Director of Academic Practice & Professor of Higher Education
Post-Graduate Research Coordinator for Education
Deputy Vice-Chancellors Office
01752 636700 Ext:2039
My role is to provide leadership in academic development university-wide. I am responsible for continuous improvement of programmes and initiatives that support the University strategy and vision of excellence in academic practice, including knowledge exchange, learning & teaching, and research. I will be contributing to external assessments of the institution including the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), as well as taking the role of postgraduate research co-ordinator for Education. I am also the Principal Investigator on the Student-led Knowledge Exchange (SLKE) Project, funded by Research England and the Office for Students.
Specialist teaching areas include:
Pedagogic Research - especially action research, qualitative methods and writing for publication
Teaching-research nexus - links between teaching and research; developing undergraduate research
Research Management - ethical issues; peer review; quality and impact of research; managing a research team
Education for Sustainable Development - sustainability pedagogies; teaching controversial issues; informal learning and the hidden curriculum
University Teaching Fellow, 2009, 2010, 2014
National Teaching Fellow, 2015
My key interests are around sustainability and higher education, primarily in the following areas:
I also have a keen interest in the use of innovative research methodologies, including the use of the 'think aloud method', and using student-led video diaries in research.
2020 Office for Students/Research England-funded project: Developing a model of Student-led Knowledge Exchange (SLKE) using Transformative Evaluation (With Dr Saul Bloxham, Dr John Downey and Dr Sue Cooper) £250,098
2016 HEA-funded project: Literature Review: Access, retention, attainment and progression (With Dr Lynne Wyness and Dr Oliver Webb) £15,000
2015 HEA-funded project: REF 2014, HE Pedagogic Research and Impact. (With Prof Pauline Kneale and Dr Wendy Miller). £30,000
2015 PedRIO-funded project: Internationalising teaching and learning: conceptions, practices and enhancement. (with Prof Simon Payne and Prof Troy Heffernan) £28,200
2015 UoP research project: Investigating the experience of care leavers at Plymouth University: Staff perspectives. (With Prof Pauline Kneale and Tricia Nash) £7500
2014 PedRIO-funded project: Mind the gap: Chinese perceptions of sustainability and implications for teaching business and economics. (with Jennie Winter) £9,802
2014 Teaching Fellowship project: Unconscious Bias in Teaching and Learning: Promoting a culture change in higher education.(with Jennie Winter, Rachel Jagger-Thomas & Laura Beahan) £4,300
2014 PedRIO-funded project: The Impact of Discontent. (with Sharon Gedye and Emily Beaumont) £4,519
2014-15 HEFCE-funded Postgraduate Experience Project (PEP), led by Kingston University. (with Prof Mick Fuller and Dr Karen Gresty). Plymouth University element of funding £250,000
2014 UoP project: Developing an online self-evaluation tool to support student retention (with Alice Lau, Sue Kinsey and Denise Summers) £19,121
2013-14 Widening Participation-funded research project: Longitudinal Study of the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) Year 2 (with Prof Pauline Kneale and Ms Tricia Nash) £20,000
2013-14 Widening Participation-funded research project: Exploring the Experiences of Care Leavers at Plymouth University (with Prof Pauline Kneale and Ms Tricia Nash) £7500
2013 Widening Participation-funded research project: Investigating the Experience of Care Leavers at Plymouth University (with Prof Pauline Kneale and Ms Tricia Nash) £5000
2012-13 PedRIO funded project. Energy Literacy in Higher Education (with Prof Stephen Sterling, Dr Ian Bailey and Dr Jennie Winter) £16344
2012-13 Widening Participation-funded research and evaluation project: Meta-analysis of pilot programme evaluations against scheme aims and objectives (with Dr Jennie Winter) £8000
2012-13 Widening Participation-funded research project: Horizon-Scanning Report (with Prof Pauline Kneale and Ms Tricia Nash) £5000
2012-13 Widening Participation-funded research project: Longitudinal Study of the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) (with Prof Pauline Kneale and Ms Tricia Nash) £30,000
2011-2013 JISC-funded Digital Literacies Project. Strategic Approach to Dissemination of Digital Literacies for Enhancement (SADDLE) project (with external colleagues on behalf of the Heads of Educational Development Group (HEDG)) £10,000
2011-2012 PedRIO funded research project, Transformative learning for Sustainability in HE: Exploring diverse student experiences (with Jennie Winter and external colleagues) £17000
