Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Shaista Shirazi

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Photo of Shaista Shirazi

About me
After completing an Honours degree in Physiology, I have been working as a science teacher and lecturer for the past twelve years. During this time, I did a Masters' in Education from the Open University which introduced me to Research Methodology in Education.

My motivation to pursue a PhD
One of my trainee students spoke to me about how he did his Doctorate and told me about the PhD.com website.

I thought he was joking but when I searched for it, I found it was a bonafide website! The website led me to an advertisement for a White Rose Scholarship at Leeds being supervised by Professor Jim Donnelly.

As a teacher, I had read most of Jim’s work and was interested in the scholarship title being offered. One thing led to another and now here I am in my final year!

My passion for educational research
As a teacher, I have always held an opinion that sometimes, education researchers do not have insider experience of what it is like being a teacher at the chalk face. I also know that teachers hold a number of conceptions about education research which are not based on evidence.

I want to bring a more ‘evidence-based’ approach to education research to help solve these problems.

My research
As a science teacher, I have always been interested in the reasons why students decide to take up or give up science. I had an idea that school factors may play just as an important part as other influences such as parents and teachers.

I find it amazing that students in disparate schools talk about the same issues in almost similar terms.

My experience
I enjoy being a student at the University of Leeds. It is a well-respected university and recognised both here and overseas. The grounds around the buildings are beautiful and I love it during the summer.

The learning and research facilities are excellent. I have been on many PGR courses and benefitted from the guidance and wisdom of the course facilitators.

This University is an excellent choice; the research facilities are great and the teaching is inspiring.

The research environment
The research environment is very supportive. We have PGR coffee mornings at the School of Education where we can meet and chat informally with other students, lecturers and course administrators.

Regular seminars help keep us informed of work being carried out throughout the School of Education. The Head of Department and other senior staff members are friendly and approachable.

Outside of study
I love taking long walks in Woodhouse Moor right next to the university. I am also a keen and avid cook.

Life in Leeds
As a Londoner, I think Leeds is a great city to be in; it is leafy and green and I love the architecture of the buildings here. The shopping is excellent; I usually hit the shops before I take the train back down to London.  My favourite restaurants are all in Leeds and I have occasionally brought my family up to spend time here.

Having a family and home in London, many people ask why I chose Leeds. My main reason is because I was offered a scholarship here, but over the course of the years I have come to fall in love with Leeds and am so glad that I had a chance to experience studying here. Given the choice now, I would not change Leeds for any other place.

My future
Once I complete my PhD, my plan is to join the UN and help shape a future in education for Afghan women.

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