Posts By / dgabriel

Education Research with Impact: Introducing the 3D Pedagogy Framework

My research, teaching and professional practice have always been centred on equality and social justice, especially in relation to race, ethnicity, culture and gender.

Prior to joining BU in 2014, I established an influential network of intellectuals and scholar-activists committed to the cause of race equality – Black British Academics. A primary consultancy activity we’ve been involved in over the past few years is addressing the lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in the higher education curriculum.

It was from these origins that I developed the final year optional unit in the Faculty of Media and Communication – Media Inequality in 2014/15. The unit centres on critical engagement with historical and contemporary issues around race, ethnicity and culture and their relationship with power across the media and in communications practice. It aims to facilitate the development of cultural competencies that can be applied in a professional context to a range of communication industries.

The unit has run for two academic years in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and during this time I collected quantitative data via an end of unit survey through which students reported high levels of critical consciousness and agency and perception of greater levels of cultural competence. It attracted praise from the external examiner and two SUBU ‘You’re Brilliant’ awards that mention the unit and its focus on social justice. In 2018/19 I won the Academic Excellence Award in the Dorset Ethnic Minority Awards and I was presented with Staff Member of the Year Award by SUBU at their BME Awards last week.

The sector, student and community recognition of my pedagogies around social justice and equality created a strong motivation for me to extend impact beyond my own teaching practice. Over the years I have shared my teaching strategies with the international academic community through education conferences in Hawaii, Washington DC, New York and Austin, Texas, between 2016 and 2018. The positive feedback and engagement I received led me to develop the 3D Pedagogy Framework; an inclusive teaching strategy that aims to decolonize, democratize and diversify the higher education curriculum.

In May of this year I applied for ACORN funding through the Early Career Researcher Network and was successful in gaining a major award. This enabled me to develop and pilot a 3D Pedagogy workshop that I delivered at BU, De Montfort University and the Canada International Conference on Education in Toronto to a total of 27 participants.

The findings from this study documented in a forthcoming journal article suggest 3D Pedagogy is an effective approach to enhance the cultural competencies of educational practitioners and promote critical reflection; important steps towards transforming the curriculum and the student learning experience.

My teaching, research and professional practice on issues around race and equality over the past few years have occurred during an era of increased media and political focus on the curriculum and student outcomes. Proportionally, more students of colour attend university and with increased competition for student recruitment, ignoring longstanding racial disparities in higher education has financial implications for HEIs.

It is within this climate that the Office for Students recently announced plans to publish national data on attainment gaps by institution to incentivise HEIs to develop concrete measures to address ethnic disparities in progression and attainment. Access and Participation Plans require HEIs to demonstrate how disparities in progression and attainment are being tackled and evaluated with documented evidence.

The Access Excellence and Impact Committee (AEIC) was formed in 2017/18 in response to these sector changes to lead education activities, replacing the Fair Access Group.  Membership includes all Executive Deans and relevant Heads of Professional Service, the Head of the Centre of Excellence in Learning (CEL), and SUBU representation.

In July this year the AEIC put out a call for projects aligned with its priority themes of access, success and participation and especially strategies to address gaps in progression and attainment. Having just completed my ACORN project, with preliminary findings of the 3D Pedagogy Workshop being extremely positive; I applied and was successful in gaining an award.

As a result, 3D Pedagogy (which is fully endorsed and supported by SUBU), is to be embedded across BU through delivery of the workshop to all 20 departments, as part of a two-year project. The workshop will be integrated into the PG Cert in Academic Practice offered through CEL and embedded into Academic Quality through future revision to 2B: Programme Structure and Curriculum Design Characteristics. It is being developed as a case study for BU2025 (inclusivity) and will also be promoted through the HEA Fellowship route as an opportunity to develop a case study that meets the UKPSF across Activity (A1, A2), Core Knowledge (K2, K3) and Professional Values (V2, V4).

In addition to a forthcoming paper in the International Journal of Technology & Inclusive Education that documents my pilot study funded by the ACORN award; I have also secured a book contract with Routledge for a forthcoming title that incorporates 3D Pedagogy centred on media education. The book is part of a series on media literacy co-edited by Prof Julian McDougall, Head of the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP), of which I am a member and through which I have been developing my education research.

*My AEIC Award provides funding for a research assistant at grade 6 to support the project, working one-day a week for the duration. The role will involve data collection and analysis as well as administration of the project, including assistance in the development of electronic resources. While this post is being advertised externally, internal applications are welcome, ideally from PGRs with an understanding of issues around race, ethnicity and culture in higher education as well as experience of handling quantitative and qualitative data.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to lead a major project driving changes to education practice at BU, which was facilitated by the ACORN Award, enabling me to pilot the 3D Pedagogy Workshop, and look forward to developing more research in this area.

*Interested parties should contact Dr Deborah Gabriel for further information about the post by email to: dgabriel@bournemouth.ac.uk

A year in the Life of an Early Career Researcher

I joined BU as a lecturer in the Faculty of Media and Communication on 1 September 2014, three months after being awarded my PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Salford.

