Chair: Matthew GreenhalghChair: Helena KnaptonChair: Marlena ChrostowskaChair: Seán Henry
Mariia Tishenina,
Chiara Colombo,
Amelia Ernest,
Matthew Greenhalgh,
Tu Nguyen,
Keisha Ann Stewart,
Carrie-Anne Sturt,
Delta Wright

Paul Lees
Nic Davis-Crane

Naomi Hodgson

Glenn Millington

 Natalie Reynolds  

Susie Marriott
John BrindleDamien ShortJonathan Bursnall
Rachel WilcockClara Kassem
Sana Rizvi
Nathan Workman
Session A – Symposium
Mariia Tishenina et al, EHU – Walking together: weaving the tapestry of PGR community, research culture, and collective journey through the grass-roots collaborative Walk’n’Talk initiative

Mariia Tishenina, Chiara Colombo, Jessica Eccles-Padwick, Amelia Ernest, Matthew Greenhalgh, Tu Nguyen, Keisha Ann Stewart, Carrie-Anne Sturt, Delta Wright

Embarking on a journey through doctoral education is undoubtedly a fulfilling endeavour. However, such opportunity also bequests circumstances occasionally fraught with issues which potentially affect an individual’s health and mental wellbeing; as recognised by the Office for Students’ Catalyst fund – £1.5m investment in a programme aimed at supporting postgrads by enhancing the provision of targeted support services and activities, delivered across 17 higher education institutions.

Here at Edge Hill University, we (a group of Postgraduate Researchers, predominantly Graduate Teaching Assistants) have begun to explore this, from the ground up. By stepping out onto such ground – and the surrounding campus, blessed in nature – we are discovering a variety of benefits to sharing open discussion as we Walk ‘n’ Talk. Escaping the office and isolated working, we are curious to understand the psychological impact of open vs closed environments and the activity of walking as a medium which establishes rhythm, pace, and energy to our conversations, as well as our daily lives.

As part of this symposium, we will continue to consider how these ‘mini journeys’ are enhancing not only our overall experiences, but also developing our research, researcher identities, and a shared purposeful community. We will further unpick the sociological and psychological aspects of our joint venture, deliberate some physiological benefits, and philosophically enquire how we, as fellow travellers, occasionally align along parallel trajectories to overcome concerns around imposter syndrome and potentially interweave with others to develop our tapestry; a support net(work) and research culture which captures the ‘fabric’ of EHU.

  1. Journeys Shared, Threads Interwoven: Philosophical Underpinnings and Metaphorical Depictions behind the Walk’n’Talk Initiative

Presenters – Matthew Greenhalgh, Tu Nguyen, Mariia Tishenina

  1. Step by Step: The Psychological Pathways of Walking, Talking, and Belonging for PGR students

Presenters – Jessica Eccles-Padwick, Amelia Ernest, Matthew Greenhalgh, Carrie-Anne Sturt, Delta Wright

  1. Navigating the Academic Labyrinth: Enhancing Collective Research Culture and Advancing Individual Research Skills through Informal Peer Exchange on Walk’n’Talk ‘mini journeys’

Presenters – Amelia Ernest, Matthew Greenhalgh, Carrie-Anne Sturt

  1. Strides Beyond the Mind: Sociological Dimensions of PGRs’ Collective Walking in the Academic Terrain and across University Campus

Presenters – Chiara Colombo, Tu Nguyen, Keisha Stewart, Mariia Tishenina

Session B – Individual Papers
Paul Lees and Nic Davis-Crane, Liverpool John Moores University – An exploration of the perception and utility of artificial intelligence within Liverpool Business School


All presenters work extensively with degree apprenticeship learners within Liverpool Business School (LBS). The strong alignment between classroom-based learning and application within the workplace has encouraged reflection on the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) beyond academic boundaries. Whilst we acknowledge that higher education must be mindful of promoting correct usage, our research focusses upon three themes:

• How AI is used in an academic setting to support and promote learning.
• How apprentices currently use AI within their organisations and potential for future enhancement.
• How academic staff currently use AI and potential for future enhancement.

Our presentation will outline the results from a survey sent out to all current undergraduate and post graduate apprentices within LBS and compare and contrast this with the responses received from a survey sent out to academic staff who are currently engaged with apprenticeship learners.

Sturgess (2023) argues that business schools have a dual responsibility related to engagement. Firstly, to listen to the needs of the client, which in this case are the requirements of our learners and their organisations, and secondly to shape that demand through knowledge creation and dissemination.

Within LBS we view our academic staff, apprenticeship mentors, professional services staff, and learners as a community of practice. Our research and subsequent findings will enhance our delivery which in turn delivers an excellent learner experience. Alongside this, we will engage in meaningful knowledge exchange; listening to learner needs, developing capacity, and tailoring delivery to meet current and future demands.

