• Washback effects of speaking assessment of teaching English in Sri Lankan schools

      Umashankar, Singanayagam; University of Bedfordshire (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2017-08)
      Washback is a concept commonly used in applied linguistics to refer to the influence of testing on teaching and learning. The purpose of this study was to investigate the washback effect of a new system of English language speaking assessment in Sri Lanka. The new assessment was introduced with the intention of promoting the teaching and learning of English speaking skills in schools as part of a Presidential educational initiative called the English as a Life Skill Programme. The study examined the washback effect of the introduction of speaking assessments at both National and school levels from the perspectives of participants at three levels of the education system: the decision making level, intervening level (teacher trainers and in-service advisors), and implementing level (teachers and students). For this purpose, a mixed methods research approach was employed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants at the decision making level and intervening level to examine whether there were any important gaps in translating policy intentions to the implementing level participants (teachers and students). A questionnaire survey was conducted with teachers and students to investigate their perceptions of the assessment change and its effects on teaching and learning speaking in the classroom. Classroom observations were conducted to gain insights into actual classroom practices in relation to teaching and learning speaking, along with follow-up interviews to seek teachers’ accounts of their classroom practices. The study found that the assessment change did influence teachers’ and students’ perceptions of teaching and learning speaking in the classroom, as well as teachers’ instructional practices. Therefore, some of the policymakers’ intended aims were achieved. However, the intensity and direction of washback were shown to be influenced by several mediating factors such as teachers’ training and contextual factors such as the availability of classroom resources. The findings of this study suggest that assessment reforms can be used to promote change both in what is taught in the classroom and how it is taught, but to different degrees. The study indicated that washback does occur in this context, but it operates in a complex manner associated with many other variables besides the assessment itself. The findings of this study have implications for the improvement of future assessment policies in Sri Lanka, highlighting the importance of timely implementation of reforms and of monitoring them. The findings suggest that it is especially important to listen to key stakeholders’ (teachers’ and students’) voices in the initial planning and feasibility study phases of reform.
    • Water deficit responses of non-nodulated and nodulated Vicia faba (broad bean) when supplied with various forms on concentrations of medium nitrogen nutrition

      McCabe, Victoria B. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2000-03)
      V. faba fixes nitrogen effectively (Richards & Soper, 1979), however nitrogen fixation is reportedly energetically expensive and water deficit sensitive. Research was designed to determine whether medium nitrogen applications would result in increased productivities in V. faba, particularly during water deficits. Non-nodulated and nodulated V. faba were subjected to gradual water deficit imposition, and were supplied with a variety of medium nitrogen nutrition. Nitrogen fixing V. faba exhibited greater productivities than V. faba which were supplied with low medium nitrate concentrations (0.8 roM N), even during water deficits. Plant performance parameters (growth; net photosynthesis; nitrogen assimilatory enzyme activities; osmotic adjustment) were greater in nodulated than in non-nodulated 'no nitrate' supplied V. faba throughout water deficits, inferring water deficit tolerance for nitrogen fixation. However significantly greater plant performance paramaters were exhibited in V. faba when supplied with increasingly concentrated medium nitrogen nutrition (> 0.8 roM N) than when reliant on nitrogen fixation. In contrast to the bulk of previous literature, NR activities were maintained in V. faba until water deficits became severe, inferring a role for nitrate assimilation in nitrogenous osmotica production. Medium ammonia additions resulted in the exhibition of significantly increased root biomasses; cumulative leaf areas (important for a green manure crop); heights; and nitrogen assimilation in V. faba throughout water deficits, and accordingly in increased osmotic adjustment (including compatible solute accumulation), protein concentrations and vegetative yields. Greater plant productivities in v. faba when supplied with medium ammonia additions were attributed in part to lower associated assimilatory costs for ammonia than nitrate nutrition (Raven, 1992). Results indicated increased metabolism as opposed to storage of medium ammonia, and therefore potentially alleviated 'sink size' feedback inhibition of photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism in V. faba when supplied with medium ammonia additions. Furthermore ammonia supplied V. faba may have been predisposed towards water deficit tolerance. In summary V. faba exhibited significantly greater nitrogen assimilation; osmotic adjustment; net photosynthesis; and growth when supplied with increasingly concentrated medium nitrogen nutrition (and particularly with medium ammonia additions) than when reliant on nitrogen fixation, both during periods of adequate irrigation and during water deficits.
    • Water quality investigations of the River Lea (NE London)