So, as the anniversary of my appointment approaches, I consider it timely to reflect on my first year as a full-time academic. I hope that my experience will be of interest to others starting new academic roles this year, at a similar stage in their careers.

To put my experience in context, while technically an early career researcher, I’m no spring chicken! I was a very mature PhD student (even though no-one ever guesses my real age) and joined BU with baggage in tow!

The eclectic baggage I brought with me was six years’ experience as a lecturer in higher education on a part-time basis combined with a variety of other roles including journalist, research assistant, blogger, PhD student, social entrepreneur and Chief Executive of Black British Academics.

I arrived at BU with drive, motivation and ambition intact, after four years of intense doctoral study, with my carefully prepared 5-year research plan, diligently completed after receiving my PhD award, which accompanied me to my interview at BU in June 2014.

By my own observations, the first five years post PhD is make-or-break time. With aspirations to become a professor one day, performing the yearly regime of international conferences, journal articles, books, book chapters and funding bids are necessary tasks.

My primary area of research in media and communication is centred on racial constructions and representations in media and popular culture and how race shapes and influences engagement with and use of digital technologies.  My PhD thesis is a study on the social, cultural and counterhegemonic practices of Black British bloggers.

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A the Media and Politics Group conference

Year 1 of my 5-year research plan included developing publications from my PhD thesis. In November 2013 I had presented a paper from the chapter: Alternative Voices, Alternative Spaces, Counterhegemonic Discourse in the Blogosphere at BU for the Media and Politics Group annual conference. It won the James Thomas Memorial Prize, and is the first chapter in a new book being published with Palgrave Macmillan in September, edited by four faculty colleagues, called Media, Margins and Civic Agency.

I presented another chapter of my thesis at the Cyberspace conference in the Czech Republic in November 2014, which I recently submitted for review at Information, Communication and Society: Blogging While Black, British and Female: A Critical Study on Discursive Activism.

A third chapter: Challenging the Whiteness of Britishness: Co-Creating British Social History in the Blogosphere, was presented at the ICCMTD conference in Dubai in May, and has been accepted for publication in the Online Journal of Media and Communication Technologies for a special issue in September.

My PhD thesis now exhausted publication-wise, I am currently focusing on three strands of research: race and ethnicity in media and communication, pedagogies of social justice and cultural democracy and race equality and cultural democracy. These research interests are broadly linked to three key dimensions of my role as an academic: 1) research (extending knowledge within my discipline) 2) education (teaching), and 3)professional practice.

Cultural democracy, a recurring theme in my research, is a conceptual framework developed in the US more than a decade ago, surprisingly unfamiliar and underexplored on this side of the Atlantic. However, I plan to change that by advancing understanding through research based on its application in practice. After setting up the Cultural Democracy Network in May, shortly after being awarded a small grant from the Grants Academy to develop partnerships with UK-based institutions, I was invited to deliver a guest lecture on cultural democracy to 14 journalists at Research Fortnight’s London offices.

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At Research Fortnight

Two of my current research projects represent research papers based on consultancy projects completed this past year. The first is a journal article I am co-authoring with Prof Kevin Hylton called Culturally Democratic Voices: Enhancing Race Equality Through Minority Staff Experiences, which we plan to submit to Race, Ethnicity and Education.

The second is a co-authored paper with Aisha Richards called Social Justice Pedagogy and Cultural Democracy: Promoting Inclusion and Equality in Further and Higher Education. It has just been accepted for presentation at the IAFOR International Conference on Education taking place in Hawaii in January, and we hope it will be selected for publication in the Journal of Education.

I have a book chapter coming out in September being published by Verlag Springer called Race, Racism and Resistance In British Academia, which I presented at the Surviving in a White Institution symposium at Leeds University in May, organised by the Critical Race and Ethnicities Network.

Finally, I am co-editor of a book project with Dr Shirley Tate, an Associate Professor in sociology at Leeds University, which is a collection of autoethnographies called Hear Us: Women Academics of Colour: Surviving and Thriving in British Academia, which we plan to publish next Autumn. It is a project I developed for the Black Sister Network at Black British Academics.

It has been a busy and productive year as an early career researcher, and in terms of my plans for the year ahead, this will be focused on the completion of work in progress, developing a funding bid and turning my attention to new areas of research.

One of these areas is advertising, which will inform my teaching on the BA Advertising degree. I plan to examine issues around constructions and representations of race and gender in TV advertising, examining audience perceptions. The other new area of research which builds on my doctoral study is engagement with digital technologies among Black elders.

In terms of the 5-year research plan I started out with, I discarded it within the first three months! I prefer to work with a yearly plan as I have found that in practice, the research culture and environment is too fluid, dynamic and constantly changing to plan specific publications so far in advance.

However, it is still a useful exercise post PhD to prompt thinking about the areas of research to focus on and the types of research projects to undertake. I have a target for publications and funding bids I aim to complete by 2019 – just before REF2020, so forward planning helps to ensure I stay on track!

By Dr Deborah Gabriel, Lecturer in Politics, Media and Marketing Communications in the Faculty of Media and Communication.