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Professor Debby Cotton

Director of Academic Practice & Professor of Higher Education

Post-Graduate Research Coordinator for Education

Deputy Vice-Chancellors Office

01752 636700 Ext:2039

dcotton@marjon.ac.uk


Staff photo of Debby Cotton

Role Summary

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.

 


Qualifications

  • 1999: D. Phil., St Anne’s College & Department of Education, University of Oxford. ESRC studentship: Teaching Controversial Environmental Issues in A level Geography 
  • 1992: BSc (Hons) 2.1 Environmental Science, University of East Anglia


Teaching

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

Teaching awards:

University Teaching Fellow, 2009, 2010, 2014

National Teaching Fellow, 2015

Current PhD students:
 
Jamie Read - Professional Identity formation after failure and remediation in medical students at two UK universities
 
Avik Bannerjee - Provision of private tutoring for pupils with dyslexia in England
 
Damien Hackney - Understanding behaviour change towards sustainability
 
Katie Major - Behaviour change and sustainable food
 
Research degrees awarded to supervised students: 
 
PhD Dr Ciaran O'Sullivan - Sustainability in Secondary Education in England: An Ethnographic Study
 
PhD Dr Sally Abey - Exploring practice-based education in podiatry: an action research project
 
PhD Dr Cathy Schofield - Exploring the Teaching-research Nexus in College Based and University Higher Education
 
PhD Dr Derek Dodd - Lost in Translation: Non-STEM academics in the entrepreneurial university
 
PhD Dr Sally Hanks - Deconstructing, contextualising and assessing management and leadership qualities in dental professionals: an ethnographic study of principles in practice
 
External examining:
 
2012 University of Huddersfield, UK - EdD external examiner
 
2014 Deakin University, Australia - PhD external examiner
 
2015 RMIT, Australia - PhD external examiner
 
2016 Bradford University, UK - PhD external examiner
 
2016 James Cook University, Australia - PhD external examiner
 
2017 London South Bank University - EdD external examiner
 
2017 Bristol University - EdD external examiner
 
2017 Swansea University - PhD external examiner
 
2018 Kent University - PhD external examiner
 
2019 Lancaster University - PhD external examiner
 
2020 Liverpool University - EdD external examiner
 
2020 Southampton University - PhD external examiner
 


Research

Research interests

My key interests are around sustainability and higher education, primarily in the following areas:

  • Sustainability and Pedagogy in Higher Education - I am interested in teachers' and students' beliefs about and understandings of sustainability, and the ways in which sustainability is taught and learnt. My current research is exploring students' energy literacy.
  • Promoting sustainable behaviours - areas of work include exploring energy saving behaviour, and communication about climate change and sustainablity.
  • Widening Participation and Inclusivity in Higher Education - I have been involved in several projects investigating the experiences of non-traditional students in HE, including work on the gender and ethnicity attainment gap, an evaluation of the National Scholarship Programme and research with care leavers in HE.
  • Internationalisation - various areas of interest including internationalisation of the curriculum (internationalisation at home), as well as international comparative research related to sustainability (including Europe and China).

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.

Grants and Contracts

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


Publications

Key papers since 2014:

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. Available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620339214

Hanks, S., Cotton, D. and Spowart, L. (forthcoming) Leadership in Dental Practice: a Three Stage Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis. Journal of Dentistry. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030057122030227X?via%3Dihub

Webb, O.J. & Cotton, D.R.E. (2019) Deciphering the sophomore slump: changes to student perceptions during the undergraduate journey. Higher Education 77: 173

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

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

Other peer-reviewed papers:

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 CurriculumBioscience 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 classroomEducational 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 studyMountainRise 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)


Expert Membership of professional bodies

  • Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA)
  • National Teaching Fellow


Roles on external bodies

  • 2018-19 Office for Students, UK – TEF pilot panel member and WP liaison (Education & Social Care)
  • 2018-19 Advisory role on Teacher Education MOOC funded by Ministry of Education, China
  • 2018-19 Member of SAGE Pedagogy Advisory Board, UK
  • 2018-19 City University, UK - Member of LEaDER Steering Group
  • 2017-18 Office for Students, UK – TEF pilot panel member (Social Sciences)
  • 2017 Brunel University, UK - Consultancy (Pedagogic Research and scholarship)
  • 2016-2019 Eurasia University, Xi’an, China – Consultancy (Leading Faculty Development)
  • 2016-17 HEFCE, UK – National TEF Assessor
  • 2016 Macalester College, US – Consultancy (Sustainability in HE)
  • 2014-15 Higher Education Academy (HEA) – Consultancy (Project steering group)
  • 2014 QAA/ HEA – Consultancy (Developing UK Guidance on Education for Sustainable Development)
  • 2014-16 Member of Strategic Research Group: Natural England Learning in Natural Environments
  • 2013 UNISA, South Africa – Consultancy (Sustainability in HE)
  • 2012-2015 Member of Heads of Educational Development Group (HEDG) national committee
  • 2011-2015 Member then co-chair of SEDA Research Committee
  • 2011 Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand – PgCert International Advisory board
  • 2010 University of Gloucester – Critical friend (HEFCE Sustainability and Quality project)
  • 2009 Teng Hoi Conservation Organization, Hong Kong – Consultancy (Cap and Trade project)


Other Interests

French horn player in Plymouth Symphony Orchestra

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