Department academics chosen to be part of 50th anniversary edition of BERJ

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Category: News

Two Department academics have had their papers chosen as amongst the 10 best articles of their decade by the British Educational Research Journal (BERJ) for a 50th anniversary collection special. 

Emeritus Professors Anne Edwards and John Furlong have had their papers included in the publication to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of BERJ in 2025, and also its publisher BERA who celebrate the same milestone next year. 

To mark these anniversaries, five virtual special issues of the journal are being published to map the first five decades of BERJ, from 1975 to the present day.  

Anne said: “I was honoured and delighted to learn that my 2003 article with Lynn Protheroe ‘Learning to See in Classrooms: what are student teachers learning about teaching and learning while learning to teach in schools?’ was included in the BERA at 50 selection of papers.  

“The prevailing model of teacher mentoring involved teachers giving over their classes to student teachers and providing feedback on their performance, modelling the actions of university staff. Our starting point was that this was not making best use of mentor expertise. It also led student teachers to avoid complexities and present a polished performance. The research study involved 125 primary school PGCE students in two universities. It found that over the PGCE year the students came to prioritise curriculum delivery over more responsive versions of teaching.  

“Our analyses made gentle use of socio-cultural theory to argue that learning involves recognising, approaching, and tackling new challenges. Consequently, mentors need to work alongside students to guide them in interpreting and responding to the complex demands that arise in classrooms. Is the study still relevant? I am afraid that it probably is.”   

John said: “I was delighted to learn that BERJ have chosen my 2003 article ‘BERA at 30: Have we Come of Age?’ as one of the top 10 articles of its decade. Given that BERJ is perhaps the leading educational journal in the UK, it is a huge honour.   

“The paper was based on my BERA Presidential address. Since learning of the award, I have looked again at what I wrote 20 years ago and am struck how relevant it still is today. I argued that at the age of 30, the educational research community still had some growing up to do.  In particular that meant welcoming different theoretical and methodological approaches to research by promoting dialogue amongst those who hold different perspectives. This, it seems to me, is an even greater challenge for the research community today with the increasing domination of the Government sponsored ‘big science’ model of research.   

“I concluded the paper with this quotation from Foucault ‘I believe too much in truth not to suppose that there are different truths and different ways of speaking the truth.’” [Michel Foucault (1979:51) Discipline and Punish; the birth of the prison New York Vintage Books] 

Each issue of the 50th collection presents a selection of papers published in one of the decades of the journal’s life and features an introduction by the guest editor(s), with the aim of offering readers an overview of the scholarship that has been published by BERJ since its inception and highlighting trends and developments in the field over the past 50 years.  

The third issue, which includes both papers, showcases 10 articles from the years 1995–2004 and has been curated by guest editor Melissa Bond, at University College London, UK.  

To read John and Anne’s articles, go to the BERA website [subscription required].