Dr Anesa Hosein


Qualifications: BSc, MPhil, PhD

Phone: Work: 01483 68 3759
Room no: 10 AD 04

Further information


I am a lecturer in the Department of Higher Education at the University of Surrey. I started my career in higher education as a demonstrator and tutor in mathematics and physics whilst being involved in postgraduate studies. Following my PhD, I became a quantitative analyst/ research assistant on the ESRC Project, The Net Generation: Encountering E-Learning at University where we researched students’ use of technology in their first year. After my stint as a research assistant and before joining the department here in Surrey, I was at the Faculty of Education at Liverpool Hope University where as a lecturer I was involved in a range of teaching as well as supervising masters and EdD students in areas of mathematics and technology education. The courses I contributed to in terms of teaching were research methods, education studies, mathematics education and undergraduate mathematics/ statistics.

I hold a BSc in Physics from the University of Guyana, a MPhil in Industrial Engineering from the University of the West Indies, a MSc in Research Methods from the Open University and a PhD in Educational Technology, also from the Open University. My PhD focused on undergraduate students' metacognitive activities in understanding mathematics when using different modes of software. I am currently interested in undergraduate students’ metacognitive strategies in learning particularly within mathematics as well as developing a body of work in undergraduate research methods pedagogy.

Research Interests

The following are the recent funded projects that I have been involved in:

  1. SEDA Project (2016): Immigrant academics in the pedagogic 'foreign-land': Factors influencing their pedagogic acculturation
  2. QAA Research Projects (2015): An Impact Study of the Guidance Documents for Higher Education Providers Published by QAA in 2013
  3. ESRC-UKDS Grant (2014): Data Relator
  4. British Academy Skills Acquisition Grant (2013): Investigation of the factors that influence a student’s choice to study a STEM subject: a longitudinal data analysis
  5. HEA Social Sciences strategic project - Assessment in Research Methods: A Literature Review (2013)
  6. HEA Workshop/Seminar Series - Re-energising Undergraduate Research Methods in Education Pedagogy (2013)
  7. HEA Departmental Grant: International Experience for Engaged Global Citizens in Education (2012-2013)
  8. HE STEM Project: Problem Solving in Undergraduate Mathematics (2011-2012)


Journal articles

  • Hosein A , Harle J. (2017) 'The Relationship between Students’ Prior Mathematical Attainment, Knowledge and Confidence on their Self-Assessment Accuracy'. Studies in Educational Evaluation,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    The ability of students to assess their own performance accurately may allow them to self-regulate their learning through metacognitive monitoring. This research investigates factors affecting undergraduate radiation physics students’ ability to self-assess their work accurately in a mathematical subject test. The factors investigated are demographics, mathematics confidence, prior mathematical attainment and prior level of mathematical knowledge. Students’ accuracy of their self-assessment was found to be associated with their prior mathematical attainment and their overall mathematics confidence. Students with good and poor prior mathematical attainment self-assessed more accurately than students who had a moderate level of prior attainment. These results have implications for how students may determine their own learning strategies and the use of summative self-assessments.

  • Rao N, Hosein A . (2016) 'The limits of HEI websites as sources of learning and teaching information for prospective students: a survey of professional staff'. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21 (1), pp. pp. 4-10.


    The Green Paper Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice (BIS, 2015) suggests that the UK Higher Education (HE) landscape will be transformed, with greater emphasis on the quality of teaching and dissemination of high-quality learning and teaching (L&T) information to students. The latter is important for achieving the Government’s widening participation agenda. Previously, a survey of the websites of 38 HE institutions found that limited information was provided to prospective students on several aspects of L&T (Hosein and Rao, 2015). This research study analyses interview data from quality assurance and marketing personnel in eight British universities to identify the reasons for this information gap on HE institutions websites. The findings indicate that both institutional and individual practices influence the quality of L&T website information. The recognition of these contributory factors may facilitate the provision of quality information and guidance on effective ways of addressing these.

  • Hosein A , Rao N. (2016) 'Students’ Reflective Essays as insights into Student Centred-Pedagogies within the Undergraduate Research Methods Curriculum'. Teaching in Higher Education, , pp. pp. 1-17.


    In higher education, despite the emphasis on student-centred pedagogical approaches, undergraduate research methods pedagogy remains surprisingly teacher-directed although undergraduate research itself is student-centred. Consequently, research methods students may believe becoming a researcher is about learning information rather than a continuous developmental process. To combat this idea, a reflective student-centred pedagogical approach is evaluated for encouraging students’ development as researchers. In this study, undergraduate research methods students piloted a research method and produced a reflective essay on their research experience which were qualitatively analysed. Analysis indicated that students demonstrated an awareness of both their research skills such as choosing an appropriate research instrument and their researcher identity such as their metacognition of their competence. Pedagogical approaches which encourages ‘reflection on action’ in the research curriculum therefore helps students to articulate their researcher identity and build their research skills confidence and should be actively promoted.

