Now showing items 1-20 of 6521

    • History assisted energy efficient spectrum sensing In cognitive radio networks

      Syed, Tazeen Shabana (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-11)
      The ever-increasing wireless applications and services has generated a huge demand for the RF spectrum. The strict and rigid policy of spectrum management by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rendered spectrum a valuable resource. The disproportion in the usage of spectrum between the licensed primary users (PUs) and the enormous unlicensed secondary users (SUs) in the band has created spectrum scarcity. This imbalance can be alleviated by the Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) based on Cognitive Radio Network (CRN) paradigm by significantly improving the efficiency of spectrum utilisation of the wireless networking systems. DSA enables unlicensed secondary users (SUs) also known as cognitive radios (CRs) to sense the spectral environment and access the licensed spectrum opportunistically without causing any interference to the licensed primary users (PUs). Spectrum sensing is the most prominent capability of CRs to effectively detect the presence or absence of licensed primary users (PUs) in the band. Sensing provides protection to primary users (PUs) from interference and creates opportunities of spectrum access to secondary users (SUs). However, scanning the spectrum continuously is critical and power intensive. The high-power consumption in battery operated CR devices reduces device lifetime thereby affecting the network performance. Research is being carried out to improve energy efficiency and offer viable solutions for extending lifetime for wireless devices. In this thesis, the work focuses on the energy efficient spectrum sensing of CR networks. The main aim is to reduce the percentage of energy consumption in the CR system in possible ways. Primarily, the conventional energy detection (ED) and the cyclostationary feature detection (CFD) spectrum sensing mechanisms were employed to sense the spectrum. Aiming on energy efficiency, a novel history assisted spectrum sensing scheme has been proposed which utilises an analytical engine database (AED). It generates a rich data set of spectrum usage history that can be used by CRs to make efficient sensing decisions modelled using Markov chain model. The usage of sensing history in decision making, results in decreasing the frequency of spectrum scanning by the CRs thereby reducing the processing cost and the sensing related energy consumption. It shows 17% improvement in energy saving compared to the conventional sensing scheme. The key performance parameters such as probability of miss detection (PMD), probability of false alarm (PF) and probability of detection (PD) were investigated using ROC curves. Extensive performance analysis is carried out by implementing two traditional sensing schemes ED and CFD in terms of computational cost and energy consumption and shows 50% improvement in effective energy saved by using history assisted spectrum sensing mechanism. Further, to address the high energy consumption during communication between CRs / stations (STAs) and the base station (BS), a novel energy efficient Group Control Slot allocation (GCSA) mac protocol has been proposed. Publish/Subscribe (PUB-SUB) and point-to-point messaging models have been implemented for data communication between BS, STAs and AED. The proposed mac protocol increases the number of STAs to enter in to sleep mode thereby conserving the energy consumed during idle state. Furthermore, cluster based co-operative spectrum sensing (CSS) is considered for reducing the energy utilised for data communication between CRs and BS by electing a cluster head (CH) using fuzzy logic-based clustering algorithm. The cluster head (CH) collects, aggregates data from cluster members and it is only the CHs that communicate to the BS. Thus, there is no communication between individual non-CH CRs and BS, thereby significantly reducing the energy consumption and improving the network lifetime of the CR system. Extensive simulations were performed in MATLAB and results are presented for all the proposed schemes.
    • The acute impact of breakfast consumption and omission on postprandial metabolic responses in adolescent girls

      Morari, Victoria (University of Bedfordshire, 2019-12)
      Breakfast consumption (BC) frequency declines from childhood to adolescence and is associated with poor metabolic health. This research aimed to analyse whether BC versus breakfast omission (BO) affects substrate oxidation during rest in adolescent girls. Secondly, it examined whether BC vs BO influences postprandial and 5 h glycaemia and insulineamia. Lastly, it evaluated the effects of BC vs BO on Fatmax, MFO, rate of perceived exertion and physical activity (PA) enjoyment during an exercise bout performed 2 h after lunch. Seventeen breakfast consuming girls (13.2 ± 0.7 years old) were recruited. Two experimental trials were completed in a randomised counterbalanced order: BC and BO. A standardised lunch was provided three hours after breakfast (BC) or after breakfast omission (BO). Finger prick blood samples for the analysis of plasma glucose and plasma insulin and expired gas samples for the analysis of substrate oxidation were taken throughout the trials. An incremental 7-stage cycling test was performed 2 h after lunch for the determination of maximum fat oxidation (MFO) and intensity at which MFO occurred (Fatmax). OMNI Scale was used to evaluate the perceived exertion at the end of each cycling stage. PA enjoyment was evaluated after the cool-down using Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). There was a significant main effect of condition (BC vs BO) for fat (p= 0.008) and carbohydrate (p< 0.001) oxidation after lunch. Fat oxidation was significantly higher during BO compared to BC, while carbohydrate oxidation was significantly higher during BC compared to BO. The main effect of condition for glucose and insulin incremental area under the curve (iAUC) (p= 0.509; p= 0.603, respectively) and total area under the curve (tAUC) for glucose and insulin (p= 0.738; p= 0.665, respectively) throughout the whole day was not significant. However, post lunch glucose and insulin iAUC (p= 0.05; p= 0.001) and tAUC (p= 0.05; p= 0.001) were significantly higher during BO compared to BC. There was no significant difference in MFO (p= 0.104) or Fatmax (p= 0.945) between conditions. Physical activity enjoyment was higher during BC vs BO with an almost significant difference (p= 0.055). The main effect of condition for perceived exertion (p= 0.307) was not significantly different. In conclusion, BC resulted in lower fat oxidation and lower second meal glycaemic and insulineamic responses. Ultimately, the findings of this study will assist in understanding further the effects of BC vs BO on adolescents’ metabolism. This may have important implications in prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
    • Hybrid energy-storage system for mobile RF energy harvesting wireless sensors