      Patroncini, Deborah (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2013-01)
      The Lea Navigation in the north-east of London, a canalised reach of the River Lea, is affected by episodes of very low levels of dissolved oxygen. The problem was detected by the Environment Agency in the stretch from the confluence with Pymmes Brook (which receives the final effluent of Deephams sewage treatment works) to the Olympic area (Marshgate Lane, Stratford). In this project, possible causes and sources of the poor water quality in the Lea Navigation have been investigated using a multi-parameter approach. A study of physico-chemical parameters, obtained from Environment Agency automated monitoring stations, gave a clear picture of the poor river water quality at three sites in this reach. River water ecotoxicity to the freshwater alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata was determined by algal growth inhibition tests, following the OECD guidelines. Moreover, a novel protocol was developed which involved the use of E. coli biosensors (CellSense) operating at a lower potential than the standard protocol and using pre-concentrated river water samples. This protocol is promising and it has the potential to be a useful tool to determine the toxicity of contaminants at environmental concentrations. Furthermore, the developed protocol is a rapid, easy to perform bioassay, with potential application in achieving the aims of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). In addition to the data from the Environment Agency automatic monitoring stations and the laboratory-based tests, two in situ monitoring approaches were performed: 1) a detailed spatial seasonal monitoring of physico-chemical parameters of river water at twenty-three sites, and 2) algal growth inhibition tests, with algae entrapped in alginate beads, at seven monitoring stations. Results showed chronic pollution, and identified polar compounds in the river water and high bacterial concentrations as possible causes of low dissolved oxygen levels. This study confirmed the negative impact of Deephams STW (throughout Pymmes Brook) on the water quality of the Lea Navigation. However, there was evidence of other sources of pollution, in particular Stonebridge Brook was identified as uncontrolled source of pollution and untreated wastewater. Other possible sources include Old Moselle Brook, diffuse pollution from surface runoff, boat discharges and other undetected misconnections. Finally, in the light of the WFD, this project provides a case study on the investigation of river water quality, providing evidence that the multiparameter approach is reliable, and low cost approach for the monitoring of freshwater bodies.
    • Welfare and responsibility: a qualitative study of the demise of social morality and the rise of personal ethics in welfare discourses

      Doheny, Shane D. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004-08)
      Much attention has been devoted in the social sciences to the reorganisation of the moral order of society (Smart, 1999). This reorganisation means that responsibility for welfare is now located with the individual. In spite of the salience given to privately held responsibility for welfare in social policy, little work has been carried out on the discourses underpinning this way of distributing responsibility (Finch and Mason, 1993, Duncan and Edwards, 1999, Rowlingson, 2002). Work on this issue is especially timely as New Labour continues the privatisation of responsibility for welfare in a way that, many people believe, neglects a moral dimension. Instead, New Labour favours a more ethical construction that exhorts the individual to do her duty by which they mean she should work for her own betterment and well-being (Levitas, 1998, Giddens, 1998, Jordan, 1998, Lund, 1999). This work begins by situating responsibility as a historically variable and discursive construction, uncovering how the understanding of responsibility changed as the problem focusing the minds of social engineers altered from one of poverty to one of security in the 1970s. While responsibility has only recently been identified as a particular issue for social policy academics (Roche, 1992, Dwyer, 1998, Dean et aI., 2004) philosophers and sociologists have paid close attention to responsibility over the past decade (Bauman, 1993, 1995, Habermas, 1990, 1995, Apel, 1989, 1996, Etzioni, 1995, Schmidtz, 1998, Goodin, 1998). Building on the issues raised by these authors, this work presents a qualitative study of government press releases, interviews with benefits recipients, members of the general public, welfare advisors and welfare benefits administrators to explore the rational structure of the discourses of responsibility for welfare. As a result, I develop the argument that while the reconfigured moral order promotes a private acceptance of responsibility for welfare, people still want a way of interpreting responsibility taking in a more public way.
    • What are the issues involved in using e-portfolios as a pedagogical tool?