  • Hosein A , Rao N. (2016) 'Pre-Professional Ideologies and Career Trajectories of the Allied Professional Undergraduate Student'. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 22 (2), pp. pp. 252-270.
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Undergraduate students sometimes pursue degrees that are aimed at allied jobs. This research examines how students in one allied professional degree, Education Studies, conceptualise their pre-professional ideology and how these ideologies relate to their intended career trajectory. The research draws upon a year-long qualitative survey of over 70 undergraduates. Students’ professional ideology and career path were initially linked to the corresponding professional degree i.e. Teacher Education. Over the year, students’ conceptualisation of their pre-professional ideology changed but their career trajectory remained relatively constant. These findings imply students were conforming or socialising into the expectations of their allied professional discipline but did not have an expectation to follow that career path. The research findings have implications for helping students to be realistic about their career trajectory and ensuring that they are prepared for an appropriate job.

  • Hosein A , Ramanau R, Jones C. (2010) 'Learning and living technologies: a longitudinal study of first year students' frequency and competence in the use of ICT'. Learning Media and Technology, 35 (4), pp. 403-418.


    This article presents results from a longitudinal survey of first‐year students’ time spent on living and learning technologies at university, their frequency of using specific learning technologies and their competence with these tools. Data were analysed from two similar surveys at the start and at the end of the academic year for students studying 14 different courses in five different universities (four place‐based and one distance‐learning) in England. The younger students used information and communication technologies (ICT) for social and leisure purposes more frequently than older students. The older students were more likely to use it for study. The frequency of using ICT was related to students’ perceived competence in the tool. University mode of study also influenced how students appropriated their ICT time. These results might have an impact on the repurposing of living technologies for use as learning technologies.

  • Jones C, Hosein A. (2010) 'Profiling university students' use of technology: where is the NET generation divide?'. The International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, 6 (3), pp. 43-58.

Conference papers

  • Hosein A, Aczel J, Clow D, Richardson JTE. 'An illustration of student's engagement with mathematical software using remote observation'. International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education Proceedings of the 31st annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME 31), Seoul, Korea: 31st annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME 31) 3, pp. 49-56.


    Students using three types of spreadsheet calculators for understanding expected value were observed remotely. This remote observation involves the use of webcams and application sharing for observing students learning mathematics. The study illustrates how remote observation can be used for collecting mathematical education data and raises questions about the extent to which such a method can be used in future experiments.

  • Rao N, Hosein A, Mazuro C. (2012) 'Opportunities and complexities of two synchronous distance research supervision modes'. Samos, Greece : the 8th International Conference in Education (ICE)


    Research supervision is a process of fostering and enhancing learning, research and communication at the highest level (Laske & Zuber-Skerritt, 1996). Hasrati (2005, p. 557) argues that supervision is ‘crucial’, ‘pivotal’, ‘at the heart of most research training’, ‘at the core of the project’, and also, ‘the single most important variable affecting the success of the research process.’ Whilst a good deal of student supervision takes place at the face-to-face level, there is a growing trend towards more innovative and technology-oriented approaches, particularly with distance students. This can pose both opportunities and complexities for supervisors. This paper reviews and examines a range of communicative styles that different types of supervision afford. Following, the findings of two case studies are presented which explored the perspectives of supervisors who used verbal and non-verbal synchronous communication approaches when supervising students online.

  • Hosein A, Rao N. (2012) 'Students' conception of research and research methods'. Samos, Greece : the 8th International Conference in Education (ICE)


    Research and research methods is an integral part of postgraduate study. However, it is becoming increasingly more common to find students having to complete a research methods course at the undergraduate level. The purpose of this research is thus to investigate undergraduate students' attitudes towards studying research methods. The research also aimed to look at whether students believe that studying research methods provided them with valuable research skills which may make them more employable in the job market. . A questionnaire was given to approximately 360 students at the beginning of their research methods course, that asked students to record what they understood by the term research, what they thought the purpose of research was as well as how they thought this course might contribute to their employability. Students were also asked to fill in a Research Conceptions Inventory. Students were registered in both a face-to-face and blended learning delivery courses. Whilst this study is longitudinal, this paper will only present findings from the first phase of the study and only on the blended learning students. Preliminary results indicate that students generally had a poor notion of the purpose of research and thought its main purpose was to gather information about a particular topic. In terms of employability, many thought the research skill of gathering information will be useful for when going to an interview or doing a job search. These results hope to influence future curriculum design and inform current policy and practice for teaching research methods, which might be instrumental in helping students to become more active researchers.

  • Ramanau R, Hosein A, Jones C. (2011) 'Net generation distance learners and patterns of their digital technology use'. IADIS Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference e-Learning 2011, Part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems 2011, MCCSIS 2011, Rome, Italy: IADIS International Conference e-Learning 2011, Part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems 2011 1, pp. 21-27.