2011 PedRIO funded research project, The Gender and Ethnicity Attainment Gap: A Comparative Analysis (PI: Mel Joyner, Faculty of Health), £10000
2010-11 Teaching Fellowship Award Scheme, funded research and development project: Enhancing intercultural participation in group work – towards a working model (with Mel Joyner & Rosemary George) £5000
2010-11 JISC/HEA-funded Open Educational Resources EDOR project (with Pauline Kneale and GEES Subject Centre) £20000
2009-10 HEFCE-funded research project, The Research-informed Teaching Initiative: The final year (with Dr Jennie Winter) £20,000
2009-10 Teaching Fellowship Award Scheme, funded research and development project: A sustainable campus? Students’ perspectives of informal learning about sustainability in UoP (with Mr Alan Dyer and Dr Jennie Winter) £5000
2009 Travel Grant: Trade Mission to Hong Kong. UK Trade and Investment/ ERDF. £600
2009-10 HEA CEBE-funded research and development project (With Dr Wei Pan and Mr Paul Murray), Developing a guide for integrating research-informed teaching into construction education, £6000
2008-9 HEA Biosciences Centre funded research project (PI: Karen Gresty, School of Biology), Enhancing Final Year Projects: A Stakeholder Perspective. £9,000
2008-9 HEFCE-funded research project investigating the impact of the RiT initiative, and making recommendations for strategic development, The Research-informed Teaching Initiative: Impacts and Implications (with Dr Jennie Winter) £29,000
2007-8 Experiential Learning CETL, funded research & development project: Development and Evaluation of an on-line resource to support fieldwork (with Dr P Cotton, School of Biology) £3000
2007-8 UoP research project investigating students’ use of technology for learning: Investigating the Student Experience of E-Learning. (with Mr Jon Yorke, Dr Jennie Winter and Ms Joan Gavin) £8500
2006-8 Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF), funded research project on Sustainable Development and Pedagogy in Higher Education (with Dr Ian Bailey, Mr Martin Warren and Ms Susie Bissell, School of Geography/ GEES)
2004-5 LTSN Subject Centre for Health Sciences and Practice, funded research project: Using a think-aloud protocol to evaluate an on-line resource for nursing students (with Dr K Gresty, Faculty of Science) £4000
Cotton, DRE., Zhai, J., Miller, W., Dalla Valle, L. and Winter, J. (2021) Reducing energy demand in China and the United Kingdom: The importance of energy literacy. Journal of Cleaner Production. 278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.123876
Turner, R., Webb, O.J. and Cotton, D.R.E. (2021) Introducing immersive scheduling in a UK university: Potential implications for student attainment. Journal of Further and Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2021.1873252
Hanks, S., Cotton, D. and Spowart, L. (2020) Leadership in Dental Practice: a Three Stage Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis. Journal of Dentistry. 102. Available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030057122030227X?via%3Dihub
Cotton, D., Bailey, J. and Tosdevin, M. (2020) Higher Education and the Climate Emergency: Exploring the Hidden Curriculum of the Campus. In: The Hidden Curriculum of Higher Education (Ed Hinchcliffe, T.) York: Advance HE.
Webb, O.J. & Cotton, D.R.E. (2019) Deciphering the sophomore slump: changes to student perceptions during the undergraduate journey. Higher Education 77: 173
Gedye, S., Dismore, H., Muneer, R. and Cotton, D. (2019) Damage Limitation: Learning lessons from Complaints and Appeals: Staff on the Handling of Student Grievance. Higher Education Policy. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-019-00150-4
Heffernan, T., Morrison, D., Magne, P., Payne, S. & Cotton, D.R.E. (2018) Internalising Internationalisation: Views of internationalisation of the curriculum among non-mobile home students. Studies in Higher Education
Cotton, D.R.E., Winter, J., Miller, W. & Dalla Valle, L. (2018) Is students’ energy literacy related to their university’s position in a sustainability ranking? Environmental Education Research 24 (11): 1611-1626
Cotton, D.R.E., Miller, W. & Kneale, P. (2018) The Cinderella of academia: Is HE pedagogic research undervalued in UK research assessment? Studies in Higher Education. 43 (9):1625-36
Webb, O.J & Cotton, D. (2018) Early withdrawal from higher education: A focus on academic experiences. Teaching in Higher Education. 23 (7): 835-852.
Cotton, D.R.E., Morrison, D., Magne, P., Payne, S. & Heffernan, T. (2018) Global Citizenship and Cross-Cultural Competency: Student understandings of internationalisation terminology. Journal of Studies in International Education.
