Tag Archives: engineering

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Developing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists

What makes an effective teacher of vocational science, engineering or technology (SET)? How can a teacher’s effectiveness be improved in an education system under increasing pressures from changing economic, political and technological circumstances? These questions have an important bearing on current debates and policy concerning technical and vocational education – not least the recent Sainsbury Review – and are the focus of a three-year research project based in the School of Education and Professional Development.


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Subject Specialist Pedagogy in Initial Teacher Education for Vocational Science, Engineering and Technology (ITE-VocSET) is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which has a long-standing interest in improving teaching and learning in SET subjects. This interest connects with a wider UK context of ongoing concern about the supply of scientists, engineers and technologists, not only of graduates but also at technician level where further education colleges – and their technical teachers – play a critically important role.

With its long tradition of teacher development for the further education sector, and its strong record of research in this field, the School of Education and Professional Development is uniquely placed to host the project, which combines research into subject specialist pedagogy with application to teacher development.

The project has a semi-experimental methodology based on a series of “interventions” – short programmes of study for trainee teachers in addition to their main teacher education programme. Based on a theory of change in which specific aspects of teacher development are identified as possible consequences of the intervention, the team then aim to evaluate its impact on what teachers do and how they think about their actions.

Learning resources


The research began in October 2015 with a literature review aimed at building a conceptual model of subject specialist pedagogy appropriate to the teaching of vocational SET subjects. The resulting model of pedagogy was then used to develop and refine learning resources for use by trainee SET teachers taking part in the interventions. These resources include structured video materials based on teaching sessions in further education colleges, animations to explain and illustrate key concepts of pedagogy, and a website providing structured pathways through the conceptual model.

Alongside the resource development, the team has worked with partner universities and colleges to identify trainee SET teachers – and teacher educators – who would like to take part in the interventions. A key issue has been the shortage of SET trainee teachers across the country, which has meant approaching the project on a national basis, using online sessions and “Saturday schools” based in Manchester to facilitate participation.

The first of the interventions is now approaching completion and evaluation is under way. Working with colleagues from the Education and Training Foundation (the national body for further education teaching) the aim is to include up to 70 participants by early 2018. In addition to evaluating the specific approach used in the intervention, the research will provide a rich source of qualitative data on how SET specialists think about their teaching, their students and the relationship between the college and the workplace. This research should be the basis for a range of publications for the 2020 Research Excellence Framework.

Eunice Ma

Serious games helping to combat domestic violence

Researchers and practitioners in the growing area of ‘serious games’ are using video game-based technologies such as virtual and augmented reality – more widely associated with entertainment – in order to make breakthroughs in many aspects of healthcare and education.

Minhua Ma 1

A leader in the field is the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Minhua Eunice Ma (pictured above) who has published a large number of articles and books, including Serious Games and Edutainment Applications and Virtual, Augmented Reality and Serious Games for Healthcare 1, which has contributions from almost 100 global experts and is aimed at healthcare professionals, scientists, researchers and students.

Combating domestic violence in the East Caribbean and the UK

Gaming is often associated with encouraging violence, however a project at the University of Huddersfield will lead to the development of a serious game that aims to prevent violence, by helping to reduce levels of domestic violence, generate empathy and change players’ attitude to domestic abuse. The game will be used as part of a project in both the Eastern Caribbean and the UK.

serious gaming

A team headed by the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Adele Jones – an expert on social work and issues including child protection – includes Professor Minhua Eunice Ma, who has a global reputation in the field of serious games designed to bring about improvements in fields such as healthcare and education.  The inter-disciplinary group has been awarded €400,000 via the European Union’s Delegation to the Eastern Caribbean Research Programme: Towards a Future Free from Domestic Violence.

Minhua Ma, Adele Jones and Gill Kirkman

(Pictured from left: Minhua Eunice Ma, Adele Jones and Gill Kirkman)

This will fund a multi-faceted investigation of domestic violence in the Caribbean countries of Grenada and Barbados. The research will be mirrored in the UK by another member of the team, Gill Kirkman, who is Subject Leader in Social Work at the University’s School of Human and Health Sciences. Also taking part in the project is Reader in Criminal Psychology at the University of Huddersfield Dr Daniel Boduszek.

Data will be used to develop an interactive, role-playing computer game designed to educate and influence attitude change among potential perpetrators of violence while seeking to empower those who are at risk of victimisation.

Professor Ma’s goal for this new project is to use games to change young people’s behaviour and attitudes to domestic violence.


The project has been named None-in-Three, derived from the finding that one-in-three women and girls experience violence in their lives.


The University of Huddersfield will implement the project in partnership with the Grenada-based Sweet Water Foundation, which campaigns on child sexual abuse, while Huddersfield’s links with the University of the West Indies will help to ensure that the research outcomes have maximum impact across the region.

When the computer game has been developed it will be piloted among groups of young people in the Caribbean. Its language would be adaptable for different countries, although the basic content would likely remain the same.

For further information contact:

Professor Eunice Ma
Email: m.ma@hud.ac.uk