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Education events

The Centre for Research in Education holds research events to showcase the research of its members.



CRE The Centre for Research in Education

2023/24 Public Seminar Series

Valuing Teachers Knowledge

Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's


The theme for the 2023/24 series is ‘knowledge by acquaintance’. I first came across this term reading Christopher Winch’s philosophical investigation into teacher’s know-how (Winch, 2017). He describes ‘knowledge by acquaintance’ as a way of introducing us to the procedures and practices which help us to understand our discipline. This type of learning is crucial in helping us to move from novice to expert and is valued as an important prerequisite for adding meaningful contribution to the discipline. For me, this term epitomises teacher’s own knowledge and values knowledge creation and construction.

This CRE series will illuminate ways to understand and become ‘acquainted’ with our practice and the discipline of education. You will hear from colleagues who have adopted specific practices and procedures, methodologies and paradigms in order to help them answer their (often tricky and always complex!) research and inquiry questions. The hope is that these seminars will inspire you to apply these approaches to your own inquiries.

Kate Duffy

CRE Seminar Series coordinator



Title/Seminar focus

Register via Qualtrics

13-14 Sept 2023

PGCE/Final Year Research Conference

Theory as Practice… Practice as Theory


Recordings here

18 October 2023 


Informal Networking 'ResearchMeet' with Kate Duffy, 3:30-4pm. Wearside View, Room 218.

(Online and In-Person) introducing the Discourse SIG:  Parent-Teacher Talk and Conversation Analysis with Associate Professor Susan Mandala, 4-5pm. Wearside View, Room 218.

For the last two years, there has been a great deal of interest in the CRE seminars around types of discourse analysis. Please join us if you are new to DA or want to refresh your understanding. For those of you who would like to engage more practically, we are introducing a Special Interest Group (SIG), where you can be supported throughout the year to apply DA to your own data and research areas.


15 November 2023



'A phenomenological-phenomenographical study to explore the lived experiences of Year 6 children throughout the whole of Year 6 and its associated SATs process to gain an insight into the factors that shape their SATs journey'

Vicki Jowett


13 December 2023

3:30pm - 5pm

Campfire conversations – Creat-tive and care-ful methodologies for meaningful research

Dr Helen Benstead;  Associate Professor Sarah Martin Denham; Dr Elizabeth Hidson

17 January 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar: Reading Assessment System in ESOL Courses for Low-Literate Learners

Dr Rim Day

14 February 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar and Workshop: Arts-based methodologies for marginalised and minority communities.  

Visiting Professor, John Johnson (Head of Master Kunsteducatie and international Master Artist Educator) Netherlands

20 March 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar: Theory of planned behaviour to understand motivation in the classroom.

Kelly Perry and Dr Steven Anderson 

17 April 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar: Reimagining the intercept of pedagogy and andragogy through an Early Years lens in a Higher Education Institution with International Initial Teacher Training students‚Äč

Vicki Wynn & Alison McMaster 

30 April 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar: No Outsiders

Visiting Professor, Andrew Moffat

15 May 2024

3:30pm - 5pm

Research Seminar: The relational dimension of the teaching profession

Associate Professor, Anne-Louise Ljungblad, Malmo University, Sweden



Past events

Second International Practice Focused Research in Education Conference (IPFREC) July 3-6, 2023: Call for Abstracts

Conference theme: New Starting Points for Educational Research in Further Adult and Vocational Education

The second International Practice-Focused Research in Education Conference (IPFREC) 2023 will be hosted by the University of Sunderland on the Riverside Campus from 3-6 July.  IPFREC is organised and delivered by the University of Sunderland’s Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training (SUNCETT) which is located in the School of Education. The conference is dedicated to encouraging international disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, scholarly discussion and debate surrounding the relationship between practice, theory and research in Education. The IPFREC Conference Planning Committee welcomes abstracts from researchers in the discipline of education and in education-related subjects as well as researchers from other disciplines including, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and education policy. 

Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

International Conference aims and objectives

IPFREC 2023 brings together teachers, researchers, educators, and policy professionals interested in the development of further, adult, vocational, and technical education; pedagogy; curriculum development; assessment; community education; inclusion, social justice; adult literacy and numeracy; arts-based educational research; problem and project-based learning and education policy. Contributions are also welcomed from those with responsibility for education leadership, educational evaluation, and the systems-wide improvement of educational practice. 

