• Hybrid light field image super-resolution and interpolation method using multi-array cameras

      Farag, Saber (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11-02)
      Recent advances in camera technologies have led to the design of plenoptic cameras. This camera type can capture multiple images of the same scene using arrays of microlenses, where each microlens has a shifted location providing a separate view of the scene. Such a design results in a superior performance, as compared to traditional cameras, enabling multi-view or multi-focal imaging captured in a single shot. However, the main drawback of the currently available plenoptic imaging technology is limited spatial resolution, which makes it difficult to use in applications where sharpness or high-resolution is essential, such as in the film industry. Although some previous attempts have addressed this issue, they were affected by high computational complexity as well as limited interpolation factor. To resolve this, a novel light field field hybrid super-resolution method is proposed which combines two traditional methods of multi image super-resolution and hybrid single image super-resolution to create hybrid super-resolution image for efficient application to plenoptic images. Furthermore, after this combination, the output of the hybrid super-resolution image is segmented into the objects of interest. Then, super-resolution reconstruction by sparse representation is applied to super resolve the segmented image. This technique helps to increase the resolution of light field images and maintain sharpness after super-resolution. Additionally, block matching super-resolution is proposed to provide a means of enhancement for the resolution of plenoptic images by developing corresponding super-resolution methods which exploit the disparity information, estimated from the light field images, to reduce the matching area in the super-resolution process. The proposed method is denoted as block matching super-resolution super-resolution. Following on, the proposed novel super-resolution method is combined with directionally adaptive image interpolation to preserve sharpness of the high-resolution images. In addition, light field digital refocusing with the proposed super-resolution approaches can be used to record the light field and provide maximum achievable resolution. With this simplification it is easy to explain the method of refocusing and the characteristics of the performance. The complexity of the standard light field camera configuration is also taken into account. The implemented super-resolution approaches that have been proposed are used to super resolve the ‘all-in-focus’ images. This research has narrowed the knowledge gap by creating a working super-resolution and interpolation application in order to allow higher quality to all light field images captured by plenoptic cameras. The significant advantage of this application for computer vision is the super-resolved micro images or the various angles available in a single light field super resolution image which allow depth estimation. Moreover, this research demonstrates a steady gain in the peak signal to noise ratio and structural similarity index quality of the super-resolved images for the resolution enhancement factor 8x8, as compared to the most recent approaches.
    • Legimate victimisation? how young people experience professional support and courts as victims of child exploitation

      MacDonald, Mandy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11)
      This thesis critically examines young people’s perceptions of support as victims and witnesses in Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) trials. This includes their views of support when disclosing the abuse, during the investigation phase, on the journey to court, in court and post court. My thesis is framed within the respondents’ experiences of negative and positive support provided to them when engaging with welfare and criminal justice agencies. This research presents empirical data drawn from in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 young people, 3 males and 8 females, who were under 16 years of age at trial. It answers the central research question of: How do Young People Experience Professional Support and Court as Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation? The theoretical framework used to analyse the data was critical realist and grounded theory. From those perspectives the respondents’ individual accounts are reviewed, then compared with all respondents’ views. From the synthesised data, theories emerged that explained the respondents’ subjective, real-world and empirical view of their experiences. The theories that emerged from the respondent data included gender inequality, disclosure, labelling theory and children’s rights issues identified through power imbalance between professionals and victims as service users and intimidated, vulnerable victims. The thesis set out to determine whether after nearly 30 years of challenge to improve child victim support, there have been improvements in practice with child victims of abuse, who must engage with welfare services and the criminal justice system. These respondents have spoken of their rights as a victim being circumvented and their explicit needs and wishes being overlooked. As a result, some have suffered anxiety and trauma, often perceived as a direct result of professional action or inaction. The thesis incorporates findings, set around the theories that emerged from the data. Findings include information about disclosure experiences, communication and contact with professionals within the criminal justice system and experiences of the adversarial court system. The thesis then moves on to discuss unexpected findings related to levels of selfharm amongst the respondent group and the impact of media and social media commentary on victims. The thesis concludes with recommendations for change to policy and welfare and criminal justice practice to improve support to these vulnerable and intimidated victims. My hope is that these findings will contribute to balancing the rights of child victims and add to the existing body of literature to better understand and improve support to adolescent victims of sexual exploitation.
    • Population analysis of the finger millet blast pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae in Eastern Africa

