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Dr Barbara Merrill

Emeritus Professor

Dr Barbara Merrill

Barbara.Merrill@warwick.ac.uk
+44 (0)24 7657 4097


Dr Barbara Merrill is Emeritus reader at the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

Biography and Research Interests
Barbara has been involved in coordinating several European and national research projects. Her research interests include access issues and experiences of adult students in community adult education, further and higher education, social inclusion and lifelong learning, gender and social class and adult education, citizenship, and biographical methods.

Below are some examples of research projects which Barbara had been involved with:

WEXHELink opens in a new window project was concerned with integrating work-based learning in the form of entrepreneurship and work experience into higher education.

She coordinated a six-country European project entitled  Enhancing the Employability of Non-Traditional Students in HE (read onlineLink opens in a new window) which focused on issues of inequality in relation to non-traditional students in higher education and beyond into the labour market. Using biographical methods the project drew on the work of Bourdieu. Other research projects have included RANLHELink opens in a new window – a European project – Access and retention of non-traditional students in higher education.

EDUPRO research project: Promoting Lifelong Learning in HE by Implementing Innovative Practices in Recognition of Prior Learning Link opens in a new windowand a project funded by CEDEFOP entitled Learning for Career and Labour Market Transitions: Individual BiographiesLink opens in a new window with Professor Alan Brown and Professor Jenny Bimrose in the Institute of Employment Research (IER) at Warwick.

In 2019 Barbara was inaugurated into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

For the University’s 50th and the Centre’s 30th anniversary celebrations in 2015 Barbara organised a conference which involved participants from Europe and beyond and a seminar on the past, present and future of adult education at Warwick.

Barbara is a member of the Standing Council on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREALink opens in a new window), a member of the Steering Committee for the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREALink opens in a new window), co-ordinator (with Andrea Galimberti, University of Milano Bicocca and Antonio Fragoso, University of Algarve) of the Access, Learning Careers and Identity ESREA Network which involves organising a European conference every two years. She also was an active member of the ESREA Life History and Biography Network. Barbara is also a member of the Editorial Boards of Studies in the Education of Adults and RELA (European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults).


Edited Journals

(2022-2023) Editor with Fergal Finnegan (Maynooth University) of a special edition of Sisyphus Journal of Education on ‘Class matters: social class and adult education

(2020) Co-editor of a special edition of European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, The changing landscapes of literacy and adult education, Vol. 11 (1)

(2018) Editor of a special edition of Social Sciences, Community Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

(2018) Co- editor of a special edition of European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, Intersectionality and Adult Education Vol. 9 (1)

(2018) Co- editor of a special edition of European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, Intersectionality and Adult Education Vol. 9 (1)
(2017) Co-editor (with Flecha, A & Mar, M.) of a special edition of Research on Ageing and Social Theory, Role of lifelong Learning in Ageing Societies, Vol. 5 (1)
(2016) Co-editor (with Barros, R.) of a special edition of Revista Inverstigar em Educação, Intergenerationality and lifelong Learning, No. 5 (2)
(2013) Editor of a special edition of Studies in the Education of Adults, Access, retention and withdrawal: A European perspective, pp 113-209

Selected Publications

(2023) Merrill, B Revers, S., Working class adult students: Negotiating Inequalities in the graduate labour market in Siivonen, P, Isopahkala-Bouret, U, Tomlinson, M,Korhonen, MHaltia, N & Komulainen, Rethinkinggraduate employability in context: Discourses, policy and practice, London. Palgrave MacMillan

(2022) Merrill, B, Biographical research and feminist thinking in adult education in Vieire, C., Temos, Contextes e Desafos DA: Investigação Qualitativa em Educação, Coimbre, Universidade de Coimbra, pp75 - 106

(2022) Merrill, B. and Revers, S. Experiencing Class and Gender: Mature Women Students and their Journeys from HE to the Labor Market, In R. Tierney, F. Rizvi & K. Ereikan, International Encyclopaedia of Education, 4th edition, New York, Elsevier.

(2020) Biographical Inquiry: A Collaborative and Egalitarian Approach to Adult Education in Finnegan, F. & Grummell, B (eds) Doing Critical and Creative Research in Adult Education: Case studies in methodology and theory, Leiden, Brill/ ESREA

(2020) Understanding Women’s Lives Through Critical Feminist Perspectives: Working Class Women Students in Higher Education in Bainbridge, B, Formenti, L. & West, L (eds.) An Ecology of Life: Discourses, dialogue and diversity in biographical research.

(2019) Merrill, B, Finnegan, F, O’ Neill, J, & Revers, S (2019) ‘When it comes to what employers are looking for, I don’t think I’m it for a lot of them’: Class and capitals in, and after, higher education, Studies in Higher Education, DOI:10, 1080/03075079, 2019, 1570492

(2019) Merrill, B & West, L, (2019) A History of Biographical Research in the United Kingdom, RBPAB, (Auto)biographical Research in Education in Europe and America, Vol.3 (9)

(2019) O’Neill, J., Merrill, B., Finnegan, F., & Revers, S. (2019). Intersecção das desigualdades no ensino superior: teorização de classe e género através de uma perspetiva feminista e o olhar de Bourdieu. In António Fragoso & Sandra Valadas (eds.), Dos “Novos Públicos” do Ensino Superior aos estudantes “não-tradicionais” no Ensino Superior (pp.). Coimbra: CINEP

(2017) With Finnegan, F. 'We're as good as anybody else': a comparative study of working-class university students' experiences in England and Ireland, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38 (3), pp307-324
(2016) Class and Higher Education: An unequal experience, Research Intelligence, BERA, ISSUE 129, pp20 - 21