To date, debates in the field of education concerning the relationship between educational practice, theory, and research have tended to rely upon simplistic binary positions linked to unhelpful disconnections and divisions and dichotomies. These are in danger of closing down the spaces in which new partnerships and configurations in educational practice, theory and research might form and flourish. IPFREC 2023 offers opportunities to open up conversations in which such binary narratives can be contested in order to explore alternatives that might inform the establishment and development of new forms of educational research and practice. These include more integrated and creative approaches to curriculum design as well as innovative architectures to support the development of new policy-research-practice relations. Collaborative conversations and mutual engagement in a shared social space within and across subjects and disciplines are hallmarks of the spark and spirit of the conference. 

Conference fee is £150. Accommodation at conference rate is available at Grand Hotel, Queens Parade, Sunderland, SR6 8DB, United Kingdom (a limited number of rooms are bookable and payable directly with the hotel).

IPFREC 2023 Conference dates:

  • 3-4 July 2023: Early Career Researcher (ECR) Conference
  • 4-6 July 2023: Main Practice-Focused Research in Education Conference  

Early Career Researcher (ECR) Conference Monday 3 to Tuesday 4 July, keynotes: 

  • Professor Lynne McKenna (Dean of Faculty of Education and Society, University of Sunderland) 
  • Professor Maggie Gregson (University of Sunderland)
  • Associate Professor Dr Gary Husband (University of Sunderland)

Main conference Tuesday 4 July, keynotes:

  • Dr John Johnson (ArtEZ University of Arts, Netherlands)
  • Dr Tony Charles (‘Platform A’ Art Gallery, Middlesbrough)

Main conference Wednesday 5 July, keynotes:

  • Professor Maggie Gregson (University of Sunderland) 
  • Associate Professor Dr Gary Husband (University of Sunderland)

Main conference Thursday 6 July:

  • Dr Duncan Cross (Head of School of Education, University of Sunderland) Closing Ceremony and Closing Remarks  

Abstract submission instructions:

  • Abstracts should be no more than 300 words in length, Arial font size 12, single line spacing.
  • Include your name, email address, institution, preferred telephone number, title of Abstract.
  • Include 3-5 keywords.

Reviewer decisions and outcomes will be released week commencing 15 May 2023.

Please email your abstract to: IPFREC@sunderland.ac.uk.


‘ResearchMeet’ For Teacher-Researchers by Teacher-Researchers

27 April 2023, 4:30-6pm


University Partnership with Global Spirit Ed

A new partnership between the University of Sunderland's School of Education and a personalised education provider Global Spirit Ed will expand the University’s UK and international reach. We invite you to find out more about how you and your school can benefit from this opportunity.

Read more from our press release New education partnership will reach out to the world.

Introductory webinars with Kevin Holland and John Baumber where they can share their work and more about what they do will be held on:

Tuesday 18 April, 3:30-4:30pm: Book on Eventbrite

Tuesday 9 May, 3:30-4:30pm: Book on Eventbrite


Research Seminar with Team Leader IITT, Dionne Ross, and Senior Lecturer, Professional Development, Dr Deborah Bell

22 March 2023, 3:30-5pm

Distance not Distant – An Exploration of Personal Academic Tutors for Distance Learning Trainee Teachers

We can often take the pastoral element of education practice for granted. It is easy for many of us to view it as a natural and automatic element of what we do as educators as it threads through our everyday interactions. Just consider that your class is 1000’sof miles away. How would you ensure that they all feel just as supported and cared for? In this seminar, Dionne and Deborah explain how they have dealt with this additional challenge from their work on a distance learning programme. This research has wider implications for us all in considering how students feel about the support we offer and how this shapes what we do.

Venue: Prospect 007, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's


Research Seminar with Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader Education Studies, Kelly Perry

1 March 2023, 3:30-5pm

What motivates us to want to volunteer? How can we motivate the people we work with to volunteer? Understanding our perceptions of volunteering is a place to start and could help us shape curriculum in terms of its wider relevance and purpose. In this seminar, Kelly will present some of her findings as she seeks to understand this concept both psychologically and philosophically.