      Munir, Bilal (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-07)
      This thesis discusses the impact of the supercapacitor size on the performance of the mobile battery-less RF energy harvesting system. The choice of supercapacitor is crucial in mobile systems. The small supercapacitor can charge quickly and activate the sensor in a few seconds in the low-energy area but cannot provide a significant amount of energy to the sensor to do heavy energy tasks such as programming or communication with the base station. On the other hand, large supercapacitors have a sensor node for heavy energy tasks in a high-energy zone but may not be able to activate in a low energy zone. The proposed hybrid energy-storage system contains two supercapacitors of different sizes and a switching circuit. An adaptive-learning switching algorithm controls the switching circuit. This algorithm predicts the available source energy and the period that the sensor node will remain in the high-energy area. The algorithm dynamically switches between the supercapacitors according to available ambient RF energy. Extensive simulation and experiments evaluated the proposed method. The proposed system showed 40% and 80% efficiency over single supercapacitor system in terms of the amount of harvested energy and sensor coverage.
    • Feature learning for EEG-based person identification

      Nyah, Ndifreke Okon (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-04)
      Evoked potentials recorded on a multielectrode EEG device are known to be a ected by volume conductance and functional connectivity while a task is performed by a person. Modelling functional connectivity represents neural interactions between electrodes which are distinguishable and genetically identical. However, the representations that are caused by volume conductance are not distinguishable because of unwanted correlations of the signal. Orthogonalisation using autoregressive modelling minimises the conductance component, and the connectivity features can be then extracted from the residuals. The proposed method shows it is possible to reduce the multidimensionality of the predicted AR model coe cients by modelling the residual from the EEG electrode channel baseline, which makes an important contribution to the functional connectivity. The results show that the required models can be learnt by Machine Learning techniques which are capable of providing the maximal performance in the case of multidimensional EEG data. The proposed method was able to learn accurate identification with few EEG recording channels, especially when the channel that is used has a functional connectivity with the interactive task. The study, which has been conducted on a EEG benchmark including 109 participants, shows a signi cant improvement of the identi cation accuracy.
    • Social work and poverty: an exploration of social workers’ attitudes and understanding

      Nyamtowo, Milton (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-05)
      The context of this study is the dilemma that most service users of social interventions and practice are poor and yet poverty is marginalised within social work practice. The study therefore set out to explore social work practitioners’ understanding of poverty, attitudes towards poverty and social work and poverty relationship. A qualitative methodology was adopted, involving five focus group discussions and twenty-eight semi-structured interviews within three Local Authorities referred to as research sites. This was more than the originally anticipated sample. A narrative literature review undertaken concluded that social work definitions are contested and this, coupled with regulation of social work, limits social work effectiveness in addressing poverty as it is not one of its major remits. The review identified that poverty is a significant issue affecting most service users and associated with most social problems involved in social work interventions and practice. The review discovered that social work practice pathologizes poverty and generally attributes causation of poverty to service users’ lack of capacity to take advantage of opportunities within the market and provided by the state and a lack of motivation to overcome their problems at the expense of structural factors that either cause or exacerbate poverty. This resonates with individualistic social work frameworks which are risk-averse, reactive, punitive, authoritative, and ineffective given the scale and impact of poverty which seems to be increasing. This is aggravated by the neo-liberal socio-political environment and managerialist social work environment characterised by low morale, high caseloads, paucity of much needed resource for social work interventions. The literature review established that social workers’ attitudes towards poor service users are largely ambivalent and negative. The research data reveals that poverty is a significant and prevalent issue amongst most service users and associated with most social problems handled by social workers. Research participants expressed that there is no shared understanding of poverty, that definition of poverty is important in how it is understood and influencing how poverty is addressed. It emerged that poverty is marginalised in social work education and practice. Research data revealed that poverty is taken as background music and normal. It emerged that poverty is not viewed as a risk factor on its own. Participants revealed that social work lacks capacity, knowledge, and skills to address poverty. Social work education and training does not equip social workers with functional knowledge and skills to address poverty in practice. The research revealed social work professionals’ attitudes are generally negative, stereotypical, and judgemental towards service users. Government policies aggravate service users’ experiences and circumstances. The participants expressed an understanding that thresholds of social work interventions are high and therefore act as barriers. Participants expressed that poverty is an uncomfortable subject to discuss with service users given stigmatisation associated with being poor. This therefore results in service users hiding their financial struggles. It emerged that service users who are poor are discriminated against and punished to experiencing poverty and that this goes against main social work values. The findings echo findings undertaken by many academics and researchers in social work poverty and therefore add to the body of knowledge in social work and poverty The study recommends that that consideration should be made that poverty is taught as a main course in social work education and as a post-graduate course for social work in practice. It is also recommended that social work should promote poverty discourse at the policy level with a view to influencing structural change. It is also recommended that adequate funding be provided for poverty practice, family support and early intervention and prevention. It is also recommended that that government policies that impact negatively on service users be evaluated. Service users should play an integral role in all these recommendations.
    • The impact of small-scale digital audio broadcasting (DAB): emerging opportunities for the UK community radio sector

