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ECS PhD student wins BERA best paper award

Education, Communication and Society

04 December 2019

Education, Communication and Society PhD student Emma Browning has won the Educational Effectiveness and Improvement Special Interest Group Best Paper Award at this year’s BERA Annual Conference.

Emma started her PhD at King’s in 2016 and is exploring narrative nonfiction texts as a possible learning tool in the history classroom.

“The award will help me going forwards in terms of my confidence and belief in my work. It is so easy to become enveloped in your own work and, as a result, to forget to think about what it means to others. So that recognition that your work is valued and interesting to others is really important. It is also an achievement that can support me in moving forwards in my academic career.”

Emma studied an undergraduate degree in English Language and Communication at King’s and it was here her passion for language and narrative began. Following this, she completed a PGCE with Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford and started to teach in primary schools for seven years. During this time, Emma also completed a master’s in education with The Open University.

“Throughout my teaching career, I have become more and more interested in the use of narrative as an educational tool: in the ten minutes of reading and discussing a historical narrative with a class at the end of the school day, I felt that more learning took place in this time than in the hour long history lesson that I had taught previously.”

Emma Browning presenting her work

Emma decided to continue her interest in the area and came back to King’s to do a PhD.

“Returning to study at King’s was great! It was interesting to catch up with my previous lecturers so many years after my undergraduate degree and to have that sense of familiarity on campus. Knowing where everything was and how everything worked was a huge help when I started my PhD.

"My favourite place on campus is the second floor of the library. I like being able to find a comfortable chair around the outside and work surrounded by all of the books and the quiet hum of the library.”

Emma continues to teach alongside her PhD. How does she find it balancing the two?

“Balancing the workload of a PhD and teaching is tough, especially because I feel that a lot of emotion and personal interest is invested in both. However, they also provide a good balance. I feel that teaching alongside my PhD keeps me in touch with the practical elements of what I am researching: the classroom. The fun nature and unpredictability of children is also sometimes a welcome escape when things feel tough in the PhD.”

About the BERA

British Educational Research Association (BERA) is a membership association committed to advancing research quality, building research capacity and fostering research engagement. It aims to inform the development of policy and practice by promoting the best quality evidence produced by educational research.

Returning to study at King’s was great! Knowing where everything was and how everything worked was a huge help when I started my PhD.– Emma Browning

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