CDN Research Associates

The CDN Research and Enhancement Centre maintains a pool of Research Associates to support its work. Our Research Associates come from a wide range of backgrounds in colleges, universities and other sectors, but all share an interest in educational research.

This page provides information on a number of our Research Associates. Please do contact them if you would like to know more about their work or their availability for new projects.

Name: Dr David Johnson
Job Title: Lecturer in Entrepreneurship
Instituation: The University of Glasgow
Biography: Dr David Johnson is a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow. Broadly speaking, David’s research interests focus on Academic Entrepreneurship. This has led David to Visiting Scholar positions at The University of Wisconsin-Madison (US) and The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia).
Research Interest: Broadly speaking, David’s research interests focus on Academic Entrepreneurship. More specifically, he investigates academic-industry engagement to understand how individual and organisational-level factors influence technology transfer and the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems.


Name: Cheryl Smith
Job Title: Lecturer
Instituation: Ayrshire College
Biography: Cheryl has been working as a lecturer within Further Education for 11 years, having the opportunity to gain various experience within managerial roles. Most recently completing a secondment with Colleges Scotland as an Managerial Analyst. Cheryl loves learning, and has recently completed a degree in Education Practices..
Research Interest: Sustainability, Blended Learning, Education Practice and Policy, Leadership, Mental Health, Inclusivity, Student demographics/challenges to inclusive education, Digital poverty


Name: Dr Karen Campbell
Job Title: Independent HE researcher and evaluator
Instituation: here – Higher Education Research and Evaluation consultancy
Biography: Karen has over thirty years’ experience in educational research. In her part-time Research Fellow role at Glasgow Caledonian University, Karen carries out institutional research and impact evaluation in widening participation, HE transitions, academic development and the student experience.

A specialist in widening participation, in 2020 Karen completed her PhD by publication with a thesis entitled, ‘Widening participation in Higher Education: immersion as an enabler.’

Karen is widely published. Her paper How can universities contribute to the common good? won the Association of University Administrators writing prize in 2019.

Karen co-authored the CDN Research and Enhancement Centre’s Co-creating the Learner Journey report.

Karen sits on the Scottish Community of Access and Participation Practitioners’ (SCAPP) Research and Evaluation Group, is a SCAPP research mentor and co-wrote the SCAPP ‘How To’ Guide to Widening Participation Evaluation.

Karen is also a PhD supervisor and a  Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Read Karen’s research publications at

Research Interest:
  • Transitions to, through and out of Higher Education
  • Widening participation in Higher Education
  • Articulation and progression from college
  • Student progression, retention and completion
  • Student experience and engagement
  • Belonging and identity
  • Protected characteristics – age; gender; disability; ethnicity; care experienced and estranged student experience; widening access measures
  • Providing evidence of impact – reports; briefing papers; case studies
  • Research and evaluation methodologies
  • Research ethics in educational research
Selected Resource Outputs:
View Dr Karen Campbell Research Outputs here


Name: Gillian Bartle
Job Title: Lecturer
Instituation: University of Dundee
Biography: Gillian has worked and studied in education contexts for over thirty years. Initially a physical education teacher in primary and secondary schools, she has experience in further and higher education, throughout the UK. Her interests span learning throughout the life course. She has learned with and taught international students in values education, education, sport studies, Olympism, and philosophy of physical education and physical literacy. Personally, music and family, swimming and cycling are balancing with work and study.
Research Interest: Gillian is a lecturer at the University of Dundee and PhD candidate at the University of Stirling. Her professional interests include philosophy of education, physical literacy, wellbeing, physical education, Olympic education and (post)qualitative research methods. Her PhD research is a posthumanism and sociomaterial informed investigation of how primary teacher trainees enact (or otherwise) physical literacy in physical education. Methodologically, she is interested in how the philosophical entangles with empirical information, how practice is performing theory. Currently, she teaches research methods on master’s programmes, supervises dissertation students, and teaches physical education within initial teacher education.


Name: Jacqueline Duncan
Job Title: Lecturer – Early Years
Instituation: South Lanarkshire College
Biography: Jacqueline Duncan is a Childcare Lecturer at South Lanarkshire College who is passionate about all things Early Years. Her extensive experience working with children and families spans the public, private and voluntary sectors. Jacqueline was awarded the UWS Court Medal as part of her degree studies and went on to deliver the BA Childhood Practice programme for UWS while still in practice, before joining SLC. She is passionate about retaining her dual professional identity as a lecturer and a subject specialist in Early Years; a recent postgraduate qualification has reignited her interest in research and the Scottish educational landscape. Jacqueline is an enquiring and curious professional who uses Action Research to prioritise scholarly activity and share best practice with her colleagues. Jacqueline lives in Glasgow with her two daughters and her hobbies include yoga and reading.
Research Interest: Jacqueline is the Gender Equality Champion for the Childcare department at SLC and is committed to shifting the balance of perceived gender roles. She promotes the recruitment of males into the childcare sector and is passionate about the work to be done around the stereotypes and prejudices which can be tackled by a competent Early Years workforce. She works in partnership with Education Scotland’s Improving Gender Balance and Equalities team to investigate the role childcare lecturers play in developing a childcare workforce who are ready to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equality. Jacqueline is also particularly interested in supporting our most vulnerable learners. Her experience with vulnerable children in the early years leads to inquiry around their progress and attainment at the FE stage.


