Paul is currently researching what role and degree students’ identities play in their learning processes. He applied to study for a DPhil at the department after completing his Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Language at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Paul was an English Language Arts teacher at a high school in Texas and had many questions from that experience that he found research didn’t answer, so applied to Oxford in order to gain the training to become a research practitioner.
Upon completing his degree, Paul hopes to achieve a position as a teaching researcher at a university back in Texas.
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
I most value that the professors approach questions thoughtfully, honestly, and critically through dialogue with the student. There really is a tailored, personal aspect that emerges through engagement with the teaching offered.
Why do you think it’s important to study education?
I think it is important to study education so that we can improve on our shortcomings as practitioners and because without a well-educated society where everyone has a metaphorical seat at the table of decision-making, we devolve as individuals and as communities.
What’s the community like at the department?
The students on my DPhil course are exceptionally supportive, kind, and intellectually reflective professionals. Incidentally, they’re also great friends! They, like the faculty and staff in the department, seem to champion my success with smiles and genuine congeniality and encourage me to do the best that I can do. In turn, they motivate me to be a more supportive colleague.
How do you get involved in other research activities within the department and what are they?
Consistently, the department offers students a plethora of research activities. For example, students are encouraged to get involved with conferences (convening, writing for, and attending), to share their academic work in round-table discussions or the annual Poster Conference, and to become part of research projects (both small and large). The only students who aren’t involved with other research activities are those who actively choose to ignore the opportunities with which they are presented.
What’s your favourite thing about studying at the department?
My favourite thing about studying in the department is the friendly disposition that staff, faculty, and students embody. Whether it’s the receptionist at the front door, my supervisors in their offices, or my peers in the library, I know I can find someone who will return a smile or hug when I need one.
What’s been your favourite thing about the course to date?
My favourite thing about the DPhil course to date is the tailored, personalized academic experience I have had in my supervision sessions. I see my supervisors as mentors and this in turn has helped me to strengthen my own approaches to research methodology and theory.
What advice would you give to new postgraduate students on how they can get involved in the department community?
I would tell new postgraduate students to get involved in the department community by showing up to the daily department tea & biscuit sessions. I would also encourage new postgraduate students to lean on their cohort for social support and to build opportunities to gather and revel together in the café culture of Oxford.
Did the College add anything to the quality of your student experience, and if so how?
Worcester College has added to the quality of my student experience at Oxford by ensuring I had a place to call home, while I was away from home. The College awarded me funding during my pilot research study over the Easter Holiday and the Academic Office personnel went above and beyond to ensure my success in the first year (from supplying cake to checking in to make sure that I would be coming to Pilates).