I’m going back to Uni

There is no stranger feeling than being in a shop, at the age of twenty-six-years-old, and asking ‘do you offer student discount?’

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against making moves and hitting uni for the first time well after the age that most people end up going, but I’ve already been. Twice, in fact: for my Undergrad degree and my Teacher training (both of those degrees are hyperlinked to posts I made at that point in my life. Have a read and see what life was like back in 2020). It’s been two-and-a-half-years since I left University (again). Coming up to five years since I finished my first degree. That’s why it felt weird.

It also felt weird because I teach students every day. I’ve not given up the day job to pursue studying. I am simultaneously a teacher and a student. Bizarre. What gives?

The back to Uni plan

So here’s the plan: coming up to a year ago, I applied for a Masters in Teaching Studies at University of Birmingham. This is where I spent both of my degrees and, as part of my teacher training, they offered a course with a slightly longer name than what most are used to. While the more popular degree for trainee teachers is a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education), Birmingham offered a PGDipEd (Postgraduate Diploma in Education). Don’t get that confused with a PGDE, which stands for the same thing, but is actually the teacher training course offered to graduates in other countries, like New Zealand.

I originally chose Birmingham for the PGDipEd because, unlike a PGCE, it offered more credits. While a PGCE offers 60 credits, a PGDipEd offers 120 – it claimed to be more geared towards researching teaching and learning. I say ‘claimed’ purely because I didn’t do both, so can’t compare, but I do remember there being a lot of writing and researching involved.

Since the course that I studied is 120 credits, and a full MA requires 180 credits, all you need to do is go back, after you’ve finished your ECT years, and complete a dissertation – which is worth 60 credits.

Simple, right?

The dissertation plan

For the uninitiated, a dissertation is a piece of independent and extended writing, guided only by a knowledgeable supervisor and your own research. As MA students, we’ve been free to research whatever aspect of Teaching and Learning that we’ve been interested in and dive in head-first. This could range from something like the best strategies to support SEND students to tier 3 language – subject-specific vocab – and its effect on learners through dual coding.

Or something like that. In a very fitting manner, I’ve gone for the aspect of teaching that probably interests me the most: digital technology. Ever since starting at my school, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of understanding how best to implement digital strategies in the classroom without it feeling gimmicky, and that’s precisely what my line of research involves.

I’m excited to report back on the results after it’s all finalised and written-up. So far, I’ve written the literature review, sussed out my research methods and conducted a pilot study to test my intervention. The next step? Actually carrying out the research and figuring out whether my hypothesis is true.

Exciting times ahead. Be sure to subscribe to be the first one to know what happens next in my research project, as well as the findings that I make.

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