Dr Marion Heron


Reader in Educational Linguistics
BSc (Hons), MA, EdD, SFHEA
+44 (0)1483 689113
02 CE 01

Academic and research departments

Surrey Institute of Education.

Biography

Research

Research interests

Supervision

Postgraduate research supervision

My teaching

Courses I teach on

Postgraduate taught

My publications

Publications

MARION HERON, DORIS DIPPOLD, Necmi Aksit, Tijen Aksit, Jill Doubleday, Kara McKeown (2021)Tutors’ beliefs about language and roles: Practice as language policy in EMI contexts, In: Teaching in Higher Education

It has been well established that for all students, but particularly second language (L2) English speaking students, academic English speaking skills are key to developing specialist terminology and disciplinary content in an English as a medium of instruction (EMI) context. However, what is less clear in many contexts is the institutional language policy necessary to guide and support both L2 English speaking students and disciplinary tutors. In this paper we focus on disciplinary tutors’ beliefs of language and their roles with respect to language support to surface implicit and covert language policies. We argue that in the absence of explicit policy, showcasing the range of tutor perspectives and practice around language support can provide a way forward in explicating good practice and highlighting an approach in which all stakeholders take responsibility for supporting students’ academic speaking skills in an EMI context.

(2021)Creating ‘Excellent’ Partnerships: Reflections on Practice, In: Exploring Disciplinary Teaching Excellence in Higher Educationpp. 199-208 Springer International Publishing

This chapter presents voices and experiences of the author contributors of this book to foreground their views about the process of working in partnership and how this has informed their developing understandings of teaching excellence. One of the purposes of this chapter is to present authentic accounts of collaborative workings which reflect both student and staff voices. A second purpose of this chapter is to highlight how collaborative research on contextualised teaching excellence can enhance understandings and make what is often tacit more transparent and shared. The underpinning theme of the chapter is the power of a student-staff partnership approach to exploring pedagogy as reflected through collective voices.

(2021)Exploring ‘Excellence’ in Disciplinary Contexts Through Student-Staff Partnerships, In: Exploring Disciplinary Teaching Excellence in Higher Educationpp. 1-20 Springer International Publishing

The purpose of this chapter is to begin to unpack contested meanings of teaching excellence and the different ways in which excellence is explored. This includes reference to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in the UK, as well as other national schemes. The chapter examines some of the critical perspectives of the TEF, including the increasing relevance of exploring excellence from subject-level perspectives, as well as discussions about how effectively metrics are used as measures of excellence. The chapter then highlights the value of adopting a student-staff partnership model to enable more nuanced, contextualised and individualised understandings of teaching excellence, particularly in disciplinary contexts. The chapter ends by giving an overview of each of the chapters in the book.

This book explores disciplinary teaching excellence through a diverse range of student-staff partnership research projects. Despite being a highly contested term, ‘teaching excellence’ is something that universities aspire to and are expected to have. However, the editors and contributors argue that not only are definitions of excellence often broad and generic, but they lack nuanced understandings of disciplinary excellence in higher education. This book begins by unpacking some of these contested definitions of teaching excellence, followed by a series of co-authored chapters produced by students and staff who have undertaken research projects where they examine teaching excellence in their respective disciplinary areas. These chapters demonstrate that teaching excellence may be better understood as a process of becoming that is achieved through partnership between teachers and students. This book will be of interest and value to students, educators, and policy-makers concerned about teaching excellence, as well as scholars of student-staff partnerships.

