Department of Education

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The way children understand emotions, both their own emotions and those of other people has been extensively studied during the last 35 years. Despite the large corpus of studies, we do not yet understand the impact of culture on children’s understanding of emotion even though culture clearly has an impact on the nature of children’s emotional experience. Indeed, the results of cross-cultural studies of children’s emotion understanding are inconclusive and methodologically limited. The main goals of this session are to discuss the impact of culture on the development of emotion understanding in children and so see how far is the impact of culture mediated or moderated by children’s gender and SES. To explore the role of culture on emotion understanding, we discuss also recent findings on parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about emotion across Latin, Germanic and Slavic cultures. Such discussion should contribute to the contemporary debate about the universal versus culturally specific nature of the development of emotion understanding in children. It should also facilitate the development of policies aimed at the integration of immigrants, and contribute to the development of culturally adapted preventive and intervention programs at the kindergarten and school.


About the speaker

Francisco Pons (Ph.D., University of Geneva) is Professor of developmental psychology at the Department of Psychology of the University of Oslo. Earlier, he has been working at the Universities of Geneva, Oxford, and Harvard. His current research interest covers the development of emotional competence in typical and non-typical children and adolescents (ASD, learning difficulties, abuse, etc.) from Western and Non-Western cultures (Quechua, Han, Fon, etc.) as well as the integration of developmental research and educational practices at kindergarten and school. He is the co-author with Paul Harris (Harvard University) of the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC). The TEC is used by numerous clinical, educational and research institutions and has been translated into more than 25 languages so far (

Karine Porpino Viana (Ph.D, University of Oslo) is a Postdoc researcher in developmental psychology at the Department of Psychology of the University of Oslo. Her current research interests covers the development of emotional competence in relation to parenting and educational practices in kindergartens and schools. She is also interest on the role of peer interaction for the child’s emotional and cognitive development.


Executive functions are the skills that enable us to resist acting on impulse, adjust our actions during a changing situation, regulate our emotions, and work towards goals. These skills are implicated in social, academic and behavioural outcomes across the lifespan.

Drawing on data from an online study of 575 UK-based 8- to 36-month-olds (218 followed longitudinally since Spring 2020), I will show how multiple facets of the home environment such as parent-child enriching activities and child screen use relate to children’s emerging executive functions. In particular, I will demonstrate how associations between socioeconomic status, engagement in enriching activities, and executive functions are moderated by availability of Early Childhood Education and Care, and access to space and resources. I will also present data demonstrating the rapid and deleterious effects that parental mental ill-health can have on children’s early executive functions, and highlight demographic groups who may be particularly vulnerable to these effects.

Additionally, I will present insights from a series of online workshops with parents and practitioners into the barriers that parents face to engaging in enriching activities and limiting excessive screen use, and reflect on what this means for how researchers, policy-makers and practitioners can best support children’s early social-cognitive development.

About the speaker 

Dr Alex Hendry is a NIHR Advanced Research fellow at the University of Oxford, and also holds the Scott Family Junior Research Fellowship in Autism at University College, Oxford. Alex’s research focuses on developing ways to identify and help children most likely to struggle with executive functions – the thinking and regulation skills that help us to plan, solve problems and control our impulses. Alex leads the START (Supporting Toddlers with a family history of autism/ADHD to develop strong Attention, Regulation and Thinking skills) early intervention programme. She also collaborates on the Oxford Early Executive Functions project – a longitudinal study of attention and executive function development from 10 months to preschool age – and the Social Distancing and Development Study – which aims to understand the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on early language and cognitive development.


This mixed methods study explores English and US teachers’ perspectives on student bullying, with a particular focus on cyberbullying. In the past, research on bullying has informed large-scale educational policy interventions in schools across many countries.  The project seeks to discover how and why teachers might have different views of how to address bullying and the reasons for why they would respond.  Utilizing ideas from Social Cognitive Theory, the researcher developed two questionnaires, asking teachers for their perceptions of different hypothetical bullying situations. They are used in both England and the US in order to provide a comparative element in two different English speaking country contexts.  The questionnaires are analysed to explore the differences between the perceptions and the reasons for responses for new and experienced teachers.  They also explore teacher perceptions of more long-term solutions to deal with cyberbullying. A series of semi-structured interviews across England and the US are utilized to provide additional qualitative evidence.  The interviews explore the topics emerging from the quantitative findings pertaining to bullying and cyberbullying, allowing teachers to share their experiences.  This enables the research to discover the degree of similarity between the quantitative and qualitative findings.  The qualitative evidence is also used to provide richer descriptions and insights, building explanations. Some quantitative and qualitative findings were common to the English and US samples. Teachers who have more confidence in their ability to deal with perpetrators and consider the situations as serious are more likely to respond in the various scenarios studied.  Teachers in both the English and the US samples tended to perceive physical bullying as much more serious than relational bullying.  Furthermore, teachers in both country samples believed that parental involvement remained one of the most effective strategies for dealing with cyberbullying.  However, different perceptions between the bullying situations emerged. Overall, teachers were much more likely to state that they would respond in situations of cyberbullying happening at school rather than at home. Across countries, there were slight differences, as American teachers were more likely than English teachers to think that encouraging student bystanders would constitute an effective strategy for dealing with cyberbullying.

About the speaker

Dr Peter Hurtubise is a Lecturer at UC Berkeley. He completed his doctorate in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.