      Marsh, Jonathan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-07)
      This research explores small-scale digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in the United Kingdom by providing an historical contextualised framework with contemporary findings. The research begins with an overview of digital audio broadcasting, which is underpinned with evidence from a range of literature, which includes public facing reports, white papers and policy documentation relating to this area of research. This includes the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with relevant published articles, which feature within parts of this work. Reports and relevant documentation from non-government stakeholders also feature in this work. This includes the Office of Communications (Ofcom), research organisations such as the Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), along with broadcasters and academic articles. These combined sources provide historical examples and contemporary evidence of digital audio broadcasting in the United Kingdom. A significant part of this work draws upon primary sourced qualitative research. This consists of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and includes comprehensive discussions with a range of research analysts, broadcasters, radio organisations and multiplex operators. The interviews provide a detailed level of expert analysis and discussions, which offers a direct insight into digital audio broadcasting. The key research questions discuss; the setup and launch process of small-scale DAB; geographical coverage of small-scale DAB; cost of broadcasting on and operating a small-scale DAB multiplex; available multiplex capacity, including the significance of DAB+; long term licensing and roll out of small-scale DAB; and broadcast audio quality. The research also includes a primary sourced quantitative survey. The survey was formulated in direct response to the stakeholder interviews to address a gap in industry knowledge relating to broadcast audio quality, which was identified during the interview process. The survey data, results, analysis and discussions provide original contribution to knowledge as the research identifies and addresses a gap in knowledge regarding listeners’ opinions, perceptions and threshold limitations of analogue and digital broadcast audio qualities. These qualitative and quantitative research methods are combined and triangulated with the underpinning of relevant public facing literature. This research provides stakeholders with a detailed account of small-scale DAB, which draws upon relevant and original research data, results and analysis. It is anticipated that local and community broadcasters can make informed decisions based on areas of this research, to reduce their digital broadcasting costs, while simultaneously providing their audiences with reliable DAB services. This research is relevant to broadcasters intending to broadcast their output on a DAB multiplex, and for broadcasters who are already broadcasting their services on a multiplex but are looking to reduce their transmission costs.
    • Data pre-processing techniques and tools for predictive modelling using unstructured inputs

      Maslowski, Przemyslaw (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-07)
      Data is a crucial factor within machine learning, as most of the neural networks and machine learning models are data-driven. A trained neural network can be used to predict new data that has not been seen by the model but under the trained patterns. The performance of the predictive model can vary based on the data that is being used while training. Multiple metrics have been produced after a model is trained to evaluate model performance. However, it is difficult to get an intuitive measurement that indicates if the data pre-processing of a model has been improved or not. Therefore, a constructive performance indicator tool that can be used to intuitively measure the performance of pre-processing mechanisms for a given model, has been developed through multiple experiments with 32 datasets. The experiments are set up by collecting multiple unstructured datasets which are subsequently converted into structured datasets and then evaluated by their modelling performance. The experiment results are used to evaluate the importance of each metric and priorities via weights for contextualising the preprocessing experience within the constructivist paradigm. Furthermore, a set of tools have been developed throughout the project to improve the efficiency of machine learning experiments. The developed set of tools are a part of the main software, which is named as the pre-processing assistant. The pre-processing assistant has been published to the public, and it can be used for preparing, processing, and analysing data. The software tools allow users to manipulate datasets and generate Python scripts to train a predictive model. Also, the TensorFlow framework and its machine-learning algorithms have been utilised to develop Python scripts for training and predicting datasets. The software has been used to effectively carry out the experiments which have helped to configure the performance indicator tool. In the end, the most important metrics have been discovered through various experiments. The experiments consist of training the model with and without data pre-processing techniques. The increase in each metric has been adopted to discover significant metrics. The metrics which improve frequently are estimated to be more critical and have been assigned with a higher weight. The performance indicator has been configured based on the final experiment results, and it can be used by others to measure the performance of a predictive model.
    • The effect of breaking up sitting time on health markers and its implication for the workplace

