The Educational Research & Evaluation seminar series aims to showcase research from members of the local educational research community and to bring external expertise to the University. These seminars should be of interest to anyone doing or interested in doing education research at GCU – even if the topics are not of direct interest. The ERE research seminars provide an opportunity to learn about new topics and methods, and to support your peers. We are always keen to showcase educational research across the University so if you’d like to present at a future seminar, please send an email to

Previous Seminars

Tuesday 29 May 2018 12-1pm, H116 William Harley Building

In this session we listened to two presentations, from Keith Halcro and Yvonne Robb, as well as from Helena Bassil-Morozow and Eddie McKean.

Dr Keith Halcro (Graduate School, GSBS) Dr Yvonne Robb (Health and Life Sciences)

Perspectives on the doctoral viva: student, supervisor, examiner and chair. One and the same?

The doctoral viva is the culmination of three or more years of research. Its purpose has been variously viewed as testing the researcher’s knowledge, ensuring the research’s authenticity, and on occasion deciding borderline cases; however, irrespective of its purpose, the experience can arouse contrasting emotions. It can raise students to the pinnacles of joy or conversely see them crushed by the event and subsequent decision. It can similarly provoke roller coaster emotions amongst the supervisory team and the examiners from shared happiness to stunned disbelief and even anger. Yet despite its importance to the doctoral process, it is under-researched (Sikes 2017). The aim of this paper is to examine the doctoral viva through a number of academics’ experiences as supervisor, examiner,  examination chair and student, to explore possible reasons for success and failure. These perspectives may help students and academics in their approach to the doctoral viva. 

Perspectives on the Doctoral Viva


Dr Helena Bassil-Morozow and Eddie McKean (Glasgow School for Business and Society)

Student Transitions and Transitional Objects: Supporting Direct Entry Students During Their First Trimester at the University

How do students feel when they transition from college to university? What are their academic, emotional, intellectual needs? Do we as the School (and the university) provide enough support for them? Are they aware of the forthcoming challenges upon leaving college? Do they know enough about the programmes they have chosen to study?

The presentation will examine the findings of the five focus group interviews that were conducted with GSBS direct entry students in November 2017. The students’ needs during their first months of university life will be discussed through the prism of Donald Winnicott’s idea of the Transitional Object – a sort of temporary prop (sometimes a physical object, sometimes an imagined or ‘created’ object) that helps human beings to feel safe and confident when they find themselves in a new environment.

Presentation: Student Transitions and Transitional Objects


01 November 2017

In this sesion,  Yvonne Wayne, and Helen Gough, both of SHLS, talked about their recent experiences in educational research.  

Helen Gough, Lecturer, Nursing & Community Health, SHLS

Title: Narrative Inquiry as research method - [HG Presentation]

Abstract: Narrative inquiry is a methodical form of research inquiry used to explore people’s life experiences. Drawing on the writings of Clandinin and Connelly (2000) and Connelly and Clandinin (2006) this paper situates their specific approach of Narrative Inquiry within the diverse field of narrative approaches before explicating its key features.


Yvonne Wayne, Widening Participation Manager, SHLS

Title: It’s been one of the most positive things I’ve done in my life.  What are the benefits of participation in GCU mentoring schemes for the mentors? [YW Presentation]

Abstract: GCU employs a large number of student mentors to work across various outreach and student support initiatives, and although the impact of mentoring for the mentees is frequently discussed, to date there have been few studies examining the benefits of participation for the mentors.  This presentation therefore outlines the findings of a qualitative research study exploring the benefits of participation in these GCU activities for the mentors themselves.  There were a number of themes explored in the study but this presentation will focus on the mentors’ sense of belonging to the University and the impact on their studies and confidence.  The research found that the experiences of the mentors have been overwhelmingly positive, as not only are they highly engaged students with a strong sense of belonging to the University, but they will be confident graduates who feel equipped to enter the labour market.


6 September 2017

Our inaugural seminar brought together our own Emeritus Professor Jim Gallacher, and Professor Sir Peter Scott (University College London) to deliver a joint seminar reflecting the themes and issues of their recent book 'New Landscapes and Languages of Higher Education' published by OUP.

Abstract: The landscapes of higher education have been changing rapidly, with enormous growths in participation rates in many countries across the world and major developments and changes within institutions. The language needed to conceptualise and understand these changes has not been keeping pace. This seminar will address these issues and consider how we can move to a better understanding of the changing nature of higher education. 

 This thought provoking seminar included two presentations [links to slides as PDF]:

  • Peter Scott outlined the changing nature of Higher Education focusing on the current landscape in which Universities now operate [Peter Scott Presentation].
  • Jim Gallacher looked in detail at the ideas of Mass and Universal Higher Education and the inherent inequality that has persisted as Higher Education has expanded throughout the last generation [Jim Gallacher Presentation].

Further seminars, showcasing the work of the GCU education research community are planned for the upcoming months. We are always keen to showcase educational research across the University so if you’d like to present at a future seminar, please send an email to