Name: Marc Fleming
Job Title: Academic and Quality Manager
Instituation: Fife College
Biography: Marc Fleming is a Chartered Architectural Technologist who currently works at Fife College as an Academic and Quality Manager for the Construction Crafts and Built Environment Department. Marc has over 20 years experience in education and architectural practice, recently completing an MSc in Advanced Architectural Design at the Robert Gordon University. Marc also sits on the Future Skills Working Group of the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Forum.
Research Interest: Marc is extremely passionate about future skills and digital advancement in the construction industry, publishing several academic papers ranging from Facilitation of Energy Simulation Tools in Undergraduate / Tertiary Programmes  and most recently Algorithmic Generative Design of FE Estates to Accommodate Future Skills needs. Marc’s research interests are centric to informing curriculum design to meet industry needs as well as consideration of pedagogical approaches to sustain this.


Name: Paula Christie
Job Title: Development Officer
Instituation: SWAPWest
Biography: Paula is currently employed as a Development Officer within SWAPWest. SWAP is a partnership of colleges and universities. They are a national organisation, and SWAPWEST works together with their partner colleges and universities to offer dedicated progression routes onto HNC and degree-level study in the West of Scotland across a wide range of subject areas.  Paula thoroughly enjoys working closely with both colleagues across the FE and HE sectors to create solutions which both support students and tutors, as well as enhancing existing programmes. She is also currently engaged in an Erasmus+ funded project ‘FETI’, working with SWAP and several international partners to focus on the upskilling of refugees and migrants. She brings her skills as a ‘grass roots’ qualitative doctoral researcher to my role within SWAP, alongside almost a decade of experience in working to promote and support Widening Access initiatives within both Further and Higher Education settings.
Research Interest: Paula’s research interests centre around themes of identity, concepts of inclusion and exclusion, and the construct of cohesive communities.  Her current research incorporates the impact of structural educational changes on individuals and communities as well as looking at broader socio-economic policies, impacts and trends. I keenly explore, promote and find workable strategies in relation to the challenges faced by adult returners and ‘non traditional’ students within the HE and FE sector and to build for their success. Her current work on international projects has a particular emphasis on the integration of refugee and migrant communities within Further and Higher Education as well as seeking to develop effective communities of peer learning.  She also has a keen interest in the development of healthy and positive digital practices, digital behaviours and digital environments for students and those professionals working within the dynamic environment of education.


Name: Carolyn Laird
Biography: Carolyn has worked in colleges since the 1980s, working her way through roles as a Lecturer, Job Club Leader, Senior Lecturer, Head of Department and more recently Assistant Principal: Learning and Teaching.  The AP role involved a diverse portfolio, including responsibility for ensuring appropriate CPD for academic staff to develop their teaching and learning skills, development of e-learning/e-technology for learning and teaching, libraries, university articulation and school-college partnerships. She had a 2-year secondment in the Scottish Further Education Unit (fore-runner to CDN) as a Lead Specialist for Qualifications and Achievement in 2002-04, where she took part in research for the college sector.  She also had roles with SQA as a setter, marker and External Verifier for Psychology and Social Sciences. She was on the Qualifications Support Team for HN Social Sciences at SQA, as well as being an Associate Assessor for Education Scotland.  Lots of experience in a wide range of areas!
Research Interests: Carolyn’s research interests include all aspects of learning and teaching, school-college partnerships, articulation and wider access – all areas that she has experience of during her college years.


Name: Shona McKnight
Job Title: Learning and Teaching Skills Mentor
Instituation: Dundee and Angus College
Biography: Having made the happy leap from local authority education to the college sector, Shona has a twofold role: she is a lecturer in communication, and a learning and teaching skills mentor, supporting academic staff in their professional learning.

Shona has recently completed a Master of Education with Distinction.  Her thesis study sought to understand what is the experience of teaching and learning of meta-skills in a Scottish Further Education College, from the perspective of lecturers and students.

Shona’s interest in the relationship between lecturer agency and professional learning, has resulted in her becoming a rather enthusiastic member of the D&A Storytelling Action Research community group, as well as one of the curators of the #CollegeLife blog.

Research Interest: Further to her dissertation research, Shona has an interest in testing the effects of the acquisition and application of meta-level skills to the blended learning environment, and to measure the impact via a longitudinal study.