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Image of Tara Webster-Deakin

Tara Webster-Deakin

Widening Participation and Outreach Manager and Teaching Associate, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

Since leaving the teaching profession I have worked mainly in the voluntary sector, managing regional and national projects and programmes to promote social justice with and on behalf of hard to reach client groups, but mainly young people. Organisations have included: Unitas; Home-Start UK, Age UK and TMC. I have worked as a consultant and freelance trainer for the voluntary and public sectors and as a project consultant for Ecotec Research and Consulting.

Expertise Summary

I have practical delivery expertise with age groups from primary through to adult learners and professionals as well as knowledge of how to engage with mainstream and non-mainstream groups. I have experience in working with public and the voluntary sector and expertise in designing, monitoring and evaluating a wide range of publicly funded projects to increase social mobility. I have worked effectively with a range of partners from private, public and voluntary sectors throughout my career and have developed successful and sustainable collaborative and cross-sector projects from these.

Teaching Summary

I teach the final year Undergraduate Ambassador academic module which originated as part of a national scheme (http://www.uas.ac.uk/). Students are placed in local primary and secondary schools and… read more

Research Summary

My doctoral research is focused on the role of the academic researcher in widening participation (WP) and outreach. This emanates from my own experience as WP practitioner and the struggle to recruit… read more

I teach the final year Undergraduate Ambassador academic module which originated as part of a national scheme (http://www.uas.ac.uk/). Students are placed in local primary and secondary schools and teach classes or groups of pupils for half a school term. This practical experience is supported by a weekly education seminar which introduces students to learning theory and pedagogy. This module provides a unique, credit-bearing opportunity for final year students to apply their knowledge in a real-life setting and reflect on the impact they have or the challenges they face within the framework of the UK education system.

Current Research

My doctoral research is focused on the role of the academic researcher in widening participation (WP) and outreach. This emanates from my own experience as WP practitioner and the struggle to recruit academic staff to deliver sessions for schools and colleges events. Using action research I am exploring the barriers and challenges academic staff have in engaging with cohorts of younger pupils from non-traditional university backgrounds. Action research has been described as "a small-scale intervention in the functioning of the real world" (Cohen and Manion 1984; 186) and this is what the research entails. Working closely with three academic colleagues, I am investigating the impact of their delivery to year 9 school pupils over a typical action research cycle of plan - deliver - review -re-plan- deliver - evaluate. As well as challenging the academics to evaluate their pedagogical skills and expertise both in this delivery context but also more broadly, I am troubling the perception of "academic as expert" which Holland (2016) perceives to be the main barrier to academic engagement in this area of work.

Past Research

My previous research examined the benefits of Drama in the secondary school curriculum for disaffected pupils in a comprehensive schools in Birmingham. This took a qualitative, case study approach, employing questionnaires, classroom observations and teacher and pupil interviews.

I have also undertaken research in conjunction with a local school, working with two MFL teachers looking at the benefits of praise used as a motivational tool in the classroom.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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