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Enhancing Digital Literacy and Career Aspirations among Young People and their Key Influencers (Advert Reference: SF18/CIS/STRACHAN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Young people in the UK and elsewhere often have narrow or stereotypical career aspirations. Furthermore, although they may be confident at using social media and other forms of technology through mobile phones and other devices, their digital literacy and digital capabilities are often under developed. Addressing this digital literacy gap and challenging current career perceptions is crucial to ensure that all young people are equipped and empowered to fulfil their potential with respect to the skills and capabilities needed to participate fully, effectively and equally in this digital world.

This PhD study will build on the current work of the Digital Learning Group and others around digital literacy, active learning, digital making and tinkering and the career aspirations of young people. The overall aim is to investigate how to empower and prepare young people to be career ready global digital citizens through the provision of an inclusive approach to embedding digital literacy into their education.

The DLL Group currently works in the UK and Nigeria and has links to other regions of the world such as the Ukraine and Vietnam. Therefore, there will be the flexibility to situate this research in the UK and/or other location/s.

Taking an action research approach, this study will explore the current concepts and levels of digital literacy among young people in the chosen location/s. The results from this will inform the design and delivery of a set of interventions at this location with the young people and their key influencers (teachers, parents and families, wider community). The impact of these interventions will be evaluated to reach a final set of conclusions and recommendations. It is also anticipated that this study could lead to the development of a digital literacy toolkit.

Further information on the research group and its activities can be found at

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in a digital/computer science or education related degree; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in the use of technology to enhance the education and future careers of young people. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/CIS/STRACHAN) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


2018 Dele-Ajayi, Opeyemi, Pickard, Alison, Strachan, Rebecca and Sanderson, Jonathan, Exploring Gender Diversity and Engagement with Digital Educational Games by Young People. In: FIE 2018 - IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, San Jose, USA, October 3-6 2018.

2018 Dele-Ajayi, Opeyemi, Emembolu, Itoro, Peers, Matthew, Shimwell, Joe, Strachan, Rebecca, Exploring Digital Careers, Stereotypes and Diversity with Young People through Game Design and Implementation, EDUCON2018 – IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference Emerging Trends and Challenges of Engineering Education, Tenerife, Spain.

2018 Peixoto, Aruquia, Martinez, Maria, Strachan, Rebecca, Gonzales, Marina, Plaza, Pedro and Castro, Manuel, Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Education: Looking Through the Gender Question. EDUCON2018 – IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference Emerging Trends and Challenges of Engineering Education, Tenerife, Spain.

2018 Walton, G., Pickard, A. J., & Dodd, L. Information discernment, mis-information and pro-active scepticism. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science,

2017 Padwick, A., Davenport, C., Strachan, R., Shimwell, J., The NUSTEM approach: Tackling the engineering and gender challenge together from early years to sixth form and beyond, In: Proceedings of the Conference on New Approaches to Engineering in Higher Education, IET and EPC, London, May 22 2017.

2017 Strachan, R., Dele-Ajayi, O., Sanderson, J., Pickard, A., A Modified TAM for Predicting Acceptance of Digital Educational Games by Teachers, IEEE EDUCON 2017, Athens, Greece, April 25-28 2017.

2017 Strachan, R., Aljabali, S. and Pickard, A., How are international STEM undergraduate students using digital technology to support their learning?, HEA STEM conference, Manchester, February 1 – 2, 2017.

2016 Dele-Ajayi, O., Strachan, R., Pickard, A., Sanderson, J., Learning Mathematics through Serious Games: an Engagement Framework, IEEE Frontiers in Education, Erie, USA, October 12-15 2016.

2016 Padwick, A., Dele-Ajayi, O., Davenport, C., Strachan, R., Innovative methods for evaluating the science capital of young people, IEEE Frontiers in Education, Erie, USA, October 12-15 2016.

2015 Strachan, R., Liyanage, L., Active Student Engagement: The Heart of Effective Learning. Chapter in Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education, 11, pp. 255-274, Springer International Publishing.

2014 Pickard, AJ, Shenton, AK & Johnson, A. Young people and the evaluation of information on the web: principles, practice and beliefs. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 46 (1), 3-20.

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