MARION HERON, DORIS DIPPOLD, Alina Husain (2021)How Dialogic is the Online Space? A Focus on English Speaking Skills, In: TESL-EJ : teaching English as a second or foreign language TESL-EJ

In the spring of 2020, English language teachers around the world were forced to rapidly start teaching in a completely online space, often with relatively little experience of online teaching, and with few opportunities for preparation. Recognising the centrality of speaking for learning, this study investigated affordances of teaching speaking online, a relatively unexplored area. Fifty-two language teachers in higher education contexts internationally completed a survey. Drawing on a framework of dialogic teaching, the findings show that teaching speaking online offers some unexpected affordances relating to the dialogic teaching principle of supportive teaching. In addition, teachers reported being able to use the online space for purposeful planning of online lessons. However, the online space is less conducive to enabling reciprocal, deliberative, and cumulative classroom talk, key features of higher education discourses. We end the paper with practical recommendations for how to ensure that dialogic teaching dimensions are not lost in an online space.

Marion Heron, Erika Corradini (2019)Writing for professional recognition in higher education: understanding genre and expertise, In: Higher Education Research & Development Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

This study draws on the theoretical frameworks of genre theory and writing expertise to explore how educators manage and excel in writing for professional recognition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four educators from different disciplines in which participants discussed their experiences of preparing and writing for Senior Fellow. Despite the fact that writing for professional recognition can be a contentious genre to manage with its reflective features favouring those from certain disciplinary backgrounds, the participants described positive and affirming experiences. The findings also suggest that educators are strategic in their approach, and that the writing process can have unexpected affordances including a developed knowledge of writing, professional confidence and a sense of empowerment. The findings have implications for developing systems and resources to support educators preparing for fellowship.

Marion Heron (2018)Scaffolding talk in EAP lessons: An examination of experienced teachers’ practices, In: Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching Taylor & Francis

Purpose The aim of this study was to explore how experienced teachers use classroom talk to support their pedagogic goals in pre-sessional and in-sessional EAP lessons. Design Data were gathered by video recording four teachers’ EAP lessons. A framework which identified scaffolding for metacognitive, cognitive and affective activities was used to examine how the four teachers supported pre-sessional and in-sessional students’ understanding of academic language and discourse practices. Findings The data revealed that although scaffolding of language and affect are prevalent, goal-focused metacognitive scaffolding was a distinct feature of in-sessional EAP lessons. The findings suggest that pre-sessional EAP teachers could provide more goal-oriented scaffolding by linking activities to the overall EAP goals. Originality The originality of this article lies in the identification of potential differences between pre-sessional and in-sessional EAP classroom talk. In particular, a more ‘efficient’ type of in-sessional classroom talk was identified. The implications of this study lie in teacher development for teachers moving from general ELT to EAP, as well as the potential use of classroom transcripts as a tool for analysis and reflection on practice.

Marion Heron, Ian Kinchin, Emma Medland (2018)Interview talk and the co-construction of concept maps., In: Educational Research60(4)pp. 373-389 Taylor & Francis

Background: Concept maps have been used extensively for developing higher order thinking skills and are considered significant artefacts in constructing understanding in educational contexts. Increasingly, they are being used as a tool to chart a way towards ‘new understanding’ rather than recording ‘accepted knowledge’. This study is set in an academic development department in a UK higher education institution in which previous research projects have utilised concept map-mediated interviews as a tool in data collection. This paper reports on the relationship between the process of the concept map-mediated interview and the resulting concept map and focuses on the talk during the interview process. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore the co-constructed nature of the concept map which resulted from the concept map interview. The research question was: how is the concept map accomplished through and in the interview talk? Sample: The three researchers and authors of this paper are colleagues in an Academic Development department in a UK higher education institution. The focus of the interview was to probe the research perspective underpinning the practice of one of the authors. Design and methods: The study used a qualitative, unstructured concept map interview. The aim of the interview was to elicit an understanding of one of the authors’ research frame and how it influenced her work with staff. The interviewer noted labels on post-it notes during the interview which both participants then arranged on a sheet of paper. The interview lasted 36 minutes and was transcribed verbatim. Sociocultural discourse analysis was used to examine the trajectory of concepts in the interview talk. Results: The results highlight the collaborative nature of the interview and how the concept map is co-constructed through the interview talk. We demonstrate how the concept map is co-constructed through and in the dialogue between interviewer and interviewee, not as a result of the interview. Results also reveal how the context of acquaintance interviews impacts on the co-construction and thus the resulting concept map. Conclusions: A concept map which results from such an interview is co-constructed with the interviewer playing a pivotal role in the talk and the mapping. The implications are that the interview as research tool needs to be recognised as a site for the co-construction of ideas and perspectives. Concept maps resulting from interviews need to be recognised as co-constructed. A further implication for research methods is that the transcripts from the interview itself can be used as data to provide a richer understanding of the concept map.