      Shittu, Taiwo Adewale (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11)
      The main aims of the investigation were to develop an in-depth understanding of the genetic diversity, population structure and evolutionary relationships as well as to assess the sexual reproductive capability of the finger millet blast (FMB) pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae in Eastern Africa. A set of 300 M. oryzae isolates collected during 2000 – 2017 from key finger millet growing districts in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia were utilised in this study. Two novel molecular markers designated HyP1 and HyP2 were developed in this study and two known phylogenetic markers ITS (internal transcribed spacer) and HIS4 (histone 4 gene) were identified by bioinformatic analysis. Single- and multi-locus analysis provided a clear assessment of the FMB pathogen genotype diversity and distribution pattern. At the regional level in Eastern Africa, ITS and HIS4 revealed 7 - 9 genotypes, whereas HyP1 and HyP2 identified 80 - 85 genotypes reflecting their high resolution. Multi-locus sequence (MLS) analysis revealed 207 genotypes displaying a continuous genetic variation pattern of the FMB pathogen populations in Eastern Africa. Bayesian and reticulate network analyses distinguished the vast majority of genotypes into two sub-populations (designated as Group A and B), which were geographically clustered. Diagnostic PCR revealed the presence of a high proportion of M. oryzae isolates containing the Grasshopper (grh) repeat element in Ethiopia and Tanzania (e.g. 85 %). Reference genome assemblies have been established for two M. oryzae isolates representing the sub-populations identified. Genome resequence data has been developed for sixteen isolates representing the genotype diversity. Comparative analysis provided novel insights into the genomic architecture and evolutionary relationships in the FMB pathogen. Genomic regions and/or genes, putatively isolate specific have been identified. Phylogenomic analysis revealed monophyletic nature of the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa and Asia suggesting a common origin. Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) ranges broadly corresponded to the sub-populations identified. Complete grh sequence has been defined and the presence of at least two versions of the element in the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa has been shown. Mating type specific PCR assay revealed high proportions of the two mating types MAT 1-1 (56 %) and MAT 1-2 (44 %) in the contemporary population of the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa and also in the four countries surveyed, albeit at variable levels. Mating culture assays established a high proportion of fertile isolates (60 %) and revealed the dominance of male sexual behaviour followed by hermaphrodite and female isolates. The emerging pattern is indicative of a decrease in the fertility status as well as the level of hermaphrodites and females. Integrated assessment of the mating type and fertility data along with the high genotype diversity and their continuous variation pattern observed is strongly suggestive of a mixed reproductive behaviour including episodic sexual reproduction. The new knowledge and resources generated contribute to the advancement of current understanding of the finger millet blast pathogen biology providing a framework for the effective utilization of host resistance in Eastern Africa as well as a strong platform for further research advances in the field.
    • Adaptive application of forward error correction mechanism for reliable vehicle-to-vehicle communication

      Muhammad, Shehu Jabaka (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-10-12)
      Recently, the intelligent transportation system (ITS), which provides vehicles with the capabilities to cooperatively and wirelessly exchange messages to circumvent, for instance, hazardous motorway traffic circumstances, have attracted an enormous amount of attention in academia and the automotive industry. Moreover, vehicular adhoc networks (VANETs) are considered to be at the centre of ITS, owing to the recent demands to minimise the number of injuries leading to fatalities, loss of lives and finances, consequent to the increased number of accidents on the highways. However, VANETs have many challenges, among which is the need for timely, reliable and scalable message transmission. Solving these challenges will require a shared media access control (MAC) layer that will guarantee timely, reliable as well as scalable communication of safety messages. This research investigates the application of error correction coding for reliable transmission in VANETs. An adaptive application of Forward Error Code (Adaptive FEC scheme) for reliable safety message transmission in VANETs is proposed. The solution combined Automatic repeat request (ARQ) with FEC at the MAC layer. The Adaptive FEC scheme used the existing channel condition, an estimate of the maximum number of transmissions and message type as an index into the code lookup ensemble (CLE) to get the optimum code (optCode) for current transmission. Furthermore, the proposed Adaptive FEC scheme also sets the transmission timeout delay RTT, encodes the message with the optCode and transmits. However, if the transmission timeout delay elapses before receiving an ACK/NAK, the scheme will go back to the initial stage for possible retransmission of the message. In this solution each transmission is self-decodable. Although the proposed Adaptive FEC scheme has shown remarkable performance, it needs improvement to minimise the incurred overhead due to the collision effect of the retransmission requests. To overcome the weaknesses of the proposed Adaptive FEC scheme, an Adaptive FEC-based Timely and Efficient Multihop Broadcast (Adaptive FEC-based TEMB) scheme is proposed for Reliable Inter-Vehicular Communication. The Adaptive application of error control and the utilisation of dynamic transmission range reduces the hops count between faulty vehicle and other nearby vehicles in a region on the motorway. Furthermore, in order to mitigate the hidden and exposed node problems, which will minimise the rate of collision in the network, a novel request to transmit (RTT) and clear to transmit (CTT) mechanisms is designed for the Adaptive FEC-based TEMB. In addition, a pre-emptive queuing mechanism is developed and applied to give the highest priority to the safety critical messages. This enables faster safety message transmission between the source vehicle and the destination vehicles. On the other hand, in VANETs, designing an efficient media access protocol poses a major challenge, as the number of vehicles is not known before transmission and could not be bounded. Thus, the scalability of the MAC approach has a significant effect on the operation of vehicular communication. Therefore, an investigation was conducted into the scalability issue of 802.11p and compared with Self-Organised Time Division Multiple Access (STDMA), using time-triggered and event-triggered safety messages. The proposed solutions’ performance is clearly demonstrated through detailed theoretical analysis which was further validated by results of the simulation experiments. The results of the theoretical analysis and simulation experiments show that our proposed schemes mentioned above outperformed the existing related solutions.
    • Potential impediments to the recognition of the sexual exploitation of young males under 18