      Mills, Jeanette Marie (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2013-11)
      In Initial Teacher Training (ITT), one of the technologies rapidly being adopted to support the development of trainee teachers is the e-portfolio. Research into successful use of e-portfolios beyond their function as a repository has been scanty to date. The purpose of the current study was to extend the boundaries of understanding of e-portfolios beyond this function. This was undertaken through two in-depth case studies where e-portfolios were used as a pedagogical tool intended to support the development of reflective practice on a one year postgraduate ITT course, during two years of investigation in one university A mixed-methods approach was adopted to capture the richness of participants’ self reports of their experiences, statistical data regarding interactions on the e-portfolios and analysis of reflective writing. Data were collected and analysed from questionnaires, student and tutor interviews and interactions with the e-portfolio together with analysis of the content of reflective e-journals, with a special emphasis on the place and depth of reflection. What emerged was a rich contextual understanding of e-portfolio use by trainee teachers and tutors and the problematic nature of conceptualising and assessing reflective thinking, together with the extent to which the development and depth of their reflective thinking had been supported by e-portfolio use. The results confirm previous concerns related to the training requirements of users and also the time needed for students and tutors to engage in interactions. Further they imply that the prerequisites of successful use of e-portfolios, as a pedagogical tool, to support the development of reflective thinking include common agreement about what constitutes reflection and reflective thinking embedded within a strong, rigorous and well theorised conceptualisation of course structure and content. Implied also is the need for a well understood and transparent framework to assess the depth of reflective thinking that should complement the competencies that underpin Standards, and support the professional development of teachers.
    • What is resilience and how can it be assessed and enhanced in social workers?

      Grant, Louise Jane (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-08)
      The outputs chosen for inclusion for this PhD by publication comprise seven articles published in peer reviewed journals, two book chapters, one research paper and two resource guides commissioned by professional bodies. These outputs explore two major themes. The first concerns the nature of resilience in social workers and identifies the inter- and intra-individual competencies associated with the concept. The second concerns how resilience and its underpinning competencies can be enhanced in social work education, both pre and post qualification. The report begins by contextualising the research within the existing literature, outlining my epistemological and methodological position and highlighting the importance of a pragmatic mixed-methods approach to research design, data collection and analysis. A critique of the outputs is subsequently provided together with a discussion of how I developed as a social work academic and a researcher during the research programme. Finally, the significance of the contribution to the body of social work knowledge provided by these outputs is demonstrated by identifying how the research has enhanced understanding of improving wellbeing in social workers though the development of a tool box of strategies to manage stress and foster resilience in social work training and practice.
    • What is the current policy and practice for social workers on planning contact between special guardianship children and their birth parents?

      Thompson, Nicholas John (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-02)
      Special guardianship is a new but rapidly expanding area of permanency planning that is increasingly popular with families and kinship carers. In 2017, 3,690 children left care for a special guardianship placement, and a further unknown number were granted orders in private proceedings. An integral feature of this new legal option is that where it is considered to be in the child’s best interests, they should continue to have some level of contact with their parents, after the special guardianship order has been granted. Social workers have a duty to assess, plan and recommend what the nature of that contact should be. However there is virtually no policy guidance provided to them on how to undertake those duties. Positive contact with their birth parents can help a child maintain existing bonds, while making sense of how they are part of two families, in order to explore and develop their sense of personal identity. To a large extent it will also determine the nature and success of the child’s future relationship with their parents. So these are vital decisions that will affect the child’s physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing. Yet very little is known about the process that social workers undertake in order to decide what level and type of contact is appropriate in each special guardianship case. This study set out to investigate the planning and recommending of birth parent contact in special guardianship cases. The literature review demonstrated a paucity of studies of this field to inform policy and practice, although information was gathered from other fields where contact is held, such as kinship care and fostering. The research method comprised of an online questionnaire that was completed by 102 local authority social workers, two focus groups for social workers and two focus groups for special guardians. The results provided quantitative data on what social workers included in their recommendations, and the factors they considered in reaching their decisions. Qualitative data from practitioners described the difficulties in planning contact for the long-term in complex and fluid family contexts. Involving special guardians in the study gave a chance to include the different perspectives of the people who have to make the contact recommendations work, and contrast their views on contact planning with those of the professionals. The carers provided additional insights into the challenge of managing contact, and the problems they faced when the parents were not always reliable or responsible. Recommendations for addressing the issues raised included more use of reviews of contact, a scheduled move from the initial contact plan to the special guardian assuming full responsibility for contact decisions, keeping cases open for a ‘settling in’ period, proposals for all contact plans to include training, and a rebalancing of the responsibility for contact onto parents through the use of contact agreements. This study has provided understanding of a crucial area of child permanency planning that has not been investigated before, by including the large-scale involvement of social workers, and introducing the contributions of service-users.
    • What is the point of homework and should schools set it?

