When I first began my studies at Cardiff Met, I had a clear career path in my mind. I planned to become a Secondary Drama teacher, as I had an academic interest in pedagogy and a passion for drama. Although it all seemed like things were going to plan, I quickly discovered during my PGCE training that being a secondary school teacher was not for me. After taking time to think (and panic slightly!) I decided to enrol on the MA Education course. Little did I know that I would find a totally different career path ahead of me working in research.
My MA studies
I found studying the MA Education beneficial in both personal and professional contexts. It helped to further my confidence and communication skills, as well as providing me with opportunities to expand my social circle from my undergraduate studies. Every person that you encounter, from students to academic staff, is a pleasure to work alongside and learn from. This makes the course an engaging and fun environment to be learning in. The course has allowed me to develop my academic abilities – the range of assignment formats (written essays, presentations, blogs and case studies) and has tested my use of analytical and written skills.
In the early stages of the MA Education course, I was unsure on what topic I would want to focus on when conducting my own piece of research. However, my lecturers, peers and potential dissertation supervisors were brilliant at communicating and problem solving with me to ensure that I was not stuck at this hurdle for too long! After some productive conversations, I selected the field of technology in education and had a supervisor in place.
My MA dissertation focused on PGCE Secondary Drama students’ attitudes towards the Digital Competence Framework, and how this may impact their pedagogy. The dissertation process had some challenges as any lengthy piece of work does, but these were safely negotiated by myself and my supervisor. I enjoyed it as there seemed to be the perfect balance of working independently and support available when required. This allowed me to complete large sections of my work in my own time, but also check that I was still on track with my supervisor’s help. Although the thought of doing a 12,000-word assignment can be daunting, I would recommend anyone with an interest or passion for research in their chosen field to not let that put you off.
Progressing into Research
The process of completing my dissertation stands out as a key moment for me, as it ultimately led to my enrolment onto a PhD Research position at Cardiff Met and change of career.
I had considered doing further research whilst studying my MA and knowing that my supervisor could then be the supervisor to my PhD research made it an easier decision to make. Having the opportunity to develop a working relationship with the university staff is an opportunity that is not always possible, but if the chance does arise then I would recommend that anyone should enrol onto a Research Degree. Not only do you get to research a topic of your choice, but you also develop valuable relationships with colleagues across the university that can create new and exciting opportunities during your time here and for the future.
SHOUT4HE Research Project
I also work as a Research Assistant for the SHOUT4HE Research Project which Cardiff Met is the lead for project management. I am in charge of the day-to-day running of the Erasmus+ project which involves co-dialogue with our international partners and ensuring that any information needed is easily accessible to everyone involved. I have also been able to increase my academic abilities in relation to literature reviews and research methods. So far, I have conducted a literature review on Digital Frameworks for the research. This has helped to inform the creation of a recognition framework, published articles in the future from the project and also links to my own PhD topic area.
Another added bonus is the amazing experience of travelling to each of our partners during the 3-year study! I have visited Belgium and I’m due to visit Ireland and France soon. I have been able to visit locations I would not have had the chance to do, plus I have been able to learn from academics across Europe.
I wholeheartedly believe that I would not be capable of doing my job and carrying out my responsibilities if it was not for my time on the MA Education course. I have developed the critical thinking, analytical skills and global mindset that supports my work on the Erasmus+ research project. The relationships built with lecturers has also helped me to switch between the roles of learner, colleague and friend when beginning to work alongside lecturers from my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I would 100% recommend the course or (any MA course) at Cardiff Met. It is perfect for furthering your knowledge, gaining transferable skills and discovering what the future might hold for you all at once!