    This paper reports on the results of a two-year study carried out in five different universities in the UK on different facets of learner experiences of digital technology use. Two self-completion surveys were administered- one in the beginning and another one towards the end of the academic year. The results showed that distance learners aged 25 years of age and younger were a distinct demographic group, in so far as they displayed some characteristics and behaviours typical of students of the same age group, but studying in a place-based university, while in terms of other characteristics they were more akin to older distance learners. The differences between distance learners of different age groups were fewer towards the end of the year, which stresses the impact of university experience in analyzing student learning. Limitations of the study and its implications are considered in the light of their likely significance for research and practice in the field. © 2011 IADIS.

  • Hosein A, Aczel J, Clow D, Richardson JTE. (2008) 'Comparison of black-box, glass-box and open-box software for aiding conceptual understanding'. Morelia, Mexico : Proceedings of the 32nd annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME 32), Morelia, Mexico: 32nd annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME 32) 3, pp. 185-192.


    Three mathematical software types: black-box (no steps shown), glass-box (steps shown) and open-box (interactive steps) were used by 32 students to solve conceptual and procedural tasks on the computer via remote observation. Comparison of the three software types suggests that there is no difference in the scores that students receive for conceptual understanding tasks. Students using the black-box are more likely to explore answers than students using the glass and open-box software.

Theses and dissertations

  • Hosein A. (2010) Students' Approaches to Mathematical Tasks using Software as a Black-Box, Glass-Box or Open-Box.


    Three mathematical software modes are investigated in this thesis: black-box software showing no mathematical steps; glass-box software showing the intermediate mathematical steps; and open-box software showing and allowing interaction at the intermediate mathematical steps. The glass-box and open-box software modes are often recommended over the black-box software to help understanding but there is limited research comparing all three. This research investigated students' performance and their approaches to solving three mathematical task types when assigned to the software boxes. Three approaches that students may undertake when solving the tasks were investigated: students' processing levels, their software exploration and their self-explanations. The effect of mathematics confidence on students' approaches and performance was also considered. Thirty-eight students were randomly assigned to one of the software boxes in an experimental design where all audio and video data were collected via a web-conference remote observation method. The students were asked to think-aloud whilst they solved three task types. The three task types were classified based on the level of conceptual and procedural knowledge needed for solving: mechanical tasks required procedural knowledge, interpretive tasks required conceptual knowledge; and constructive tasks used both conceptual and procedural knowledge. The results indicated that the relationship between students' approaches and performance varied with the software box. Students using the black-box software explored more for the constructive tasks than the students in the glass-box and open-box software. These black-box software students also performed better on the constructive tasks, particularly those with higher mathematics confidence. The open-box software appeared to encourage more mathematical explanations whilst the glass-box software encouraged more real-life explanations. Mathematically confident students were best able to appropriate the black-box software for their conceptual understanding. The glass-box software or open-box software appeared to be useful for helping students with procedural understanding and familiarity with mathematical terms.

  • Hosein A. (2005) Teaching of Linear Programming: Variation Across Disciplines and Countries.


    An online questionnaire was used to investigate how linear programming is taught across disciplines countries. The questionnaire was sent to 311 lecturers in Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA. Lecturers also completed an "approaches to teaching" questionnaire and some of their students completed an "approaches to studying" inventory. The study found that mathematically intensive topics such as interior-point method and revised simplex method were taught primarily in USA. Also, lecturers in "pure" disciplines such as mathematics tended to use less software than lecturers in more applied disciplines but taught more solution methods. The sensitivity analysis topic featured more strongly in applied disciplines such as business and engineering. Whilst there appeared to be no differences in "approaches to teaching" between the disciplines, students in the "soft" disciplines such as business appeared to have a more strategic approach than students in the "hard" disciplines such as mathematics and engineering. The study suggests using qualitative methods for further research to collect richer data.

Recent Conference Presentations

Hosein, A. and Rao, N. (2015) "An impact study of the guidance documents for higher education providers published by QAA in 2013, " QAA conference, Leeds


My teaching philosophy is based largely on educational psychology principles. I draw heavily from the work of Marton & Säljö (1976) who described students approaches to learning as being either deep (building and trying to relate concepts) or surface (memorising and reproducing work).
My teaching therefore tends to involve trying to encourage students to take a deep approach to learning by building their conceptual knowledge or relational understanding (Skemp, 1986). I do this by encouraging students’ to use metacognitive strategies such as self-explanations (Chi, Bassok, Lewis, Reimann, & Glaser, 1989) together with evaluative reflections.

Chi, M. T. H., Bassok, M., Lewis, M. W., Reimann, P., & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: how students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13(2), 145-182.
Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning I. Outcome and process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46(1), 4-11.
Skemp, R. R. (1986). The Psychology of Learning Mathematics (2nd Edition ed.). London, UK: Penguin Books Ltd.

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