Research projects

Details of some past projects are summarised below. New project details will shortly be updated on this page.

Inclusive campus social norms marketing campaign addressing sexual violence on campus

This 18 month inter-disciplinary academic project (April 2017 to October 2018) comprises two projects:

Project 1: Bystander initiative
Methods: Evaluate Bystander through pre/post questionnaires to 86 students followed by focus groups with 15 students.
Aim: Produce modified Bystander initiative and academic papers.

Project 2: Bystander social norms campaign
Methods: As above.
Aim: Develop film, posters and UWE Bristol website offering support and guidance as part of #SpeakUp campaign to be launched from September 2018.

HEFCE Catalyst Funding: £50,000

The project team comprises:

UWE Bristol staff 

and external experts

  • Lisa Benjamin, Somerset & Avon, Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS)
  • Nainesh Pandit, Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI)
  • Charlotte Gage (Bristol Zero Tolerance). 

Digital CPD for Early Childhood professionals

This two year project, led by Joe Brown, involves working in collaboration with a regionally-based technology company to research the continuing professional experiences and preferences of early childhood professionals in England and Wales to inform the development of app-based digital learning platforms for the early childhood workforce. The project involves working closely with professionals to assess their needs and gather their views on the pilot rollout of the digital learning platforms.

Exploring children and parents' changing perceptions of entomophagy (or, how do we get kids to eat insects)

Led by Dr Verity Jones, the aim of this initial project is to:

  • identify the key mechanisms which impact on children’s food choices when faced with new novel foods in order to plan for sustainable futures
  • design and review pedagogical strategies and tools to develop a healthier, more sustainable future population through teaching and learning in the primary and secondary school context.

In 2016, the UK government launched their first Childhood Obesity Plan in order to combat the growing numbers of overweight and obese young people. In 2017, the Government noted that sustainable change will only be achieved through the active engagement of schools, communities and families (UK Government 2017). Meanwhile, there has been recurring calls for us to reconsider what we eat with concerns about the environmental impact of beef and other meat production. Insects have been considered a possible alternative.

In light of this, Bug Farm Foods have proposed that a shift to the use of insect based proteins in school meals, coupled with targeted learning in schools may offer a positive, long term outcome to achieve these goals. This research aims to evaluate this programme and consider the future for entomophagy in UK schools.

Children as Engineers

Children as Engineers, a four year project led by Dr Fay Lewis and Juliet Edmonds, paired undergraduate Initial Teacher Education students with undergraduate engineering students, training them in the use of engineering challenge materials which they then delivered in upper key stage 2 classrooms.

The impact of participation in the project for these students was evaluated and indicated that for the pre-service teachers there were significant benefits in terms of their science and engineering subject knowledge and the confidence in their ability to teach these subjects (a key factor in ensuring positive outcomes for children). 

This positive pedagogical practice has now been embedded within engineering and educational undergraduate programmes to ensure that all students can experience such work rather than just volunteers. 

Researching Multilingually

Researching Multilingually was a network project (December 2011 to November 2012) which explored processes and practices of researching in contexts where more than one language is involved.

Higher education: Researching around care leavers entry and success (HERACLES)

The purpose of this project (September 2016 to November 2017) was to identify the extent to which care leavers are disadvantaged in terms of access to higher education.

Dr Neil Harrison hoped to identify whether they need additional university support and the nature of the need.

The outcome was to provide practitioners with new knowledge that will help to improve the services that they offer to young people, foster carers and local authorities.

Project strands

Neil used a two-strand approach:

  • Strand 1 was a multivariate statistical analysis of linked data available from the National Pupil Database and the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
  • Strand 2 was an online questionnaire with current students who are care leavers.

Read the final report, Moving on Up.

View the launch presentation slides at the House of Commons, 29 November 2017.

Watch via YouTube the Moving on Up research report summary.

Paired Peers

Paired Peers was a joint project with the University of Bristol from 2010-2013. The project assessed the impact of a cohort of undergraduates' social class on their experience at university.

Consequently, there was a major dissemination day conference. Attendees were politicians, civil servants, the media and educational interest groups including those from the higher education sector.

Dr Richard Waller led the project. Professor Harriet Bradley from University of Bristol was Principal Investigator.

See further information about Paired Peers.

Tutoring and Mentoring

Dr Andrew Mathers, Department of Sociology and Criminology and Dr Richard Waller ran a widening participation outreach project.

