In March 2017 Roxanne Connelly, an assistant professor in the Sociology department, and her research partner Vernon Gayle, based at the University of Edinburgh, hosted an interactive seminar event at the Royal Statistical Society in London.
Roxanne and Vernon are studying secondary sets of data collected as part of the National Child Development Study (NCDS) (which began in 1958), the British Cohort Study (BCS) (which began in 1970), and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) (which began in 2000), to understand the extent to which the relationship between parents' socio-economic positions and their children's performance on cognitive tests have changed. (You can read more about the research on their project page).
The seminar was an opportunity to share their research findings with a non-academic audience and, most importantly, a chance to gather feedback from individuals who deal with the themes and issues which Roxanne and Vernon are researching day-to-day. This feedback has helped them understand the lived experiences and perspectives of the participants, and vitally allowed their voices to directly impact the future direction of research in this area. They hope this will raise the quality and meaning of the research and enable them to ensure government policy is appropriately influenced by their findings.
During the event discussion was led by Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust and Claire Harding, Head of Research and the Family and Childcare Trust. A series of short presentations were conducted from a range of influential speakers including Dr Liz Washbrook from the University of Bristol (picture to the left) who spoke on childhood socio-economic inequalities comparing the US, the UK, Canada and Australia and Professor Alice Sullivan from UCL who discussed reading for pleasure and progress in vocabulary and mathematics. A small but select group of attendees provided some excellent engaged responses and stimulated enthusiastic discussion throughout the afternoon. There was a wide range of attendees from various professional backgrounds including the Social Mobility Commission and the Department for Education.
After the event Roxanne commented:
“Organising these engagement events was a great way to strengthen the non-academic impact of my research. By discussing my research with non-academic knowledge users I was able to strengthen my publication and dissemination plans, and develop my ideas for future research. The events also provided a great networking opportunity.
"The engagement team provided me with excellent support and feedback on the event organisation, event webpage, and invitations. The team also provided assistance in drumming up interest amongst a wide and varied group of attendees”.