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Dr Maria Leedham

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer (English Lang/App Linguistics)
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies
  • School of Languages and Applied Linguistics
  • English Language and Applied Linguistics
  • maria.leedham

Professional biography

@marialeedham               @OUWISP
 
I am a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics and am Co-I on the ESRC-funded Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP). I hold a BA in Linguistics (Lancaster University), MSc TESOL (Aston University, distance learning) and a PhD (The Open University). I have also qualified as a teacher trainer on Cambridge ESOL CELTA courses and hold the RSA/UCLES Diploma in TEFLA (Edinburgh University). Prior to starting work at The Open University in 2009, I taught EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and was a teacher trainer at Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University. I have also taught EAP and English language at Gyosei College for Japanese Students (Reading, UK), language schools in Oxford, UK and at a secondary school in Iwate, Japan. From 2005-07 I was a Research Assistant at Oxford Brookes on a project resulting in the British English Written English corpus (BAWE).
 
 

Research interests

My main research expertise is in writing, and in researching this area I draw on almost two decades of experience in teaching English language, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and teacher training. I research student writing through a descriptive, non-deficit approach rather than the more usual deficit stance often adopted, and thus foreground the alternative linguistic and visual means frequently used by L2 English students in producing successful university assignments. I use the methodology of corpus linguistics supported by teacher and student interviews and questionnaires, and classroom observations.

My work on academic writing took, as its point of departure, issues arising from my PhD thesis (A corpus-driven study of features of Chinese students' undergraduate writing in UK universities) and includes a monograph, book chapters and journal articles on student writing at undergraduate and Masters level in the UK (see publications list).

I have recently expanded this interest in academic writing to consider writing produced by professional social workers. I am Co-Investigator on the ESRC-funded Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP) project with Theresa Lillis (PI) and Alison Twiner. This work has been designed to provide a detailed description and analysis of the texts and writing practices in professional social work, to develop an innovative way of researching the ‘written record’ in institutions, using different methodologies (ethnography, corpus linguistic and process approaches), and to involve stakeholders (social workers, social work agencies, service users, inspection bodies etc) to ensure that research findings will have an impact on education, training and policy initiatives.

 

Funded Research Projects 

2015-2018          

Project Title: Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP).http://www.writinginsocialwork.com/

Role: Co-investigator

Funder: ESRC (ES/MOO803/1).

Grant awarded: £270,000

Collaborators: Theresa Lillis (PI) and Alison Twiner (researcher)

This work is designed to provide a detailed description and analysis of the texts and writing practices in professional social work, to develop an innovative way of researching the ‘written record’ in institutions, using different methodologies (ethnography, corpus linguistic and process approaches), and to involve stakeholders (social workers, social work agencies, service users, inspection bodies etc) to ensure that research findings will have an impact on education, training and policy initiatives.

 

2014-2015          

Project Title: How can employability be integrated into assessment on E304?

Role: Lead

Funder: Open University New Models of Assessment and Tuition Project

Grant awarded: £1,990

Collaborators: Ann Hewings and Kristina Hultgren

This study surveyed student views on aspects of employability, and fed into the production of the module E304, Exploring English grammar. Findings from this study plus an ongoing, follow-up study in 2017 will help English Language students to understand and articulate how their study has equipped them with relevant, up-to-date skills and knowledge.

Report: Leedham, M., Hewings, A. and Hultgren, K. 2014. ‘How can employability be integrated into assessment on E304?’ (OU internal report).

 

2012-2013          

Project Title: Exploratory interview investigation of students’ experience of online study on E852 Language, literacy and learning in the contemporary world

Role: Lead

Funder: OU Scholarship Fund

Grant awarded: £650

Collaborators: Janet Maybin and Frank Monaghan

This study investigated postgraduate students’ views towards the move to online-only teaching on the OU MA in Education. A representative sample of 13 students were interviewed in-depth about their initial and changing use of print and online materials.

Report: Leedham, M., Maybin, J. and Monaghan, F. 2013, ‘Exploratory interview investigation of students’ experience of online study on E852 Language, literacy and learning in the contemporary world’. (OU internal report).