      Edwards, Wendy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2017-04)
      The research on homework since the 19th century in the United Kingdom (UK) shows that there are considerable issues to be addressed in this area. Governments have discussed it and the media have reported on it and it is still a contentious issue for schools and homes alike. This study shows that there has been very little change in the issues surrounding homework for over a hundred years and that no political party in office will take a stand on it. Even though schools would like to see a change in policy it is not on the government agenda. The study worked with six secondary schools in one town over a fixed time period to collect information to discuss some of those questions being asked around the issues related to homework. The literature review looked at documents dating back to 1880 when similar questions were being asked about the relevance of "keeping in" and in 1881 "home lessons" was a newspaper article. A teacher training manual in 1885 contained a chapter on home lessons and those advantages and disadvantages described in the book are very similar to the advantages and disadvantages described in 2004. Hansard recorded discussions in parliament from 1884 about the overpressure put on pupils. Home conditions and the support given by parents in completing homework have been discussed both in the media and in parliament. Comparisons are made between homework in the UK and other similar countries using internationally collected data. The mixed method research included questioning students, families, teachers and governors. Interviews were conducted with senior teachers at the schools, with responsibility for implementing the homework policy. School documents were scrutinised including the home-school agreement, homework policies and homework guidelines for students, families and teachers. The findings of this study showed that there are differences between the main stakeholders, students, families, teachers and governors, in the knowledge, views and opinions of homework. Students, families, teachers and governors differed in their opinions, with many students and families, although seeing some benefits, opposing the setting of homework due to the impact on family time and the stress caused by it. While teachers and governors supported the setting of homework and the important contribution it made in school. There are differences between different types of schools and those with lower and higher ability students and the influence that homework has on the stress levels of those students in higher performing schools. Homework is seen as a marketing tool for some schools to use in selling themselves on the competing educational market place. The findings of this study continue to ask the questions related to homework and in particular What is the purpose of homework?, What type of homework is seen as most effective in supporting students' learning in the various areas of the curriculum?, Does the home environment always support students completing homework and what kind of resources do students need to complete homework and do they have access to these resources at home? and What political, economic, social and educational factors (Hallam, 2004) are important in understanding the context in which homework policies and practices are developed?
    • What’s the value of a degree? graduates’ perceptions of value of their undergraduate degrees

      Ingham, Deena (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-12)
      This thesis sets out to analyse perceptions of the legacy value of an undergraduate degree from graduates at different distances since graduation. This perspective has not been systematically sought within higher education today. Submission of the work comes as attention in England is focused on ‘teaching excellence’ and Government expectations that a higher education degree should deliver lasting value to graduates and taxpayers alike. Thus the work has importance in providing new research identifying that the graduate voice supports more realistic student expectations and effective curricula. Underpinned by constructivist theories of research (Kukla, 2000) and learning (Dewey 1916) the study sought to understand the value of a degree through the experiences and perceptions of graduates. It explored with them how they recognise and allocate value within well-established areas such as economic/financial, academic and personal, defined by previous researchers including Barnett (1990), Mezirow (1991) and Caul (1993). A mixed methods two-phase study gathered quantitative and qualitative data from 15 interviews and an online survey of 202 graduates from universities in England across all institutional mission groups. Graduates were invited to examine and allocate the relative value of their degree in economic/financial, academic and personal terms. The primary conclusion was that whilst 99 per cent of graduates perceived value in their degree they attributed least value to the economic/financial benefits. This indicates a discrepancy between graduate perceptions of value and the hegemonic cost/benefit discourse that underpins political policy around individual tuition fees. The findings additionally determined a statistically significant relationship between students’ entry motivation and graduate perception of degree value. Graduates whose entry motivation as students had been to meet the expectations of others were more likely to perceive lower value in their degree than those motivated by personal aspiration and a career goal requiring a degree. Graduates reporting the highest value perceptions also evidenced selfauthorship during their degrees. The relationship between high perceptions of value and likelihood to recommend a degree or institution emerged as statistically significant. Analysis of the findings resulted in the creation of a conceptual model of graduate perception of value which recommends institutions resource drawing on the graduate voice to develop and sustain value within and surrounding a degree to sustain their work. The findings revealed implications for sustaining student enrolment and institutional advancement in an increasingly commercialised, competitive and marketised sector. The thesis demonstrates ways in which regular collation and publication of graduate perceptions of value evidence, and inform, the legacy of undergraduate degrees across the sector and from specific institutions.
    • Who uses NHS Direct? factors that impact on the uptake of telephone based healthcare

