Tagged / student research

Launch of the BU Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme

I am delighted to announce today the launch of BU’s Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme. Funded by the Fusion Investment Fund, this programme will offer paid employment opportunities for approximately 40 BU undergraduate students to work in clusters, centres and institutes, under the guidance of experienced academics, in a research position that is directly related to their career path and/or academic discipline. This will enable the students to assist academic staff with their research whilst also gaining valuable research experience.

Research shows there is a direct link between student satisfaction and research-based learning, particularly when the opportunity is in their field of study[1], and that the undergraduate student experience is improved by engaging them with research early and often.[2] URAs are common in North America and are offered in a significant number of universities, for example Harvard University, Northern Illinois University, Kent State University and Cornell University.

In 2014-15 BU is offering two modes of the URA programme:

  1. semester-based programme (c. 20 part-time positions running for eight weeks in semester 2)
  2. summer programme (c. 20 full-time positions running for six weeks in June/July 2015)

There are two stages to the application process: 1) School/Faculty application stage whereby BU academic staff can apply for URA positions, and 2) student selection stage whereby School/Faculty staff recruit to the positions.

We are now accepting applications from academic staff for URA positions for the semester-based programme. The deadline for applications is 14th November 2014. All applications received will be reviewed by representatives from the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, with decisions on which positions to fund announced at the start of December. There will be a second round next year for the summer programme.
Further details, including the application form, are available here: Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) programme

[1] For example: Healey and Jenkins (2011) Linking discipline-based research with teaching to benefit student learning, available from: http://www.mickhealey.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Linking-RT-Handout-Website1.doc

[2] For example: Madan, C R & Braden, D T (2013) The Benefits of Undergraduate Research: The Student’s Perspective, available from: http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/05/undergraduate-research-students-perspective/

Understanding the constructions of the ‘other’: co-produced knowledge and understanding of ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’

Last year, I put together a small HEA individual grant to build upon our earlier research concerning terrorism and social work education, and civil unrest and welfare in Muslim countries. Unfortunately, the bid was unsuccessful but one should never let a good bid go to waste. Given that it was education focused, based around co-production and student enhancement – a ‘fusion’-based project! -I thought rather than try somewhere else for funding I would embed it into the third year undergraduate Sociology unit Terrorism, Protection & Society, where it would have sat if successful.

The project encourages active student engagement in learning, employing a methodology of co-production of knowledge in which skills to collaborate in producing critically informed and societally beneficial knowledge will be developed. Students are reading, critically, major UK newspapers, identifying and analysing those articles that mention ‘terrorists, terrorism or terror’ and associated concepts. From this they are engaged in identifying the processes by which our dominant cultural frames are constructed and can be challenged. The project findings, once 30-days worth of newspapers have been scoured for relevant articles, will be widely disseminated through the production of academic papers, a submission to eBU and through conference presentations.

Students following the Terrorism, Protection & Society module, engage in learning how the ‘other’, in this case ‘terrorist’, is constructed within popular debate and within the public media in the UK. As part of the project rooted within the unit, students will also analyse the media’s use of target terms (terrorist, terrorism, terror and so on) through a content and discourse analysis, and debate the potential consequences of this for contemporary society and for developing a deeper and more nuanced understanding that can assist in restraining social conflict, violence and the ‘othering’ of those who may be associated with core characteristics of ‘terrorists’ according to the socio-cultural master-narratives created by media representations.

Students will produce a paper with academic staff for the eBU on-line journal; most co-production of academic papers with students occurs at postgraduate level and this project has a degree of originality in promoting co-production of academic knowledge with undergraduate students, something we have done already in respect of edited books. Other academic outputs will be developed and students demonstrating interest and capacity will be invited to participate in their production.

Alongside the academic publications envisaged, this proposal meets BU’s fusion objectives in seeking also to add to the corpus of evidence of pedagogical benefits for students of knowledge co-creation and includes a focus on the student experience of the processes of learning.

Thus, as part of the teaching and learning students engage with, the project has wide reach and significance for student learning and pedagogical development by enhancing social and cultural understanding amongst students who will soon graduate, alongside producing autonomous and critically thinking individuals who can translate their learning and core skills into the employment market.

This week students energetically engaged with the preliminary data extraction and coding of those newspaper articles dealing with concepts and issues that were termed or could be termed as terror, terrorist, terrorism, extremism and so forth. The work undertaken helped to put in perspective some of the first two weeks’ lecture material and allowed the students to bring their own critical understandings to this complex and emotive area.

So far, the project has illuminated to me what an incredibly versatile and intellectually agile student body we have; people who will be an asset to the workforce of the future and a credit to our university! I am looking forward to the following weeks as the project unfurls.

 

Professor Jonathan Parker

 

Sociology students engaged in research

 

BU Sport Students and Academic Succeed at European Association for Sport Management Conference in Istanbul

As part of its internationalisation activities the Sports group within the School of Tourism had four students and a scholar significantly contributing at the Student Seminar and the main conference of the European Association for Sport Management (EASM) in Turkey from 7 to 14 September.

