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Dr Eira Wyn Patterson

Professional biography

Eira Patterson has experience of leading and supporting teaching and learning in a variety of contexts within primary education both nationally and internationally and in Initial Teacher Education in a range of education contexts. Her experience of working in Initial Teacher Education spans nineteen years in several Universities (Swansea, Huddersfield, Edge Hill and Winchester). Within intial teacher education Eira has taught a range of subject areas including primary science, mathematics, music and research methods. She has explored a range of pedagogical approaches to facilitate students in critical thinking, justification and application, synthesis, interweaving of theory, research evidence and practice, including: modelling, scaffolding and questioning to facilitate critical analysis. Opportunities to teach across different initial teacher training and masters’ programmes have enabled me to keep up to date with recent developments in education. As programme leader of the MA Education Progamme it was her aim to enable transformation of teachers’ professional practice to enable them to become facilitates of change within education settings to inform improved outcomes for all learners through research. Within her Staff Tutor role within the Open University she is currently exploring ways of supporting the tutor team in exploring innovative practice.

A basic underpinning assumption within leadership literature is that the overarching aim of leadership is to improve the performance of the team being led and that ‘such performance is a function of employees’ beliefs, values, motivations, skills and knowledge and the conditions in which they work’ (Leithwood, et al., 2008: 29).  Leithwood, et al. (2008) propose that all forms of successful leadership are underpinned by the same set of basic leadership practices which underpin her approach to the leadership of change

  • building a shared vision;  
  • building knowledge, skills and dispositions associated with resilience and perseverance; 
  • enabling development of a collaborative culture; 
  • managing programmes to facilitate productivity and creativity. 

Eira has had opportunities to lead change within higher education settings, for example establishing a new BA (Hons) Early Primary Education teacher training course while working at Huddersfield University. Most recently  at Winchester she led the revalidation of the MA Education programme during which the mode of delivery was changed from campus-based to blended learning. This process involved drawing together a range of stakeholder views, coordinating extended consultation within the MA Education staff team and aligning developments within statutory frameworks and drawing on empirical evidence from published research. Reflecting through the lens of leadership theory, elements of a transformational model underpinned the creation of a shared sense of purpose within the staff team. This took the form of a ‘bottom-up’ approach, building on goals generated within the team, where team members were empowered to contribute to the direction of innovations, ensuring ownership and agency throughout the process. Understanding of principles underpinning leadership within education settings has been further informed through her role as a tutor on the Leadership and Organisational Development module within the MA Education at Dundee University. The following quote exemplifies her approach to leadership: ‘… open-minded and ready to learn from others....flexible rather than dogmatic in their thinking within a system of core values, persistent (e.g. in pursuit of high expectations of staff motivation, commitment, learning and achievement for all), resilient and optimistic’ (Leithwood, et al., 2008: 36).

Research interests

Areas of reserach interest 

- Exploration of the factors that influence the learning journeys of SiSE students studying on Open University Access courses within English prisons in order to further enhance their education experience.

- Academic rigour in qualitative research: Eira recently led a team of researchers in carrying out an in-depth systematic review of literature which has been written up as a journal article for the Qualitative Research Journal. This study aims to reconceptualize the role of the researcher in striving for enhanced rigour within qualitative research, drawing on insights from a range of fields.

- Assessment and feedback in higher education:As research lead within the Assessment Working Group within the Inistitute of Education at Winchester a project weas established to enhance assessment and feedback practice. The project engaged with student voice to enhance inclusive practice and equality of student opportunity within assessment with a particular focus on student engagement with feedback.

- Learning and teaching in science: this project explored the impact of constructivist-informed practice on students’ learning in science in a range of Initial Teacher Education courses.


Skills in Research Methodology

Eira has experience of carrying out empirical research using a range of research methods, with a focus on qualitative enquiry, and more recently she has developed an interest in evidence synthesis:

- Systematic review methodology: development of an approach for identifying descriptive and analytic themes (drawing on the work of Thomas and Harden, 2008);

- Observation in education contexts (with particular expertise in observing learning and teaching in early years settings);

- Survey development (including JISC Online Surveys);

- Interviewing (with particular experience in semi-structured interview);

- Leading the development of research design both within her own research and in the context of supporting research of MA dissertation students and doctoral students;

- Qualitative Comparative Analysis

- NVivo to analyse qualitative data within empirical studies and and in the context of systematic review.


