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Graduation 2015: PhD achievement for Alison

Alison Clark Friday 24 July 2015

After completing her thesis, entitled: Voices on Values: Perceptions, Reactions and Effects in a Catholic School, Alison Clark was awarded with a PhD. Here, Alison tells us about her PhD experience at Liverpool Hope.

“I chose Liverpool Hope University for my PhD as I wanted to explore values in schools and education. Hope has the National Centre for Christian Education with academic expertise in this field, along with many local school contacts that would be assets for the study. No other university in the UK had such a combination of factors, so it was the logical choice. Furthermore, I was welcomed into a school for the research study because of the ethical reputation of the University.

The most important highlight was the opportunity to do real-world research in education, and contribute to our understanding of the role of the teacher. Along with that, attending events at Hope and at other institutions were fantastic occasions to share ideas, and learn from others. So, another highlight was being part of a learning community.

“I have learnt skills linked to educational research, for example, qualitative data analysis. I have also developed the ability to express myself more clearly and this has given me confidence. Writing the thesis has refined my ability to create a strong line of argument, but my family are not so enthusiastic about that particular skill!

“The examiners’ report on the thesis after the oral examination said: “The thesis ... added an original voice to this field of research and to the pool of knowledge centred around values education.” The three examiners stated that I “remained calm and confident throughout the viva, demonstrating mastery of her subject”. These were welcome words after all the hard work.

“The University has wonderful Library staff and IT department. They were unstinting in their help, time and positive attitude. The reprographics team were very supportive when it came to making sure that the quality of the printed thesis met Hope’s standards. Dr Andrew Morris was a very good supervisor, demanding academic rigour, but with kindness – a great combination! I also had access to academic staff in the National Centre for Christian Education at Hope for discussions. Finally, Chris Lowry, the University’s research officer, clarified key aspects of the process of doing a doctorate.

“Going forward, I am focusing on helping more teachers in schools explore what their values are and how they can help children in a fast-changing and troubled world.”

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