 

Doctoral student Supervision

From 2018 I would welcome applications from potential doctoral students in the areas of student writing, English for academic purposes, academic writing across different disciplines, Chinese students’ writing or social work writing.

I currently supervise one doctoral student:

Jenny McMullan: Gender in a Study of Academic Writing? An Exploration into the Writing Practices and Experiences of Sixteen Women Enrolled in Research Courses in a UK University

Past doctoral students

Subhi Ashour: Understanding Teachers' Engagement in Inquiry-Based Professional Development  (PhD, 2016)

Mat Terrett: Investigating how academic literacies practices and values have evolved on a foundation year EAP programme in China (EdD, 2015)

David Hann: Playful language in a mixed business class of English language learners (PhD, 2014)

 

Teaching interests

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My teaching is research-led and builds on my background as a teaching practitioner. My current teaching includes systemic functional linguistics, corpus linguistics, sociocultural theory and applications of language analysis.

I coordinate the Applied Linguistics pathway of our new MA Education degree (http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/qualifications/f70) and advised on assessment during the production phase of all three MA modules: EE817 Applied linguistics and English language, EE818 Language, literacy and learning and EE819 MA Ed dissertation: applied linguistics.  Drawing on my research expertise, I reworked sections of the dissertation module to make it more applicable to an Applied Linguistics student body.

I am Chair of the Level 3 undergraduate module, E304, Exploring English grammar and was responsible for chairing the writing and development of this module through production and into presentation. E304 is distinctive in that it teaches systemic functional grammar in combination with corpus linguistics as a means of investigating the effectiveness of written texts. Under my academic leadership, the module has made extensive use of interactive, AV-led material which illustrates to students how language analysis can be applied to current areas of employment such as subtitling, call centres, journalism, teaching, publishing and speech and language therapy.

I also chair a module on the MA Education (Applied Linguistics) - E852 Language, learning and literacy in the contemporary world (in final presentation). This module is innovative in its development of the sociocultural linguistic approach to language teaching and learning and is a component part of our Applied Linguistics pathway in the F01 qualification.

Previously, I taught and coordinated the PACE programme (Professional Academic Communication in English) - an OU course for postgraduate students - and also taught on the OU's Doctoral Training Programme. I have acted an internal examiner on the MRes, EdD and PhD programmes.

 

Impact and engagement

The Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP) project will inform policies and guidelines on recording and assist with the development of training materials for writing and recording. Potential beneficiaries include professional social workers, social work agencies, inspection bodies, local authority trainers and service users. The project team are working with an Advisory Panel comprising members of these groups and are currently designing materials for dissemination and training.

My engagement with OU students and the wider public includes an interview for Student Hub Live in which I discussed current and past research, an interview for OpenMinds magazine on globalisation and the English language, and an Open Learn article on using corpus linguistics to investigate pronoun use in writing.

 

External collaborations

I am an Academic Reviewer for the Arab OU's English Language modules (licensed from the OU UK); my role is to ensure quality of teaching and to advise on the recruitment of new academics.  

My expertise in Applied Linguistics has resulted in invitations to examine PhDs in the UK and in Spain.  From 2012-2016 I was External Examiner for Brighton University's Graduate Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  I am a member of the British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) and from 2013-2015 was a member of the Executive Committee and responsible for the Applying Linguistics Fund.

I have a strong reviewing record across a number of journals, such as Applied Linguistics, Journal of English for Academic Purposes and System and East Asian Learner Journal (Reviews Editor and Editorial Board member, 1997-2012).