Sturgess, A. (2023) Engaged business school. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.

John Brindle, EHU & Lancaster University – Do you feel safe? Creating digital safe spaces in higher education as a third space professional


The creation of safe spaces in higher education is a contentious topic that has been both praised and criticised in the national press and academic literature. This empirical paper explores the concept of safe spaces from the position of third space professionals in higher education and acts as a pilot study in preparation for further thesis-study. Utilising critical digital pedagogy as a frame, Third Space Professionals were interviewed about their approach to, and thoughts on, creating safe spaces in the digital domain. This paper contributes the exploration of third space professionals’ thoughts and approaches to digital safe spaces concluding that the third space has much to contribute to this field, including experiences relating to scaffolding, back-channel usage, and critical approaches to digital safe space creation.

Johannsen, T. (2021). Integrated Classroom Learning: How to create an activating and safe environment for online learning in knowledge exchange and innovation education for engineering students.

Macdonald, H. (2014). Negotiating safe and unsafe space: Participation, discomfort and response-ability in higher education institute transformation in South Africa. In Ethnographic Worldviews: Transformations and Social Justice (Vol. 9789400769168, pp. 61-73). Springer Netherlands.

Morris, S. M., & Stommel, J. (2019). An Urgency of teachers : the work of critical digital pedagogy.

Whitchurch, C. (2012). Reconstructing Identities in Higher Education The rise of ‘Third Space’ professionals. Taylor and Francis.

Rachel Wilcock, EHU – Co-designing student employability-focused knowledge exchange in education, mental health, and sport


This study explores the co-design of a student employability-focused knowledge exchange opportunity linked to the sport- and art-based mental health literacy and education programme, Tackling the Blues (TtB).

TtB is a university-community collaboration between Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool. Using the participatory action research (PAR) approach to explore employability and graduate outcome priorities for students, 38 Tackling the Blues student mentors from Edge Hill University engaged in workshops during the 2022-23 academic year. The data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis and generated two themes: 1) conceptualising employability, and 2) creating meaningful employability-related opportunities.

The findings provide insight into how participatory methods can be used to gain experiential knowledge of students’ lives to enhance employability and employment outcomes. Also highlighted are students’ perspectives on what employability means to them, and what they want to achieve from employability-related activity. The paper concludes by considering how data generated through participatory methods were used to shape the role of the Tackling the Blues student mentor with a particular focus on equality, diversity and inclusion, and wider higher education employability pedagogy and curriculum.


Session C – Individual Papers
Dr Naomi Hodgson, EHU – Educational research, adisciplinarity, and the study of constitution


In response to considerable critique of its rigour and relevance, the field of educational research has sought to prove its validity, both in terms of its scientific legitimacy and its relevance to policy and practice. One result of this seems to have been a heightened concern with methodology, to the extent that a form of methodolatry developed. In conjunction with wider changes in the governance of research, from disciplinary to thematic foci, educational research seems also prone to adisciplinarity. Critiques from philosophy of education of the privileging of gold standard methodologies point to the empiricism that characterises the field and overlooks questions of value and meaning. It is arguably not the empiricism as such that is problematic but its unmooring from the theoretical and the educational. The possibility of an anthropologically informed educational philosophy is explored as a way out of the impasse.

Dr Damien Shortt, EHU – Like a drunk at a dinner party: populist contributions to education policy-making


Populist politicians and movements are sometimes seen as bringing to the surface of public debate those topics and issues of difference that, in the interests of maintaining a polite society, many would rather not acknowledge or discuss. In so doing, they force a society to confront the potentially divisive values and beliefs that a sometimes surprisingly large proportion of citizens hold.

This paper will survey and reflect upon the ways in which many different flavours of populism from around the world have influenced national education debates and policy-making.

I will conclude by considering the generally applicable lessons that can be learned from specific examples, and then reflecting upon the dilemmas facing education researchers in the face of populist politics.

Clara Kassam, Dr Sana Rizvi, Liverpool John Moores University – “I remember having a meeting and thinking this isn’t an education decision, it’s a business decision”: Narratives of academics delivering meaningful inclusion and disability courses amidst marketisation pressures