      Montgomery-Devlin, Jacqueline (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-10)
      A growing body of research has shown that the discourse on child sexual exploitation (CSE) continues to be female-centric despite some attempts to raise the plight of young males as victims of this phenomenon. This thesis addresses this gap by examining the potential impediments to the recognition of CSE in young males under the age of 18. The central focus of this study is to identify barriers to disclosure by young males and inhibitors to identification by professionals, encompassing an exploration of the existence of any relationship between the two. The research took the form of a mixed methods approach, obtaining both quantitative and qualitative data from young people and a range of professionals. This consisted of: 91 respondents to a survey for professionals; 1,158 respondents to a survey for young people; 10 interviews with young males; and 30 interviews with professionals. The study is underpinned by the theoretical framework of ecological systems theory, supporting the notion that the sexual exploitation of young males as a phenomenon is not simply a manifestation of the individual male victim operating in a vacuum, but contextual to the prevalence and impact of other factors. This allows for the integration of all levels of human ecology, including the environment and diverse cultural contexts, as responsible for the cause of and solution to the problem. Application of this theory was facilitated by using Sorsoli et al’s (2008) three domains model as a practical framework, enabling examination of barriers to recognition within each of the systems (or domains) at play, and the interplay between them, demonstrating the complexities surrounding the recognition of this phenomenon. This study concludes that there is both commonality and dissonance between the views of young people and what we already understand from the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) literature relating to the non-recognition of males as victims. The findings challenge the actual stereotypical assumptions regarding males and masculinity believed to inhibit recognition of males as victims. The findings also reveal a level of dissonance between the views of young people and professionals regarding the relevance of barriers to recognition of CSE in young males. These findings present safeguarding implications. They underscore the importance of recognising the role of gender constructs and socialisation in the negating of males as victims of CSE, but more importantly, how they may be manifested. This adds unique complications to the process of both disclosure and identification of CSE in males. The implications of this for the interpretation and application of CSE policies and procedures to the identification of young males as victims, is significant. The results of this study call for the sexual exploitation of young males to be placed firmly in the child protection arena, providing a basis upon which the young male, the professional, and the wider social system can understand the position of responsibilities in relation to recognition of CSE in males, thereby achieving greater equilibrium in recognition of the two genders as victims of CSE.
    • Laser interference lithography for applications in biomedicine

      Li, Wenjun (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-10)
      Surface modification of implant biomaterials has become the commonly used methods for the long life artificial implants and successful orthopaedic implantation. Numbers of technologies have been developed to improve the performances of artificial implants in biological systems. However, most of the technologies are associated with complex, time-consuming and not fully controllable processes, resulting in undesirable micro and nano structures. DLIL provides an effective method for nanomanufacturing of well-designed structures with controllability. The research reported in this thesis tackles the issues with particular focus on DLIL for the fabrication of well-designed micro and nano structures with functionalities including superhydrophobic, wear resistant property and biocompatibility on various biomaterials. Four-beam DLIL was developed to design and fabricate the micro and nano convex structures on silicon surfaces. Parameters such as incident angle, azimuthal angle and polarisation direction were adjusted to simulate micro patterns in period of 5.5 μm for structure design, and laser fluence and exposure duration were set to fabricate micro and nano hierarchical structures with the aspect ratio of 2-3. The CA value of 153.2° was obtained with excellent superhydrophobic property. Three-beam DLIL was used to design and fabricate micro circular dimpled structures on Co-Cr-Mo alloy. The optimal setting of incident angle, azimuthal angle and polarisation direction for three interference beams was developed to form the circular dimpled patterns in period of 8 μm. Laser fluence and exposure duration were properly adjusted to fabricate circular dimpled structures with the optimal area density of 14.8%. The modified surfaces performed the improved wear resistant property with a 64% reduction of friction coefficient and 42% enhancement of hardness. Two-beam DLIL was employed to fabricate micro grooved structures and three-beam DLIL was used to form micro dotted and dimpled structures on Ti6-Al-4V alloy by adjusting incident angle, azimuthal angle and polarisation direction. Microstructures in grooves, dots and dimples with roughness value ranged from 0.6 μm to 1.7 μm were achieved by the proper setting of laser fluence and exposure duration. MG-63 osteoblast cells were used to culture on modified Ti6-Al-4V alloy surfaces and the biocompatibility was improved by promoting cell proliferation, spreading and adhesion. In this work, DLIL were developed to modify the biomaterials including silicon, Co-Cr-Mo alloy and Ti6-Al-4V alloy for their specific functions in artificial joint. The wear resistant property has been studied on modified Co-Cr-Mo alloy for the bearing surface of artificial femoral head and the biocompatibility of modified Ti6-Al-4V alloy has been investigated for the interfaces of artificial joint stem and bone tissue. The silicon has been also used to achieve the superhydrophobic performance for the foundation preliminary study of anti-bacteria property and bacteria infection.
    • Explaining work-related stress in UK academic staff: alternative approaches

      Wray, Siobhan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-09-26)
      The programme of work presented in this thesis examined the effect of work-related stressors in UK academic staff across a period of six years, utilising a benchmarking approach. Furthermore, the thesis examines the relationships between stressors and a range of key strain outcomes: psychological distress, emotional exhaustion, disengagement, work-life conflict, intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction. Study 1 presents the results of three work and wellbeing surveys conducted in 2008, 2012 and 2014 that utilise the Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards Indicator tool to assess levels of psychosocial hazard in the occupational group at these three time points. Comparisons were made across each wave of data to identify patterns of change in the sector. Additionally, a range of strain outcomes were assessed at each data collection point and examined with reference to other occupational groups and norms, and across the waves of data where appropriate. The results from study 1 indicate that the level of wellbeing associated with academic work significantly reduced in five out of seven hazard categories across the three waves of data. Additionally, academic staff reported higher levels of perceived stress and increased work-life conflict. Psychological distress and job satisfaction, measured in 2014, were lower than benchmarked data from a range of other occupational groups. Study 2 examined the predictive power of two key theoretical models of work-related stress to further examine the stressor-strain relationship in academic staff. The job demands control-support and job demands resources models predicted significant proportions of the variance in all strain outcomes, however, the inclusion of a broader range of resources in the latter model explained a greater proportion of the variance in all outcome measures except work-life conflict. Strong main effects were observed in each model, but the evidence for interactive effects was less conclusive. Study 3 expanded on these findings by examining key resources identified in the job demands resources model and examining these via the context of sector change. A conservation of resources approach was used to develop and test a resource caravan whereby satisfaction with sector change predicted strain outcomes via the mediating effects of role stress and two form of illegitimate task. Indirect effects of role and illegitimate tasks independently mediated the relationship between change on a range of outcome variables, Additionally, a serial mediation effect whereby change predicted role, which in turn predicted illegitimate tasks added further unique predictive power to each model. The findings from the thesis indicate a worsening pattern of wellbeing associated with academic work across the six-year period investigated and evidence is presented to support the effect of stressors on key strain outcomes in academic staff. Finally, the findings highlight the importance of examining the relationships between key resources at sector, institutional and individual levels to inform systemic interventions to respond to the significant levels of stressors and strain reported by the sector and suggestions for interventions are discussed.
    • Reading during an academic reading-into-writing task: an eye-tracking study

