Archive for the ‘My Learning Journey’ Category

Bye bye PhD Life

January 31st, 2013 by Cristina Costa

I made it! :-)

I still can’t believe it, but I actually finished the PhD.

After 5 years of studying, almost giving up, and starting from square one again, here I am, with one more degree.A PhD. Who would have thought it would be possible. Very few. For me this is a great achievement at many levels, as I hope to explain in future posts. Above all, this achievement is special, because a close look at my historical and family background (a substantial part of my cultural capital!) would let you know this was never on the cards… so I am very happy to have gone places where no one ever expected I would or could. What I really want to say is that anyone who sets their mind to it can do it. I am a living proof of that.

Below, you’ll find a copy of the acknowledgements featured in my thesis. I want to make sure these people get the credit they deserve. I will also add a link to the abstract (… as I read it again, I think it could be better…). As soon as I manage to get the thesis uploaded on to the repository, I will share the link… just in case you ever feel like reading such a lengthy document. You never know! ;-) ! :-)


I was, and still am, the first person in my family to have graduated from University. For some people University is a family ritual, but for me it was often a dream beyond my possibilities. Throughout the years I have dared to make this dream come true, and I grabbed all the chances I was given. Slowly, I have managed to arrive here. However, my achievements are as much reliant on my efforts as they are on the generosity of those who crossed my path during my academic journey. I would like to give thanks to those with whom I worked or was fortunate enough to meet in the last five years.

First of all, I would like to thank my supervisor, Frances Bell, for supporting me throughout this incredible journey with her patience, expertise and questioning mind.

I would also like to thank my colleagues at the University of Salford, particularly my former line manager Professor Jocelyn Evans who supported and encouraged the beginning of this journey, and my dear friend Dr Victoria Sheppard who patiently listened to the constant personal dramas of a PhD student, me(!). She also went out of her way to proof-read this thesis.

I am most grateful to friends around the world for providing me with a platform for discussing ideas. I want to thank Graham Attwell for the long discussions during the initial phase of my research; Professor Carol Haigh and Dr Lisa Harris for taking an interest in my work and inviting me to join some of their projects at their respective Institutions; Dr Ilene Dawn Alexander and Dr Pascal Venier for the ongoing mentorship; Dr Linda Castaneda and Ricardo Torres for the joint writing opportunities; and Dr Ian Willis and Jaye McIsaac for their words of wisdom.

I am in awe with the kindness and the support I received from my extended networks online.  Your encouragement kept me going.

I would also like to thank my friends and family for all their support and for tolerating my absence at important dates. I would particularly like to thank my mother for respecting my immersion in this project and giving me the space I needed to finish it.

Last, but by no means least, I would like to thank all of those who participated in this research. This thesis would have not been possible without your contribution.

Obviously, I’d also like to thank my examiners Professor Gráinne Conole and Professor Laura Czerniewicz for the opportunity to discuss my research.

My PhD Abstract

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    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”

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