A new journey

It will be a long one …

It’s official: from September 2016 I will once again be a doctoral student. It has been a long process, and it has taken a lot of thinking and discussion with various people (you know who you are, thanks!), but I decided to apply for a place on the Professional Doctorate (EdD) in Education at Anglia Ruskin University a while ago, wrote a preliminary research proposal and was invited for interview a few weeks after submitting it.

The interview was more like a professional discussion than an interview, and was actually a really good experience. It has given me food for thought before I start, but it has also made me more enthusiastic.

I will be investigating if and how HE course leaders in small specialist institutions use evidence as a base for their decisions, with Writtle College as a case study. I am looking forward to the new challenge, and to the new direction my career will take me in. As this project is directly linked to my role at Writtle, it should be immediately useful. Hopefully I will have some time to fully reflect on my career choices and decisions later in the year. Blog post to follow.

This summer will be spent finishing various research projects. I have one or two papers to write/resubmit before I start the EdD, so plenty to do. But before that, finish the never-ending marking… it will be over soon… it has to be…


Some thoughts on reflective practice

Some new items on my reading list

I have been thinking a lot lately about reflective practice, and how reflection informs my practice as a lecturer and course manager. One of the reasons for this is that I recently survived a validation event for a new HE course I developed, wherein one of the modules focusses on evidence-based practice (EBP).

When I wrote the module a few months ago, I envisaged students not only learning about systematic reviews, meta-analysis and evidence-based veterinary medicine (EVBM), but also about critical reflection as a form of evidence. Although this might sound counter intuitive to many followers of the EBP/EBVM principles, I felt encouraged after reading up on autoethnography as a social science discipline. I came across a paper by Wall (2006) on learning about autoethnography, and followed this with papers by Lake (2015) on using autoethnograpgy as reflective practice and Hickson (2011) on learning to be reflective.

This led me to think about my own reflective practice. I hated it during my PgCert, as is was enforced and therefore did not result in genuine reflection. Enforced reflection is recognised by Lake (2014) as not being very useful, but the author goes on to explain that clinical teaching by GP trainers leads to reflection and is therefore an alternative route to authenticity. I am not a GP trainer, but I  am an HE lecturer, so I can’t help but draw parallels, and the more I ponder about my own practice, the more I find myself reflecting on it. Funny that…

Reflecting on my own practice will help me become a more authentic HE practitioner. The more I think about this, the more I want to take it to the next level. I was intrigued by a reflective paper by David (2006) on whether being a scientist-practictioner is possible. ALthough in a very different field, it struck a chord.  I’d like to give it a try, and I am actually looking forward to the process.


  • David, C. (2006) ‘Reflections on the research process as a trainee clinical psychologist: is it feasible to be a scientist–practitioner?’ Reflective Practice, 7(2) pp. 193–196.
  • Hickson, H. (2011) ‘Critical reflection: reflecting on learning to be reflective.’ Reflective Practice, 12(6) pp. 829–839.
  • Lake, J. (2014) ‘Clinical teaching can provide an alternative route to authenticity.’ BMJ, 348, May, p. g3050.
  • Lake, J. (2015) ‘Autoethnography and reflective practice: reconstructing the doctoral thesis experience.’ Reflective Practice, 16(5) pp. 677–687.
  • Wall, S. (2006) ‘An autoethnography on learning about autoethnography.’ International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(2) pp. 1–12.