      Maylor, Benjamin D. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-12)
      The primary aim of the work included in this thesis was to investigate the effects of breaking up sitting time on cardiometabolic risk markers and appetite. The three acute experimental chapters in this thesis sought to do this by examining postprandial concentrations of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, acylated ghrelin and total peptide YY. Additionally, subjective appetite, physical activity energy expenditure and energy intake were investigated. In study one, postprandial glycaemia was attenuated in young, healthy adult men when breaking up sitting every 20 min with 2 min moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) following a high glycaemic index breakfast, compared with an uninterrupted sitting condition. There was no attenuation in glucose observed if a low glycaemic index breakfast had been consumed, suggesting that in a metabolically healthy sample, breaking up sitting may only be beneficial when high glycaemic index meals are consumed. In study two, postprandial lipaemia was improved across an 8 h period when breaking up sitting every hour with a short, high-intensity PA bout compared with uninterrupted sitting. This strengthens the efficacy of short bouts of PA of a high-intensity as strategy to improve postprandial lipaemia. However, data from study one and three suggests that attenuating postprandial glucose or insulin may require more frequent breaks in sitting than hourly PA bouts. Studies two and three observed no changes in appetite regulating hormones. Despite this, there was a suppression in subjective appetite when participants engaged in hourly high-intensity PA bouts, suggesting that a minimum threshold of PA intensity is required to elicit these effects. However, despite moderate-intensity PA breaks in sitting not suppressing appetite, no compensatory responses were observed in appetite or energy intake, resulting in an acute relative energy deficit. These findings suggest that this type of activity regime could assist in weight management programmes. Study four sought to investigate the efficacy of a workplace cluster randomised controlled trial at reducing workplace sitting. The multicomponent intervention did not reduce workplace sitting time. However, time spent in prolonged sitting bouts (> 30 min) was reduced and stepping time increased. This was concomitant with reductions in waist circumference and an increase in fat-free mass, demonstrating that a low-cost, short-duration, multicomponent intervention can be effective in changing sedentary behaviour patterns in the workplace. Overall, this thesis adds to the current evidence examining the effects of breaking up sitting on postprandial cardiometabolic risk markers and appetite, in addition to demonstrating the efficacy of a short-term low-cost multicomponent intervention at reducing prolonged sitting in the workplace by using strategies similar to those examined in studies one and three. Chapter eight summarises the significance of the findings from all four experimental studies whilst synonymously highlighting future directions for research in this area of the field.
    • Understanding the professional identity development of undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK

      McKenna, Brian (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-04)
      Professional identity formation is a process that happens simultaneously at the level of the individual (which involves their internal cognitive development), at the interactive level (which involves socialisation through participation) and at the institutional level (which involves being subject to institutional processes). Having a well-developed professional identity is important, as it helps professionals to practise with confidence, provides a sense of belonging, aids normative behaviours and has been linked to better quality care. Whilst research has highlighted the factors that support professional identity development in other professions, there is limited understanding of the factors that student osteopaths use to construct their professional identity. The aim of this study was to construct a theory of how undergraduate osteopaths in the UK construct their professional identity and to determine whether undergraduate osteopathic students have conceptions of an osteopathic identity. A qualitative study was undertaken within a constructivist paradigm. A total of seven UK undergraduate osteopathic students were purposively sampled. Data was collected through all seven participants keeping a diary for one month. Following this, individual interviews were undertaken with all participants. Participant diaries acted both as data and as a reflective prompt for the individual interviews. Subsequent theoretical sampling informed the data analysis. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Towards the end of the study, one participant was selected for a second interview. A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to code and analyse the data and to construct the grounded theory of how undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK construct their professional identity. The data resulted in the construction of a theory that encompasses three interrelated levels. At the individual level, students held a conception of their future self as an osteopath, which they used to motivate themselves and measure their progress. They constructed this future self as an osteopath by the interactive process which became known as ‘Magpieing’. This involved the collection of identity contents from tutors, peers and documentation. Students then experimented with these identity contents with either patients or peers before making the decision to integrate the content, continue to experiment with it in other situations or discard it. This was underpinned by institutional level processes that constituted providing students with role models and mentors, clinical encounters and safe spaces where they could collect and experiment with identity contents. Students held a conception of an osteopathic identity base on three levels: ways of interacting with patients, professionalism, and knowledge and ways of using it. They associated most strongly with ways of interacting with patients and least strongly with knowledge and ways of using it. The findings indicate that undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK construct their professional identity on an individual, an interactional and an institutional level, and that these levels are interrelated. Undergraduate osteopathic students in the UK have a conception of the professional identity of osteopaths based on three levels, with which they strongly or weakly associated. These findings provide the first theory of how student osteopaths construct their professional identity.
    • A model to offer reliable data transmissions in vehicular ad hoc network

      Jameel, Meharaj Theen (University of Bedfordshire, 2020)
      Vehicular Ad-hoc Network (VANET) is one of the widely used networks across various intelligent transport applications in order to support the autonomous driving, reduce network congestion and overcome any kind of the accidents occurring on the road. This report involves in focusing on the safety applications where the vehicles involve in broadcasting the safety messages that are highly time critical and reliability sensitive. The importance of delivering the broadcasted safety messages of VANET in highly timely and reliable manner has resulted in undertaking this research work. In order to support the reliable delivery of the broadcasted safety messages, this research has developed a model called Reliable Vector Clustering (RVC) which involves in neighbour node identification, vehicle cluster formation and broadcasting the coded data using the network coding method. In order to evaluate this developed model, analytical model developed and simulation studies have been carried out in this report. The analytical model has developed a criterion that helps in choosing the best vehicle as the cluster head node and the simulation studies have compared the effectiveness of the developed method. These simulation studies have revealed the effectiveness of proposed RVC method in improving the packet error recovery probability and packet delivery ratio when compared to the existing methods.
    • Understanding and improving police health and wellbeing: the PHeW project