Cotton, D.R.E. Nash, T. & Kneale, P. (2017) Supporting the retention of non-traditional students in HE using a resilience framework. European Education Research Journal 16 (1): 62-79
Turner, R., Morrison, D., Cotton, D., Child, S., Stevens, S. & Kneale, P. (2017) Easing the transition of First Year Undergraduates through an Immersive Induction Module. Teaching in Higher Education. 22 (7): 805-821
Webb, O., Wyness, L. and Cotton, D. (2017) Enhancing access, retention, attainment and progression in higher education: A review of the literature showing demonstrable impact. York: Higher Education Academy.
Cotton, D.R.E, Shiel, C. & do Paco, A. (2016) Energy saving on campus: A comparison of students' attitudes and behaviours in the UK and Portugal. Journal of Cleaner Production 129: 586-595.
Cotton, D.R.E, Miller, W., Winter, J. Bailey, I. & Sterling, S. (2016) Knowledge, agency and collective action as barriers to energy-saving behaviour. Local Environment. 21 (7): 883-897.
Cotton, D.R.E, Joyner, M., George, R. & Cotton, P. (2016) Understanding the gender and ethnicity gap in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 53 (5): 475-486
Cotton, D., Miller, W., Winter, J., Bailey, I. and Sterling, S. (2015) Developing students' energy literacy in higher education. International Journal of Sustainability in HE. 16 (4) 456-473.
Abey, S., Lea, S., Callaghan, L., Cotton, D. & Shaw, S. (2015) The development of a scale to assess practitioner capacity to engage in clinical education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 39:2, 223-240.
Abey, S., Lea, S., Callaghan, L., Shaw, S. & Cotton, D. (2015) Identifying factors which enhance capacity to engage in clinical education among podiatry practitioners: an action research project Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 8 (66)
Haigh, M., Cotton, D. and Hall, T. (2015) Pedagogic Research in Geography Higher Education. London: Routledge.
Winter, J., Cotton, D., Grant, V. and Hopkinson, P. (2015) The University as a Site for Transformation around Sustainability. International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development 9 (3/4): 303-320.
Winter, J., Allison, J., Barton, G. and Cotton, D. (2015) Learning Development and sustainability: what are the links and how are they communicated? Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. Volume 8.
Cotton, D.R.E., Nash, T. and Kneale, P. (2014) The experience of care leavers in UK Higher Education. Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning 16 (3): 5-21
Cotton, D.R.E., George, R. & Joyner, M. (2013) Interaction and influence in culturally-mixed groups. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 50 (3), 272-283 (Abstract available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14703297.2012.760773 )
Schofield, C., Cotton, D.R.E., Gresty, K., Kneale, P. and Winter, J. (2013) Higher Education Provision in a Crowded Marketplace. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. 35 (2), 204–216, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2013.775928
Abey, S., Lea, S., Callaghan, L., Cotton, D. & Shaw, S. (2013) The development of a scale to assess practitioner capacity to engage in clinical education. Journal of Further and Higher Education. (Early edition available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0309877X.2013.817006 )
Pan, W., Cotton, D. and Murray, P. (2013) Linking research and teaching: Context, conflict and complementarity. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. (Available here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14703297.2013.847794 )
Ryan, A. & Cotton, D. (2013) Times of change: Shifting pedagogy and curricula for future sustainability in Sterling, S, Maxey, L and Luna, H. (Eds) The Sustainable University - Process and Prospects. Abingdon: Routledge.
Haigh M., Hall T. and Cotton D. (2013) ‘Researching communicated geographies’ (Symposium introduction) Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37, 2: 147-151
Cotton, D.R.E., Winter, J. and Bailey, I. (2013) Researching the hidden curriculum: intentional and unintended messages. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 37 (2): 192-203 (Available online at:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03098265.2012.733684)
Cotton, D.R.E and Alcock, I. (2012) Commitment to environmental sustainability in the UK student population. Studies in Higher Education. (Available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075079.2011.627423)
Winter, J. and Cotton, D.R.E. (2012) Making the Hidden Curriculum Visible: Sustainability Literacy in Higher Education. Environmental Education Research 18 (6): 783-796 (Available online at:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13504622.2012.670207)
Pan, W., Murray, P., Cotton, D. & Garmston, H. (2012) Integrating Research-informed Teaching into Sustainable Construction Education. Journal for Education in the Built Environment. 7(1): 94-117
Cotton, D.R.E., Sterling, S., Neal, V. & Winter, J. (2012) Putting the 'S' into ED: Education for Sustainable Development in Educational Development. SEDA Special 31
Winter, J., Cotton, D. and Grant, V. (2012) Experiencing transformation: a student perspective. In Sustainable Development in Universities: New Horizons (Editor Walter Leal) Frankfurt: Peter Lang Scientific Publishers.
