Who we are

Staff affiliated to the Centre for Research in Professional Learning, include some based in University units beyond the Graduate School of Education.  Staff from other units across the University and external affiliates are welcome.  Please contact the Centre convenors Vivienne Baumfield and Karen Mattick. 

Core membersDoctoral Research Students

Professor Vivienne Baumfield

Professor Karen Mattick

Dr Alexandra Allan

Dr Pallavi Banerjee

Dr Jonathan Doney

Dr Sarah Dyer

Giles Freathy

Professor Rob Freathy

Professor David Hall

Dr Emese Hall

Dr Angelique Hilli

Dr Hazel Lawson

Karen Leslie

Dr Eric Lybeck

Professor Wendy Robinson

Dr Karen Walshe

Laura Webb

Sue Burkill

Karen Chandler

Helen Foster Collins

Sarah Key

Huong Hoang

Gareth Morris

Duncan Shrewsbury



Existing doctoral students who would like to be affiliated with the Centre for Research in Professional Learning are warmly invited to contact the Centre convenors. Similarly prospective PhD or EdD students who are interested to continue their studies with researchers in the CRPL are encouraged to get in touch. We would be delighted to involve those researching teacher education, healthcare education, academic practice or other aspects of professional learning.


PhD case studies

Sue Burkill: “Reluctant leaders? Educational leadership in a research-intensive university”

For some years Sue has been interested in the apparent reluctance of academics to take on educational leadership roles in research intensive universities. In her professional context, Sue has been involved in encouraging and nurturing academics to develop as future education leaders. Sue has found that there is a lack of in-depth research into how and why early career academics, as part of their identity development, form their attitudes to educational leadership; the influence this has on their career choice/trajectories and the implications for related institutional policy and practice. This is the focus of Sue’s doctoral research which is largely taking place in one University.

Sue’s work takes a real world approach (Robson 2011), building on existing thinking about early academics attitudes to their career trajectories (see for example McAlpine and Akerlind 2010) and academic leadership (Bolden 2015). She has taken the view that a real world study of educational leadership needs to focus on complex interactions and negotiations which constantly take place in organizational and socio-cultural contexts and in order to do this she is drawing on applied critical realist thinking and methodological approaches (Maxwell 2012; Edwards et al 2014). Through in-depth interviews with strategic managers, senior academic leaders and early career academics Sue is aiming to understand some of the (often elusive) mechanisms and structures (Reed 2009) which underpin the concept of ‘reluctance to lead’.

Angelique Hilli: “Educating Professionals and Professionalising Education – Opportunities, Challenges, Rewards, and Values”

Angelique’s study uses a combination of three methods to explore activities related to current higher education (HE) policies in research-intensive universities. A description of the current HE policy space is constructed based on publicly available information about the perceptions of key stakeholders. These are identified in an interpretive analysis of policy (Yanow, 2000). Previously published knowledge about key issues of current HE policies were explored by systematically reviewing papers on ‘professionalism’, ‘effective teaching’, ‘evaluating teaching quality’, ‘academic identity’ and ‘reward and recognition’. The systematic review follows a mixed-methods model (Harden, 2010).

Four case studies of research-intensive universities were included to address the identified lack of knowledge about them and their activities related to current HE policy agendas that was found in the systematic review. The case studies were mainly constructed on empirical data from 33 interviews with academics that have teaching related activities as part of their roles. This data were analysed by a modified grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss 1967: Strauss & Corbin, 1998).  Key findings of the three study methods are interpreted through a lens that is based on activity theory (Engestrom, 1987). Models of activity systems guide the theorisations presented on the current situation in research-intensive universities in relation to HE policy agendas.