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Assessing the impact of laboratory-based experience on the academic achievement and career aspirations of 14 – 19 year olds studying science GCSE and A’ Level courses

Project Description

Applications are invited for a funded PhD programme jointed located within The School of Education Community at Liverpool John Moores University, and BioGrad Laboratories, based at the Liverpool Science Park.

BioGrad is a provider of practical laboratory training based at the Science Park in Liverpool. Among the courses offered by BioGrad are those aimed at furthering interest in science careers for GCSE and A’ Level students through using state-of-the-art practical laboratory facilities. Courses are taught by experienced and highly qualified scientists. Anecdotal feedback and informal evaluations have suggested that these courses have been instrumental in inspiring students to choose to study for science courses at undergraduate level, and aspiring to work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The proposed study will use an expectancy-value framework to evaluate the impact of attending BioGrad courses on students aspirations to study or work in STEM fields and their achievement in science GCSE and A’ Level courses. The bursary scheme offered by BioGrad to students from low income families will facilitate a comparison of deprivation on outcomes.

The following three research questions will be addressed:
1. Does attending a BioGrad course result in a greater aspiration to work in a STEM field, a greater likelihood of choosing to study a science course, and higher achievement in GSCE and A’ Level Science courses?
2. Does attending a BioGrad course offer a differential benefit for female students and those from deprived backgrounds?
3. What is the impact of BioGrad outreach work in schools based in the Liverpool City region on students’ interest in science, expectations of success, and aspirations?

Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree (1st class or 2.1) and extensive experience as a research assistant or a Master’s degree qualification with a substantial element of research methods (e.g., education, psychology, or a cognate discipline). Experience of school science education (14 – 19 years) or of an industrial laboratory is highly desirable. The project will employ a range of data collection techniques; therefore, the candidate should have confidence/experience in quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, and strong communication skills (oral and written).

Funding Notes

Studentship will comprise the costs of fees (£4,300/year), a contribution to running costs (£1,500/year) and stipend (£14,777/year). The contribution to running costs will be paid via the Director of Studies and contributes towards expenses associated with the project. PhD stipends are normally free of tax. It is expected that this will include at least one international conference for the student over the 3-year period. PhD studentships are only available to support full-time study, for Home and EU students only, and cover 3 years only. Progress will be assessed annually and if not satisfactory the support will be terminated


Send the following to Dr. Andrea C. Mallaburn by the deadline of 4pm on Friday 26th April, 2019

• A covering letter outlining why you are interested in this research project and any relevant experience you have in this field. Please explain what makes you a suitable doctoral candidate for this project.
• Your CV (maximum two pages) indicating the names of two referees (at least one being an academic reference).

Related Subjects

How good is research at Liverpool John Moores University in Education?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 12.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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