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I joined the University of York as a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in September 2021. My current research qualitatively and longitudinally explores care-experienced graduates’ transitions out of higher education, and into the labour market and postgraduate study.
Prior to this, I completed my Economic and Social Research (ESRC) funded PhD in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield in 2017. During and after my PhD, I lectured in the areas of the sociology of education, education studies, research methods, and learning development. I also undertook a number of research roles connected to educational inequalities and social justice, including working as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit at the University of Sheffield, undertaking research and evaluation into fair access to higher education in the private sector, and completing commissioned research on care-experienced and estranged students’ access to, and progression through, higher education.
My main research areas are widening participation, inequalities in higher education, social justice, and the sociology of education. I am particularly interested in how complex structural constraints can affect access to, progression through and transitions out of higher education. For instance, my PhD explored the higher education choices and decision-making processes of socioeconomically underrepresented further education students in England, employing contemporary sociological theory to understand the role of structure and agency in these processes. A critical reflection of my conceptual framework from this research, which I published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, won their annual 'Best Early Career Article Prize' (2019). My previous postdoctoral work (funded by HEFCE) explored the academic experiences of Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) holders in higher education, providing particular attention to structural challenges, institutional culture, and students’ sense of ‘belonging’. Since 2018, I have been exploring care-experienced students’ access to and progression through higher education, with my current work focusing on their transitions into graduate life.
My main research interests are widening participation, inequalities in higher education, social justice, and the sociology of education. Specifically, I am interested in how access to, progression through and out of higher education are mediated by structural constraints and enablements, and how individuals employ their agency to respond to these in different ways. While my past work has focused on socioeconomically underrepresented young people’s access to higher education, and vocational qualification holders’ academic experiences of studying in higher education institutions, my current work explores care-experienced graduates’ transitions out of higher education. I am particularly interested in using creative research methods to understand the lived experiences of research participants. My past research has used written and audio diaries, photo elicitation interviews, and social media as means of narrative expression.
I am currently working on the ‘The Care-experienced Graduates’ Decision-Making, Choices, and Destinations’ project (2021-24), which is funded by The British Academy.
The project is a qualitative, longitudinal narrative inquiry that a) explores the influences that inform care-experienced students’ decision-making and choices in relation to their graduate pathways and destinations; b) identifies the structural enablements and constraints that exist during care-experienced graduates’ transitions out of HE and into employment and/or further study and c) explores what role care-experienced graduates perceive their care experience as having in both their choices and decisions, as well as the constellations of any enablements and constraints they encounter.
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2021–24).
The Unite Foundation (2018-2020) with Professor Jacqueline Stevenson (University of Leeds), Dr Neil Harrison (University of Oxford), Dr Becca Bland (Stand Alone Charity) and Stella Jones-Devitt (Staffordshire University).
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship (2013-17).
‘Graduate outcomes for care-experienced students: What we know, and what is left to uncover’ – Spoken presentation at the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) (2021) held online.
‘“But you did this in A Level": The impact of learning and teaching cultures on BTEC holders’ sense of belonging in a research-intensive institution' – Spoken presentation at the Student Success Forum (2021) held at the University of Leeds.
‘The impact of learning and teaching cultures on BTEC holders’ sense of belonging in a research-intensive institution' – Spoken presentation at the SRHE: Student Access and Experience Network (2020) held online.
‘Care-experienced students: What helps or hinders retention?’ – Spoken presentation at Go Higher West Yorkshire’s ‘Transition to Higher Education for Care-Experienced Students’ event (2020) held online.
‘Positive impact? What factors affect access, retention and graduate outcomes for university students with a background of care or family estrangement? – Spoken presentation at the ‘Positive Impact?’ report launch (2020) held at the Houses of Parliament, London.
‘Asking the right questions: Qualitative questioning techniques and approaches in the context of evaluation and explorations of impact’ – Spoken presentation at the Stand Alone Conference (2019) held at the University of Westminster.
‘“It’s got kind of like a friendly, almost family feel to it”: Examples of good practice in supporting BTEC holders in HE’ – Spoken presentation at Succeeding with Non-traditional Learners in HE (2018) held at the University of Liverpool.
‘The use of event-based diaries with young people: Advantages and challenges’- Spoken presentation at the Sociolinguistics Symposium (2016) held at The University of Murcia.