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Dr Jane Cullen

BA, MA, MPhil, PhD, FHEA

Profile summary

Professional biography

I  have worked in Higher Education since 2000, first as a Research Associate/Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, then at the Von Hugel Institute, St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge, and at the Open University since June 2006.

My substantive role at the OU is in educational leadership and global education and development.  My current work is as Academic Director of OpenSTEM Africa, an initiative guided in Ghana by the Ministry of Education to work collaboratively with government organisations and universities  to improve participation in STEM subjects, particularly among girls. In 2024, OpenSTEM Africa is also working as a small  partnership of universities in Ghana, Kenya and the UK to research technology-based approaches to science learning at tertiary level. Previously, I was associated with the Teacher Education in sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme  working with colleagues from universities, colleges of education, regional and local education officials and NGOs in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Republic of Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. I served as Director of TESSA 2012-2014, concurrently as Director of the Malawi Access into Teaching Scholarships (MATS), and subsequently as a key adviser on the T-TEL teacher education project in Ghana, on projects in South America in Colombia and with the Ministry of Education in Peru, and on research projects in Bangladesh, India, Uganda and Ghana.

My teaching now focuses on leading the OU's EdD programme, the Professional Doctorate in Education, on a 3 year secondment. There are currently just over 100 EdD students at the OU.  Previously my teaching was centred at masters level, including the production of a new module for the Masters in Education (2021-23)  and previous to that the instigation and co-chairing of the production of the new multi-disciplinary dissertation module for the Masters in Education and Masters in Childhood and Youth (2019-21). From 2016 to 2019, on secondment, I led the M.Ed/MA in C&Y taught postgraduate programme at the OU, a programme which currently attracts about 800 students. 

Before  moving into HE I was a teacher, head of department, senior teacher and then head teacher in various schools, beginning as a young teacher in the Philippines then moving to Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Namibia and to Egypt.

Research interests

I currently co-lead the Learners and Learning (L&L) research hub in the OU/WELS Centre for the Study of Global Development (CSGD), led by Kwame Akyeampong. My current research continues a focus on the embedding of large-scale change in education and on the complexities in developing ICT-based approaches to learning via my continued work since 2018 on OpenSTEM Africa.  Previously as Director of TESSA  (2012-14), I worked on R&D projects on extending the use of digital OERs, the use of OERs in inclusion in francophone Africa, OER use for teachers new to OERs (all Ferguson Trust funding);  the professional development of teaching assistants and the challenges of access to teacher training in Malawi  (DfID/Scottish Government funding); the development of OERs for  teaching lower secondary science (Waterloo Foundation funding) and widening participation through improving teaching in rural areas in Uganda and Zambia (Commonwealth of Learning funding). On the DfID-funded T-TEL project in Ghana (2014-15),  I led work on a critique of the current model of curriculum and assessment in teacher education in Ghana, and on the professional development of teacher educators in the Colleges of Education in Ghana. In 2016 I led on the qualitative strand of a British Council-funded study into the assessment of the secondary school English curriculum in Bangladesh. My research also includes studies of pedagogic leadership in India, the design of initial teacher education in Peru and teacher education through distance learnng in Ghana. Previously as Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge and at the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) at the Von Hugel Institute, St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge (2001-2009) my work included the role of lead researcher in a major DfES evaluation of schools ‘in exceptionally challenging circumstances’ and a UNICEF-funded project researching open and distance learning in basic education for hard-to-reach children in South Asia. My research throughout focuses on issues of quality and sustainability at scale as they relate to learning, school improvement, educational leadership and communities of practice.