      Cook, Erica Jane (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2013-01)
      This research aimed to investigate the socio-demographic characteristics alongside the psycho-social factors that impact on the uptake of telephone based healthcare using a socio-cognitive approach. The first study analysed four ‘one month’ periods of national NHS Direct call data (July 2010, October 2010, January 2011 and April 2011) for all 0845 4647 calls in England. Expected and actual usage of NHS Direct was determined for each ethnic group of the population and compared using Chi-square analysis. Results confirmed that White British used NHS Direct more than expected, alongside Mixed (Caribbean/African) and Asian Pakistani groups, with lower representation found for Asian Indian\Bangladeshi, Black African\Caribbean, alongside Chinese ethnic groups. No gender differences were noted. Calls were then analysed for age, gender and deprivation (IMD health, income, employment & education) using negative binominal regression. Results suggest that deprivation increases call rates for adult calls but reduced in calls about children (<15 years). This study also highlights that NHS Direct call rates (all ages combined) are highest in areas with deprivation levels at, or just above, the national average, which remains consistent when accounting for employment, income and education deprivation. The second study, adopted a qualitative approach to explore the psycho-social factors that impact on the uptake of telephone based healthcare. Focus groups were conducted with low user groups (Manchester (N=3) and Mendip (N=4)), alongside high service users (N=2) and service providers (N=2). Five themes emerged: attitudes, structural and perceived barriers, knowledge and awareness of NHS Direct alongside improving access. Findings highlight a preference for instant face-to-face reassurance in low user groups, whereby low users appear to have lower perceived confidence in self-management of symptoms and engaging with telephone based health services. In conclusion the findings suggest there is variation in usage of NHS Direct, influenced by ethnicity, gender, age and deprivation. This research has explored some of the barriers, and has provided a theoretical framework that can be applied to understand uptake of telephone based healthcare. This research can help enable the development of future promotional campaigns that can target particular sections of the population to encourage use of telephone based healthcare services.
    • Who works not what works: an exploration into the rise of managerialism in services to children, young people and families and the challenge this poses to the role of professionalism and relationship-based provision

      Olaitan, Paul (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-07)
      This paper sets out to give an overview of the impact of socio-economic and political thinking on the structure and esteem of services to children, young people and families, and the placing of subsequent services to meet the needs of service users. Through an exploration of the works of key theorists and academic contributors in relevant fields the attempt is first to establish the socio-structural context within which services are structured and delivered before moving on to set out the journey taken in one inner city local authority to grapple with the challenges set out by the requirement to meet the complex needs of local people within an increasingly hostile environment for public services. I call on extensive experience in the field to inform an opinion that, under neoliberal policy frameworks, services have become increasingly alienating to the people that come to call on them for support, and that, in so doing, they undermine their ability to function as required and in part, serve to exacerbate the very issues they set out to eradicate. In particular, professional approaches have inadvertently accelerated this problem of alienation resulting in energies being spent on professional survival and legitimacy at the expense of the particularly complex and challenging issue of improving the lives of children and young people who experience difficulties. Through the development of a new integrated, systemic and humanistic service which has striven to break down the barriers erected to identify the differences between professions at the expense of a focus on service users, it is felt that an opportunity now exists to refocus the energies of services so that greater attention is placed on the role of the practitioner, the relationships they form with service users, and the engagement these relationships make possible. Looking forward, consideration is made of the possibilities this presents for service delivery that sees success in equipping children, young people and families with the tools to locate and express their voices rather than, in keeping with broader consumerist agenda, encourage service users to receive, rather than inform, services -which will require professionals to shift from a role of leaders to facilitators in the delivery of community development interventions.
    • Work and leisure today: a feminist exploration in Sofia