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CREET: Language and Literacies Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Education and Language Studies

Publications

Recounting and reflecting: The use of first person pronouns in Chinese, Greek and British students' assignments in engineering (2017-03)
Leedham, Maria and Fernandez-Parra, Maria
Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 26 (pp. 66-77)
Chinese Students’ Writing in English: Using visuals and lists (2015-02)
Leedham, Maria
English Teaching in China (ETiC), 6 (pp. 16-20)
Book review: Literacy in the digital university (2014-08)
Leedham, Maria
System, 45 (pp. 261-262)
‘Enjoyable’, ‘okay’, or ‘like drawing teeth’? Chinese and British students’ views on writing Assignments in UK Universities (2014)
Leedham, Maria
Journal of Academic Writing, 4(1) (pp. 1-11)
Besides … on the other hand: using a corpus approach to explore the influence of teaching materials on Chinese students’ use of linking adverbials (2013-12)
Leedham, Maria and Cai, Guozhi
Journal of Second Language Writing, 22(4) (pp. 374-389)
Review of: 'New Trends in Corpora and Language Learning' and 'Keyness in Texts' (2012-03)
Leedham, Maria
System, 40(1) (pp. 162-165)
Combining intuition with corpus linguistic analysis: a study of marked lexical chunks in four Chinese students' undergraduate assignments (2012)
Leedham, Maria
Nordic Journal of English Studies, 11(3) (pp. 155-187)
Review of: Academic Writing: At the Interface of Corpus and Discourse (2010-09)
Leedham, Maria
System, 38(3) (pp. 510-511)
From traditional essay to 'Ready Steady Cook' presentation: Reasons for innovative changes in assignments (2009)
Leedham, Maria
Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(3) (pp. 191-206)
Book review of: English Language Teaching in China: New approaches, Perspectives and Standards (2008-05)
Leedham, Maria
East Asian Learner, 4(1) (pp. 51-52)
“Do I speak better?” A longitudinal study of lexical chunking in the spoken language of two Japanese students (2006-05)
Leedham, Maria
The East Asian Learner, 2(2)
Do I speak better?: A longitudinal study of lexical chunking in the spoken language of two Japanese students (2006-05)
Leedham, Maria
East Asian Learner, 2(2)
Towards the compilation of a corpus of assessed student writing: An account of work in process (2005)
Nesi, H.; Gardner, S.; Forsyth, R.; Hindle, D.; Wickens, P.; Ebeling, S.; Leedham, M.; Thompson, P. and Heuboeck, A.
Proceedings from the Corpus Linguistics Conference Series, 1(1)
Chinese Students’ Writing in English: Implications from a Corpus-Driven Study (2015-08-27)
Leedham, M.
ISBN : 978-0-415-85854-0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Learning from lecturers: What disciplinary practice can teach us about ‘good’ student writing (2015-11)
Leedham, Maria
In: Lillis, Theresa; Harrington, Kathy; Lea, Mary and Mitchell, Sally eds. Working with Academic Literacies: Case Studies Towards Transformative Practice. Perspectives on writing (pp. 163-174)
ISBN : 9781602357624 | Publisher : The WAC Clearinghouse and Parlor Press | Published : Fort Collins, Colorado
Writing in tables and lists: a study of Chinese students’ undergraduate assignments in UK universities (2012)
Leedham, Maria
In: Tang, Ramona ed. Academic Writing in a Second or Foreign Language: Issues and Challenges Facing ESL / EFL Academic Writers in Higher Education Contexts (pp. 146-166)
ISBN : 9781441112163 | Publisher : Continuum | Published : London
Exam-orientated tasks: transcripts, turn-taking and backchannelling (2005-01-25)
Leedham, Maria
In: Willis, Jane and Edwards, Corony eds. Teachers Exploring Tasks (pp. 93-102)
ISBN : 9781403945563 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : London
The Japanese Learner: Context, Culture and Classroom Practice (2001)
Gray, K.; Ansell, M.; Cardew, S. and Leedham, M. eds.
Publisher : Oxford University Department for Continuing Education | Published : Oxford
Combining ethnography and corpus to research writing practices in social work: challenges and opportunities in methodology, epistemology and application (2016-11)
Lillis, Theresa; Leedham, Maria and Twiner, Alison
In : ALAPP 2016 (Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice Conference) (3-5 Nov 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark)