Teaching interests

My teaching interests are in postgraduate education, particularly at doctoral level: in research methods, in leadership and management and in education in contexts of development, particularly in LMICs.  I supervise on both the Ph.D and the Prof. Doc. programmes and I have previously chaired multiple M.Ed modules. On the Prof Doc programme I often work with research students whose projects focus on contexts other than the UK - for example a student based in Cyprus, and a student researching the work of head teachers in Ghana. On the Ph.D programme I recently completed supervision of a Ph.D student researching the kinds of learning valued by parents in rural communities in Nigeria. However I am also involved in supervision of doctoral students researching UK contexts, including exploration of student perspectives on consumerism in HE, academics' perspectives on inclusion in HE, appraisal in independent schools and issues of trust between headteachers and staff.  For 5 years I also chaired the 'Education for Development' postgraduate module, a course for students interested in education across the developing world. When working at the University of Cambridge I taught research methods on the M.Phil course and I taught and supervised extensively on part-time M.Ed courses, working with students who were professionals in education.  

Impact and engagement

In 2015 I worked as academic consultant on a BBC TV  three-part series called 'Are our kids tough enough: Chinese School' and produced Open Learn materials to augment the tv programmes. In 2018 I again worked as an academic consultant to a BBC TV series  - the six episode 'School' focusing on the challenges facing staff and students in a multi academy trust, and which aired throughout the Autumn of 2018. 

Through my current research for OpenSTEM Africa I am collaborating with the University of Cape Coast, Ghana; University of Ghana; Kenyatta University, Kenya; and University of Nairobi, Kenya. The Ministry of Education, Ghana, the University of Ghana Legon, the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and Kyambogo University Uganda have signed MoUs with the Open University based on work with which I am involved. 

Research groups

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


What Prevents Teacher Educators from Accessing Professional Development OER? Storytelling and Professional Identity in Ugandan Teacher Colleges (2021)
Buckler, Alison; Stutchbury, Kris; Kasule, George; Cullen, Jane and Kaije, Doris
Journal of Learning for Development, 8, Article 1(1) (pp. 10-26)

Teacher educators and OER in East Africa: Interrogating pedagogic change (2017-10-26)
Wolfenden, Freda; Auckloo, Pritee; Buckler, Alison and Cullen, Jane
In: Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl and Arinto, Patricia B. eds. Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 251-286)
ISBN : 978-1-55250-599-1 | Publisher : ROER4D | Published : Cape Town, South Africa

Opportunities and challenges of tertiary level ICT-based science education in Ghana (2023)
Cullen, Jane; Ocloo, Augustine; Owusu, Kofi; Murphy, Kerry; Velasco, Maria; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric
In : Education for Social & Environmental Justice: Diversity, Sustainability , Responsibility: UKFIET 17th Conference on International Education and Development (07 Sep 2023 online; 12-14 Sep 2023 Oxfo UK, Oxford, UK)

ICT-based teaching and learning in Ghana: OpenSTEM Africa (2021-09)
Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric; Cullen, Jane; Mallet, Joshua and Owusu-Agyemfra, Augustus
In : UKFIET Conference Building Back Better in Education and Training? (13/09/2021-16/09/2021, Online)

Remodelling STEM education using onscreen tools to teach practical science in Ghana (2021-09)
Cullen, Jane; Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric; Murphy, Kerry and Biard, Olivier
In : Ghana National Education Week (NEW) 2021 - Reimagining Education for National Transformation (28/09/21-01/10/21, Online)

Designing and developing educational resources for teacher education via Open and Distance Learning (ODL), A case study from Ghana (2019-01)
Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric; Cullen, Jane and Abreh, Might Kojo
In : SEDO conference Theme: Promoting Innovative Educational Practices for Sustainable Development (29-30 Jan 2019, Cape Coast, Ghana)

“… by Seeking Help I Became Equipped, Skilled and Enlightened”: Ugandan Tutors’ Stories, Identities and Spaces for Professional Development in Teacher Colleges. (2019)
Buckler, Alison; Stutchbury, Kris; Kasule, George; Kaiije, Doris and Cullen, Jane
In : Pan Commonwealth Forum (9-12 Sep 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland)