      Kukucska, Dora (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-06)
      Aim: In the UK it has been reported that over 50% of the police workforce has taken sick leave for mental or physical health issues within the past five years. Bedfordshire Police Force has the fourth highest long term sick leave in the UK due to both physical and psychological health. Method: The study employed mixed methods across four phases of work (1. needs assessment, 2. Baseline assessment, 3. Intervention implementation, 4. Evaluation) to assess the physical health (body mass index, blood pressure), psychological wellbeing (stress anxiety, depression, mood, wellbeing), health behaviours (physical activity, nutrition, substance use, sleep), support needs and factors that influence the health and wellbeing of Bedfordshire Police employees. The study moreover tested the feasibility of brief positive psychology interventions (3 Good Things [expressive writing] Technique and Positive Password Mantras) for a length of 1 month. Results: Stress levels (personal, organisational and operational) and BMI were high in Bedfordshire Police Force employees and significantly correlated with poorer health behaviours. Recruitment to the interventions was low, and attrition over the four weeks was high, suggesting the current approach was not feasible. Interview findings indicated that future initiatives need to 1) Build belief in the support available; 2) Address perceived stigma; 3) Provide timely support; 4) Reduce work-related stress; 5) Make health and wellbeing a priority; 6) Encourage camaraderie and social support, and 7) Support positive coping strategies. Conclusion: There is a clear need and desire for occupational health support within Bedfordshire Police Force to support employees’ physical health and psychological wellbeing. Future interventions should consider employee’s capability, opportunity and motivation to engage and make initiatives easy, attractive, social and timely.
    • Creating relationally reflexive spaces in social care education

      Leonard, Karen (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-07)
      This doctoral thesis is a reflexive inquiry into my education practice with social care students as I encourage them to engage in relational self-reflexivity in preparation for practice. Having taught social care students in higher education for many years, I noticed some found it difficult to be reflexive compared with their ability to understand a theory or develop their skills. I felt this was not an individual deficit but a systemic one and was related to their experience within education systems. These systems constructed over decades, resulted in them having few opportunities to be relationally reflexive of themselves and their lives to work in social care contexts. In this study, I set out to address this gap, by providing a different learning context where relational reflexivity in preparation for practice is emphasised. The approach described here is a development on the individualised, de-contextualised form of reflection common in most social care training. Instead, I developed a model of reflexivity for education which focuses on social care as a relational and systemic endeavour with the social care worker and client engaged in an ongoing relationship with each other. Providing this type of learning space for students meant my teaching practice also had to change. I could no longer be a bystander asking students to be reflexive of themselves, without also being reflexive of my practice. I adopted a collaborative, fluid, dialogical and non-expert position with students in small reflexive learning groups which not only encouraged greater reflexivity for them but a richer reflexivity of my practice as an educator. In this research, I develop a critically reflexive account of professional practice from our experiences within the group process and situate it within a discussion of related literature and practice. This research draws on postmodern qualitative theory which supports first-person inquiry into professional practice. I study our engagement in reflexivity within the group sessions, through the students’ and my reflexive diaries, feedback from students and by the video reviews of the teaching sessions. By assembling all these rich layers of research material, I offer here a model of relational reflexivity for education and training contexts which I have named SPiRRaLS (Systemic Practices in Relational Reflexivity and Learning Systems) as it focuses on relationships, the wider social, political, cultural and professional contexts and how these influence professional practice with clients and students. The research indicates that there are many benefits for students from engaging in this form of reflexivity that can, therefore, enhance their relationships with service users. From my experience of this process, I believe other disciplines would also benefit from this model of relational reflexivity in their education or training contexts. The study highlights the importance of support from organisations and education systems to help curate such relationally reflexive spaces. It requires institutional changes and resource allocation to develop practices that are more in line with contemporary society where education is not merely about knowledge acquisition but is liberatory, participative and potentially life-changing for the student, educator, and client.
    • The feasibility and acceptability of a stigma protection intervention designed to improve the mental health of parents and carers of autistic children

      Lodder, Annemarie (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-09)
      Background: Stigma is prominent in the lives of autistic children and their families, and a systematic literature review found that autism-related stigma contributes significantly to poorer mental health among parents. Parents are also at risk of internalising the stigma directed at their child, which further exacerbates poor well-being. Interventions that focus on the mental health of parents of autistic children are sparse, and there are currently no interventions available that help parents cope with autism-related stigma as well as prevent the internalisation of stigma. An intervention that is evidenced to improve mental health in part through increasing resistance to stigma will be of substantial benefit to families and, ultimately, their children. Purpose: The primary aim of this study was to develop a stigma protection intervention aiming to improve the mental health of parents of autistic children, and to evaluate its feasibility and acceptability. The secondary aim was to explore the preliminary impact of the intervention on the mental health of the parents. Methods: The Medical Research Council’s guidelines for developing complex interventions were used as a framework for the research. Evidence from multiple sources was synthesised to produce an eight week blended (face-to-face and online) psychosocial intervention titled ‘SOLACE’. A randomised controlled trial was carried out comparing parents allocated to the SOLACE group (n=9) with those allocated to a control group (n=8) (no intervention). Mixed methods were employed to investigate feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes. Recruitment and retention rates, missing data and adverse events were recorded to assess feasibility. A qualitative focus group was conducted to evaluate the acceptability of the intervention and outcome measures. Outcomes were measured at three time points: baseline, post-intervention and at six weeks follow-up. The primary outcome of interest was mental health (MHI-5). Other outcomes of interest included measures of courtesy stigma, self-stigma, self-esteem, positive meaning in caregiving, self-blame, self-compassion, social support, and social isolation. Results: Recruitment rates were lower than anticipated, yet the retention rates were excellent, with no dropouts and minimal missing data. Attendance rates were particularly high for this population, with 80% of parents attending more than 50% of the sessions. The findings of the qualitative evaluation showed that SOLACE was acceptable to parents and that the combination of online and face to face delivery worked well. Quantitative analysis revealed that mental health scores had significantly improved for those who took part in SOLACE compared to no significant changes for control group participants. In addition, changes in secondary outcome measures were in favour of SOLACE. Conclusions: A stigma protection intervention that improves the mental health of parents and carers of autistic children in an acceptable and feasible way has been produced and evidenced for the first time. A number of recommendations are made for future use in a larger, powered trial. The knowledge derived from this thesis may be used to help inform future service provision for parents and shape future autism policy so that the importance of stigma in relation to parent mental health and their caregiving role is emphasised.
    • Evaluating the adoption of project management tools and techniques in private construction companies in Nigeria

