For many young researchers working towards a PhD, presenting their work to an audience can seem like a daunting experience. When English is not your first language, and may indeed be your third or fourth, I’m sure that this experience can appear even more challenging. It was therefore with a feeling of great respect and admiration that I listened today to a number of presentations given by students at the annual education research student conference at the university.
This important event in the research student calendar provides an opportunity for them to share their work in progress, gain comments from their peers and from more established researchers and to test their ideas in front of a sympathetic audience. In addition it provides PhD supervisors with a unique opportunity to gain a broader perspective of the educational research being conducted, often in areas that are outside of their usual field of vision.
This was exactly the situation yesterday as students from the UK, Vietnam, Nigeria, China and Ghana provided insights into their work on a varied range of subjects. These ranged from gender issues related to approaches to mathematical calculations in primary school children, through the development of national funding policies for higher education in Vietnam and the coping strategies of academics working under stress in universities.
It is not only the range of topics that make this conference so interesting, but also the approach to presentation. Whilst some opt for a traditional and quite formal presentation of a paper, others adopt a more innovative approach. Phil’s performance of his research findings put across some serious messages whilst entertaining his audience and raising laughter. Jessica, describing her work around peer mentoring for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties had everyone decorating cakes as a means of demonstrating part of her methodology.
A particular innovation for this year’s conference has been the live streaming of sessions to make them accessible to our students and others who were unable to attend. It was particularly heartening last night to discover that colleagues in India, China and Germany, as well as other parts of the UK had made use of this new opportunity.
Today the conference continues and we can look forward to more interesting papers from the UK, India, China and Nigeria, and witnessing a developing confidence in our research students. This conference, entirely organised by research students provides ample evidence that the future of educational enquiry I safe in their hands. Thank you to all who contributed so much to this excellent event.
You can switch in live today’s sessions by clicking on the link below from 9.45 am UK time.
Session 2 – 4