Venue: Prospect 007, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's


Research Seminar and Workshop with Associate Professor, Susan Mandala

18 January 2023, 3:30pm-5pm

Language and discourse shape education policy and can influence practice and educational experiences. The confidence to analyse language and interpret meaning is fast becoming an essential skill for the autonomous educator. This workshop is back by popular demand as Susan takes us through the practical applications for discourse analysis.

Venue: Prospect 007, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's


Research Seminar with Senior Lecturer in Education Dr Kate Duffy, and Lecturer in Primary and Education Studies, Alexandra Brown

14 December 2022, 3:30pm-5pm

Teacher Assessed grades and the student-teacher relationship

The pandemic created a sense of urgency to re-imagine the nature of ‘purposeful assessment’ in education. The focus was on summative judgment and prescriptive methods for meaningful assessment. However, there was little consideration as to how these sweeping changes to high-stakes assessment may impact the student-teacher relationship which was crucial in these times of crisis. This research captured the experiences of teachers during this challenging time and raises some thoughts around the future of assessment practice.

Venue: Prospect 007, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's.


Research Seminar with Dr Lawrence Nixon and Dr John Cooper

16 November 2022, 3:30pm-5pm

Helping Students Engage with Academic Texts: Flourishing and Degrowth

In this presentation, we introduce the account of academic texts put forward by R.G. Collingwood and his novel account of how we make sense of such texts.

We explore the implications of this account helping students to grow in knowledge and practice and the need to make space and time to get to grips with and understand such texts. 

Venue: online. 


Campfire Conversation: Masters of ITE

Senior Lecturer, BA Primary Programme Leader Emma Cullen, Senior Lecturer, Secondary Mathematics, Samantha Tate

19 October 2022, 3:30pm-5pm

Be inspired to research your practice with an opportunity to explore and reflect upon the value of systematic literature reviews and qualitative research approaches to understanding practice.

Venue: Prospect 007, St Peters Riverside Campus.

Research Symposium: Promoting equity, hearing the voices of children (In conjunction with the ITE Research Conference)

14 September 2022, 3pm-5:30pm

Associate Professor, Sarah Martin Denham – #SeeMee

Dr Helen Benstead, Vicki Jowett, Vicky Graham – ‘The power of ‘multi-sensory methods’ in eliciting the views and perspectives of children identified with SEND on their experiences of inclusion’

Visiting Professor, Andrew Moffatt – ‘No Outsiders’.

Researchers in the School of Education have a wealth of knowledge and influence around the experiences of children with additional needs. This symposium champions their work and passion to ensure that children’s voices are heard and placed at the centre of all we do.

Venue: Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre, St Peter's Riverside Campus. 

Campfire conversations Masters of ITE

'Initial Teacher Educators share their research into their practice'

Date/Time: Wednesday 18 May 2022, 3.30-5pm via Teams.

This event is internal only.

Research seminar - 'Understanding feedback in Teacher Education' by Dr Caroline Elbra-Ramsay, York St John University

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Navigating the Pedagogical, Relational and Moral economies of assessment: an Analysis of the Development of Student Teachers’ understandings of Feedback.

Feedback is often viewed as the aspect of assessment most likely to increase learning, but this potential value is not always fulfilled in practice. This may be because understanding of feedback has become unclear. The literature (particularly policy literature) tends to position conceptions of feedback in dualistic and opposed terms, for example, teacher-centric versus learner-centric. However, as this presentation will argue, feedback cannot be understood in binary terms; feedback is complex with differing nuanced conceptions.  Furthermore, in opposition to models that present feedback as static, this presentation suggests feedback is dynamic, changeable, personal, and varied and that we need a multi-dimensional model of feedback where conceptions are capable of co-existing and changing.  

Developing a more nuanced understanding of feedback is particularly crucial for the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) sector; these students not only receive feedback as learners but give feedback to their pupils.  Their dual role as both feedback donor and recipient makes them a particularly interesting group to study in terms of how their conceptions of feedback are formed.  Using a broadly phenomenographic approach, the research study presented tracked eight primary ITE students over three years to understand i) conceptions of feedback as a learner, ii) conceptions of feedback as a teacher and iii) the relationships between developing understanding of feedback as a student and a teacher. Analysis made use of three economies (relational, pedagogical and moral) enabling meaning to be attributed to the variation of experiences and understanding between participants.  Several themes were identified including the significance of dialogue/relationships within feedback and the influence of performativity. The study raises broad implications for practice, not just in ITE, but also for Higher Education.

