Funded PhD Opportunity The role of the professional educator in a post truth context: teacher and pupil perspectives on pupil information skills

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Education


There has been much recent debate in the UK, especially after the Brexit vote and the American presidential election, about the accuracy of claims made by politicians and the ways in which these are reported, understood and spread (particularly on social media and online news outlets, but also in relation to the mainstream media).  A recent Yougov poll (2016) reported that most young people now access news online, often via social media platforms and often on smartphones. However, teachers may experience and use digital tools and platforms differently from their students, for example they are more likely to use Facebook or Twitter than Snapchat or Instagram, being relatively older (Ofcom, 2016).

Teachers enjoy access to masses of online information and useful resources, but they may have difficulty finding the time to select appropriate resources (Reilly & Niens, 2009). Moreover, while they may be aware of so-called fake news, political bias and often hate speech in online content, some teachers may believe they lack relevant skills and knowledge to enable them to tackle such issues in the classroom. In addition, teachers have concerns over online safeguarding and young people are often protected at home and in school by parental controls and firewalls, which may nevertheless often be circumvented.

This array of circumstances has led to rapid proliferation of online resources for teachers, many of which are relatively primitive tools such as checklists. The curriculum, however, aims to equip young people with transferable skills which enable them to become active participants in society, but little is currently known about the extent to which skills such as information literacy and critical thinking are applied when young people are online.

The successful applicant will develop an application to conduct a qualitative and/or quantitative research project addressing the above issues in the light of teacher and pupil perceptions around relevant skills, some of which permeate the curriculum while others may be more prominent in subject areas such as geography, history, citizenship and politics. Applications should be around 2000 words, and should contextualise the project in academic literature, outline proposed methods, consider relevant ethical issues and outline expected outcomes in terms of research impact.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain



    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
31st March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Jacqueline Reilly

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #238617 when applying for this PhD opportunity