      Latimer, Nicola (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-09)
      The study aimed to establish the types of reading university students engaged on an academic reading-into-writing task through a mixed-methods approach. To achieve this, eye-tracking technology was used to record 30 students’ eye-movements as they engaged in a one-hour computer-based academic reading into writing test task. After the test events, stimulated recall interviews and a cognitive process questionnaire were used to collect more comprehensive data on these students' academic reading processes. The study also investigated whether there were differences in the reading patterns of students with more experience of performing academic reading into writing tasks and those students with less experience. Differences in the way high and low scoring students tackled the task were also investigated. 30 participants (15 first year undergraduates and 15 third year undergraduates or postgraduates) were recruited from a range of UK universities. The participants were observed and their eye movements were recorded whilst they completed the reading into writing task. After the task, participants watched a replay of their reading and writing activity and were prompted to recollect their thought processes during the task. Finally, participants completed a short cognitive processing questionnaire. This research made five key findings relating to university students' academic reading processes in the context of a reading into writing task. Participants spent almost half their time (47 per cent) fixating on their own emerging text and about a third of their time reading the source texts. The task instructions were relatively poorly attended to. The fixations on the written source text were more homogeneous than fixations on the participant emerging work. Fixations on the written source texts reported a shorter mean v fixation duration and contained much higher rates of regression than for reading reported in the literature. Careful reading accounted for less than 30 per cent of reading of the written source texts. Other forms of selective reading accounted for the remaining 70 per cent of reading. The predominance of selective reading appears to result from participants targeting their reading to spend more time on the more relevant sentences, although several factors seem to interact to determine total time on each sentence. When differences between the Year 1 (Y1) and Year 3+ (Y3+) groups were examined, it emerged that the Y3+ group spent much more time fixating on their own work than the Y1 group. It also emerged that the Y3+ group engaged in more selective reading than the Y1 .The increased levels of selective reading may have contributed to the greater attention that the Y3+ group devoted to the more relevant sentences. When the results for the five highest and five lowest scoring participants were compared it emerged that the low scoring participants were much less effective at focusing their attention on the most relevant sentences. In short, these findings suggest that reading during an academic reading into writing task is different to the careful reading described in the literature. It demands a wide range of selective reading skills and strategies in addition to careful reading skills. Task representation can influence the way the writer interacts with the source text(s). The findings imply that development of selective reading skills, in conjunction with developing task representation skills, could help inexperienced students produce better written work earlier in their courses.
    • Vocabulary size and reading comprehension in elementary level Emirati learners of English

      Kinsella, Laurence (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-09)
      The overall aim of this mixed methods study based on a sequential explanatory design was to provide new knowledge and understanding regarding vocabulary learning and reading comprehension among elementary level Emirati learners of English. The low vocabulary sizes and poor reading performances of these learners are well documented (Davidson, Atkinson & Spring, 2011; O’Sullivan, 2009). It is also widely accepted that students with low vocabulary size are will not read efficiently (Laufer & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, 2010; Nation, 2006; Schmitt, Jiang & Grabe, 2011). However, there is still considerable debate on how best low level students might quickly develop their vocabulary and how any increase in vocabulary size impacts on reading comprehension skills (Schmitt, 2010b). Further, much of the research carried out in this area has been in the context of cross sectional studies in experimental conditions rather than in classrooms (Nation & Webb, 2011). The present study aimed to address these gaps through a longitudinal classroom based study on the effect of word cards on receptive vocabulary size development. The quantitative experimental element of the design included an intervention using word cards with the experimental groups. The control groups followed the institutions prescribed vocabulary course which did not include the use of word cards. Additionally, this researcher found no studies seeking the views of Arab learners on the usefulness of word cards. This gap in the literature was addressed through soliciting the students’ perceptions during focus group interviews and a survey questionnaire. The three specific objectives were to:(1) Investigate how decontextualised vocabulary study, using word cards and translation, contributed to a gain in receptive vocabulary for elementary iv level Emirati learners of English; (2) Investigate how vocabulary size is correlated with reading comprehension scores among elementary level Emirati learners of English, and (3): Explore the perceptions of elementary level Emirati learners of English regarding the teaching and learning of vocabulary and its relationship to reading comprehension. The philosophical stance of the researcher was vindicated, because the mixed methods research design, underpinned by constructive realism or pragmatism, provided quantitative data that was enriched and corroborated by qualitative data. Despite its limitations, the main conclusions were that (a) decontextualised vocabulary study, using word cards and translation, contributed a more rapid gain in receptive vocabulary for elementary level Emirati learners of English than a similar teaching programme lacking this element; (b) the size of the receptive vocabulary appeared to correlate with reading comprehension scores. This correlation was especially strong in the case of the Preliminary English Test (PET); and (c) the participants in the experimental group perceived that word cards and translation was a very effective approach to learning vocabulary. The practical implications were that decontextualised vocabulary study, using word cards and translation, could potentially be introduced into curriculum, in order to contribute to a gain in receptive vocabulary for elementary level Emirati learners of English. The findings of this study underline the importance of improving vocabulary size in the case of elementary learners and that the learners are likely to engage better with strategies they believe in.
    • The 2011 Egyptian Uprising: a new chapter among Egyptians in the UK?