      Sidney, Edidiong Emmanuel (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-07)
      This research investigates the factors that influence the adoption of Project Management Tools and Techniques (PMTT) in the Nigerian private construction industry. To date, the private construction industry in Nigeria has experienced delays in project delivery, budget overrun, low quality, and project failures in most of its projects as a result of inadequate use of project management tools and techniques. These issues have been a major concern to the stakeholders and clients, considering the huge investments made in the construction projects and the impact they make on the growth of the economy. Several authors have focused on project management practice in public construction organisations with less focus on private construction companies. This research, therefore, seeks to address this gap by deploying the Nigerian private construction industry’s perspective to investigate the factors influencing PMTT practice. This research was conducted using qualitative research methods and data were collected through structured interviews. This research adopted the generic purposive sampling strategy because it was best suitable for the context of this research. In order to meet the objectives, set for the research, a pilot study was conducted using a semi-structured interview with eighteen participants in five geopolitical zones of Nigeria, excluding the North-East zone due to security issues, followed by the main study with forty-three participants. Case studies of two companies were further carried out for the purpose of triangulation, validating the data from both the pilot study and the main study. The data collected from the studies were analysed using thematic analysis to identify the different themes and sub-themes in the research. Based on the research findings and institutional theory, a conceptual framework for investigating the factors influencing the adoption of PMTT was developed for private construction companies in Nigeria in order to improve their practice. This conceptual framework presents the theory underpinning this study, key factors influencing the adoption of PMTT and the ‘Needs Factors’. Also, this study’s conceptual framework was validated.
    • Creating eWoM: perceived factors of celebrity chefs in the context of personal branding in the UK

      Halder, Andrina Nila (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-03)
      Electronic word of mouth (eWoM hereafter) represents a low-cost and powerful tool for companies to attract new customers. Despite the challenge in creating positive eWoM, celebrity chefs, as representative of personal branding, generate a significant amount of eWoM within their social media brand communities. Two recognised spectra of consumers’ brand-associated communications—eWoM and celebrity chefs in the perspective of personal branding—are the interest of this academic research. Up to now, these streams of literature have seen little intersection, as they typically take their distinct individual research directions. Regardless of frequent occurrence within the celebrity chef’s social media page (Relling et al., 2016) little is identified regarding eWoM triggered by the perceived factors of celebrity chefs. Nevertheless, as there is a non-existing connection in literature and a consequent lack of academic research linking celebrity chefs (in the perspective of personal branding) and eWoM, there is also inadequate understanding of what are the eWoM motivations triggered by celebrity chefs’ perceived factors. Moreover, as per the knowledge of the researcher, this is the first research which investigates why eWoM motivation does not lead to creating actual eWoM, or the intervening factors. This study follows a multi method qualitative approach and is in two segments. The first segment of the research conducts a Netnography study involving non-participant observation within the celebrity chefs’ social media brand communities. The second segment of the research has adopted a semi-structured interview method to explore the eWoM motivations for the generation of eWoM. Moreover, the interviews also explore the factors that intervene in the transformation of eWoM motivation to eWoM messages. The findings of this research highlight key perceived factors of celebrity chefs which trigger eWoM motivation. Moreover, the interview phase reveals eWoM motivations triggered by these factors. Some of the eWoM motivations identified will be a new contribution to the literature. Furthermore, the factors are explored in relation to why eWoM motivations do not create actual eWoM. As per the knowledge of the researcher, this is the first time intervening factors which do not lead eWoM motivation to create eWoM messages have been considered and researched in the context of celebrity chefs’ social media brand communities. At present, social media is an effective tool to attract customers by generating eWoM messages. This research has the potential to address celebrity chefs, or those who are interested in personal branding, social media regulators, social media strategists who can gain a profound understanding of which factors influence the social media participants in terms of creating positive and negative eWoM messages, and why the paticipants do so. Keywords: eWoM, celebrity chefs, social media marketing, personal branding, social media brand communities.
    • Biopsychosocial predictors of risky sexual behaviours among the gay men in the UK