With West, L. (2016) Behind the Scenes and into the messiness of European collaborative research in Evans, R. (ed.) Before, beside and After (beyond) the Biographical Narrative, Duisberg, ESREA/Nisaba Verlag

(2014) Gender and age: negotiating and experiencing higher education in England in Finnegan, F, Merrill, B & Thunborg, C (2014) Student Voices on Inequalities in European Higher Education: Challenges for theory, policy, and practice in a time of change, London, Routledge pp74-85

2015: With Barabasch, A & Zanazzi, S, Structural support, networking and individual survival: career changes in Italy and Spain in British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Vol. 43 (3), pp 323-338
(2015) Strategies of Action: Improving Employability, Revista Fuentes, pp 15-36

2014: Determined to Stay or Determined to Leave? A Tale of Learner Identities, Biographies and Non-traditional Students in Higher Education in Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 40 (3), pp 1859-1871
2014: With Barabasch, A. ‘Cross-cultural Approaches to Biographical Interviews: Looking at career transitions in Journal of Research in Comparative and International Education, Vol. 9 (3), pp 287-300
2014: With Finnegan, F & Thunborg, C (eds.) Student Voices on Inequalities in European Higher Education: Challenges for theory, policy and practice in a time of change, London, Routledge
2014: Gender and age: negotiating and experiencing higher education in England, in Finnegan, F, Merrill, B & Thunborg, C (eds.) (2014) Student Voices on Inequalities in European Higher Education: Challenges for theory, policy and practice in a time of change, London, Routledge
2014: With West, L & Bron, A, Researching student experience in Finnegan, F, Merrill, B & Thunborg, C (eds.) Student Voices on Inequalities in European Higher Education: Challenges for theory, policy and practice in a time of change, London, Routledge
2013: Studies in the Education of Adults see RANLHE project for further information
2012: Learning to become an Adult Student: Experiences in a UK university in International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, Vol.5 Issue 1 (November), pp21-42
2012: Non-Traditional Adult Students: Access, Drop-Out, Retention and Developing a Learner Identity in T. Hinton-Smith (ed) Widening Participation in Higher Education: Casting the Net Wide? Issues in Higher Education, London, Palgrave
2012: With Chan, A, Learning and Identity: life, work and citizenship in Texler Segal, M, Chow, E N & Demos, V (eds.) Social Production and Reproduction at the Interface of Public and Private Spheres in Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 16, Bingley, Emerald Books, pp
2012: With Field, J & West, L, Life History Approaches to Access and Retention of Non-traditional Students in Higher Education, European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults (RELA), Vol. 3 No.1, April, pp77 -89
2011: Experiencing Class: Working Class Adult Students in Higher Education in Herzberg, H & Kammler, E (eds.) Biographie und Gesellschaft: Beitraege zu enier Empirisch Fundierten Theoriebildug, Frankfurt/ New York, Campus Verlag
2009: (ed.) Learning to Change: The Role of Identity and Learning Careers in Adult Education, Frankfurt-am-Main, Peter Lang
2009: With West, L, Using Biographical Methods in Social Research, London, Sage
2007: With West, L, Alheit, P, Bron, A & Siig Andersen, A, (eds), Using Biographies and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning, Frankfurt-am-Main, Peter Lang
2007: Recovering Class and the Collective in West, L, Alheit, P, Bron, A & Siig Andersen, A, Merrill, B, (eds), Using Biographies and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning, Frankfurt-am-Main, Peter Lang
2006: L’Educació de Persones Adultes a Angleterra: temps exigents in Educació de Persones Adultes: Un visió internacional, Papers d’ Educació de Persones Adultes No 51-52
2006: With Crowther, J, Johnston, R, Martin, I, Defending the Radical Margins of University Higher Education in Antikainen, A, Harinen, P & Torres, C, A, (eds.) In From the Margins: adult education, work and civil society, Rotterdam, Sense Publications
2005: With Johnston, R (2005) From Old to New Learning identities: Charting the Change for Non-Traditional Adult Students in Higher Education, Bron, A, Kurantowicz, E, Salling Olesen, H & West, L (eds.) 'Old' and 'New' Worlds of Adult Learning, Wroclaw, Wydawnictwo Naukowe
2005: 'Biographical Research: reasserting experience' in Crowther, J, Galloway, V & Martin, I (eds) Popular Education: Engaging the Academy, Leicester, NIACE
2005: 'Dialogic Feminism: other women and the challenge of adult education', International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol 24, 01
2004: 'Biography and narratives: adult returners to learning' with Alheit, P in Osborne, M, Gallacher, J & Crossan, B Researching Widening Access to Lifelong Learning, London, Routledge
2004: 'Biographies, Class and Learning: the experiences of adult learners' in Pedagogy, Culture and Society, Vol 12, 1
2003: With Crossan, B, Field, J, Gallacher, J, 'Understanding Participation in Learning for Non-traditional Adult Learners: learning careers and the construction of learning identities' in British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol 24, No 1
2003: 'Adult Education and Citizenship: A European Perspective' in Coare, P & Johnston, R (eds) Adult Learning, Citizenship and Community Voices, Leicester, NIACE
2003: With Hyland, T, The Changing Face of Further Education: lifelong learning, inclusion and community values in further education, London, Taylor & Francis
2002: With Gallacher, J, Crossan, B, & Field, J, 'Learning careers and the social space: exploring the fragile identities of adult returners in the new further education' in International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol 21, No 6, November/December
2001: 'Learning and Teaching in Universities: perspectives from adult learners and lecturers' in Teaching In Higher Education, Vol 6, No 1
1996: Gender, Change and Identity, Mature Women Students in Universities, Aldershot, Ashgate