‘If it’s not written down it didn’t happen’: Social worker perspectives on contemporary writing and recording demands (2016-07)
Lillis, T.; Leedham, M.; Twiner, A.; Moore, J. and Whitehead, M.
In : Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference (JSWEC) 2016 (15th July 2016, Milton Keynes)
‘Enjoyable’, ‘okay’, or ‘like drawing teeth’? Chinese and British students’ views on writing assignments in UK Universities (2014-07-10)
Leedham, Maria
In : Writing Development in Higher Education: Future Directions in Academic Writing (WDHE 2014) (9-11 July 2014, Coventry)
Tutor and student perspectives on multimodal features of undergraduate assignments (2014-02)
Leedham, Maria
In : Writing Research Across Borders (WRAB) (19-22 February 2014, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
Writing in engineering: pronoun usage in written assignments by Chinese, British and Greek students (2013-09)
Fernandez-Parra, Maria and Leedham, Maria
In : 46th Annual Meeting of BAAL: Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics (5-7 September 2013, Edinburgh)
Tutor perspectives on the use of visuals in undergraduate assignments (2013-09)
Leedham, Maria
In : 46th Annual Meeting of BAAL: Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics (5-7 September 2013, Edinburgh)
Embracing different semiotic modes in undergraduate assignments (2012-09-06)
Leedham, Maria
In : British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) (6-8 September 2012, Southampton University)
Embracing different semiotic modes in undergraduate assignments (2012-07)
Leedham, Maria
In : Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE) (2-4 July 2012, Liverpool University)
Writing in tables and lists: exploring multimodal undergraduate writing through keyword searches (2011-06)
Leedham, Maria
In : ICAME 32 Oslo 2011: Trends and Traditions in English Corpus Linguistics: In Honour of Stig Johansson (1-5 June 2011, Oslo, Norway)
Combining methods to analyse the relationship between language and attainment among Open University students (2010-07-16)
Erling, Elizabeth; Leedham, Maria and Adinolfi, Lina
In : Ethnographies of Academic Writing in a Global Context: the Politics of Style (16 July 2010, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
Layering methods to analyse the relationship between language use and attainment among Open University undergraduate students (2010-06-29)
Leedham, Maria; Adinolfi, Lina and Erling, Elizabeth
In : WDHE (Writing Development in Higher Education) (28-30 June 2010, London)
Combining intuition with corpus linguistic analysis: a longitudinal study of lexical chunks in four students’ writing (2010-03)
Leedham, Maria
In : Formulaic Language Research Network (FLaRN) (23-26 March 2010, Paderborn, Germany)
'According to the equation...': key words and clusters in Chinese and British Students' undergraduate assignments from UK universities (2009)
Leedham, Maria
In : Corpus Linguistics Conference (21-23 July 2009, Liverpool)
'In light of this...' Comparing n-grams in Chinese and British students' undergraduate assignments from UK universities (2009)
Leedham, Maria
In : ICAME Conference (27-31 May 2009, Lancaster)
Searching corpora of Chinese and British writers for lexicalised language (2008-04-25)
Leedham, Maria
In : Crossculturality: English Studies and World Literature in China (24-25 April 2008, Beijing University, China)
Searching corpora of Chinese and British writers for lexicalised language (2008-03-16)
Leedham, Maria
In : Chinese Postgraduate Network (15 - 16 March 2008, Oxford)
From traditional essay to "Ready Steady Cook" presentation: Reasons for innovative changes in Higher Education assignments (2008)
Leedham, Maria
In : WDHE (Writing Development in Higher Education) Conference (25-27 June 2008, Strathclyde University)
“Enjoyable”, “okay” or “rather pointless”? An exploration of Chinese and British students' views on innovative and traditional assignment types in UK universities (2008)
Leedham, Maria
In : Promoting Partnership: Responding to the Needs of the East Asian Learner in Higher Education (12-13 July 2008, Portsmouth)
What can the BAWE Corpus tell us about student development? (2006-05-12)
Ebeling, Signe and Leedham, Maria
In : Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE) Conference (11-12 May 2006, The Open University, Milton Keynes)

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