Higher Education in the last four decades has been shaped by increasing marketisation and commodification of courses (Erickson et al, 2020). Courses once associated with critical thinking, individual learning, and societal progress are now impacted by performance metrics which determine the closure of courses and departments. Increasing managerialism has left academics feeling stuck in a cycle of constant change, becoming “shoe-fitters” (p.2143). Humanities, arts and social sciences appear to experience greater micromanagement that includes influencing the teaching of critical subjects such as inclusion and disability, often determining not only what is taught but also the value assigned (Haggis, 2006).
For this presentation, we report on the findings from a small-scale, qualitative study that utilised semi-structured interviews with 17 academics teaching across undergraduate and postgraduate courses in ‘red-brick’ and post-92 universities. The research aimed to explore academic narratives on how the changing educational and political landscape in the UK has shaped teaching and scholarship in inclusion and disability studies. We used thematic analysis to develop themes. We focus on one aspect of the findings which relates to how performance metrics and a business-model of the disability and inclusion discipline impacts academics’ professional identities and magnifies their vulnerabilities. Participants felt teaching on any inclusion or disability-related course was reduced to a numbers game, where ‘generic’ teaching was encouraged, critical content was slowly removed, and many iterations of the course were in place to maximise profits. Our presentation concludes on the future possibilities of teaching and scholarship of inclusion and disability studies.

Erickson,M., Hanna, P., and Walker, P. (2021) The UK higher education senior management survey: a statactivist response to managerialist governance, Studies in Higher Education, 46:11, 2134-2151, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2020.1712693

Haggis, T. (2006) Pedagogies for diversity: retaining critical challenge amidst fears of ‘dumbing down’, Studies in Higher Education, 31:5, 521-535, DOI:10.1080/03075070600922709

Session D – Individual Papers
Dr Glenn Millington, EHU – The importance of a social determinant approach in education policy and practice


Based upon research within Blackpool, a severely deprived town in the north-west of England, this session will consider the importance of a social determinant approach to education.

Although the causes of deprivation are complex, there is certainly a correlation between deprivation and health. Research on the social determinants of health has demonstrated robust correlations between several social factors, health status, and life expectancy (Low et al. 2005). Evidence has accumulated, pointing to socioeconomic factors such as income, wealth, and education as the fundamental causes of a wide range of health outcomes (Bravemen and Gottlieb 2014). Low et al. (2005) argue that health, human development, and well-being are dynamic processes that are closely related to socioeconomic status (SES) and educational attainment. Therefore, it could be argued that health is linked to an individual’s social position, and that education is a major factor in determining occupational status. Stuart, Terras, and Cowle (2021: 141) take a social determinants of education perspective which they argue could help to ‘reveal the socio-economic, cultural, and environmental conditions of young people’s lives influencing their education’. This approach acknowledges the links between poverty and education and recognises the need for a multi-faceted response that links health, socio-economic status, and educational attainment, and which considers wider societal issues rather than simply what is happening within schools.

This paper will consider the significance of multi-agency approaches in education policy and practice, and in particular how structural inequalities and a lack of joined up approach between education, health and social care has hindered the progress made by secondary schools serving disadvantaged communities.

Jonathan Bursnall, EHU – Can £1455 per pupil per year compensate for the effects of austerity and decades of neo-liberal education policy?


Superficially, the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) is the epitome of a socially just education policy. £2.9bn in 2023 alone to support around 2.2 million pupils (Roberts 2023) this funding is given directly to schools and ring-fenced for them to spend as they see fit, with the sole objective of closing the disadvantaged attainment gap. However, if we look a little closer; at the design, implementation and evaluation of the policy and at the wider education and social policy landscape into which the PPG was launched in 2011 then, its social justice credentials look far less secure.

Framed within a definition of social justice proposed by Nandy (2012) this conceptual study seeks to position the PPG at the intersection of two critical policy arenas: austerity and the neo-liberal education agenda. It explores how the eligibility and accountability of the PPG collided with an education sector ‘based on the principles of market exchange and competition’ (Ball 2021:2). This policy intervention occurred when per pupil spending was cut by between 8% and 11% (Martindale 2022 & Smith 2019) and whilst the government was trying to fix the blame for the fiscal crisis on its predecessor (Wolf 2014 cited in Smith 2019). This left schools struggling to bridge the gap between education and society, something that as long ago as 1970, Bernstein had concluded they could not possibly do.


BALL, S. 2021 The Education Debate (4th Ed) Bristol. Policy Press.
MARTINDALE, N. 2022. Austerity, outsourcing and the state school workforce: trends from 20,000 English state schools. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 43:3. 451-474.
NANDY, L. 2012 What would a socially just education system look like? Journal of Education Policy, 27:5 677-680.
ROBERTS, N. 2023 The Pupil Premium (England). House of Commons Library.
SMITH, M. K. 2019. The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being. Available from The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being – [Accessed 24.11.23]

 Nathan Workman, University of Bath – Fairness and Equity in International Education: An Analysis of the Predictors of Barriers to Entry in International Education


For those who can access international opportunities, global tertiary education offers a wealth of potential practical and personal benefits. However, access to these opportunities remains highly constrained by significant financial, informational, cultural, and familial barriers, rendering many potential international students unable to fulfill their desires. Based on a large-scale study (n=476) of potential Chinese international students, this paper analyzes the predictive relationship between a student’s socioeconomic background and the challenges they perceive in studying abroad. The results showcase how the economic level of prospective migrants’ towns and peer groups has a greater predictive effect on the motivation to study abroad than individual family financial status. They also indicate that while there is a significant link between the perception of difficulties in embarking on educational migration and the financial resources of a student’s parents, the same is not true for their parents’ education level. The results suggest that educational administrations and researchers need to pay greater attention if international education is to be a force for greater global equity instead of a tool for entrenching existing inequalities.