The 4.5-full-day Student Seminar saw 60 students from 13 countries working in mixed international groups along management cases. Keynotes on those topics of current special interest were given by the NBA Europe Marketing Director, a recently retired UNICEF Programme Director, Professor March Krotee from North Carolina State University and Dr Tim Breitbarth, Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University.

BU students John Bryson, Stefan Ferencz and Oliver Johnson won their case competitions with their respective teams, and therefor had the chance to present at the 21st EASM conference. After the four winning groups’ presentations in front of a large audience, the jury decided on Oliver Johnson and his team as the overall winner of the management game. They were awarded during the conference’s closing banquet, which took place during a nightlong boot trip on the Bosporus.

Students present dissertation research to academic community

Beyond all four students’ great work as BU ambassadors during the Student Seminar, Luke Frary and John Bryson presented their dissertation research to the interested academic community, guided by Tim and Dr Andrew Adams, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management. Before his presentation, Luke had the chance to personally discuss his work on leadership over breakfast with 86-year old Professor Packianathan Chelladurai, arguably the most globally renown sport management and leadership scholar. John was asked by NBA Europe Marketing Director Naci Cansun to send his research results on the impact of CSR in professional sport and thoughts on managerial implications.

All students had to go through a very competitive application process and a good proportion of the overall trip was funded because of the students’ very strong applications to the BU Global Horizon Fund and the School of Tourism internal funding scheme. Besides their successes related to the conference, all students generally benefitted from the process of actively engaging and working with the large intercultural sports and business community.

Dr Tim Breitbarth workshop Lead Convenor at EASM conference

Despite its small presence at the world’s largest sport management conference, the BU Sports group made a big impact also due to Tim’s role as Lead Convenor of a very well-attended 1.5-day workshop on social responsibility management in professional sport, which for the first time brought most of the key researchers on the topic from North America, Australia and Europe together. In addition, experienced practitioners from Euroleague Basketball and German Society for International Cooperation were invited as keynote speakers and added to the discussion.

The workshop is part of the process which will lead to a special issue on the topic in Corporate Governance – The International Journal of Business in Society, with Tim leading a the guest editor team, which also features three colleagues from England, Germany and The Netherlands (www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/call_for_papers.htm?id=4564).

Luke Frary with Andrés Guerrero, International Development Cooperation Expert and recently retired UNICEF Programme Director
Oliver Johnson (third from left) with his team from Finland, Germany and The Netherlands, which won the EASM 2013 Student Management Game.

Stefan Ferencz during group work

John Bryson with two of his team members from Germany and The Netherlands

Dr Tim Breitbarth, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, with Professor Birol Cotuk, Dean Marmara University School of PE and Sport and Chair of the 21st EASM Conference, Istanbul/Turkey

Presenting student research internationally

It’s a long way in place and time from October 2010 in the Media School to March 2012 at the International Public Relations Research Conference at the University of Miami in sunny Florida. That’s the journey that BAPR graduate Lauren Willmott has taken from first thoughts on her dissertation to presenting the results at the conference, along with academics and practitioners from 24 countries and over 100 other papers.

Lauren Willmott and Prof Tom Watson at IPRRC Miami

Lauren’s research on the use of Twitter as a crisis communication tactic was supervised by Prof Tom Watson.  It reviewed two transport crises in 2009 and 2010 and investigated the role and usage of the 140-character medium in keeping passengers, their families and the media abreast of the news.

The investigation won her the Wessex CIPR award for the best public relations dissertation and also helped Lauren gain a position at the leading international PR consultancy A&REdelman in London where she works on Olympics-linked accounts. The firm also sponsored her attendance at the conference.

With Prof Watson’s assistance, an abstract from the dissertation was submitted to the prestigious Miami conference, and chosen for presentation. “This is a highly competitive review process with an acceptance rate of less than 50 per cent. Lauren’s research was pitted against some of PR’s best known academic researchers and so it was a real success that the jointly-authored paper was accepted,” said Prof Watson. “It was also the only paper accepted from a first author/early researcher who was not on a postgraduate or doctoral programme.”

So on Saturday March 10, Lauren presented her paper and got feedback (and applause) on the paper and for next stages of research. Amongst the responses to Lauren and Tom was that the paper’s standard was much higher than expected from US bachelor-level graduates: “Are all your students producing work as good as this?”

“Lauren’s achievement in presenting her paper at this high international level shows that BU students, with supportive supervision, can share the stage with the best researchers. It’s been a rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Prof Watson.

Lauren’s verdict was, “It was amazing to be given the opportunity to present my dissertation in front of professionals who had inspired my research topic. The conference enabled me to network with a diverse range of PR professionals and as a result I have been presented with several opportunities such as Skyping into a lecture of students at the University of South Florida to talk about working in a London agency.”