      Yadegarfard, Mohammadrasool (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-10)
      Introduction: The prevalence of human immunodeficiency viruses and sexual transmitted infections is higher among gay men than in any other demographic group. In many cases, the spread of sexual transmitted infections is only due to risky sexual behaviours. Risky sexual behaviour is an ongoing issue that has no absolute answer, the results of studies conducted on risky sexual behaviours just ten years ago might not be in line with the results of studies carried out today. In an attempt to support this, the current researcher tried to answer one main question: why do gay individuals subsequently choose to engage in risky sexual behaviours? Methodology: The researcher conducted three studies in two stages using a multiphase mixed methods research design, consisting of a mixed method in the first stage and a quantitative study in the second stage. In the three studies, a total of 803 gay and heterosexual men participated. The study includes five comparison studies between gay and heterosexual men in two stages. Results: Study one (qualitative): A qualitative study was conducted in parallel with the quantitative study in stage one .The key themes that emerged as contributing factors to risky sexual behaviours and unsafe sex were: Beliefs and attitude towards RSBs and gay men; Identity and internalized homophobia; childhood experiences, age, substance use; attachment; well-being. From analysing the data, it appeared that all these areas of an individuals’ life influence their sexual behaviours. However, most of the factors seemed to be linked and overlapped on each other and identifying one factor without considering other factors was not completely possible. Study two (quantitative): It was found that the studied criteria predicted RSB only for the heterosexual respondents and did not predict RSB among the gay participants. Nevertheless, among the gay respondents, sexual hyperactivation was found to be predicted by substance use and loneliness. It is concluded that gay males who experience subjective loneliness, smoke and sniff substances for recreational purposes report higher levels of sexual hyperactivation. However, higher sexual hyperactivation was not found to be a predictor of sexual relationships or RSB per se. Study three (quantitative): Based on the findings from stage one, the third study was conducted. The third study was included three hypotheses that were partly supported by the results of hypothesis testing. The results showed that there are more similarities between gay and heterosexual men than differences and, the differences that do exist are in individuals’ life experiences, which are the results of society’s different responses to and treatment of gay and heterosexual men. Discussion: The researcher believes that this current study is unique in its field and the outcomes contributed to the existing knowledge and understanding of RSBs among men. The multiphase mixed method design used in this study gave the researcher a comprehensive view of the subject. It allowed the researcher to measure a number of variables. The TPB was found to be a helpful model for understanding RSBs. The implications of the findings are discussed in the last chapter.
    • The effects of static water immersion and different body postures on the cardiovascular system in healthy participants

      Wing, Natasha (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-10)
      Background: Water creates a hydrostatic pressure on the body when immersed (Bove, 2002). This redirects blood to the thoracic cavity leading to an increase in cardiac output (Q̇), stroke volume (SV) and a decrease in heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) ( Šrámek et al., 2000). The aim of this study was to use echocardiography to report the full effects of water immersion. Method: Sixteen participants were immersed to the neck in waters of 30°C in three postures (standing, sitting and laying) for 20 minutes. BP, HR and a full echocardiogram of the left ventricle was performed. This was recreated on land. Results: SV (14.2%), Q̇ (12.5%), and EDV (7.7%) increased and HR (5%), SBP (11.2%), WS (12.1%) and DBP (13.9%) decreased (all P<0.05) in water when compared to land. Sitting demonstrated the greatest effect on the variables. Conclusion: Water immersion displayed favourable adaptations to the myocardium, this is due to an increase in venous return stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and dilating arteries and reducing BP and HR. These adaptations encourage the heart to work more effectively at a lower rate, improving cardiovascular health.
    • A novel approach to providing secure data storage using multi cloud computing

      Alqahtani, Hassan Saad (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019)
      The cloud computing is a new technology that has been presented in the market un recent years. However, it suffered several security breaches, and has some open issues, in terms of security. Due to that, the literature was investigated to highlight the cloud computing security issues, it was found that about 50% of cloud computing security issues are associated with data storage, applied cryptography, and applied authentication. On the other hand, multiple-cloud paradigms have been developed as efficient solutions in order to overcome some single cloud paradigm obstacles and limitations, and enhance the efficiency of ICT cloud-based solutions. Developing an approach that is stable and capable of delivering a very high level security and availability cannot be achieved by relying on a high layer of the delivered system (the software), the lower layer (the infrastructure) must be involved in order to achieve that level of service. This study aims to improve the security of the delivered cloud storage service via multiple-cloud computing and to develop an approach for providing a secure data storage system that could be installed, configured, and easily consumed through the appropriate multiple-cloud model. The developed approached is supposed to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the protected data; besides that, it will support disaster recovery and auditing for the system. This study aims to reduce the complexity and required knowledge levels associated with consuming a multiple-cloud computing paradigm and enhance the flexibility. In order to validate and verify the developed approach, a prototype was developed and tested, the testing phase consists of three core experiments, the outcomes of these three experiments were analysed, presented, and discussed. From the collected feedback, we could conclude that the developed prototype performance is as expected and developed prototype has been validated and verified.
    • Examining the barriers and enablers for British South Asian men in NHS nursing careers in England