Session E – Workshop
Natalie Reynolds, EHU – A Tale of Our Time: Mindfulness, the Covid-19 Pandemic, and Trainee Teachers

In this interactive session, Natalie talks about her journey of bringing Mindfulness sessions and the Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction programme to staff and students at Edge Hill University, and this has developed into doctoral research project.   Natalie trained as a Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction teacher just after the Covid-19 Pandemic and now delivers Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness sessions to students and staff, alongside her role as a Senior Lecturer in Education.  

This session will include a series of guided mindfulness practices (ranging from 3-15mins) and opportunities to reflect and discuss applying this with students.  Natalie shares the grassroots approach she has taken to establish a culture of Mindfulness.  Starting from scratch, hear Natalie talk about the strategies and approaches she has used to embed Mindfulness and MBSR into everyday university life.  Included in the talk will be an overview of Natalie’s doctoral research to date and the way she believes Mindfulness and MBSR can support the mental health and wellbeing of those in the teaching profession.

Session F – Workshop
Dr Susie Marriott, EHU – Introducing colour to help neuro-diverse students in reading complex academic texts


The abstract introduces a simple yet effective approach to reading and analysing academic papers and other documents for neuro-divergent students new to researching in higher education. While there is much in the literature about students completing their academic writing with support from books and videos, showing them how to successfully achieve this, there is little published research which outlines or helps students in reading, analysing or understanding academic resources and how to use them effectively. This can be particularly problematic for new students, particularly those who are neuro-diverse, with learning differences such as dyslexia. The discussion shows how a multi-sensory approach to the reading process helps dyslexic students by highlighting, consolidating, and organising information through colour-coding, responding to visual learning preferences. The multi-sensory method of visual cues to enhance the black and white text found in academic journal articles uses a colour pallet and coding system to help sequence information. This process of highlighting words, sentences, figures, and information of significance helps neuro-diverse students to navigate longer or more complicated texts and helps them to recognise patterns within their reading. This promotes a deeper understanding from their reading which can be seen in the quality of their written work. The process of using colour as an integral part of the reading process has proved particularly useful to students completing their first literature review. This has helped build confidence in their academic reading and developing clearer written work using academic sources.

Colours, coding, journal articles, highlighting, themes, multi-sensory, neuro diverse.

Adams, F.M., & Osgood, C.E. (1973) A cross-cultural study of the affective meaning of color. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology. 4(2), pp. 135–156.
Bell, K.E., & Limber, J E. (2010) Reading skill, textbook marking, and course performance. Literacy Research and Instruction, 49, pp. 56–67.
Dobson Waters, S, & Torgeson, C.J. (2021) Dyslexia in higher education: a systematic review of interventions used to promote learning, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45(2) pp. 226-256.
Farley, F.H. & Grant, A.P. (1976) Arousal and cognition: Memory for color versus black and white multimedia presentation. Journal of Psychology. 94(1), pp.147-150.
Fernando, W. (2018) Show me your true colours: Scaffolding formative academic literacy assessment through an online learning platform, Assessing Writing, 36, pp. 63-76.
Kelly, K. & Phillips, S. (2015) Teaching Literacy to Learners with Dyslexia: A Multi-sensory Approach. Sage Publication Limited, London.
Kristinsson, A. (1994). Journal reading in an undergraduate curriculum. The New England journal of Medicine. Volume 330, Issue 24, Page 1762
Leutner, D., Leopold, C., & Den Elzen-Rump, V. (2007) Self-regulated learning with a text-highlighting strategy: a training experiment. Journal of Psychology, 215(3), pp. 174–182
Mann, S.J. (2000) The students’ experience of reading. Higher Education 39, pp. 297-317
Nist, S.L., & Hogrebe, M.C. (1987) The role of underlining and annotating in remembering textual information. Reading Research and Instruction, 27, pp.12–25
St Clair-Thompson, H., Graham, A. & Marsham, S. (2017) Exploring the Reading Practices of Undergraduate Students. Education Inquiry. 9(3), pp. 284-298
Wingate, U. (2015) Academic literacy and student diversity: The case for inclusive practice, Multilingual Matters, New York/London.