I’ve been able to discuss broader and deeper ideas about education than I would in my normal teaching life

EdD student Kathryn Aston
Kathryn Aston
Sheffield EdD
Kathryn chose to study on the Sheffield EdD programme to deepen her understanding of her professional role and keep mentally stretched while continuing to work in her teaching role.

I teach English for Academic Purposes at Sheffield University. I can only climb the career ladder by becoming a manager, i.e. by giving up teaching, so I’ve had to find less formal ways to develop professionally. By 2016, I had taught on virtually all the programmes offered by my department, trained teachers at entry and diploma levels and been involved in teacher development. So what next? 

A doctorate would deepen my understanding of my professional role and keep me mentally stretched for a few years, and I could continue working while I was studying.

The residential weekends meant that I could form a mutual support network with other students. I would also meet several of the tutors, which would help when it came to choosing a supervisor in Part 2. Studying with teachers from other sectors would help me to place my own profession in the wider field of education. The first, taught part would give plenty of support and guidance before I embarked on my research project in Part 2. All these expectations were fulfilled.

I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie  and discussions in and out of class with other students the most. I’ve been able to discuss broader and deeper ideas about education than I would in my normal teaching life, and openly critique what’s happening in my profession!

I don’t expect the EdD to help me in any material way in my professional life; I did it to improve my confidence and status.

In my research, I wanted to demonstrate that EAP teachers are educators, not just language technicians who facilitate the 'real' learning students do in their discipline. EAP teachers help students to develop critical thinking skills, so that was my focus. I also wanted to highlight the links between critical thinking and climate change, an issue that was until recently considered a niche interest for activists like me, but is now entering the mainstream.  

In short, I wanted my perspectives to be taken seriously. Ms Aston may just have bees in her bonnet, but Dr Aston knows what she’s talking about!

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