      Al-sheikh, Rua Ghanim (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-08)
      This thesis examines the reactions of Egyptians living in the UK to the 2011 uprising in their home country, in terms of belonging to Egypt, Egyptian identity, political participation and media use. The Egyptian revolution was a defining moment in the history of the country and several studies have focused on the effects of the unrest on Egyptians. Further studies are required to study the impact on the Egyptians abroad. This thesis focuses on studying the effects of the revolution on Egyptians living in the UK, including first and second generations. The study is qualitative research involving interviews and ethnographic work among Egyptians in the UK. The inclusion criteria of interviewees include Egyptians residing in the UK aged 18 and over who witnessed the 2011 uprising in Egypt or in the UK. Twenty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted, four ethnographic events were attended and data from two groups on Facebook were collected. The transcripts of the interviews, the ethnographic checklists, reports and the groups’ data were thematically analysed and studied. This study has revealed that the revolution acted as a catalyst for the sense of belonging and identity in three dimensions, namely, differences among the first and second generations, in terms of reaction to the revolution, in defining the terms homeland, sense of pride and notion of return, among other parameters. Political participation of the diaspora in response to the revolution was variable and the sense of hopefulness faded away over time to a sense of hopelessness. Offline participation, compared to online participation, was a feature expressed more among the second-generation diaspora. Media use by the diaspora was studied regarding the role of social and mainstream media as a source of information of the revolution. The study concluded that the exertion of the effect of the revolution on the diaspora during the early years faded away over time, witnessing an unexpected deviation with respect to changing events in Egypt. The study proposes a new framework for features of the second-generation Egyptian diaspora in the UK, which covers eight different areas emphasised in this study.
    • Supporting student experience management with learning analytics in the UK higher education sector

      Kika, Claudette Adamma (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-08)
      While some UK Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) are very successful at harnessing the benefits of Learning Analytics, many others are not actually engaged in making effective use of it. There is a knowledge gap concerning understanding how Learning Analytics is being used and what the impacts are in UK HEIs. This study addresses this gap. More specifically, this study attempts to understand the challenges in utilising data effectively for student experience management (SEM) in the era of Big Data and Learning Analytics; to examine how Learning Analytics is being used for SEM; to identify the key factors affecting the use and impact of Learning Analytics; and to provide a systematic overview on the use and impact of Learning Analytics on SEM in HEIs by developing a conceptual framework. To achieve the research objectives, a qualitative research method is used. The data collection process firstly involves an exploratory case study in a UK university to gain a preliminary insight into the current status on the use of Big Data and Learning Analytics and their impact, and to determine the main focuses for the main study. The research then undertakes an extensive main study involving 30 semi-structured interviews with participants in different UK universities to develop more in-depth knowledge and to present systematically the key findings using a theoretical framework underpinned by relevant theories. Based on the evidence collected from the exploratory case study and interviews, the study identifies the key challenges in utilising data and Learning Analytics in the era of Big Data. These include issues related to data quality, data consistency, data reliability, data analysis, data integration, data and information overload, lack of data, information availability and problems with systems. A series of critical factors affecting the use of Learning Analytics is emerged and mapped out from a technology-organisation-environment-people (TOE+P) perspective. The technology-related factors include Usability, Affordability, Complexity and System integration. The organisation-related factors cover Resource, Data Driven Culture, Senior management support and Strategic IT alignment. The environment-related factors include Competitive pressure, Regulatory environment and External support. Most importantly, the findings emphasise the importance of the people-related factor in addition to TOE factors. The people-related factors include People’s engagement with using data and Learning Analytics, People’s awareness of Data Protection and Privacy and Digital Literacy. The impacts of the Learning Analytics are also identified and analysed using organisational absorptive capacity theory. The findings are integrated in the final theoretical framework and demonstrate that the HEIs’ capabilities in terms of data acquisition, assimilation, transformation and exploitation supported by Learning Analytics enable them to improve student experience management. This study makes new contributions to research and theory by providing a theoretical framework on understanding the use and impact of Learning Analytics in UK HEIs. It also makes important practical contributions by offering valuable guidelines to HEI managers and policy makers on understanding the value of Learning Analytics and know how to maximise the impact of Big Data and Learning Analytics in their organisations.
    • Identifying patterns in signs and symptoms preceding the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

      Bature, Fidelia (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-08)
      Previous research indicates that there is a major challenge caused by the late diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with no suitable diagnostic tool available for use in primary care. Aim: This research is aimed at identifying patterns in the early signs and symptoms of AD to suggest the development of a predictive model for the early detection of AD. Objectives: To; a) map, synthesise and appraise the quality of existing literature on the signs and symptoms preceding the diagnosis of AD via the systematic scoping review of the literature; b) identify patterns in signs and symptoms preceding the clinical diagnosis of AD in general practices via a retrospective medical record review study (RMRRS); c) explore the clinicians perspectives regarding the early signs and symptoms, issues surrounding the late diagnosis and collect recommendations for overcoming barriers to timely detection of AD via a semi-structured interview. Methods: This was a mixed method research comprising a systematic scoping review of literature from 1937-2016, undertaken using the descriptive analysis on the sequence and the timing of signs and symptoms preceding the diagnosis of AD. Methodological quality of studies was assessed with the QUADAS-2 tool as well as PRISMA guidelines and descriptive analysis followed. A RMRRS followed using the logistic regression analysis and a semi-structured interview of general practitioners (GPs) in Milton Keynes (MK) and Luton, using the framework analysis. Results: The findings from the review suggest that neurological and depressive behaviours are an early occurrence in early-onset AD with depressive and cognitive symptoms in the measure of semantic memory and conceptual formation in late-onset AD. It appears that there is a big variation in the patterns of signs and symptoms with cases of misdiagnosis. However, there was limited evidence due to the limited number of studies of this kind. The nested case control design of 109 samples indicates that auditory disturbances could have diagnostic value, with a range of signs and symptoms that appears at different time. While the interviews highlight and confirm areas for consideration in the primary care and NHS. Additionally, the study reports practices in relation to the early diagnosis of AD. However, the result is not an overall representation of the views of GPs. Conclusion: Findings suggest that individuals with auditory disturbances have increased odds of AD. This was more striking in the white female population, with borderline significance due to limited data that is too small to detect such an uncommon symptom(s).
    • Feasibility of MyHealthAvatar mobile phone application for reducing prolonged sedentary behaviour in Type 2 diabetes

