‘Dedicated’ Students Look to Create a Legacy with First Student-Led Research Conference at BGU

In April 2021, a group of seven dedicated final year BA Primary Education students took the lead in successfully delivering an online research conference to 100 of their peers and lecturers on conducting educational research.

The group of students, supported by project-lead Dr Ashley Compton and Student Engagement Facilitator, Helen Waters-Marsh, planned, organised, and delivered a range of live online workshops as well as producing pre-recorded conference materials, all during the lockdown of 2021.

Dr Ashley Compton discussed the origins and future of the conference:

“Helen and I started talking about this in the spring of 2019. We had preparations for the first conference well under way when lockdown hit. This was before the world got used to existing through Teams and Zoom so at that point, we were forced to cancelled it. We were determined to try again this year so planned it as an online conference from the beginning.”

“A group of students volunteered and proved to be dedicated and reliable. We worked together to produce a programme and shared out the jobs. The students were great about producing content and encouraged contributions from their fellow students.”

“The conference was well attended by year two students and was incredibly useful for their current research module, but more importantly preparing them for their dissertation next year.”

“The whole thing went so well that we intend to do this again next year.”

Bethanie Crawley, one of the students who organised the conference, shared her experience and how she hopes it will impact her future:

“I got involved with the student led conference as a way of paying back the help I have received over my three years training”

“I gained a sense of comradery working with people I possibly haven't had much contact with previously. I was more motivated to get on with my assignments while we discussed the issues that arise in research as I now had solutions within my head”

“I would highly recommend getting involved in the conference. You get to develop so many skills in presenting, teamwork, and time management. It also looks amazing on a job application for when you are applying as it shows you can work in a team.” 

“I am going to use this experience to have the confidence to get involved with other projects throughout my first couple of years teaching.  I have presented online and been involved with delivering online material which will help in the case of possible teaching online based on the issues of the current climate, this is a good skill to have currently”

Another student conference organiser, Molly-Ann Burnett, has since had a successful job interview where she was able to draw on her experiences organising the Student-led Research Conference:

“In recent job applications, I have mentioned my role in the conference when discussing elements of professionalism and leadership. I drew on the experience in a successful job interview, speaking about how it developed my confidence and demonstrated my ability to work as part of a team”

“I have gained some much-needed confidence in using technology for presentations, something which is sure to become more relevant in future years. I have also gained confidence in interacting with others, be that the team, contributors and those who attended the final conference”

Alisha Gibbs, final year BA Primary Education student, said she got involved as she knew how challenging a dissertation can be:

“It was so rewarding to be sharing advice and it was also a confidence boost to sit back and realise how much you have accomplished. I also found that I felt much more confident with leading and speaking in front of large groups which is an important skill to have”

Student Conference Organiser Louise Beasley shared Alisha’s sentiments about organising the conference:

“I grew in confidence when presenting live to the second years, it also helped me to reflect on my research and how far I had come since my second year. I also really like helping others, so I got a sense of pride and accomplishment through this” 

Looking to the future

Plans are now underway to begin planning for the 2022 Student-led Research Conference and it is hoped other cohorts across BGU might follow the lead set by BA Primary Education.

Student Conference Team

  • Louise Beasley
  • Molly-Ann Burnett
  • Daisy Brown
  • Bethanie Crawley
  • Alisha Gibbs
  • Sophie-Jayne Guest
  • Natalie Hawkins

Subject Conference Team

The students were supported by Subject Team Lead Dr Ashley Compton, Louise Connolly, and Angela Barley.

The project was also supported by the following CELT (Centre for Enhancement in Learning and Teaching) and Library staff:

  • Helen Waters-Marsh - Student Engagement Facilitator
  • James Duke - Digital Learning Developer
  • Dr Hannah Grenham - Learning Development Tutor (presenter)
  • Dr Rose Roberto - Teaching Resources Librarian 
  • Stephen Macdonald - User Support Librarian