      Qureshi, Irtiza (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2021-02)
      Background Addressing the shortage and increasing the ‘home grown’ NHS workforce is a key aspect of the Government’s Widening Participation agenda British South Asians (BSA) and men are underrepresented within the nursing workforce. Existing evidence highlights some salient barriers (and enablers) for underrepresented groups entering and progressing in nursing careers. There is however little evidence exploring the experiences of ‘home grown’ BSA men. Therefore, this study aimed to take an intersectional approach to examining the barriers and enablers for BSA men entering and progressing in NHS nursing careers in England. Methods A convergent parallel mixed methods approach was adopted. A quantitative secondary descriptive analysis (using proportion ratios, for comparison between BSA and White men, using confidence intervals to test statistical significance) was conducted on national data on applications (n=150,445 applicants over 3 year period), acceptances and attrition rates (n=416,457 total enrolled students over 3 year period) in relation to nursing pre-registration courses in England and NHS nursing workforce (n=1,254,368 full time equivalent staff posts) from 2013-2016 inclusive. Qualitative focus groups were conducted in Luton, with BSA young men (n=22) and BSA parents (n=35). One to one interviews were conducted nationally with professionals and stakeholders (n=5 nurses, 5 other professionals) to ascertain their views. A Framework Approach was used for analysis purposes. Results and Findings The review of national data showed that BSA men are twice as likely to apply for nursing pre-registration courses than their British White male counterparts (PR=2.32: 95% CI: 2.22-2.42); half as likely to be accepted on nursing pre-registration courses (PR=0.54: 95% CI: 0.47-0.62); 18% more likely to leave their nursing course without achieving the intended award (PR=1.18: CI 95%: 1.15-1.21); and underrepresented in senior, management or specialist roles within the workforce (PR=0.35: CI 95%: 0.30- 0.40). The focus groups and interviews revealed a number of themes. Barriers included poor pay and conditions negative family views, negative media representations, ethnicity including culture; religion; masculinity and gender, a lack of knowledge and awareness of the nursing profession, and less favourable comparison of nursing with medical doctors as a profession. Enablers included personal circumstances, role models including friends and family, ethnicity including religion and masculinity and nursing as a noble profession. Conclusion and Recommendations Quantitative results suggest variation in nursing education outcomes based upon ethnicity which merit further enquiry via qualitative research to identify institutional barriers in selection practices. Difficulties in identifying ‘home grown’ BSA nurses (as opposed to internationally recruited nurses in the NHS workforce) highlight a significant challenge for benchmarking aspirations to develop a ‘home grown’ workforce. Data capture systems should be reviewed in the light of this finding. Qualitative findings suggest the need for culturally specific interventions to reduce the stigma associated with nursing in the BSA community to attract a more diverse nursing workforce, including an emphasis on the values common to BSA masculinities and aspects of the nursing profession. BSA male nurses experience institutional racism, which impedes their career progression, therefore NHS employer organisations should review relevant recruitment and retention policy and practice for this group.
    • To explore the factors that influence the millennial generation entrepreneurs identifying entrepreneurial opportunity in Malaysia

      Abdul Hami, Heliza (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-10)
      In recent years, development of entrepreneurship in both scholarly and entrepreneurial activity has seen growing importance in Malaysia. Entrepreneurship can be labelled as the “engine of growth”. Simultaneously, entrepreneurs have brought an enormous positive contribution to not only the economic development but also social development. The importance of entrepreneurship to the Malaysian economic growth can be evidenced from the various support mechanism and policies by the Malaysian government. In 2010, the Malaysian government unveiled the New Economic Model, a 10-year plan to double the country’s per capita income by 2020. The New Economic Model has been successful in promoting entrepreneurship by providing entrepreneurial training and funding to encourage entrepreneurship. As a result, from the Malaysia Labour Force Survey (2018), the percentage of entrepreneurs increased by 9% from 2016 to 2017, indicating that the government’s efforts have been fruitful. However, the increase in number shows the classification of age range falls between 22 and 34. Thus, it can be concluded that the young age of the entrepreneurs or familiarly known as millennial generations are those who were born between 1982 and 2000. Reviewing previous research on millennial generation entrepreneurs, particularly from the Malaysian perspective, indicates that the research within the entrepreneurship discipline is fragmented and underdeveloped. Therefore, the topic chosen for this study falls within the focus of entrepreneurial opportunity identification. Research on millennial generation entrepreneurship has hindered knowledge development and creation in the field of entrepreneurship. This study aims to explore the factors influencing millennial generation in identifying entrepreneurial opportunity in Malaysia. This study is relevant in helping to build resilient businesses, to strengthen policy-making and encourage the millennials to consider entrepreneurship as a career. The research is based on qualitative investigation informed by an interpretivist ontology and epistemology. The author adopted semi-structured interviews to gain a deeper understanding of the aim of the study. Purposive sampling was adopted. The selection of participants was based on the specific criterion. The data were analysed using thematic analysis to create a meaningful classification of the influencing factors. All themes were coded using Nvivo 11 software. This study revealed that the factors influencing the identification of entrepreneurial opportunity among the millennial generation entrepreneurs in Malaysia differs based on the business industry, personal background and position. The interview data captured two main categorisations that can be acknowledged as individual factors and environmental factors. The findings that fall under the individual factors include alertness, prior knowledge, entrepreneurial cognition, social network, self-efficacy, personality traits, online digital platform, digital skills and Bumiputera status. Whereas, under the environmental factors, community, economic environment and regulatory or policy seem to be the most prominent factors in identifying entrepreneurial opportunity. The diverse background of the interviewees has added value to the findings by providing contending perspectives to the research. The findings suggest that the factors that influence millennials in identifying entrepreneurial opportunity in Malaysia differ from the in-depth available literature linked to developed countries. This study has advanced our understanding of entrepreneurial opportunity identification in a developing nation. The findings of this study offer fresh insight and value to academics, practitioners, as well as to policymakers and open up several research areas for entrepreneurship development in business start-ups, mainly focusing on the millennial generation. Thus, the findings provide an essential baseline for future quantitative and qualitative studies focusing on the Malaysian millennial generation.