Professional Education and Leadership

The Professional Education and Leadership group brings together a diverse group of researchers with the goal of supporting innovative and synergistic collaborations across the Faculty of Social Sciences and beyond aimed at bringing novel theoretical, conceptual and methodological  insights to bear on learning and leadership within the professions.

We have three strategic research themes:

(1) Digitisation in Professional Learning/Education – examining digital learning and engagement in the professions, and the influence of new digital infrastructures, platforms and devices on professional practice and education

(2) Professional Leadership – examining new ways to develop professional leadership for education and cross-sector public service professionals, theorising professional leadership and related policy, and building leadership in digital education environments (FE/HE/schools).

(3) Professional and Interprofessional Learning and Education – analysing and conceptualising professional and interprofessional learning and practices in changing environments

Name  Subject area Contact
Ms Katherine Allen Research Postgraduate, Social Sciences
Dr Kevin Brosnan Education Studies
Dr Valerie Drew                      Education Studies                                
Prof Richard Edwards Education Studies 
Prof Tara J. Fenwick  Education Studies
Dr Sarah Galloway Education Studies
Dr Gary Husband Education Studies
Dr Maureen Michael Education Studies
Dr Kathy Nicoll Education Studies 
Dr Dalene Swanson Education Studies
Dr Terrie Lynn Thompson Education Studies 
Prof Cate Watson (research group leader)  Education Studies
Dr Ben Williamson Education Studies
Dr Ron Hill Visiting Research Fellow for Education

Learning Through Citizen Science

Professor Richard Edwards

This programme of research has two projects. The first focuses on overcoming the research-practice gap in citizen science in the UK and US. The project has sought to explore the extent to which concepts of science capital and intergenerational practice might help in the design of citizen science projects to support the participation and informal learning of children and young people. The funding is designed to enable the team to put forward a large scale project proposal to the Wellcome Trust’s Science Learning+ programme in 2016. More details.

The second project, funded by the British Academy is in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and explores the demographic and educational backgrounds of volunteers contributing to two citizen science projects, their science capital, and the learning outcomes they identify as arising from their participation is these projects.

Downloadable resources: Informal learning and citizen scienceScience capital and citizen science


oPEN – online Professional Education Network

Professor Cate WatsonDr Valerie DrewDr Terrie-Lynn ThompsonDr Anna WilsonMs Sarah Doyle and Ms Sheila Smith

The oPEN project is aimed at developing a networked learning platform for  professional educators which supports transition to masters-level learning. The project has been funded by the Scottish Government and the University of Stirling Enhancement of Learning Fund. Networked learning acknowledges the distributed and collaborative nature of professional learning within the online environment in which tutors and peers provide mutual support. A major aspect of masters-level learning is the development of criticality. For professionals criticality is necessary for the development of enhanced practices and for the acquisition of academic literacies. Our research focused on the strategies used by participants to demonstrate and perform criticality in online spaces. Key to this was ‘politeness’ and an orientation to the ‘collective face wants’ of participants in the online community. Read more

We also drew on the data to analyse practices of assessment in higher education (Watson et al, forthcoming).

Read more about our past and current research projects here

Research Group Seminar - Professional Knowledge in the 21st Century: ‘Immaterial’ Labour and its Challenge for the ‘Trinary’

1st March (3S15) 

Guest speaker:  David Guile, Professor of Education and Work, Institute of Education, University College London.

Abstract: The presentation will make the following inter-connected argument: Michael Young has in his own work, and in his joint work with Johan Muller, about the professions and the professional knowledge which they define as the ‘trinary’: (i) over-stretched his knowledge argument by assuming a liner and unidirectional relationship between the disciplines and the professions, and glossed over the constitutive role of work in the development of professional expertise; and (ii) been under-attentive to changes in the organisation of work and their implications for the deployment, and creation, of professional knowledge.

To show how these issues can be addressed, the presentation will introduce the concepts of: (i) immaterial labour to explain why work is increasingly concerned with the circulation and generation of knowledge in interprofessional contexts, which can include clients and user-groups; and (ii) recontextualisation to explain the nature of the knowledge produced in those contexts.

It will conclude by introducing a recontextualised model of professional knowledge and formation and explaining how it supports the development of an outward and networked conception of the role of professions and professional activity.

Please register your interest in attending by emailing with the subject heading ‘Professional Knowledge in the 21st Century’


Teaching and learning for knowledgeable action and innovation: An epistemic fluency perspective

Associate Professor Lina Markauskaite, The University of Sydney

24 November 2016, 4- 5.30pm (venue tbc).  

What does it take to be a productive member of a multidisciplinary team working on a complex problem? How do people get better at these things? How can researchers get deeper insight in these valued capacities; and how can teachers help students develop them? Working on real-world professional problems usually requires the combination of different kinds of specialised and context-dependent knowledge, as well as different ways of knowing. People who are flexible and adept with respect to different ways of knowing about the world can be said to possess epistemic fluency.

In this seminar, Prof. Markauskaite discussed critical roles of grounded conceptual knowledge, ability to embrace professional materially-grounded ways of knowing and students’ capacities to construct their epistemic environments.

ProPEL Matters is the blog for ProPEL (Professional Practice, Education and Learning), a cross-disciplinary network of people interested in researching matters of interest across a wide range of occupational groups that call themselves ‘professions’. Many of this blog’s contributors are based at the University of Stirling in the UK, although we are also happy to feature contributions from ProPEL’s international network. Read or subscribe to our blog here



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