Research Output per year
Area of academic expertise - outline
I am an early careers researcher, having graduated with my PhD in July 2016 with a thesis entitled, ‘A Trip To The Dark Side? A sociomaterial analysis of the spaces of Holocaust pedagogies at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.’
I am primarily interested in research which concerns applications and theorisations of pedagogy, learning and curriculum-making in Holocaust and Genocide Education. However, in the past, I have also been involved in several successful projects in Early Learning and Childcare, which have included – through the guidance of Principal Investigator, Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop – a review of the Common Core Competences of a Children’s Workforce (Dunlop, 2015). I am skilled in both qualitative and quantitative methods of conducting research.
I was also part of multidisciplinary research team (comprising colleagues involved in Early Learning and Childcare, Education, Community Education, Health and Songwriting) which explored definitions, workforce competences and pedagogies of Family Learning, and was awarded a UWS Vice Principal Funding Award (2016) for our project, 'Scoping the Ambition: Family Learning'. This research has resulted in a critique and theoretical understanding of family learning, developed using a sociomaterial approach alongside co-authors Stephen Day and Conny Gollek (publication in review).
Being influenced by scholars as diverse as Karen Barad, John Law, Annemarie Mol, Tim Ingold and Greg Mannion, I am particularly concerned with the contribution that a sociomaterial approach can make to our understanding of how different ideas about the world are formed, and how these different ideas and knowledges come to dominate and be sustained in any particular (educational) context. It is through the everyday social, material and discursive aspects of the world that I base my analytical presumptions: this means that I am inclined, like others have done before me, to try to analyse the many different relationships between everyday ‘things’ (e.g. educational policies; textbooks; the seemingly mundane way a teacher walks in a classroom; the way the teacher holds a pen; the very concept of a ‘teacher’ as a social, material and discursive reality) to make sense of how education operates.
My most recent external award was from the Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant Scheme 2018/19 for a project entitled ‘Tracks of the Past’ (award £8,759; RIG007497). As Principal Investigator alongside Dr Ewan Gibbs (Lecturer in Politics), we explored how a place-responsive approach to pedagogy and learning might support different understandings of industrial heritage and trade union activism, and utilised a classroom-based action research approach. This has resulted in three knowledge-exchange events, and emergent discussions around establishing a new network of educational practitioners to support place-responsive approaches in the classroom with the University of Stirling, seeking to respond to the refreshed CfE (2019).
Currently, I am involved in a project led by Dr. Louise Ritchie of the School of Health and Life Sciences which explores how a sociomaterial approach can support dementia education in the primary classroom. Funded by the internal UWS Crucible Fund, this project is in its data analysis phase, and I look forward to continuing my involvement in this project upon my return from maternity leave in 2021.
Current research activities
Currently, I am involved in several interdisciplinary research teams, as noted above, and I am also a member of Vision Schools Scotland, which is a Holocaust education accreditation programme for Scottish primary and secondary schools, based on the research emerging from our School regarding Holocaust and Citizenship Education.
In my teaching capacities, I also support the Early Learning and Childcare Studies research team, wherein we have completed a small-scale research study exploring breast-feeding awareness practices in the West of Scotland. Our areas of interest and expertise concern supporting families, practitioner identities, literacy development and theorising inclusive practices through researching culturally-appropriate and place-responsive pedagogies.
I have also interests in different forms of doctoral research, having successfully supervised Victoria Bianchi PhD, whose performance-as-practice (based) project meant that 50% of her work involved theatre performance, screenwriting and film production. Victoria’s work critiqued gendered definitions of place/space using the medium of performance to investigate heritage sites.
My current PhD students are Shaddai Tembo (for whom I am lead supervisor) who is investigating heteronormativity in the early years; Houda Aggoun (second supervisor) whose proposed research is exploring the emotional ‘affects’ of Algerian students studying abroad on the family; and Mary Nyarkoa (second supervisor), a performance student who is critiquing the Ghanian education system using a postcolonial lens, with particular focus on the communication of forms of intangible cultural heritage and indigenous festivals. Lorraine Gilmour is also due to complete her PhD in family learning, having explored its emergence in early years settings in the west of Scotland for her study.
Desired research direction
I am interested in exploring further opportunities for developing and innovating high quality Holocaust and Genocide Education Research. I advocate a place-responsive approach to find new ways of theorising how young people learn about difficult heritage and controversial issues. I am interested in exploring further contexts for place-responsive learning, focusing particularly on Museums and heritage sites.
I hope that my current research, and any future research that I undertake, will be useful to the most vulnerable in our society, and those responsible for enhancing the life-chances of our most vulnerable, including local and national government policy-makers, political parties, international stakeholders, NGOs, educators, Museum curators, families and students. I am enthusiastic about the possible contributions that place-responsive, sociomaterial methodologies can make to help us re-assess our commonsense understandings of the world, as well as supporting a more equitable and just society through our critical educational practice.
I envisage that my future research directions will involve applying sociomaterially-informed theorisations of pedagogy, learning and curriculum-making in everyday contexts, including dementia and health care education, LGBTI+ education, and community and family learning. It is my hope that this will lead to more diverse, innovative forms of educational practice that support young people’s learning.
Target collaborative organisations
The Holocaust and Citizenship Research Group has a proven-track record of providing high quality consultancy and research to external organisations, including the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Pear Foundation. I am enthusiastic to form collaborations with organisations who are interested in developing innovative educational approaches related to Holocaust and Genocide Education and Museum studies, as well as place-responsive forms of learning and pedagogy (including outdoor education, indoor learning spaces, educational excursions).
I also welcome any future collaborations with charities, NGOs, government organisations and schools in the field of dementia education, LGBTI+ education, and Early Learning and Childcare Research. In the past, our team has been successful in achieving small grants from the Scottish Government, and has worked on projects with the EIS and SCCYP.
Trustee, Scottish Educational Research Association1 Dec 2016 → …
- L Education (General)
- LB2361 Curriculum
- GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
- HM Sociology
- Holocaust Education
- AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
Research output: Other contribution
The role of early years care providers in supporting continued breastfeeding and breast milk feedingDombrowski, L., Henderson, S., Leslie, J., Mohammed, K., Johnson, D. & Allan, N., 12 Feb 2018, In : Early Years. 16 p., 1430123.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
‘Tracks’ of the past: how can a place-responsive pedagogy support new understandings of industrial heritage and major economic change using a Curriculum for Excellence?Henderson, S. & Gibbs, E., 10 May 2018, p. 42-42. 1 p.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper
‘Tracks’ of the past: how can a place-responsive pedagogy support new understandings of industrial heritage and major economic change using a Curriculum for Excellence?Gibbs, E. & Henderson, S., 21 Nov 2018.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Presentation
Activities per year
Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Participation in conference
Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Participation in conference
Activity: Visiting an external institution › Visiting an external academic institution
Bringing sociomaterialism to life: an analysis of 'lively’ (dead) spaces of pedagogy at Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumSusan Henderson (Speaker)
Activity: Talk or presentation › Invited talk