      Kaldaramova, Stefani; University of Bedfordshire (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2017-01)
      Throughout Bulgarian history, the dominant pattern of gender relations has always been the patriarchal one. Since 1989, the wind of change in restructured Europe has blown into Bulgaria many new cultural, political and social ideas and influences, but has subdued little of the conservative values and normative gender discourse. In fact, women‘s position in the public and the private spheres did not change much during the transitional period and consequent democratisation and restructuring of the economy, throughout which, Bulgarian women faced numerous challenges in balancing work/leisure and family. Yet, no comprehensive research study exists, which explores the problematics of the work-leisure relationship for the generation of women that came of age during this transitional period. This research study examines the work and leisure meanings for full-time employed, Generation Y, women in Sofia (Bulgaria) in order to shine light on the way they negotiate gendered constraints in everyday life and propose areas for further investigation. To accomplish this aim, feminist, case study methodology is utilised. Moreover, the epistemological problematics of the feminist research process are addressed by the researcher‘s reflexivity and authoethnography. The method of personal narrative is chosen to reflect the invisibility of neoliberal structural constraints and situates personal experiences in the process of existing inequalities. Thus, a better understanding of the role and position of the researcher in this study is presented. The research findings illustrate the ways leisure and work meanings are constructed in the context of post-feminist guise of equality, in which, young Sofian women are now attributed with capacity. This is exemplified by participant‘s conceptualisations of work, leisure and gender culture. Individual women express contradictory view about gender roles, femininity and masculinity that illustrate a collective sense of rejection of feminism (in its mainstream sense) as a threat to heterosexual gender relations. Findings reveal that Generation Y, Sofian women‘s femininity does not necessarily fit into a simple polarity, that is either 'traditional‘ (women as wives/mothers and labourers) or 'modern‘ (assimilating to 'Western‘ values and lifestyles). Rather, their identities relate to both of these selves and are becoming increasingly hybrid and fluid. Their leisure is central life pursuit and arguably exists to empower women to resist gender inequalities, perpetuated by both new and old gender discourses and ideologies. Drawing from the contemporary field of feminist leisure studies with a an explicit focus on interdisciplinarity and post-structural feminisms the study wishes to contribute to existing debates on women‘s multiple leisure meanings and leisure as an experiences that empower individuals and, more broadly, challenge cultural norms about women‘s embodied capacities. Finally, management and operational bodies of the leisure industries can potentially use this case study to facilitate leisure opportunities, services and products for Generation Y, Sofian women, who are now active participants in the capitalist, consumer culture.
    • The worldview of tour guides: a grounded theory study

      Aloudat, Areej Shabib (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2010-03)
      This research study explores the worldview of tour guides, and develops a framework on the lived world of knowledge, sensations and perceptions that constitute the professional and subjective realities of the guiding role. The research enquiry uses a qualitative approach, incorporating a grounded theory strategy, to explore this world and model its main dimensions.
    • Writer-reader interaction: writer’s stance in English L1 and L2

      Darwish, Hosam (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-07)
      Stance refers to the ways academics annotate their texts to comment on the possible accuracy or creditability of a claim, the extent they want to commit themselves to it, or the attitude they want to convey to an entity, a proposition or the reader. Stance concerns writer-oriented features of interaction which can be presented by four interpersonal categories. These categories are boosters, e.g. ‘clearly’, hedges, e.g. ‘may’, self-mentions, e.g. ‘I’ and attitude markers, e.g. ‘interesting’. A big number of corpus-based studies have been conducted to analyse stance markers in both L1 and L2 writer’s transcripts from the view that texts are independent of specific contexts and outside the personal experiences of authors and audience. This view does not go along with the idea that texts are instances of interaction between the writer and their audience. Therefore, the current study sought to fill this gap in research by adopting a more subjective view through stressing the actions and perceptions of the text writers to better understand them. The aim of this study is to have a more complete picture of the writer-reader interaction by investigating the three elements of interaction: The text, the text writers and the audience. Adopting Hyland’s (2005b) Model of Interaction, a corpus of 80 discussion chapters written by both MA postgraduate Egyptian students (English L2) at Egyptian universities and their British student peers (English L1) at UK universities, were searched both electronically using the Text Inspector tool and manually by two raters to identify more than 200 stance markers in students’ academic scripts. Moreover, the study explored the perceptions of twenty of the text writers’ (both Egyptian and British) about the functions of certain stance markers and the factors that could affect their understanding and use of these linguistic features. Characteristics of successful stance-taking were suggested after interviewing four expert writers. The quantitative results found no statistically significant differences in the total number of stance markers, boosters and self-mentions used by students in the two writer groups, but the L1 corpus contained statistically significant more hedges and attitude markers than the L2 one. Furthermore, the L1 texts included noticeably more types of stance markers than the L2 scripts. vi The discourse-based interviews conducted indicated that both L1 and L2 writers were aware of the functions of stance markers. However, some of the interviewees (both L1 and L2) had narrow or even faulty conceptions of certain stance markers, e.g. possibility versus probability devices and other attitude markers, e.g. ‘important’ and ‘significant’. These features of academic discourse had not been made more conspicuous to them, and this could have affected their employment of these linguistic features. The findings revealed that in addition to the lingua-cultural aspect, writer’s personal linguistic preferences, supervisor’s and other lecturers’ feedback, previous education and instruction, and the writer’s self-confidence were key factors that have played a considerable role in students’ lexical decision-making. For instance, L2 students might have used fewer types of stance markers than L1 students due to their lack of confidence and their reluctance to use certain types of devices that they did not master or practised enough. The study, also, suggested that the higher density of stance markers is not absolutely an indication of a better ability in writing or a feature of a well-written academic text. The epistemological stance of the study and the contextual factors do play a significant role in the quantity and type of the stance markers used.
    • Writing (as) systemic practice