Research Ethics Experience

Within the University of Winchester Eira was Ethics Representative for the Faculty of Education between 2018 and 2023. This role involved carrying out facult-level ethics reviews and coordinating reviews within the team. She was also a member of the University of Winchester Ethics Committee, where she gained extensive experience of reviewing ethics applications for research projects across faculties. Also she has written a MESHGuide desgined to support teachers in implementing ethical research within their own education contexts.



Book Chapter

Patterson, E.W. (2019) Researching your teaching, in Capel, S., Lawrence, J., Leask, M. and Younie, S. (Eds) Surviving and Thriving: A companion for the recently qualified teacher, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.

Journal Articles

Patterson, E.W., Ball, K., Corkish, J. and Whittick, I.M. (2023), "Do you see what I see? Enhancement of rigour in qualitative approaches to inquiry: a systematic review of evidence", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 164-180.

Patterson, E.W. (2018) Exploratory talk in the early years: analysing exploratory talk in collaborative group activities involving younger learners, Education 3-13, 46 (3), 264-276. 10.1080/03004279.2016.1243141

Patterson, E.W. (2011) Initial teacher development in science: the impact of constructivist-informed practice on learning, Teacher Development, 15(1), pp69-86.

Patterson, E.W. (2001) ‘Structuring the composition process in scientific writing,’ International Journal of Science Education, 23 (1), pp.1-16.

Teaching interests

Eira has experience of teaching in a range of subject areas within Initial Teacher Education within the Primary age phase, including science, mathematics and music. An area of particular interest is designing learning opportunities within higher education, including resources to support synchronous and asynchronous learning for undergraduate and post-graduate students. As Programme Leader of the MA Education Programme at the University of Winchester, Eira led the change in the mode of delivery from campus based to blended, with a significant element of online distance learning within the Canvas VLE. This was underpinned by research into pedagogies underpinning effective practice in technology enhanced learning, including: flipped learning theory (Lundin, 2018); the role of the tutor as a facilitator of learning (Redmond, et al., 2018); Salmon’s (2013) Five Stage Model. The approach to leading change involved ongoing engagement with student and tutor voice, enabling creation of a shared sense of purpose through a ‘bottom-up’ approach. Also she has explored how principles underpinning Universal Design for Learning can be integrated within a Flipped Classroom approach, supported by the use of Padlet. 

Impact and engagement

As research lead for the Assessment Working Group within the Institute of Education (IoE) at Winchester University Eira led a four-year action research project which engaged with student and tutor voice in a cyclical process of data gathering and review to inform the practice in assessment and feedback within the IoE. As part of this project she led a small team working on a scoping review of literature to identify key themes to inform enhancement of practice in supporting student engagement with assessment feedback. These themes were used to inform deductive coding of survey data, gathered from undergraduate trainee teachers exploring their experiences of receiving and engaging with feedback from their assignments.The Principles and Guidelines that were developed from the findings of this project transformed the approach to assessment and feedback across the range of programmes within the IoE

External collaborations


Eira  currently supports a team of school-based practitioners within an Early Years Network drawn from several schools exploring the development of sustained shared thinking to enhance the learning of children in the early years. This is a project funded by Hampshire Local Authorit which has  a focus on supporting the learning of children within Early Years settings. Her role is to facilitate enhancement of rigour in the research design, advise on ethics, inform the development of research methods for data gathering and enable the process of data analysis and dissemination of findings.


Externally funded project

TDA funded project to investigate effective practice in supporting trainee teachers in developing their primary music teaching. ollow up sessions at the University.The outcomes from this project informed the development of resources for Initial Teacher Education providers. The resources are available on the Primary musci site:


Membership of Professional Organisations

Higher Education Academy (Senior Fellow)

Chartered College (Professional Affliate)