      Mugridge, Lucie (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-07)
      Objective: Time spent in a prolonged sedentary state can have detrimental health effects in people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of a mobile phone app, MyHealthAvatar, for reducing prolonged sedentary behaviour in people with T2DM. Methods: Twelve individuals with recently diagnosed T2DM were randomised to either an intervention or control group for 8 weeks. The intervention group utilised the app for 8 weeks and the control group continued their normal behaviour. Physical activity and sitting were measured at baseline and during the last intervention week. Health measures were taken at baseline and post-intervention. Semi-structured interviews were carried out post-intervention to gain participant feedback on the usability of the app. Results: The intervention group decreased total sedentary time by 50.52 minutes/day and increased number of breaks from sedentary time by 4.08 breaks per day, standing time by 41.76 minutes/day and light physical activity by 5.28 minutes/day from baseline to post-intervention compared to the control group. Conclusion: MyHealthAvatar has the potential to reduce prolonged sedentary behaviour in individuals with T2DM. The effectiveness of this app requires investigation in a fully powered randomised controlled trial.
    • Designing an engaging learning universe for situated interactions in virtual environments

      Christopoulos, Athanasios (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-07)
      Studies related to the Virtual Learning approach are conducted almost exclusively in Distance Learning contexts, and focus on the development of frameworks or taxonomies that classify the different ways of teaching and learning. Researchers may be dealing with the topic of interactivity (avatars and immersion are key components), yet they do so they mainly focusing on the interactions that take place within the virtual world. It is the virtual world that consists the primary medium for communication and interplay. However, the lines are hard to be drawn when it comes to examining and taxonomising the impact of interactions on motivation and engagement as a synergy of learners’ concurrent presence. This study covers this gap and sheds light on this lack—or, at least, inadequacy—of literature and research on the interactions that take place both in the physical and the virtual environment at the same time. In addition, it explores the impact of the instructional design decisions on increasing the learners’ incentives for interplay when trying to make sense of the virtual world, thus leading them to attain higher levels of engagement. To evaluate the potential of interactions holistically and not just unilaterally, a series of experiments were conducted in the context of different Hybrid Virtual Learning units, with the participation of Computer Science & Technology students. One of the goals was to examine the learners’ thoughts and preconceptions regarding the use of virtual worlds as an educational tool. Then, during the practical sessions, the focus was placed on monitoring students’ actions and interactions in both the physical and the virtual environment. Consequently, students were asked as a feedback to report their overall opinion on these actions and interactions undertaken. The study draws a new research direction, beyond the idea of immersion and the development of subject-specific educational interventions. The conclusions provide suggestions and guidelines to educators and instructional designers who wish to offer interactive and engaging learning activities to their students, as well as a taxonomy of the different types of interactions that take place in Hybrid Virtual Learning contexts.
    • Beyond the surface: board of directors’ effectiveness regarding tasks and corporate social responsibility activities in Nigeria

      Zayyana, Abubakar Mohammed (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-07)
      Despite the growing interest on board literature, what makes a board effective is still unclear. Recent events highlighting corporate abuse cast doubt on the efficacy of the existing governance codes. The main aim of this research is to investigate board effectiveness beyond board demographic variables. Specifically, the study examines the systematic relationships between board characteristics, board processes, board tasks and corporate social responsibility (legal and ethical) activities in Nigeria. In this research, corporate social responsibility activities, rather than corporate financial performance are considered. This is essential, as in addition to the Nigerian corporate governance code requirements, unethical and illegal activities of directors are the genesis of most of the previous corporate scandals. Moreover, an effective CSR strategy has the potential to influence financial performance in the long-term. Building on previous studies, an existing framework has been adapted; however, the results of semi-structured qualitative interviews show that certain board processes (cognitive conflict and effort norms) as well as board tasks (resource provision and strategy advisory) need to be amended in order to suit the Nigerian context. Additionally, the current study employs the theoretical lenses of the agency, resource dependency and stakeholder theories to investigate board effectiveness. A survey questionnaire generated through Qualtrics software was sent to all directors (1,430) of firms listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. A response rate of 214 (189 usable), representing fifteen per cent of the total sample was received and Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) was employed to test the hypothesised relationships. The empirical findings show that board processes variables are more important than board characteristics in regard to board effectiveness in Nigeria. Among the board processes variables, knowledge utilisation has the strongest effect on board task (control and service), followed by board level of challenge. Commitment amongst board members has a significant impact on service task, but not on control task. Both board control and service tasks have greater influences on legal and ethical corporate social responsibility activities in Nigeria. Finally, board processes do not have mediating effects on the relationship between board characteristics and board tasks. However, board (service and control) tasks mediate the link between knowledge utilisation and CSR legal and ethical activities, but only service task has an indirect effect on the relationship between board commitment and CSR. Surprisingly, these board task variables serve as suppressors, rather than mediators on the relationship between board challenge and CSR. The current study contributes empirically and theoretically to board literature by examining factors responsible for board effectiveness, beyond board characteristics (the usual suspects) in Nigeria. Similarly, the study contributes to board processes literature by introducing a new input-process-output model that includes CSR activities. The findings of this research are expected to provide information to boards of directors and policymakers on what boards do to influence board task effectiveness and determine the effects of board task on corporate social responsibility activities. The study provides evidence which highlights the important need for board scholars to consider other variables, such as board processes and tasks, rather than fully relying on board structure when investigating board effectiveness.
    • Cross–cultural communication in Thai EFL university classrooms: a case study

