Joshua is a full-time student on the department’s MSc Education programme (Research Design and Methodology). In addition to being a Representative on the course, Justin also works part-time at the Eagle & Child as a bartender, a pub established in 1650 and previously frequented for more than two decades by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Previously, Justin worked as a research assistant at the University of York, as well as a registered mental health nurse on both a child and adolescent mental health ward and an adult psychiatric intensive care unit. Prior to joining the department, he studied for a BA in Education at the University of York.
What degree did you apply for and why was it important to you to study this?
I applied to study for an MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology) because I was immensely interested in developing a more critical understanding of how rigorous educational research is conducted. I chose to study in the University of Oxford’s Department of Education because the MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology) is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council for providing a ‘strong grounding’ in social and educational research; as well as because it balances material on qualitative and quantitative research design and methodology and the philosophy of educational research.
What do you hope to go on to do once you’ve completed your degree?
On graduating from the department, I plan to study for a PhD, focusing specifically on mental health among sixth form students. In so doing, I intend to contribute towards our understanding of what can be done to best support the mental health of sixth form students, as well as help respond to mounting concerns about poor mental health among children and adolescents more broadly.
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
The aspect of teaching that I have valued most in the department has been that which has involved participating in small, group activities. What I have valued most about this has been the opportunity to share and critique ideas; plan and present potential educational research; and continuously receive constructive, cutting-edge feedback from leading educational researchers, as well as other committed, determined, and enthusiastic students.
Why do you think it’s important to study education?
Education is something that both intimately and profoundly influences our lives. As such, it is of exceptional importance that rigorous educational research is conducted so that our understanding of how educational policy and practice can best generate more effective, inclusive, and democratic educational environments can be improved and, consequently, promote human flourishing. Or to phrase it differently, what the philosopher of education, John Dewey, called ‘growth’.
What’s the community like at the department?
Both the students and staff that I have encountered in the department have been approachable, friendly, and interesting, as well as committed to supporting one another in process of conducting the best educational research possible. Indeed, a shared dedication to better understanding how education can make a positive difference appears to permeate the interests of everyone that I have encountered; and with plenty of public lectures, seminars, and social events, it is not at all difficult to meet an eclectic range of new people!
What further opportunities have been made available to you via the department?
Using funding provided by the department, I had the good fortune of being able to present an academic paper based on the findings from my undergraduate dissertation at the Open University’s biennial Widening Participation Conference. This provided me with an unprecedented opportunity to present my work to a wider audience, as well as meet and receive feedback from leading educational researchers in the field of widening participation to higher education.
How has your College aided your experience at Oxford?
Wolfson College has been a wonderful place to study. Situated in a peaceful area of North Oxford, Wolfson College was established with a view to being an open, tolerant, and egalitarian institution, qualities which continue to permeate its contemporary ethos to this day. It has provided a wonderful environment from within which to both study and feel as though I am part of a wider community, and will always hold a special place in my memories.