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Current DCAD Funded Projects

Imposter Syndrome in the Classroom: What are the impacts for teaching and learning and how can academic practice be improved at Durham University? 


  • Dr Michelle Addison (Sociology)

DCAD Lead / Co-Lead:

  • Rachelle O’Brien

The project will explore the impact of imposterism on students’ sense of inclusion and belonging within Durham University, the impact it has on student’s learning experience and how academic practice in the classroom can be improved.

Whilst there is emerging research regarding the impact this has on staff (Addison, 2016) there is not enough evidence about how imposter syndrome shapes students’ learning experience, or impacts on their sense of inclusion and participation in the wider student experience (Bothello, 2019). Building on emerging scholarship in this area, imposter syndrome is conceived as highly stigmatised, unevenly distributed, and fosters a sense of ‘feeling out of place’ and inadequacy (cf. Addison and Stephens-Griffin, 2022). It is also entangled with mental health concerns around anxiety and stress (cf. Addison, Breeze, and Taylor 2022) that are problematically individualised and pathologised as a ‘crisis of confidence’ that legitimates a raft of mental health intervention programmes.


  • To understand the impact of imposter syndrome on students’ teaching and learning experience, including: contextually admitted students, marginalised and/or minoritised students, and first-generation students 
  • To design and deliver an education intervention (workshop) on imposter syndrome that improves teaching practice as part of the university level Teaching and Learning Workshop Programme.
  • To evaluate the workshop and the longitudinal impact the education intervention has on teaching and learning practice 

We will present our work at the SOTL forum and at the Learning &Teaching conference as well as producing a DCAD blog post. 

Zine making as a pedagogical tool for transformative learning in Law


  • Associate Professor Henry Jones (Law)
  • Joy Twenlow, PhD candidate (Law)

DCAD Lead:

  • Dr Peter Whitton

Law, Gender and Society (LGS), a second-year elective module on the LLB degree, draws on feminist theory and examples of law in practice to teach students to critically engage with the nexus between gender and law.

Zines have long offered marginalised groups an outlet for recording stories, disseminating information and self-organising (Tavin, 2002). Their photocopied, DIY production values and aesthetic offer a quick and direct means of self-expression, identity construction and collaboration (Klein, 2010). Therefore, the zine format is well suited to encouraging students to engage with non-traditional perspectives and relate theory to their own lived experience.

This project will explore the practicalities of student zine (a self-published, non-commercial print-work) production as a pedagogical method to encourage collaboration, communication, critical thinking and engagement with non-orthodox perspectives. Currently this module follows a traditional lecture/seminar format, while this is efficient for information transmission, opportunities for deeper, more active engagement with the subject material and peers may be missed. The project will develop and deliver teaching materials that facilitate zine making in the classroom. The teaching materials will combine historical information about the role zines have played in feminist history with examples of how the zine format facilitated the articulation of non-orthodox critical perspectives. These teaching materials will be tested by the LGS students who will collaboratively create a zine with 20 of their peers, drawing on issues and theories encountered in the course. To complement the use of zines in the classroom, and to provide the framework for wider engagement with the zine medium, we propose to scaffold the classroom activity with an external-facing zine fest that will be partly funded by the law school. Students will be given the opportunity to present and disseminate their zines alongside academics/activists/artists who have also created zines for the zine fest.   

Our overarching aim is to facilitate transformative learning by helping students to connect decades of feminist theory with contemporary issues relevant to their individual experience and perspectives. Speaking to this aim, our objectives are:   

  1. Increasing a sense of connection to peers and the wider school of feminist thought; and
  2. Develop students’ skills in communication, particularly looking at:
  1. How effectively students conveyed the feminist ideas they encountered throughout the LGS course in the zine medium  
  2. The extent to which students embraced the DIY format of zines; and  
  3. The plurality of ideas students expressed   

The findings will be disseminated internally via a DCAD blogpost on the pedagogical value of zines and an interactive presentation at the Learning & Teaching conference in September 2023, and externally by running a zine fair, an application to present at the Three Rivers Conference 2023 and a running a zine making workshop at Socio-Legal Scholars Association conference as well as potential publications.


Bridge to the Arts and Humanities Programme


  • Professor Alex Barber

DCAD Lead:

  • Associate Professor Louise Greener
  • Associate Professor Steve Leech

The Bridge to the Arts and Humanities Programme is an innovative, one-week residential programme of classroom and cultural activities to support students from under-represented groups in higher education holding an offer to study in the History department, to successfully transition into undergraduate study at Durham. It is designed to provide students with core knowledge and skills for successful study in higher education and for full and active engagement in the academic and social community of Durham University.  

The project is a unique collaboration between transitional educationalists, including English for Academic Purposes practitioners, Foundation Year practitioners, and discipline specialists employing an evidence-led pedagogic model, with a focus on meta-cognition (Flavel, 1979; Tanner, 2012; Stanton et al, 2021), the development of self-regulated learning (Eekelen et al, 2005); Biggs & Tang, 1999; Clifford, 1999), the development of self-efficacy (Bandura,1997), and the development of social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986).   

The project represents a novel and sector leading development, which has the potential to be scaled to support other academic departments across DU which are experiencing awarding gaps between specific demographics of student. Content is comprised of four components: 

  • Preparing for Higher Education Sessions  
  • Academic Sessions  
  • Fieldwork sessions 
  • Support 

The findings from this project will be shared internally at the Faculty Education Committee and presented at SOTL forum. An article will also be submitted for a peer-reviewed publication.

Enhancing student engagement with feedback at programme level using digital tools.


  • Dr Mathilde Roger

DCAD Lead: 

  • Julie Mulvey

The purpose of this project is to explore innovative pedagogical and digital approaches that promote student engagement with their feedback received during their full degree. The online software PebblePad (from Pebble Learning) for which the University has an institutional licence, is used in this project to facilitate the recording of feedback by students.
This project will:

  • Develop a tool to encourage students’ engagement with feedback received.
  • Create high quality and accessible instructions to students to use the tool.
  • Develop resources to facilitate implementation within the institution and further: guidance and support to staff members to incorporate the tool in their departments.
  • Assess the value and outcomes of this project.

The main objective of this project is to develop a user-friendly tool to allow students to record their feedback during their degree. The software Pebble pad will be used to create a “Student Feedback Journal”, allowing students to create an entry for each assessment or activity in which feedback is provided. The nature of feedback will be diverse from teacher feedback to peer feedback and self feedback. For each entry the students will need to reformulate the feedback received and reflect on it.

This tool will be developed in partnership with the Feedback SIG who have received guidance and advice from expert in the field of feedback via the Feedback SIG seminar series (objective 1).

We believe that students will be comfortable using Pebble Pad, however, to facilitate implementation, the interns will design and record some videos tutorials (objective 2).

At the end of the academic year a survey will be send to all users of the tool for evaluation purposes (objective 3).

We are hoping that many departments will use this tool, to facilitate this, resources and support will be provided by the faculty digital developers (objective 4). 

Internal dissemination to will be via presentation at SOTL forum and/or Learning & Teaching conference.
External dissemination will be via presentation at International AHE Conference 2024: an abstract will be submitted for an oral presentation to present the pedagogical benefits, plus a publication in “Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education” or “Practitioner Research in Higher Education”