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Dr Helen Shiels

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

What is the title of your thesis?

Co-creation of content in online postgraduate provision at Ulster University – student and tutor participation education

Tell us about your research interests, including projects and key publications.

Areas of interest, which are reflected in technology transfer, conference papers, journal articles and teaching include:

  • Adoption and implementation of online learning
  • Student partnerships in online learning
  • Adoption and implementation of information and communication technologies
  • International Business

Details of three recent publications/public output:

Shiels, H., Sloan, D., (2017), Student engagement: Active learners through the co-creation of content, Chartered Association of Business Schools, Learning Teaching and Student Experience (LTSE) 2017 conference, Bristol, 26th April.

Shiels, H., Sloan, D., (2016), Transforming teaching: Making feedback work for students, Higher Education Academy Survey Conference, Birmingham, 13th July.

Shiels, H., (2016), Online collaborative learning environment: Effective co-creation of content, Faculty and Doctoral Conference, Faculty of Business and Law, Northumbria University, 24th June.  Winner of Best Poster.

Why did you choose to do your postgraduate research at Northumbria University?

A colleague recommended Northumbria, having carried out extensive research. I then attended an information session in Ireland, attended by two senior teaching/research staff from Northumbria – I was sold!

How are you funding your research? Is Newcastle an affordable city as a DBA student?

I studied on a part-time basis, by distance. Therefore, I did not get to experience the university life that Newcastle has to offer, except for flying and purposeful visits. I was largely self-financing initially and subsequently supported by my employer.

How has Northumbria University supported you through your research?

Northumbria offered extensive research training initially for two intensive weeks. This was followed by opportunities for regular seminars and workshops. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend these physically but did avail of their recordings and electronic circulation of notes, subsequent to these seminars being hosted. Annual doctoral conferences at Northumbria were a great way to disseminate current work, obtain feedback and guidance – all in a supportive environment. I had a great supervision team, especially my Principal Supervisor Professor Diane Sloan. She was hugely supportive of my academic and personal trials and tribulations throughout my studies and a key factor in me achieving my end goal.

What do you think of the facilities on offer?

I believe the facilities on offer are outstanding for research students, including dedicating desk space, IT equipment and library services. 

Which academics are supervising your project?

My research team included Dr Nick Creatby-Attwood and Professor Diane Sloan as my principal supervisor. Diane was always accessible to me and I enjoyed regular contact and access to her – by phone, email, Skype and in person. Her relentless encouragement for my research studies, personal well-being and development, have been invaluable and she went above and beyond her professional remit in supporting me through my research studies at Northumbria.

Have you had the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers/academics during your time at Northumbria?

I experienced belonging to a formal “Learning Set” of fellow doctoral students at the outset of my studies. This was a great support network initially and we went on to develop lifelong friendships as a result. We continued to support one another throughout the duration of our studies, and since. I have been successful in having research outputs being accepted at national conferences, in conjunction with Professor Sloan and more work is in progress.

What are your career aspirations and how will your time at Northumbria help you achieve them?

I set out to achieve my doctoral award as a personal goal. However, as a result of my research studies, I have attended and delivered webinars, conference papers and training at Ulster University and at academic events nationally. I envisage that this will continue as a direct result of my research training at Northumbria University.

What is the best thing about doing postgraduate research at Northumbria University?

My doctoral studies were achievable by distance learning without a significant commitment to physically attend Newcastle on a regular basis. The accessibility of relevant training, support materials, and academic and administrative support were all significant factors in my successful studies at Northumbria University. 

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