Working with local teachers to support girls’ and women’s education in Malawi (2014-12-10)
Gallastegi, Lore and Cullen, Jane
In : Gender and Education Association Biennial Interim Conference 2014: Gender and Education in the Asia Pacific: Possibilities and Provocations (09-11 Dec 2014, Melbourne, Australia)

We’re improving the quality of teaching”: conceptualising ‘quality’ and ‘change’ using lessons from a current TESSA project (2013-09)
Stutchbury, Kris and Cullen, Jane
In : UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development – Education & Development Post 2015: Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning. (10-12 Sep 2013, Oxford)

The Teacher Education in sub-Saharan Africa Programme (TESSA): Evolving, Extending, Embedding, Reflecting (2013)
Anamuah-Mensah, Jophus and Cullen, Jane
In : DETA: Distance Education and Teacher Education International Conference (30 Jul - 1 Aug 2013, Nairobi, Kenya)

‘I really appreciate you saying that’: the challenges of developing a partnership (2013)
Cullen, Jane and Chitsulo, Joyce
In : UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development – Education & Development Post 2015: Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning (10-12 Sep 2013, Oxford, UK)

Leadership support for school-based professional development for primary school teachers: the use of TESSA OERs in schools in Kenya (2012)
Cullen, Jane; Keraro, Fred and Wamutitu, Joseph
In : ICET international conference - The Changing Global Perspective on the Role of Teacher and Teacher Education (10-12 Jul 2012, University of Cape Coast, Ghana) (pp. 170-182)

The context of using TESSA OERs in Egerton University’s teacher education programmes (2011)
Wamutitu, Joseph M.; Keraro, Fred N.; Changeiywo, Johnson M. and Cullen, Jane
In : DETA distance education and teacher education international pre-conference workshop (01-03 Aug 2011, Maputo, Mozambique)

Addressing 'serial disruption': designing and providing education for children caught up in conflict (2011)
Cullen, Jane
In : UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development Global Challenges for Education: Economics, Environment and Emergency (13-15 Sep 2011, Oxford)

Autonomy and accountability: the cross-hierarchical School Improvement Group in schools 'facing exceptionally challenging circumstances' (2007)
Cullen, Jane and Swaffield, Sue
In : ICSEI Conference: Professional Challenges for School Effectiveness and Improvement in the Era of Accountability (03-06 Jan 2007, Portoroz, Slovenia)

Leadership Development in Struggling Schools (2004)
Cullen, Jane
In : 17th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) (06-09 Jan 2004, Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Building capacity in struggling schools (2003)
Cullen, Jane
In : ICSEI Conference (05-08 Jan 2003, Sydney, Australia)

Partners in Play Baseline Evaluation Report (2022-01)
Akyeampong, Albert; Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric; Cullen, Jane and Hendry, Helen
Open University, UK.

English Speaking and Listening Assessment Project - Baseline. Bangladesh (2016-03)
Power, Tom; Cullen, Jane; Woodward, Clare; Mathew, Rama; Payler, Jane and McCormick, Robert
The British Council, Dhaka.

Open and distance learning for basic education in South Asia: its potential for hard to reach children and children in conflict and disaster areas (2009-11)
Morpeth, Ros; Creed, Charlotte; Cullen, Jane; Page, Elspeth and Raynor, Janet
UNICEF, Nepal: Kathmandu.

Open and Distance Learning for Basic Education in South Asia: its potential for hard-to-reach children and children in conflict and disaster areas: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Country Studies (2009-11)
Morpeth, Ros; Creed, Charlotte; Cullen, Jane; Page, Elspeth and Raynor, Janet
UNICEF, Nepal: Kathmandu.

Widening participation to higher education in the East of England: a review of recent regional and national research (2006)
Cullen, Jane and Mills, Roger
Association of Universities in the East of England, Cambridge.

Making & Missing Opportunities: Part-Time Higher Education in the East of England (2006)
Watts, Michael; Cullen, Jane and Mills, Roger
Association of Universities in the East of England, Cambridge.