Although research on the mathematics teaching and learning has made significant progress in recent years, it has had only limited impact on classroom instruction in many countries. I report on an investigation in which we collaborated with mathematics teachers, school leaders, and district leaders to investigate what it takes to improve the quality of instruction and students’ learning on a large scale. After giving an overview of our findings, which take the form of a theory of action for instructional improvement that spans from the classroom to system instructional leadership, I will focus on key supports for teachers’ learning.


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In the context of reforms that have characterised private sector higher education in Bangladesh in the last three decades, the presentation discusses how coloniality of power and the geopolitics of knowledge can be helpful constructs in understanding the nature of powerplay at a time long since the exit of the British Raj. As authors we acknowledge our epistemological tensions inherent in being Bangladeshis but in many ways privileged through Western systems that have supported our intellectual growth.

Through an empirically based account of how neoliberalism has worked its way through the higher education sector in the fastest growing economy in the South Asian context, we will discuss how changes have been characterised by not just policy reforms and massification of education, but a sustained friction between control and autonomy in the university sector.

We take an approach that is sensitive to our geo-political and onto-epistemological positionalities as diasporic and hybridised scholars by rejecting epistemological exclusions inherent in the colonial mindset. This position allows the reinforcement of a colonial present, theorising from within Global South decolonial and postcolonial research literature.

The presentation is based on our recently published book, The Privatisation of Higher Education in Postcolonial Bangladesh: The Politics of Intervention and Control, which contributes to discourses of ‘globalisation from above’ and ‘globalisation from below’ and sheds light on the often-idiosyncratic ways in which higher education reform has unfolded in South Asia. It will be of interest to comparative educators and those researching into higher education policy and education developments in Global South nations.

Pre-readingsPreface and Foreword of The Privatisation of Higher Education in Postcolonial Bangladesh: The Politics of Intervention and Control.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).

This talk explores how a major Chinese university pivoted to hybrid online and campus education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications of this ‘turning point’ for Chinese higher education, and also for higher education globally. It looks at how the prolonged disruption has impacted the design of future hybrid arrangements for university teaching.

Presented in four parts, the talk unpacks Tsinghua’s thoughtful yet swift strides into the new era of ‘global hybrid higher education.’ The talk examines influential technology, education, policy, and global forces. It studies transformative leadership which guided change, and construction of extensive and enabling technological infrastructure. Insights from evaluations of student and faculty experiences, interactions, and activities, are accompanied by projections about emerging designs of global hybrid higher education. The research describes future steps for Tsinghua and global universities, also forecasting important futures for the emerging field of higher education design.

Articulating Tsinghua’s standing in China and the world, and its contribution to technology and education, this unique research is of interest to students and academics in higher education and education policy and practice, as well as policy experts and higher education leaders around the world.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).

For many young people, studying abroad is a gateway to the world – the opportunity to learn languages, become immersed in different cultures, and learn in a new environment. While the majority of these students return home, for a select few, the experience of studying abroad becomes the foundation of a long-term migration journey. In this talk, I will take an extended look at such journeys, drawing on years of conversation with international students who chose to stay and build a life in the UK and Japan after finishing their studies.

I will focus on how these students’ journeys unfolded over time, and share insights into how their priorities, strategies, and trajectories evolved throughout. Finally, I will introduce an upcoming project that seeks to further unpack universities’ roles in supporting such journeys, and critically analyse how and to what effect higher education institutions are now responsible for supporting their students’ opportunities to migrate.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).

This webinar brings together a panel of higher education scholars who focus on engineering education across a range of global contexts, to identify what value or interest might be offered by engaging with the findings of discipline-based education research for the broader higher education research community.

All four researchers take broad questions and theories from higher education and bring these to bear on a range of key issues in engineering education. Four engineering education research studies form the backdrop for this conversation: a global comparison of accreditation systems, a cross-national policy comparison, an exploration of how disciplinary knowledge functions in the real world, and an analysis of systems of transfer across institutions. We find that engineering education as a case has particular features that allow for the emergence of empirical insights, methodological adaptations, and challenges to established theory.

These include its global systems for accreditation that nonetheless incorporate significant national variation, its significance in national policy particularly in relation to economic development and national security, its interesting location as a newer profession partly based on a tightly defined scientific knowledge base, and its contemporary recruitment to matters of social justice in the context of broadening access to higher education. More broadly, the webinar makes the case for grounding general theories and debates from higher education in the particulars of one specific professional field.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).

Universities’ mergers are one policy instrument used to fashion higher education systems to meet current challenges, such as massification, international rankings and the more efficient use of scarce resources. Much of the existing literature suggests that mergers can have positive outcomes.

This study is focused on the effect of merger policies in Russia on universities’ efficiency. We consider a round of non-voluntary mergers conducted by the Ministry of Education on the basis of universities’ performance indicators. In the first stage, efficiency scores of merging universities were estimated using a bootstrapped DEA non-parametric technique (for an appropriate control group formed through a propensity score matching approach) before and after the implementation of the merger policy.

In the second stage a fuzzy regression discontinuity design was implemented in order to reveal the causal impact of mergers on the level of efficiency. We find that the merger policy had a statistically significant positive effect on universities’ efficiency. The merged universities also experienced greater efficiency gains after the merger was implemented.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).