I am an applied psychologist with particular interest in applying psychological theories and research methods to understanding and enhancing learning and teaching. I am passionate about education, and especially higher education.  I have considerable experience of educational leadership and academic development. A Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and a National Teaching Fellow (NTF), I work closely with the Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence (KIITE), and lead the Teaching in Higher Education Network at Keele (THiNK) to facilitate educational research and scholarship across the University.

I am a Keele University graduate, having studied here as both an undergraduate (BSc Hons Psychology and Biology, 1996) and as a postgraduate (PhD Neuroscience, 2003). Having gained teaching experience in a variety of institutions during my PhD and subsequently, I took up my first full-time role as a Teaching Fellow and the first Learning Support Tutor in Psychology at Keele from 2002-2004. I progressed to a Senior Lectureship, first in Education and then in Psychology at Staffordshire University in 2004, before moving to the HEA in 2011, as the Discipline Lead for Psychology. This involved leading the HEA’s work enhancing teaching across the UK higher education sector. I returned to the School of Psychology as a Senior Teaching Fellow in January 2015 and was promoted to Reader in 2017.

I am a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) and an Associate Fellow (AFBPsS) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). I am communications officer for the Association of National Teaching Fellows, Past Chair of the Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology (DART-P) at the BPS, a member of the editorial board of Psychology Teaching Review, a review editor at Frontiers in Education, and an associate editor of the Journal for Applied Research in Higher Education (JARHE).

Research and scholarship


Higher Education is a transformative opportunity for students who engage with it, and a prime facilitator of social mobility, personal development, employability, and economic contribution to society. My work explores the psychological and social factors that underpin whether a person thrives or experiences challenges within higher education. My aim is to apply psychological theories and a combination of rigorous quantitative and qualitative psychological research methods to find ways to improve student participation and success in higher education, especially for disadvantaged groups. I engage stakeholders in developing understanding of educational opportunities and outcomes, with a view to enhancing these for every student and aspiring student.

Student transitions to university

How can students prepare for university, and what can teachers, lecturers and educational institutions do to help them achieve a sense of belonging and confident engagement at university? I am interested in developmental psychological approaches and social identity, especially around a sense of belonging. This has important implications for student retention, success, and wellbeing.

I’m also keen to develop student skills to facilitate transition – how can we work with students to enable them to engage confidently with academic life? My key focus here is on using feedback to support learning, from a social constructivist perspective.

Student transitions beyond university

I engage in scholarship and application developing a psychology curriculum that relates to psychological literacy, enabling students to become employable, interculturally competent, global citizens who can apply psychology to everyday life, their work, their communities, and wider society.

Individual differences and diversity

Certain demographic groups of students can be disadvantaged in higher education, and may underachieve. How do students from different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, educational experiences, and those with disabilities experience higher education? How can we close the attainment gap to improve equality? This work is informed by social psychological theories and an inclusive educational approach.

Teaching excellence and innovation

Pedagogic frailty, reward & recognition – how can we support academics in developing teaching excellence, so that they can respond to the changing nature of higher education, and support their students to develop into employable graduates and citizens? What influences teacher wellbeing, and how can we promote creativity and enhance academic support of students and their learning? This work is informed by social psychological theories, within a social systems context.

Research supervision

I would be interested in supervising PhDs and other projects relating to any of these topics.

Previous and current PhD supervision includes:

  • John Noble, Staffordshire University: Cultural capital: a stepping stone or stumbling block to successful engagement with higher education? (Complete, 2009)
  • Amelia Rout, Staffordshire University: Self-esteem, self-efficacy and study skills as mediators of transition for vocational students entering higher education (ongoing)
  • Emma Harrison, Keele University: Bullying in higher education (Complete, 2020)
  • Ford Mitchell, Keele University: Social representations of psychology and graduate employability (ongoing)
  • Stacey Lyons, Keele University: Experiences of students with disability in higher education (ongoing).


I teach on the BSc and MSc Psychology programmes, as follows:

  • PSY-10034 - Introduction to Biological and Cognitive Psychology
  • PSY-10019 - Applied Psychology
  • PSY-10026 - Distress and Mental Health
  • PSY-30061 - Final year projects (I supervise projects on psychology in education and am generally interested in student-generated project ideas, using quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods)
  • PSY-30134 - Making a Difference with Psychology
  • PSY-30127 - Psychology in Education
  • MSc Dissertations (I supervise projects on psychology in education and am generally interested in student-generated project ideas, using quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods)

Further information


'Why do we like being scared' | BBC


Consultancy and coaching

I am a highly experienced academic developer, consultant, curriculum developer, coach and change manager, with particular expertise in transforming practice in educational settings. I have worked with a number of universities and colleges internationally to facilitate them in enhancing learning and teaching at institutional, faculty, departmental and individual level. Successful bespoke projects have included:

  • Embedding inclusive assessment practice within a large university faculty;
  • Enhancing student engagement and improving NSS scores within a university;
  • Developing and improving employability strategy and practice within numerous universities and colleges;
  • Introducing enquiry-based learning into the science curriculum within an academic department;
  • Providing training on efficient and effective delivery of assessment and feedback;
  • Evaluation of projects and initiatives within all types of educational contexts and for a county council;
  • Introducing peer mentoring for new staff in a large legal firm;
  • Curriculum development and course review in various UK psychology departments.

I offer a range of professional coaching and mentoring services, including executive coaching, coaching for managers and coaching for academic career development. 
I enjoy delivering training, facilitation and change management workshops on a range of topics. 
For more information, or to discuss how I might be able to help you or your organisation, please email me for an informal chat in the first instance


  • Director of Education
  • Deputy Academic Conduct Officer
  • Lead for decolonising the curriculum
  • Early Resolution Officer
  • Education & Scholarship Group Lead
  • Undergraduate Academic Mentor

School of Psychology
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
Keele University

Psychology School office
Tel: +44(0)1782 731831
Fax: +44(0)1782 733387

Accessibility information for Dorothy Hodgkin Building can be found on its AccessAble page.