      Simon, Gail (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2011)
      This doctoral portfolio is a collection of papers and pieces of creative writing arising out of therapeutic, supervisory and training conversations and in relation to a wide range of texts. I have wanted to find ways of writing ethically so as to avoid objectifying people and appropriating their words, their life stories. I find ways of writing in which the values and practices of a collaborative, dialogical and reflexive ways of being with people are echoed in the texts. I show how writing and reading are relational practices in that I speak with the participants in the texts as well as with the reader and also with other writers. To do this, I experiment with a variety of written forms and employ literary devices so as to speak from within a range of practice relationships, from within inner dialogue, with real and fictitious characters. Technically and ethically, I try to write in a way which not only captures the sound of talk but which also speaks with the reader who would be reading, and perhaps hearing these accounts of conversation. By sharing a rich level of detail from my polyvocal inner dialogue, I invite the reader into a unique and privileged alongside position as a participant-observer in my work. Inspirational research methodologies include: writing as a method of inquiry, reflexivity, autoethnography, performance ethnography and transgression interpreted by many areas of systemic theory and practice. To support this innovative work, I offer several theoretical and practical papers offering novel developments on systemic practice theory. I situate systemic practice as a research method and demonstrate many family resemblances between systemic inquiry and qualitative inquiry. I offer a reflexive model for systemic practice and practice research which I call Praction Research which regards therapy and research as political acts requiring an activist agenda. Linked to this I politicise ideas of reflexivity by introducing local and global reflexivity and create a political connection with a concept of theorethical choices in theory and ethics in practice research. I propose a new form of ethnography suited to systemic practice, Relational Ethnography in which I draw attention to reflexive relationships between writer and readers, between the voices of inner and outer dialogue in research texts.
    • Young people and the informal economy: understanding their pathways and decisionmaking within the economy

      Adamu, Nenadi (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2016-03)
      This is a study of a group of young people that explores their journeys into, and experiences within, the informal economy. Evidence has shown that young people have always been more disadvantaged in a context of high levels of unemployment, limited job opportunities and entitlement to welfare benefits. As an alternative to low paying jobs with poor working conditions, and in addition to strict conditions for claiming benefits, some young people are making the decision to engage in criminal ways of generating income. This study examines the experiences of twenty-six young people from Luton and Cambridge who had engaged in begging, drug dealing and sex work as alternative forms of ‘work’ in their transitions to adulthood. It explores the structural, cultural and biographical factors that influence their informal career decision-making processes, by drawing on Bourdieu’s social field theory. By examining the lived experiences of these young people, the study throws more light on the role of structure and personal agency in the decisions the young people made in engaging in the informal economy. These young people wanted to be seen as ‘normal’ young people. Most were hardworking, and ambitious, and their engagement in informal economic activities was often a ‘means to an end’. This study also identifies strategies that were employed by the young people for their successful navigating of the economy, and highlights the importance of elements like trust, respect and knowledge in their negotiations. It assesses how the issue of risk was managed with the help of what was seen to be an unwritten code of conduct in the field. The study also identified a hierarchy within the field, which was determined by the individual participants, depending on their personal perceptions and perspectives. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews, over a period of a year. The process of collecting data was long and difficult, highlighting the ethical and methodological challenges of conducting research with a ‘hidden’ population. The findings throw new light on the unique challenges young people face both in the formal job market, and in accessing welfare support, in light of the significant changes to social policy in the UK.
    • Youthwork@cyberspace.com : unsanctioned social network site connections between youth work practitioners and young people