Research seminar - 'Adapted Comparative Judgement ACJ' by Jeffrey Buckley University of Ireland

Wednesday 23 March 2022

An Introduction to Comparative Judgement for Educational Assessment
Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, Westmeath, Ireland
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Comparative judgement (CJ) is an approach to assessment that has evolved from Thurstone’s Law of Comparative Judgement (1927). The underpinning principle is that people are more reliably able to compare two stimuli, which for educational purposes could be pieces of student work, and judge which is “better”, than they are able to give scores against a set of criteria, such as those listed in an assessment rubric. The process of CJ involves a group of assessors individually making a series of binary pairwise comparisons on a sample of work. This is typically managed by a software solution. Based on the responses to these comparisons, “ability scores” can be estimated using the Bradley-Terry-Luce model. These ability scores represent the consensus view of the cohort of assessors as to the relative order of the work that was subject to assessment.

The use of CJ for educational assessment is growing in popularity, particularly in the context of student work which is produced in response to open-ended activities such as essay writing and design tasks. This presentation will provide an overview of CJ. It will begin with a description of the underlying theory of comparative judgement and the provision of an overview of how it is typically operationalised. A number of case studies from practice will then be described, and it will conclude with a summary of the current CJ research landscape where robust findings and contemporary challenges are elaborated upon.

Research seminar - 'Clearing the Clutter: What can mentors learn from insights into cognitive psychology?' by Haili Hughes and Jo McShane

Wednesday 16 February 2022

What has the art of thought and the work of a Victorian psychologist from Monkwearmouth got to do with mentoring? This session will explore research from cognitive psychology and the study of insights to illuminate how mentors can motivate their mentee to develop their pedagogy and turn insights into actions.

Workshop - 'Calling All Discourse Analysts' by Associate Professor Dr Susan Mandala

Wednesday 19 January 2022

We often speak of the need for ‘dialogue’ between fields and approaches, but how often does this really happen? More often than not, we become experts in our own particular fields and approaches. While this is a good thing, it can also be limiting. We may, for example, become ego-invested and unhelpfully attached to our favoured approach at the expense of other equally valid approaches. We may pay less attention to our favoured approach’s weak spots and lose sight of the fact that when we work with only one approach, we will see in our data only what that approach shows us. Ultimately, as we become more and more expert in our approach, we may become less and less expert in discourse. If we really want to understand the nature of discourse, shouldn’t we explore it from multiple perspectives?  In this workshop, we will use our expertise as discourse analysts to teach and learn from each other as we explore the following question:

How can we identify and track Foucauldian concepts such as dominant discourses, counter discourses, discursive construction, and disciplinary surveillance in the linguistic detail of small ‘t’ linguistic texts such as interview transcripts using a variety of approaches to the study of language?

Participants should come with an approach to discourse analysis they wish to teach other participants, and some idea of the approach they would like to know more about. While the approaches we cover will vary on the day depending on attendance, it is expected we will be working with approaches such as (but not limited to) politeness theory (Brown and Levinson 1987), impoliteness theory (Culpeper 1996), conversation analysis (Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson 1974), thematic coding, Foucauldian discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2001), the Birmingham school of discourse analysis (Sinclair and Coulthard 1975), and Gricean analysis (Grice 1975).  Our text for analysis will be a job interview scene from Caryl Churchill’s play Top Girls.

References Brown, P. and Levinson, S. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: CUP. | Churchill, C. 1991. Top Girls. Methuen Student ed. London: Methuen. | Culpeper, J. 1996. ‘Towards an anatomy of impoliteness’. Journal of Pragmatics 25: 349-367. | Fairclough, N. 2001. Language and Power. 2nd ed. Harlow, Essex: Longman. | Grice, H. P. 1975. ‘Logic and Conversation’, in Cole, P. and Morgan, J. L. (eds.). Syntax and Semantics, Volume 3 Speech Acts (41-58). New York: Academic Press. | Sacks, H. Schegloff, E., and Jefferson, G. 1974. ‘A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation’. Language 50 (4): 696-735. Sinclair, J. and Coulthard, R. M. 1975. Towards An Analysis of Discourse: The English Used by Teachers and Pupils. London: Oxford University Press.

