The RQR involves a range of international disciplinary experts who review research activity under 5 key headings: the selected publications of staff, total published output, peer esteem, research-related activities, and postgraduate research education.
The panel assessing Education (alongside the School of Applied Psychology) included Professor Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield (Chair), Professor Angela Clow, University of Westminster, and Professor Pat Thomson, University of Nottingham. The panel recognised the challenging budgetary and education pollcy circumstances that the School of Education experienced during the review period (including regulation by the Teaching Council, fundamental restucturing of the undergraduate initial teacher education programme, and the introduction of a 2-year Professional Master of Education). Despite these constraints, the School of Education was commended by the panel of experts for its significant progress since the last period of review. The following areas stood out:
"The school has... developed a highly innovative and robust cohort PhD programme and maintained an impressive masters and doctoral completion rate. It is also clear to the panel that the school has acted on the key recommendations of the previous Research Quality Review to substantially increase the number of peer-reviewed publications". 55% of selected research output and of total research published was regarded as excellent or very good. To quote further from the report, "Some of the work reviewed demonstrated a very high level of originality, significance and rigour, being innovative in nature and contributing strongly to theory and policy... There was clear evidence of impact on research agendas in relation to socio-cultural and sociological studies of education and teacher education, and on policy in areas such as teacher education, sports sciences, assessment, science, English, literacy and mathematics".
Evidence of a range of markers of esteem within the field of Education was recognised, such as significant professional service, advisory roles to governments and professional bodies and conference organisation. The reviewers rated the area of research-related activities – such as the organisation and attendance at conferences and seminars, internationally prestigious research projects, etc. – as “very good”. The report recognised "the School offers a vibrant research environment for staff and students and there were elements of provision in this area that met the excellent grade".
Finally, the School's overall postgraduate research education was regarded as excellent. For example, the level of PhD completion is high. The cohort PhD programme was noted as providing "a collegial support group, a structured training programme and distributed supervision. It provides a much stronger framework for support for part-time students than is normal in university provision". The School was regarded as providing "a strong and vibrant research community for students" Finally, "The annual literacy research conference, which showcases masters research, is an exemplary way to support students to learn about impact and engagement. The panel noted the active engagement of masters students in the research community, which is commendable."
The School of Education welcomes these positive remarks, takes on board the panel's constructive feedback for areas for further progression, and will continue to advance high quality research activities.
For a full copy of the UCC 2015 Research Quality Review Exercise please click here