      Kuesoongnern, Satip (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-07)
      In the past few decades there has been increased communication among people of diverse cultural backgrounds. Greater internationalisation of education has contributed to academic interest in cross–cultural communication. Thailand is considered an‟English as a Foreign Language‟ (EFL) country in which English is mandatory curriculum subject at primary, secondary, college and university levels. Thai education policy has aimed at improving Thai students‟ English proficiency by hiring more native English speakers to teach at schools and universities. Moreover, having had native English lecturers teaching in Thai universities provides opportunities for Thai students to communicate across cultures. From a social–cultural perspective, this study investigated how native English lecturers and Thai students apply cross–cultural communication strategies within real interactional contexts in the Thai EFL classroom. This research aims to improve communication between native English lecturers, Thai lecturers and non–native English students or Thai students through the use of effective cross–cultural communication strategies in the Thai EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classroom. This study used a mixed–qualitative–methods design (Mason, 2006) which was composed of interviews, classroom observations and video recordings of classroom teachings. This methodology was chosen in order to allow the researcher an integrated and clearer understanding of what was happening in the Thai EFL classroom. The case study approach was used to investigate one small department within one university (Denscombe, 2010) to allow the researcher to explore in–depth exchanges arising from teacher–student communication phenomena (Yin, 2009). Using socio–cultural theory developed by Engeström and different themes that emerged from various taxononomies as frameworks, the findings from this research revealed that native English lecturers, Thai lecturers, and Thai students employed various cross–cultural communication strategies including communication strategies derived from Tarone‟s (1977; 1983), Willems‟(1997), and Dӧrnyei and Scott‟s (1995a, 1995b) taxonomy of communication strategies. Additionally, simple pedagogical strategies applied by the lecturers played significant roles in enabling Thai students to maintain the conversations as well as boosting confidence in English speaking while having less fear of interacting with the lecturer in the Thai EFL classroom. Furthermore, the findings suggest that both native English and Thai lecturers have to be aware of and sensitive to Thai students‟ cultural aspects, their nature and behaviours expressed in the Thai EFL classroom in order to encourage these students to respond or speak up. Besides, the application of CCC(s), CS(s) and pedagogical strategies are perceived as necessary tools for the Thai EFL teachers and students. As a result of this research, an original taxonomy of effective communication strategies is proposed to be used by both teachers and students in cross–cultural EFL classroom contexts.
    • The transfer and diffusion of human resource (HR) policies and practices of European multinational companies (MNCS) to their Nigerian subsidiaries

      Akhile, Janet Francis (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06-21)
      Human resource (HR) practices diffusion within multinational companies (MNCs) is an imperative area of research for strategic international human resource management (SIHRM). The existing literature noted that there are critical factors that affect the transfer and diffusion process of human resource practices. This research seeks to address certain shortcomings in existing SIHRM literature, in particular the lack of work on human resource policies and practices adopted by multinationals operating in developing sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. This research extends the focus of SIHRM literature beyond MNCs parent companies into the subsidiary’s context in developing SSA country. This work builds from broader analytical frameworks to examine and interpret the dynamic underlying process of human resource practices diffused. More precisely, drawing upon SIHRM literature and institutional theory to provide a comprehensive understanding of the transfer and diffusion of human resource practices. The empirical data was collected from international human resource managers (IHR), local management staff in the Nigerian subsidiaries including human resource managers, senior managers and line managers. The research involved forty-two semi-structured interviews, supplemented by company documents, from two European companies operating in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. This work used thematic analysis to evaluate and interpret the data. Analysis of the interviewers account showed that both company and country factors shape the adoption and diffusion of human resource practices in the Nigerian subsidiaries. The findings indicate that the strategic importance of each human resource practice is a driving force behind the transfer process. The two European MNCs utilised exportive and integrative SIHRM orientation to disperse a wide range of HR practices from the parent companies. Furthermore, the findings indicate that employment regulations and trade union effects alone do not influence MNCs’ choice of practices diffused in the Nigerian subsidiaries. Socio-cultural factors such as values and beliefs affect the workforce's personal actions and perceptions, and these are key factors to consider when transferring HR practices. The findings of this work thus make a valuable contribution to SIHRM literature and institutional theory literature with a focus on HRM in MNCs operations.
    • Exploring the experience of liminality in learners of secondary school physics

