Zayba Ghazali-Mohammed, Research Associate Move2Learn
Tell me about your role in the Centre for Research in Digital Education?
Currently I’m a postdoctoral researcher working on the Move2Learn project at the centre. I’m in quite a privileged position in that I work full-time on this fairly long project and fully immerse myself in it, something that not all academics get the opportunity to do! The project itself is about understanding how preschool children interact with science exhibits and essentially how these interactions help them to learn about science ideas. It’s an interesting area of research because both academics in the field and practitioners in science centres and museums are still overwhelmingly challenged by how best to assess and support the effectiveness of science activities of young children whose language skills are still emerging.
The Move2Learn project is also hugely collaborative meaning that I work very closely with practitioners at the Glasgow Science Centre, and even have a desk there for one day a week where I can meet with exhibit designers for example, and find out more about the challenges and interests of science centres more broadly. It’s also really useful for collecting data as you can imagine. Perhaps more importantly though, we get to share skills and best practice to do the work that mutually benefits and interests us and see the fruits of our labour almost immediately.
Part of my role has also been working with staff at the University’s Data Safe Haven headquarters. I’ve worked with colleagues there for over a year now to help pilot M2L as a project for them while they still develop and implement their infrastructure to roll out across the University in the future. My work there has really built up my knowledge of the new GDPR regulations, child data, and data sharing within the UK, and internationally.
How long have you worked with the Centre?
I’m been affiliated with the University since 2015, but worked at the Centre since August 2017.
How do you see digital education and why do you think it's important in your work?
Part of the Move2Learn project is understanding how technology can help augment science exhibits and whether this positively influences children’s interactions and subsequent ideas about science. I think the rapid growth and uptake of technology in museums and other informal learning settings tells us this is an area worth investigating and provides a means for children to experience so many science phenomena they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to. This is particularly important for children who come from communities typically known to have low science capital. A motivating aim of my research therefore, is to improve accessibility and participation in science activities outside of the perceived judgement of classrooms to encourage more positive attitudes towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), which we know leads to higher uptake of STEM-related courses post-16years.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
I think this will end up being one of the projects I’m most proud of because the benefits are so clear, and the very fact we’re working alongside practitioners every step of the way means that the outcomes and impact of this research are visible pretty much straight away. As a psychologist, how children think about and learn about science has been deeply interesting to me, but I haven’t always seen the impact of my research beyond a theoretical contribution. This Learning Sciences project changes that completely and I think it shows the link between education, psychology and practice that is desperately needed.
If you had a time machine for a day when would you visit and why?
This is such as hard question! Would I go back or go forwards?! And If I had a time machine for a day could I not keep going back to that day and rewinding time so I end up having more than a day??