Research seminar - 'Going Beyond Compliance: An Ambitious Primary School Curriculum’ by Professor Jonathan Glazzard, Edge Hill University

Wednesday 15 December 2021

 Jonathan glazzar book cover 'An Ambitious Primary School Curriculum'

Research seminar-
'How can we get educators to use research evidence?' by Prof Stephen Gorard, Durham University

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Over the last 30 years, governments and funders worldwide have sought to improve the quality of evidence produced by publicly-funded research. Understanding of effective interventions to inform education policy/practice has improved somewhat, and there has also been considerable progress in methods of summarising and synthesising research results. Evidence of what works, or not, is increasingly available for the first time. However, good research evidence is still underused, and poorer research perpetuated. Education policy-makers generally say that they want, and use, good evidence, but do not always act correspondingly.

In terms of practice, only a minority of teachers incorporate evidence-led practices into their planning, relying instead on personal experiences, advice from other teachers, and CPD not underpinned by research evidence. This is dangerous because the use of flawed research can cause widespread damage, and is not cost-effective, or fair to those most in need of evidence-led improvement, such as disadvantaged students. A major problem is that the improvements in substantive original education research have not been matched by an equivalent growth in knowledge of how to get that research into widespread use.
The stages of translating and embedding research findings into use (by users, researchers, or intermediaries) are crucial but currently under-researched. We need to bring the same degree of rigour to claims about how empirically validated interventions are most successfully implemented that we currently aspire to in making claims about the effects of the interventions themselves.


Campfire conversation Ethics

'Protecting our Participants – Ethical knots in Education Research' by Prof Stephanie Atkinson, Sarah Martin-Denham, Dr Elizabeth Hidson, Dr Kate Duffy

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Research seminar- 'Feminism for Whom?' by Dr Kim Gilligan

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Initial Teacher Education Research Conference

Equality, diversity, and inclusion for holistic development in education

Thursday 16 September 2021

This day conference enabled students to hear from our researchers in education and begin to understand the complexity of teaching and the joy it can bring to those involved in it.

The day included:

  • Key research seminars and panel discussions on current debates in teaching and education.
  • Sessions and information to help you engage in research and critically reflect on practice at postgraduate level
  • Opportunity to meet virtually some of your teaching team and peers


8.45                          Registration

8.50                           Welcome and opening remarks, Susan Edgar

9.00                           Key Note: Academic DeanProfessor Lynne McKenna

9.20                            Team leader Introductions and setting the scene
                                     Vicki Stokes, Gillian Parker, Dionne Ross 
                                     Dr Kate Duffy - the schedule of the day

9.30 - 10.00               Presentation 1: Visiting Professor, Les Walton CBE
                                     'Back to the Future’ - Education the Rock and Roll Years

10.00 - 10.10             Comfort break

10.10 - 10.40             Presentation 2: Dr Kim Gilligan
                                     Thinking and writing critically

10.40 - 11.10             Presentation 3: Visiting Professor Kay Sambell & Professor Sally Brown
                                     Assessment Matters

11.10 - 11.40             Presentation 4: Gillian Parker
                                     ‘Ability’: A label for distinction or extinction?

11.40 - 12.15             Lunch

12.15 - 12.45             Presentation 5: Sarah Martin Denham
                                     Preventing School Suspension

12.45 - 13.15             Presentation 6: Dr Elizabeth Hidson
                                     Developing pedagogy by proxy through shared lesson resources

13.15 - 13.45              Presentation 7: Associate Professor, Maddalena Taras
                                      Assessment: Getting to the Root of the Matter

13.45 - 14.00             Comfort break

14.00 - 14.30              Presentation 8: Visiting Professor, Andrew Moffat
                                      No Outsiders: teaching inclusion and equality

14.30 - 15.00              Presentation 9: Jo McShane
                                      Mentoring – giving you a bridge across the twilight Zone

15.00 - 15.30              Campfire Conversation: Reflections and Q&A with the panel
                                      Haili Hughes; Jo McShane; Dr Kim Gilligan and Dr Elizabeth Hidson

15.30 - 15.40              Closing remarks: Head of School Susan Edgar