      Appleby, David (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06)
      The idea of 'threshold concepts' has attracted attention and framed many enquiries into learning, particularly in higher education, since it was first proposed by Meyer and Land in 2003. It has formed the basis of a broadly-based scholarly community; however, it lacks some of the features of the kind of generative research programmes described by Lakatos. These include the lack of an explicit ontological and epistemological position and a lack of clarity around the fundamental concepts of transformation and liminality. Instead, much of the literature on threshold concepts uses metaphors and analogies and borrows from eclectic fields and traditions. This is particularly evident in discussions of the liminality found amongst learners when confronted by troublesome knowledge or cognitive conflicts. This empirically-based study proposes that it is possible to understand the philosophical perspectives underpinning threshold concepts in terms of a commitment to ontological realism combined with epistemological constructivism. This combination is evident elsewhere, notably in constructivist science education, in physics, and in the tension between classic Glaserian and Charmazian constructivist grounded theory. This study therefore uses a hybridised grounded theory approach, combined with a think-aloud method, in order to study experiences of liminality among pre-university learners faced with a threshold concept in physics. Learners used reflective self-dialogue and deliberative problem—solving strategies to reconcile a mismatch in explanations. Key characteristics of liminality were identified including threshold avoidance, two forms of stuckness, oscillation and mimicry. However, the use of grounded analysis resulted in a reinterpretation of liminality from a period during which transformative learning took place to one in which a learner actively explored the problem space; active exploratory learning emerged as a core category. This facilitated a change in perspective from teacher-centric to learner-centric, a resolution of the two forms of stuckness previously observed, and the development of a coherent narrative to explain oscillation and mimicry and to enable a resolution of the differences between the ‘possible breakthrough ideas’ observed during this study and the ‘eureka’ moments described in the literature. This reinterpretation enables the development of a new understanding of liminality which paves the way towards the development of threshold concepts as a theory of learning. It also demands a pedagogical refocusing from the remediation or avoidance of learner deficit to strategies for enabling learners to make the most of the liminal experience.
    • The relationship between myoelectrical properties and contraction intensity

      Lane, Christopher (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06)
      The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between muscle force and electromyography (EMG) amplitude of muscles around the ankle, elbow, and knee. Frequency analysis was also conducted. 31 healthy volunteers (24.55 ± 4.64 years, 1.72 ± 0.08 m, 72.08 ± 23.67 kg) participated in this study. Volunteers were injury-free and provided informed consent before taking part. Surface EMG (sEMG) electrodes were situated over a total of 15 muscles over three joints. The right ankle, elbow, and knee joints were fixed at their mid-range of motion while participants isometrically contracted antagonistic muscle pairs at 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 per cent contraction intensity. Visual inspection and coefficient of determination (R2) of a linear trendline was used to determine linearity of the EMG-force relationship of each muscle tested. An R2 value ≥ 0.990 indicated a linear relationship, between 0.980 – 0.989 indicated a curvilinear relationship, and ≤ 0.979 indicated an elbow point relationship; Linear relationships: triceps brachii – lateral head (R2 0.995), triceps brachii – long head (R2 1.000), semitendinosus (R2 0.997), fibularis brevis (R2 0.999), fibularis longus (R2 0.992). Curvilinear relationships: biceps femoris (R2 0.987), soleus (R2 0.985), tibialis anterior (R2 0.983). Elbow point relationships: biceps brachii (R2 0.965), brachioradialis (R2 0.930), rectus femoris (R2 0.968), vastus lateralis (R2 0.971), vastus medialis (R2 0.967), gastrocnemius lateralis (R2 0.964), gastrocnemius medialis (R2 0.968). Based on these data muscle fibre type and joint angle appear to have the greatest influence on the EMG-force relationship. Future research using a wider range of joint angles would be recommended.
    • Formalising ambush marketing as a marketing communications activity: a framework for planning, implementation and control

      Abbasi, Mohammad Waqar (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06)
      The UK is reporting record numbers of television and digital audiences of international sports broadcasts. Sponsoring these events represents highly lucrative and sought after opportunities for brands to reach these large audience numbers. However the immense costs of organising these events mean that the costs of such sponsorships are also immense. Therefore these sponsorship opportunities are accessible only to large multinational and global brands. Ambush marketing represents an alternative approach whereby brands can participate in marketing communication activities similar to sponsors without becoming official sponsors. Ambushers have to develop creative and imaginative campaigns to emulate sponsors without infringing on their rights. The aim of this study is to conceptualise the operational aspects of ambush marketing from the perspective of ambushers. It explores ambushing as an alternative strategic marketing communications activity to corporate sponsorship of sports. A systematic literature review has been conducted to discover the background and development of ambush marketing and ascertain the gap in research by comparing the extant research on ambush marketing to corporate sponsorship of sports. Where there is saturation in empirical consumer oriented research on brand recognition and recall, there is no research on the planning, development and implementation of ambush marketing or the day to day operations and strategies involved in ambushing sports. Furthermore research has so far not involved actual ambushers. In order to fulfil this gap, an exploratory, qualitative study has been designed. A single case study strategy has been applied with eight embedded units of analysis represented by eight actual ambushers of recent UK sports broadcasts. Participants in this unprecedented study are senior marketing and management officials of these companies. The study is interpretative with an ideographic philosophical stance allowing the exploration of UK ambush marketing within its own ethnographic context. A number of reliability and validity measures have been incorporated in the research design. The analysis of data in the form of interviews, documents and multimedia content found six main themes with a number of subthemes regarding the decision, planning and implementation of ambush marketing campaigns. These six themes are decision making, objective setting, developing ambush strategies, targeting ambush audiences, ambush expenditure and ambush outcomes. They represent sequential individual stages in the organisational process of ambush marketing found to be common in all participating companies. This study contributes to potential UK ambushers by providing a standardised approach to ambushing international sports broadcasts specifically from the industries represented by the participants, namely the betting industry and the food and beverage industry. Research also highlights the changing nature of ambush marketing from the traditional parasitic image to a contemporary image as a parallel, mutually beneficial activity. The benchmarking tool represented by the diagrammatic framework of the ambush marketing process will allow ambushers to chart their progress against a standardised approach while highlighting contemporary and innovative ideas and ways to avoid illegal and unethical practices. Lastly this study contributes to future research in ambush marketing by demonstrating that direct ambush marketer involvement is possible and making specific and valuable recommendations for further study.