Dr Lindsay Hetherington
Associate Professor in Science Education / Head of Initial Teacher Education
+44 (0) 1392 724826
North Cloisters NC124
North Cloisters, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK
I am an Associate Professor in Science Education and former Secondary School Chemistry Teacher. I believe that science is fundamentally concerned with questioning and experimentation with the world. This core belief drives my work as both a researcher and teacher. My current research in science education includes:
- Exploring how students interact with the natural world both physically and in dialogue with each other. I use a new materialist theoretical perspective to explore the relationship between classroom dialogue and practical science.
- Scientific creativity and how it can be developed using interdisciplinary creative pedagogies, as part of the EU funded Creations project.
- Assessment of open-ended, creative and inquiry science
I apply my interest in creativity, risk, adaptability and open-ended learning to exploring teacher development, recruitment and retention.
Methodologically, I use both qualitative and quantitative methods to engage with and understand the messiness and uncertainty of real classrooms, often informed by emergent theoretical perspectives.
I lead the Secondary PGCE Programme at the University of Exeter and the Secondary Science PGCE courses, teach across a range of Masters' level modules on the MA Education, including on research methods, educational leadership and science education. I enjoy using a range of approaches in my teaching, drawing on research evidence alongside my own experience as a teacher to inform my pedagogy and model different teaching approaches for my students.
I am interested in supporting and developing women who work in education, and am the HE link to the Women Leading in Education Network South West (WLEN SW).
PhD candidates interested in working with me are welcome to get in touch - but formal applications should be submitted centrally.
PhD Education, Exeter University, 2012.
M.Sc Educational Research, Exeter University; Distinction. 2007.
PGCE Secondary Science (Chemistry), Cambridge University. 2002.
MA, M.Sci Natural Sciences, Cambridge University. 2000.
2016-Present. Senior Lecturer in Science Education, Exeter University
2011 - 2016. Lecturer in Science Education, Exeter University.
2007 - 2011. Ted Wragg Teacher Education Research Fellow, Exeter University.
2002-2007. Teacher of Science, Head of Chemistry, Deputy Head of Year 7 at Chew Valley School, Bristol.
2002. Explainer, @-Bristol, Anchor Road, Bristol.
Research group links
I am interested in approaches to science education that engage with school science as a dynamic, questioning and creative practice, rooted in the belief that this is at the core of the discipline of science. This raises challenges in managing tensions between direct instruction with inquiry learning, balancing classroom dialogue, creating effective and engaging practical experiences, and assessment where outcomes may be unpredictable. I use theoretical insights from dialogic theory, new materialism and complexity theory to positively engage with these problems.
I am also interested in teacher education and problems of retention of teachers arising from their work with these tensions between classrooms as complex, creative places and the necessity of school structures.
My PhD (completed in 2012) used Complexity Theory as a basis for a case study of the introduction of a cross-subject 'Opening Minds' curriculum in a UK school with a particular focus on the interaction between Opening Minds and the more traditional approach to teaching Science. The thesis argues that a complex, creative and responsive pedagogy is both feasible and desirable in enabling teachers to work positively with tensions that arise from the uncertainty of real-life classroom practice alongside the structured school settings.
Funded Research Projects include:
- Science Education for Diversity (SED) Project (EU FP7, 2008-2012). This project sought to use international comparison between EU and non-EU countries where the popularity of Science varies to understand influences on pupils' and teachers' attitudes to Science, alongside a series of design-based research studies in which a dialogic, inquiry based approach to science education which aimed to engage diverse students with science was implemented and explored.
- INSTEM network (EU Comenius, 2012-2015). The INSTEM network communicated and disseminated research findings into Inquiry-based STEM Education across a range of EU-funded projects.
- CREATIONs (EU H2020, 2016-2019). The CREATIONs project has developed a pedagogical framework for creative science/arts education in which embodied dialogue, agency and empowerment, risk, and play are all key factors. We are using this to develop, implement and research approaches that aim to support teachers and students in creative science education.
Teacher Education and Professional Development
- Young Enquiring Minds (EU Regio, 2013-2015). I worked as a research support with teachers from the UK and Sweden in an exchange of practice/action research project aimed at developing student enquiry in primary settings.
- RETAIN (EU Comenius, 2013-2016). This project explored issues of teacher retention across 5 partner countries with distinct retention problems, developing and evaluating CPD for senior leaders and schools. For me, a particular interest was in exploring the importance of teacher agency and creativity in engaging positively with risk when faced with difficult contextual factors.
- PROTEACH (EU Erasmus+, 2016-2019). Building on the RETAIN project work, PROTEACH researches the induction of Beginning Teachers through a multi-agency design of bespoke induction programmes.
- 2016 European Union
- 2013 European Union
The overall aim of the RETAIN Project is to create and develop an inclusive and creative school environment. An important precondition for this to happen, and thereby ensuring that the children and young people obtain the relevant key competences that are needed for them to thrive in today’s society, is the presence of highly qualified teachers and school managers.
- 2009 European Union
In this research project, we aim to understand how countries in both Europe and partner countries are addressing the issue of cultural and gender diversity in science education in regard to engaging young people in science education and we also aim to offer ways to help address this issue more effectively. We wish therefore both to understand the relationship between science education and culture and also to provide guidelines and programmes for effective intervention to improve the take up of science education where there is a problem.
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
External Examiner Positions
External Examiner, PGCE Secondary Science, Bath Spa University 2012-2016
External Examiner, PGCE Secondary Science, Manchester University, 2017-
Journal and book series Editorships and Editorial board membership
Editorial Board Member, Journal of Research in Science and Technological Education
Research-based contributions to practitioner and academic conferences
Presentation at British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, September 2007.
Presentation at IAACS, September 2009
Presentation at AERA, April 2010
Presentation at AERA, April 2011
I currently teach on the PGCE Secondary Science course, where I am the Chemistry specialist. Stemming from my time in school I am also interested in the pastoral side to teaching and value the chance to talk about this with student teachers as well as my role as a personal tutor for the PGCE students.
I also teach on the MEd and EdD programmes, and supervise PhD students. I am interested in supervising students in Science Education and also those using Complexity theory or related poststructural approaches.
- EDUM039 - Secondary Chemistry Subject Knowledge and Pedagogy
- EDUM048 - Secondary Physics Subject Knowledge and Pedagogy
Supervision / Group
- Linzi McKerr
- Jill Noakes
- Asad Shafi
- Katherine Evans
- Elsbieta Sowa