Aileen Ireland wins the prestigious British Educational Research Association Masters Dissertation Award

Every year the British Educational Research Association (BERA) recognises academic excellence and rigour in research by a Master of Education student. The award underscores BERA’s commitment to developing capacity, advancing quality and methodological originality within the field of educational research. 

This year, the first place prize was awarded to Faculty of Social Sciences student Aileen Ireland,  for her paper: The Simulated Human: An Actor-Network exploration of the materialities of mobilising practice learning in uncanny spaces. 

Aileen’s study explored issues of using simulation in clinical education, with a particular emphasis on ‘high fidelity’ simulation in nursing education, which uses fully functioning life-sized mannequins to teach clinical skills.  This research is innovative in that it considers these issues from sociomaterial perspectives, something rarely attempted in nursing education, to look more closely at the entanglements of human and technological elements in producing learning through simulation.  Aileen’s research suggests that, in using simulation, the educators employ elements of both real and imagined practice by creating a hybridity between their own past clinical experiences and the past placement experiences of the students. This study has opened up new possibilities in understanding this dynamic pedagogy from a more critical perspective and, for professional educators, encourages recognition and pedagogical dialogue about the ‘uncanny’ effects that are actually presented by simulation education but rarely discussed. Aileen is now taking this work forward in her ESRC-funded doctoral research.

Aileen's research demonstrated the quality, methodological originaility and impact for policy-makers, practitioners and other research users that BERA look for each year. It is for this reason her supervisor, Professor Tara Fenwick confidently nominated Aileen. 

Speaking of her achievement, Aileen said: “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded the BERA prize for my Master’s dissertation.  This is a significant achievement both because the research is in professional education and because it employed research methods that are relatively new to this particular field.  Being recognised by BERA for my Master’s research has given me great confidence to continue on in my academic journey, particularly as I have chosen to explore the issues raised in this dissertation much further by using the work to inform and develop my doctoral research.  I am also delighted for the University and the Faculty of Social Sciences, whose excellent postgraduate programme provided me with the tools and climate to write this dissertation.  Most of all, it is my supervisor, Professor Tara Fenwick, my colleagues and the study participants who must share in this achievement the most – without them I would not have managed to produce work that has been acknowledged in this way.” 

Read more about Aileen and her research here. 

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