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Research and Knowledge Exchange

The Sheffield Institute of Education (SIoE) comprises a research centre, the Centre for Development and Research in Education which conducts commissioned research and knowledge exchange, and two teaching departments, the Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion and the Department of Teacher Education.

We undertake research and knowledge exchange across our seven areas of excellence

  1. Childhood and Early Years 
  2. Inclusion, Diversity and Social Justice
  3. Higher Education
  4. Language and Literacy Education
  5. Mathematics Education
  6. Practice, innovation and professional learning
  7. Science Education

Our funders include UK and international government departments and policy organisations, Research Councils, schools and other educational institutions, major charities, the learned societies and subject associations, business, and voluntary and community organisations. We develop collaborations and deliver activities with external and internal partners; contribute to the work of practitioner and scholarly organisations; and implement a range of research, scholarship and knowledge exchange activities designed to ‘make a difference’ to our students, our partners, and to our wider community in both the UK and internationally.

Our researchers are nationally and internationally networked and present and publish for academic, practitioner and public audiences. We use our research to inform and influence practice across our two teaching departments, as well as externally. We also have a substantial number of doctoral researchers undertaking PhDs and EdDs.

Key contacts

For further information on research in the SIoE Professor Jacqueline Stevenson, Head of Research Jacqueline.stevenson@shu.ac.uk
For commissioned research please contact Dr Bronwen Maxwell
For knowledge exchange including consultancy, curriculum design and professional development please contact Dr Emily Perry
For postgraduate research study contact Dr Gill Adams on g.adams@shu.ac.uk

Childhood and Early Years

Research interests include children’s friendships, social work child protection practice, children’s literature, professionalism in the early years, children’s spirituality, students' experiences of the early years teacher programme, resilience in childhood, outdoor play, children’s participation, citizenship and professional love. The research relates to areas of expertise in commissioned research in children and young people's wellbeing. Funders include the Department for Education, Action for Children, and a range of local government departments. 

The Research in Childhood and the Early Years Special Interest Group is convened by Dr Caron Carter.

Inclusion, Diversity and Social Justice

Research in this area is a cross-cutting theme in the SIoE which challenges the social inequalities that arise from powerful and exclusionary hegemonies such as normalcy, ableism, heteronormativity, gender oppression, and privilege in relation to class and race. Research areas include LGBT well-being, gender; power; social justice in education; early years, childhood and youth; autism; race; ethnicity; counselling; disability; Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, and social disadvantage. Researchers work in collaboration with other research, activist and community groups, including other Universities, the SIoE Disability Research Forum and WiSET. Our funders include the Education Endowment Foundation, AHRC, and the International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO).

The Equality, Diversity and Social Justice Research Group is convened by Professor Nick Hodge.

Higher Education

Higher Education research encompasses higher education pedagogies, practice and policy and staff are engaged both in discipline-specific and interdisciplinary higher education research. Key areas of expertise include student engagement and partnership, curriculum studies, educational identities and social justice, theorising higher education, and post-16, widening participation and higher education policy. Our funders include the Office of Fair Access, the Higher Education Academy, BIS, and HEFCE. We also have a number of doctoral students, including those undertaking our Doctorate in Education award. Our research informs innovative teaching, learning and assessment across our two teaching departments.

In addition, the Higher Education Research Group provides an institutional home for higher education research within the Sheffield Institute of Education, across Sheffield Hallam University and beyond. It is convened by Dr Carol Taylor.

Language and Literacy Education

Researchers are engaged in research and linked professional development, curriculum design and consultancy associated with language and literacy education within different age phases and sectors. These include early years, primary, secondary, further/higher education, TESOL and teacher education – as well as language and literacy practices outside formal educational contexts. Research by group members has explored themes including: digital texts and environments; literacy, identity, space and materiality; meaning-making and agency; grammar and writing; collaboration and dialogic interaction. Researchers have expertise in using a range of methodologies including multimodal analysis, conversation analysis, mixed methods, participatory and ethnographic methods. Funded projects have included studies for Booktrust, The Department for Education, The Education Endowment Foundation, United Kingdom Literacy Association, JISC and CBeebies.

The Language and Literacy Education research group is convened by Professor Cathy Burnett.

Mathematics Education

Mathematics Education research focuses on equal opportunities and social justice in mathematics education; the student experience of mathematics in higher education; mathematics pedagogy; student progression in mathematics, out of school and informal learning, curriculum development, the professional development of mathematics teachers, and policy in mathematics education. Our funders include Department for Education, EEF, Nuffield Foundation, Mathematics Education and Industry, National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics, Comenius, and the ESRC. The group has had a long term engagement with commissioned research, knowledge exchange and evaluation, which is close to practice and practitioners and supports the development of policy by the bodies concerned.  

The Mathematics Education Research Group is convened by Professor Hilary Povey.

Practice, innovation and professional learning

Research in practice, innovation and professional learning is a cross cutting strand of the SIoE's work and is undertaken in relation to other areas of our strength. An important aspect of this research strand relates to educational policy. We work with partners to design, implement, and evaluate educational change and foster collaboration and networking between researchers in different fields. Research activity includes practitioner research, large publicly funded policy evaluations and randomised controlled trials. Funders include Education Endowment Foundation, Department for Education, Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the National College for Teaching and Leadership, BELMAS, and the Nuffield Foundation.

The Practice, Innovation and Professional Learning Research Group provides a community for researchers particularly interested in the nature of practice, innovation and professional learning in education across a wide range of areas. The research group is led by Dr Mark Boylan.

Science Education

We have a longstanding history of national and international excellence in science education research and knowledge exchange. Through the Centre for Development and Research in Education we focus on innovative, effective and engaging approaches to science teaching and learning for learners of all ages. We aim to improve attainment, engagement and progression in science and STEM subjects, including widening participation to under-represented groups in STEM study and careers. Our projects develop teachers throughout their professional lives to support them to improve their practice and develop innovative ways of teaching science. Research activity includes a particular focus on issues relating to professional development and careers of science teachers, curriculum design, informal learning, enquiry-based approaches to learning, creativity in science, computer science, and widening participation. Our funders include the Department of Education, Computing At School, BIS, Wellcome Trust, the British Council, Ministries of Education, and the European Union.

The Science Education Special Interest Group is led by Dr Stuart Bevins.

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