Institute of Education


Q&A with Dr Rachel J Wilde

1  What is your role and what does it involve?
My role as Lecturer in Education has many elements. Primarily I lead two modules on the Education Studies BA. I teach a module on qualitative research methods to second years, which I run as a group research project. I love seeing the students get stuck into research and I am always impressed by the ideas they come up with when they start thinking about the research they would like to do.

The second module is a specialist interest third year module based on my research on workplaces and learning in organisations. It is very enjoyable to teach a topic that I'm actively researching and writing about as the questions from students always help me see things from a new angle. I also support some Masters modules and doctoral students, lecturing on ethnography, which is my preferred research method, and professional ethics.

I'm also a personal tutor, providing pastoral and broader academic support to a small group of undergraduate tutees. This is lovely for really getting to know students and hearing about their aspirations and supporting them towards this, as well as being there for them when they're finding things tough.

As the admissions tutor for the Education Studies degree, I give talks and communicate with prospective applicants about the degree and make decisions about who to offer a place.

The final element of my role is research. I'm working on two main research projects at the moment, one on young people's routes into employment, and a second on how interprofessional teams learn to work together.

2  How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I started at the IOE in May 2013, after finishing my PhD at the University of Manchester in Social Anthropology, where I was both a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Widening Participation Fellow. I began as a research officer in the LLAKES Research Centre, working on a range of projects on life chances and inequality as a qualitative researcher conducting interviews and ethnography. I became a lecturer in 2016 and work with a very interdisciplinary and fascinating team of people!

3  What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subject you teach?
Education means different things to different people, but one thing that seems common is that the experiences people have in education - whether positive or negative - stay with them and have a deep emotional connection to how they see themselves.

4  What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I get such joy from supervising dissertations. Students often start very uncertain of what they want to do, and are unsure of themselves and their abilities to manage their own project. Watching them gain independence and conviction in their thinking and working always make me feel proud to be involved and help facilitate those journeys.

5  Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.
I'm co-writing a paper on immaterial labour and working practices, based on research done with specialist engineers.

6  What would it surprise people to know about you?
I'm a climber - my job is pretty cerebral and after a day spent teaching, writing or reading I just have to get active and climbing is so exhilarating and all-consuming it helps to keep me balanced.

7  What other piece of research outside of your own subject area interests you?
As a climber, I'm really interested in research on training and nutrition for sports performance. I'm fascinated by how flexible and adaptable are bodies are - particularly when you push them to do new things.