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Ms Felicity Harper

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University in September 2003 as a languages Staff Tutor.  As Staff Tutor, I am an academic with responsibility for the recruitment, management and staff development of the Associate Lecturers who tutor our courses. My role involves various forms of quality assurance, for example, tutorial visits and assignment monitoring. I am a member of module teams and contribute to the production and presentation of modules. My academic work includes research and scholarship related to the student experience.

My background, prior to joining the Open University, was in school-teaching, further education and adult education, both within languages specifically and more broadly.

Research interests

My research interests have developed over the years but remain focused on the student experience. Areas I have investigated include teaching listening comprehension in language teaching, building staff expertise in delivering online tutorials, assessment feedback, student anxiety in speaking, and student engagement with group tutorials and our online School-wide community activities.

My first research project was conducted whilst I was teaching A level languages as a small-scale Action Enquiry into approaches to improving listening comprehension scores of A level French students (see Harper, F (2002) 'Module to develop learner autonomy in listening comprehension', Francophonie, ALL, Autumn 2002, 0957-1744). I also wrote a chapter on teaching listening and reading in Nicolson and Murphy, 2011, Language Teaching in Blended Contexts.

Whilst working in FE, I was involved in two European Co-operation Programmes, the second of which focused on the impact of first foreign language teaching on second foreign language learning. To inform the design of suitable teaching materials, my colleague and I conducted practitioner research into using parallel texts combined with reflective learning to facilitate access to further languages (see Harper, F and Hamer, M, Language Learning Journal, ALL, Winter 2006, 34:14-24).

Apart from my language-related interests, I am fascinated by the concept of  'choice', and have conducted two pieces of research in this field. The first investigated the choices made by students in Year 11 with regard to their post-16 education and the second the choices made concerning post-A level destinations by Year 12/13 (sixth form) students who had no prior experience of HE in their family .

Another of my interests is the effect of anxiety on oral performance, and I have been involved in research related to reducing anxiety in assessments and group tutorials.

Following the introduction of online tutorials, a colleague and I set up an online peer observation project which enabled tutors to observe and be observed within languages and beyond in a non-judgemental approach. Our research investigated the impact of this on tutors' confidence and sense of belonging to a community of practice.

The research I have conducted into feedback investigated the use of screencasting to enhance the student experience of feedback in a supported open learning environment, where students and tutors do not meet face to face or meet in real time to discuss feedback.

More recently I have investigated student perceptions of our group tutorial programme in order to develop a programme which best meets diverse student needs.

My current research is focused on exploring the impact of a project aimed at developing student resilience and supporting their wellbeing through establishing a supportive online student community within our School. In this online space, students can access a LAL School-wide supportive forum, attend or set up meet-ups, take part in a student-led online Events programme and participate in tutor-led sessions specifically focused on resilience.

Teaching interests

I began my teaching career teaching modern lanaguages in a comprehensive school and later moved on to further education, where I taught a mixture of EFL, modern languages and teacher training quailifications to students from 16 to 85+. During my time there, I  moved from managing the language programme to managing the curricular aspects of the Sixth Form College and, in my last year, became manager of Adult Community Education in North Somerset, which offered courses ranging from Reiki to Accounts to Cooking with a Wok.

Since joining the Open University, I have taught French at the residential school, written units for level 1 German modules, produced assessments for beginners and level 1 Spanish modules, and been a critical reader for a number of modules in French, German and Spanish whilst in production.

I have also taken the opportunity to experience being an OU student, and have studied French and Spanish modules.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)CentreFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Using screencasts in the teaching of modern languages: investigating the use of Jing® in feedback on written assignments (2018-08-18)
Green, Hannelore; Harper, Felicity and Fernández-Toro, Maria
The Language Learning Journal, 46(3) (pp. 277-292)

Online Peer Observation: An Exploration of a Cross-Discipline Observation Project (2014)
Nicolson, Margaret and Harper, Felicity
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 26(2) (pp. 251-259)

Online peer observation: its value in teacher professional development, support and well-being (2013)
Harper, Felicity and Nicolson, Margaret
International Journal for Academic Development, 18(3) (pp. 264-275)

Facilitating access to further languages: trialling materials combining parallel texts with reflective learning (2006-01)
Harper, Felicity and Hamer, Melanie
Language Learning Journal, 34(1) (pp. 14-24)

The role and nature of assessment in blended contexts (2011-05-26)
Duensing, Annette and Harper, Felicity
In: Nicolson, Margaret; Murphy, Linda and Southgate, Margaret eds. Language Teaching in Blended Contexts (pp. 59-74)
ISBN : 9781906716202 | Publisher : Dunedin Academic Press Ltd | Published : Edinburgh

Developing competence in the language (2): Writing and speaking skills (2005-07)
Adinolfi, Lina; Pleines, Christine; Harper, Felicity; Beaven, Tita; Smith, Pete; Hassan, Xaviere; Adams, Helga and Nicolson, Margaret
In: Hurd, Stella and Murphy, Linda eds. Success with Languages. Routledge Study Guides (pp. 110-139)
ISBN : 978-0-415-36836-0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, UK

Developing competence in the language (1): reading and listening skills (2005)
Harper, Felicity; Smith, Pete and Beaven, Mary
In: Hurd, Stella and Murphy, Linda eds. Success With Languages. Routledge Study Guides (pp. 79-109)
ISBN : 0-415-36836-7 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Evaluating the integration of Jing® screencasts in feedback on written assignments (2012-09)
Harper, Felicity; Green, Hannelore and Fernandez-Toro, Maria
In : 15th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (26-28 Sep 2012, Villach, Austria)

Using Jing to enhance student understanding through video recorded assignment commentary (2011-11-17)
Green, Hannelore and Harper, Felicity
In : 16th Annual SEDA Conference 2011: Using Technology to Enhance Learning (17-18 Nov 2011, Birmingham, UK)