This involved undergraduate sociology students teaching AS-level Sociology at schools and colleges where few students go on to university.

Trainee PGCE sociology students also taught to gain valuable teaching experience.

Assessing and enhancing the impact of widening participation initiatives on UWE Bristol's ITE programmes

In 2013, this project examined the effectiveness of the Department of Education and Childhood's efforts to recruit and retain students, in particular, groups poorly represented in teaching, such as those from a BME background.

We assessed our current strategies to understand how we enhance their experience of studying at UWE Bristol.

Understanding how the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness acts to improve GCSE outcomes

This project followed on from a previous report, which demonstrated completing the ASDAN’s Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) is associated with improved GCSEs.

This project aimed to understand the mechanisms by which CoPE might have this positive impact.

We focused on concepts such as motivation, confidence and self-esteem, using a repeated measures survey with year ten pupils in three schools to examine how their attitudes change over time.

Assessing impact and measuring success (AIMS) in widening participation research

This project (February 2014 to September 2015) aimed to create new research approaches to assess the impact and success of widening participation initiatives within higher education for groups that are under-represented or mainly absent. 

We explored differences in the conceptualisation of success for different types of initiative, respecting the different modes of delivery. 

This would highlight issues with the statistical ‘markers’ used to identify the groups of interest and suggest means of reconciling these. 

We also investigated which methodologies and methods were most likely to yield results that were useful to researchers, practitioners, university managers and policymakers.

Research questions
The research questions addressed were:

  • What principles should underpin the collection of data to evidence the impact and success of WP activities?  Is there a single epistemological paradigm that should be dominant?
  • How are the links between awareness, attitudes, aspirations and behaviour to best be constructed among prospective applicants to higher education?  What are the implications for concepts of success?
  • How can the tensions between, and shortcomings within, different markers of widening participation be reconciled?
  • Why do some popular widening participation activities appear to have little impact on behaviour?  What are features of successful activities and how might these be measured?

Project documents
Find out about the project strands, panel used to summarise the data and much more.

This project was funded by the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE). The project team was Dr Neil Harrison (lead), Dr Richard Waller and Kathryn Last.

Money matters - A comparative study of students' financial literacy and attitudes to debt in the UK, US and New Zealand

This project was a comparative study of the UK, United States (US) and New Zealand (NZ) student finance system from 2013 to 2014. Their systems vary in key ways, providing students with a different experience of indebtedness.

We used quantitative techniques to examine students within these systems. Learning how they affect their attitudes, understanding and behaviours. We also used a blend of theoretical concepts from the fields of economics, psychology and sociology, including financial literacy, personality theory and social class.

Data was collected from 600 full-time first year undergraduates in social science and business via an online questionnaire. Read more about the project via the Interim Report – July 2014.

Learning Layers

The Learning Layers project investigated how informal learning in the workplace could be supported by new technologies like mobile phone and tablet apps.

Twenty partners from across Europe supported this project, in regional clusters of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

We trialled the project in two sectors that were hesitant to take up learning technologies: health care in the North East of England and building and construction in North Germany.

The challenges were how to embed support and learning in meaningful working practices and to redesign work environments to support learning. For example, our system will put you in contact with people and resources to solve a work problem or task.

One focus of the project was to support workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and hence scaffold learning in networks of SMEs.

For example, we see learning materials being generated through the work process and then shared though networks of individuals and organisations as important. However, most importantly for BRILLE's contribution will be the scaffolding of interactions with networks people.

We hoped to reshape both workplace design and designs for learning in networks. For more details, visit Learning Layers.

Project summary

  • Top ranked 14.5 out of 15 against European bidding criteria.
  • Scaling up Lifelong Learning using TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) in large clusters of SMEs in the Health Professions and building industry.

BrEaking New Ground IN the SciencE Education Realm (ENGINEER)

ENGINEER supports the adoption in Europe of innovative science teaching methods and provides extensive teacher training on inquiry-based methods.

ENGINEER is developing ten engineering design challenge units suited to European environments.

Each unit focuses on one engineering field and uses inexpensive materials for student-led design problem solving. In addition, creating teacher-training materials linked to the project.

Science museums lead the outreach effort that targets schools, teachers and science museums.

The school/museum activities will reach 27,000 students during outreach.

Professor Penelope Harnett is leading the Evaluation Work Package with Juliet Edmonds and Ben Knight.

Back to top