Winter, J.& Cotton, D.R.E. (2012) Sustainability pedagogies: What do they offer educational development? In Putting the 'S' into ED: Education for Sustainable Development in Educational Development. SEDA Special 31 (Editors: Cotton, D.R.E., Sterling, S., Neal, V. &Winter, J.)
Haigh, M., Hall, T. & Cotton, D. (2012) Researching Communicated Geographies: Introduction. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. p. 147-151
Djordjevic, A. and Cotton, D.R.E. (2011) Communicating the Sustainability Message in Higher Education Institutions.International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 12 (4): 381-394 (Abstract at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1953898 )
Cotton, D.R.E, Stokes, A. & Cotton, P.A. (2010) Using observational methods to research the student experience. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 34 (3): 463-473 (Abstract here)
Winter, J., Cotton, D., Gavin, J. & Yorke, J. (2010) Effective e-learning? Multi-tasking, distractions and boundary management by graduate students in an online environment. ALT-J Research in Learning Technology. 18(1): 71-83 (Available at: http://plymouth.academia.edu/DebbyCotton/Papers/526998/Effective_e-learning_Multi-tasking_distractions_and_boundary_management_by_graduate_students_in_an_online_environment)
Cotton, D.R.E & Winter, J. (2010) 'It's not just bits of paper and light bulbs': A review of sustainability pedagogies and their potential for use in Higher Education. In Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education.(Editors: Jones, P., Selby, D. & Sterling, S.)
Cotton,D. & Winter, J. (2010) The Challenge of Embedding Sustainability in the HE Curriculum. Bioscience Bulletin 29: 6
Cotton, D., Bailey, I., Warren, M. & Bissell, S. (2009) Revolutions and second-best solutions: Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Studies in Higher Education 34 (7): 719-733 Available from university repository here)
Cotton, D.R.E & Cotton, P.A. (2009) Field Biology Experiences of Undergraduate Students: The impact of novelty space. Journal of Biological Education 43 (4): 54-59 (Abstract here)
Cotton, D.R.E.& Gresty, K.A. (2008) Barriers to students' engagement with educational technology: Insights from a think-aloud study. In New Educational Technology (Editor: Riko Kobayashi), Nova Publishers, NY. pp. 149-163
Cotton, D.R.E, Warren, M.F., Maiboroda, O. & Bailey, I. (2007) Sustainable Development, Higher Education and Pedagogy: A study of lecturers' beliefs and attitudes. Environmental Education Research 13(5): 579-597 (Abstract here)
Cotton, D.R.E. & Gresty, K.A. (2007) The rhetoric and reality ofe-learning: Using the think-aloud method to investigate student use of an online resource. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 32(5): 583-600 (Abstract here)
Gray-Donald, J., Cotton, D., Warren, M., Bailey, I. & Kagawa, F.(2007) Researching Sustainability in Higher Education: From local to global. The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 3 (5): 205-216
Carkett, R., Burkill, S., Cotton, D., Franklyn-Stokes, A., Hilsdon, J.& Rees, T. (2007) How will they ever learn? Educational Developments 8 (3): 9-12
Cotton, D.R.E. (2006) Implementing curriculum guidance on environmental education: the importance of teachers’ beliefs. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38 (1): 67-83 (Abstract here)
Cotton, D.R.E. (2006) Teaching controversial environmental issues: neutrality and balance in the reality of the classroom. Educational Research 48 (2): 223-241
Cotton, D.R.E. & Gresty, K.A. (2006) Reflecting on the think-aloud methodology for evaluating e-learning. British Journal of EducationalTechnology. 37 (1): 45-54 (Abstract here)
Cotton, D.R.E. (2006) Using an institutional audit to enhance the scholarship of learning and teaching: A UK case study. MountainRise 3(2).
Cotton, D.& Yorke, J. (2006) Analysing online discussions: What are students learning?in Who's learning? Whose Technology? (Editors: Markauskaite L, Goodyear P &Reimann P), Sydney University Press. Pages 163-171
Gresty,K.A. & Cotton, D.R.E. (2003) Supporting Biosciences in the nursing curriculum: development and evaluation of an online resource. Journal of Advanced Nursing 44 (4): 339-349 (Abstract here)
Awards and Recognition:
Edictorial board roles:
Expert membership of Professional bodies:
French horn player in Plymouth Symphony Orchestra