North East Connected

Global award for academic’s research breaking education language barriers


Dr Elizabeth Hidson

Dr Elizabeth Hidson has landed a prestigious award at this year’s British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference.

The Senior Lecturer in International Initial Teacher Training won the ‘BERA 2023 conference Practitioner Research Special Interest Group Best Presentation award’ for her presentation: “From tiny acorns: a co-produced research project between Chinese teacher researchers and UK-based international initial teacher training academics”.

BERA is the leading authority on educational research in the UK, supporting and representing the community of scholars, practitioners and everyone engaged with educational research, nationally and internationally.

BERA nurtures an active peer community organised around networks, forums and special interest groups (SIGs) and hosts a major international annual conference in September.

Presentation proposals are submitted to BERA in January, and following a rigorous and competitive review process, applicants are notified about acceptance or rejection in April. The criteria focus on the clarity, originality, rigour and significance of the research being presented.

Accepted papers are then grouped across the annual conference into different categories. SIG convenors shortlisted abstracts and attended the sessions to judge and award the ‘BERA Conference 2023 – SIG Best Presentation’ prize.

Elizabeth’s winning presentation was about a piece of collaborative research, where she worked with teacher researchers in a school in Shanghai to explore how to support Chinese-speaking pupils sitting iGCSE science exams, which are assessed in English.

She explained: “The science teachers were frustrated that their pupils needed to master, communicate and be assessed on their scientific capability through reading, listening, writing, and speaking solely in English despite their native Mandarin fluency. The teachers wanted to research how to create and develop language resources to support their pupils’ science subject competency in English.”

The project, although sadly curtailed by ongoing Covid-related school closures in Shanghai last year, inspired Elizabeth’s successful application for one of the 14 Vice-Chancellor’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Fellowships awarded this year. She is now looking at a larger project to assess the impact of research co-created between schools and the university.

Elizabeth has previously been awarded both the team and individual Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Fellowships for projects on video-enhanced dialogic assessment (2020), and the creation of SunRAE, an international student conference (2022).

Reacting to her BERA award, Elizabeth said: “It’s truly an honour to be awarded such a prestigious prize by your peers, but even more importantly, to be in a position to highlight the importance of practitioner research in education.”

Elizabeth’s presentation can be downloaded from the University Research Repository (SURE)  here: She has also been asked to record a video version for the BERA website and has submitted a BERA Blog post about it.

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