Dr Ruth Swanwick
Senior Lecturer in Deaf Education
I am a senior lecturer in deaf education. I lead the MA Deaf Education programme and all the international, national and local activities associated with this specialist area in the School of Education. The MA Deaf Education programme is an on-line distance education course leading to the mandatory teacher of the deaf qualification. This programme recruits nationally and prepares suitably qualified deaf and hearing practitioners to work with deaf students across a range of educational settings.
My research centres on deafness, language and learning and the development of practitioner understanding and pedagogies. I am interested in deaf children's multimodal and multilingual language experience and use and the role of sign language in education. My current work centres on the development of a new language model which situates deafess and language learning within a plural view of language and culture in society.
My funded research includes a collaborative ESRC funded project looking at deaf children's early literacy experiences in the home. I led a Nuffield funded project on the role of sign language for deaf children with cochlear implants and a British Academy project on approaches to critical thinking and reflective practice across the national training provision for teachers of the deaf.
My work aims to develop collaborative research methodologies in deaf education. This is evident in two current Leeds University funded projects which I am leading: i) Professional Pathways for Teachers of the Deaf and ii) Deafness and Reading for Meaning (DReaM). Full details of this project can be found on the the reading rhizome website.
I wish to encourage research students (EdD or PhD) to work with me on topics in deaf education such as deaf children’s language development, literacy, learning and teaching issues, sign bilingual development and practice and professional roles and development with a view to developing a stronger home and international research field and to expand international collaboration between researchers and practitioners.
I manage, teach and assess all of the MA Deaf Education Programme. This comprises 5 M-Level taught modules and the indivdual Critical Studies. I coordinate the supervision of teaching placements as well as the recruitment and training of regional tutors and the development of the on-line and VLE materials. In addition, I teach a postgraduate research module and have a personal tutoring role for post graduate students.
(2014) “Shifting contexts and practices in sign bilingual education in northern Europe”, Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, Marschark M; Knoors H; Tang G (eds.). Oxford University Press.
(2013) “Following Alice: theories of critical thinking and reflective practice in action at postgraduate level.”, Teaching in Higher Education,. : 1-14.
This paper presents a flexible framework of principles for teaching critical thinking and reflective practice skills at the postgraduate level. It reports on a collaborative project between four UK institutions providing postgraduate programmes in deaf education. Through a critical review of current theories of critical thinking and reflective practice in higher education, the authors identified and constructed frameworks of principles for relevant skills. They selected a set of learning activities for the institutions to trial to target those skills. Students evaluated how successfully the activities promoted the skills. The investigators evaluate the methodology and provide a critique of the framework of principles. Findings reveal that the framework of principles is a robust model for the development, design and evaluation of bespoke learning activities targeting critical thinking and reflective practice skills.
(2012) “Practitioner Talk on Deaf Children's Reading comprehension: Analysing Multiple Voices”, Deafness and Education International. 14.2: 100-120.
(2010) “Enhancing Education for Deaf Children: Research into Practice and Back Again”, Deafness & Education International,. Vol. 12.No. 4: 217-235.
Decades of research on educational and basic scientific questions relating to deaf children have yielded a wealth of knowledge about how they learn and develop as thinking, social, problem-solving individuals. However, we currently lack channels for communication from teachers to researchers about the priorities in education and from researchers to teachers about scientific progress that might be effectively utilized in the learning context. As a result, research often fails to address educational priorities, knowledge gained from relevant investigations is rarely translated into practice, and decision-making is often governed by administrative expedience rather than evidence. To address this situation, this paper identifies the current research priorities relating to deaf education and research outcomes that appear likely to have a significant impact on the development of educational practice. Practitioner priorities also are identified, and explanations for the gap between research and practice are analyzed. Ways in which the gaps between research and practice can be addressed are proposed. The goal is to provide a catalyst for broad-based discussions about how to include teachers in educational research planning and create genuine and effective partnerships between researchers and teachers to enhance educational outcomes for deaf pupils.
(2010) “Policy and practice in sign bilingual education: development, challenges and directions,”, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 13.2: 147-158.
(2008) “Parents' and teachers' views on deaf children's literacy at home: do they agree?”, Deafness & Education International. 10.1: 22-39.
This paper compares the views of parents and teachers of the deaf on deaf children's literacy at home. We made DVD recordings of 12 young deaf children (aged 3-5) sharing books with their parents at home. Six families used British Sign Language (BSL) as their main means of communication and for interacting around books, and six used spoken language. Each dyad shared one book of their choice and they all shared Where's My Teddy? (Alborough, 2002), which was a book chosen by the researchers. One month later, the parents were shown the recording and asked for their views on it and on their child's literacy development. The teacher of the deaf working with each family was shown the same recording and asked similar questions. Results revealed that the parents and teachers of the deaf held some views in common, but focused on different aspects of literacy development. Implications for practice include developing a shared understanding of the routes to literacy that individual deaf children will follow
(2007) “Parents sharing books with young deaf children in spoken English and in BSL: The common and diverse features of different language settings”, Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. 12.3: 385-405.
“A design-based approach for research into deaf children’s reading comprehension”, Hillary Place Papers. 1.1
Design-based methodologies provide a paradigm for educational research which enables us to see beyond what is or is not working, to develop practices and interventions that ‘work better’ (Kelly et al., 2008, p3). This paper explains the design-based methodology and explores the use of this approach to research deaf children’s reading comprehension in order to make a significant contribution to theory and impact on practice. The research context is presented and current paradigms are reviewed. The issues of researching deafness and reading in a way which takes into account the resources of the individuals and the potential of the context are illustrated and a rationale for using a design-based model is presented. The paper examines and reflects on the use of this methodology for investigating deafness and reading comprehension drawing on a current work in progress into Deafness and Reading for Meaning (DreaM) at the University of Leeds.