      Conradie, Liesl (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-10)
      Social network sites are online spaces that can be used for interaction between young people and youth work practitioners. The focus of this thesis is social network site interaction that falls outside the guidance of the local authority, through unsanctioned interaction on practitioners’ personal but also work profiles. Twenty one practitioners and fourteen young people were interviewed, using a semi-structured interview guide. Three inter-linked themes emerged through the research process; space and place; trust development and boundary management. Young people wanted to interact with some practitioners through the practitioners' personal profiles but the majority of practitioners would rather interact with young people through work profiles. Young people viewed and trusted these practitioners as friends and were willing to share their personal, but also socially intimate information with them. Most practitioners viewed their relationship with young people as a professional relationship and aimed to maintain personal and professional boundaries. However, practitioners did not extend this same awareness to the boundaries of young people. This was further confirmed by the practice of client searching through a variety of profiles to access socially intimate information of young people. Where practitioners and volunteers lived and worked in the same geographical spaces, these multiple relationships increased uncertainty with regards to unsanctioned SNS interaction. Other practitioners were either fearful or opportunistic of these relationships and used them to gain further socially intimate information about young people or turned a blind eye to these relationships due to uncertainty of how to respond. This thesis extends knowledge and theory concerning youth work practice at a time of change, and also new spaces for interaction online. Civic courage and incentives that outweigh deterrents lead to unsanctioned connections for practitioners. For young people this interaction was based on the type of friendship they perceived they had with practitioners. Studying perceptions regarding this interaction revealed cycles of perpetual negative practice, personal and socially intimate boundaries and different views on the type of relationship that young people and practitioners developed with each other.
    • λ-connectedness and its application to image segmentation, recognition and reconstruction

      Chen, Li (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2001-07)
      Seismic layer segmentation, oil-gas boundary surfaces recognition, and 3D volume data reconstruction are three important tasks in three-dimensional seismic image processing. Geophysical and geological parameters and properties have been known to exhibit progressive changes in a layer. However, there are also times when sudden changes can occur between two layers. A-connectedness was proposed to describe such a phenomenon. Based on graph theory, A-connectedness describes the relationship among pixels in an image. It is proved that A-connectedness is an equivalence relation. That is, it can be used to partition an image into different classes and hence can be used to perform image segmentation. Using the random graph theory and A-connectivity of the image, the length of the path in a A-connected set can be estimated. In addition to this, the normal Aconnected subsets preserve every path that is A-connected in the subsets. An O(nlogn) time algorithm is designed for the normal A-connected segmentation. Techniques developed are used to find objects in 2D/3D seismic images. Finding the interface between two layers or finding the boundary surfaces of an oil-gas reserve is often asked. This is equivalent to finding out whether a A-connected set is an interface or surface. The problem that is raised is how to recognize a surface in digital spaces. A-connectedness is a natural and intuitive way for describing digital surfaces and digital manifolds. Fast algorithms are designed to recognize whether an arbitrary set is a digital surface. Furthermore, the classification theorem of simple surface points is deduced: there are only six classes of simple surface points in 3D digital spaces. Our definition has been proved to be equivalent to Morgenthaler-Rosenfeld's definition of digital surfaces in direct adjacency. Reconstruction of a surface and data volume is important to the seismic data processing. Given a set of guiding pixels, the problem of generating a A-connected (subset of image) surface is an inverted problem of A-connected segmentation. In order to simplify the fitting algorithm, gradual variation, an equivalent concept of A-connectedness, is used to preserve the continuity of the fitted surface. The key theorem, the necessary and sufficient condition for the gradually varied interpolation, has been mathematically proven. A random gradually varied surface fitting is designed, and other theoretical aspects are investigated. The concepts are used to successfully reconstruct 3D seismic real data volumes. This thesis proposes A-connectedness and its applications as applied to seismic data processing. It is used for other problems such as ionogram scaling and object tracking. It has the potential to become a general technique in image processing and computer vision applications. Concepts and knowledge from several areas in mathematics such as Set Theory, Fuzzy Set Theory, Graph Theory, Numerical Analysis, Topology, Discrete Geometry, Computational Complexity, and Algorithm Design and Analysis have been applied to the work of this thesis.