Karen Gravett, Ian M. Kinchin, Naomi Winstone, Kieran Balloo, Marion Heron, Anesa Hosein, Simon Lygo-Baker, Emma Medland (2019)The development of academics’ feedback literacy: experiences of learning from critical feedback via scholarly peer review, In: Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Educationpp. 1-15 Taylor & Francis

The emerging literature related to feedback literacy has hitherto focused primarily on students’ engagement with feedback, and yet an analysis of academics’ feedback literacy is also of interest to those seeking to understand effective strategies to engage with feedback. Data from concept map-mediated interviews and reflections, with a team of six colleagues, surface academics’ responses to receiving critical feedback via scholarly peer review. Our findings reveal that feedback can be visceral and affecting, but that academics employ a number of strategies to engage with this process. This process can lead to actions that are both instrumental, enabling academics to more effectively ‘play the game’ of publication, as well as to learning that is more positively and holistically developmental. This study thus aims to open up a dialogue with colleagues internationally about the role of feedback literacy, for both academics and students. By openly sharing our own experiences we seek to normalise the difficulties academics routinely experience whilst engaging with critical feedback, to share the learning and strategies which can result from peer review feedback, and to explore how academics may occupy a comparable role to students who also receive evaluation of their work.

M. Heron, D. M. Palfreyman (2019)Developing Oracy Skills for Student Voice Work, In: Engaging Student Voices in Higher Educationpp. 89-105 Palgrave Macmillan
Marion Heron (2017)Dialogic stance in higher education seminars, In: Language & Education32(2)pp. 112-126 Taylor & Francis

This study explored factors which influence the dialogic interaction in seminar events. Leftsein and Snell’s (2013) multi-dimensional conceptualisation of dialogue was used to examine how university tutors valued dialogic interaction in higher education seminars. Values were evidenced in tutors’ stimulated recall interviews based on reflections of their seminar practice. As would be expected, the reflective accounts revealed different orientations towards dialogue. However, accounts also revealed how tutors managed dialogic tensions between values, contextual constraints and disciplinary aims. This paper highlights the affordances of data-led tutor reflection on classroom practice as an effective way to raise awareness of talk in seminars and ultimately engage higher education teachers in talking about talk.

Marion Heron, Karen Gravett, Nadya Yakovchuk (2020)Publishing and flourishing: writing for desire in higher education, In: Higher Education Research & Developmentpp. 1-14 Routledge

In the current performative climate of higher education, where academic outputs are highly valorised, professional academic writing has become ‘high stakes’ and is often framed as fraught with tension and anxiety. In this article, we contest the phrase ‘publish or perish’ and argue that is not necessarily helpful or, indeed, always true. Through interviews involving critical incidents with a team of academics, the authors found that tensions in experiences of scholarly writing do indeed exist. However, participants also reported on the affordances of the process of professional academic writing in terms of developing ideas, collaborations, and creating spaces for creativity and desire. We emphasise the juxtaposition of the value of creation with the value of the finished product and argue that writing for publication needs to be highlighted as a process permeated with learning opportunities for both early career researchers and more experienced academics.

Ian Kinchin, Marion Heron, Anesa Hosein, Simon Lygo-Baker, Emma Medland, Dawn Angela Morley, Naomi Winstone (2018)Researcher-led academic development, In: International Journal for Academic Development23(4)pp. 339-354 Taylor & Francis

In this study, members of a higher education department explore their research activity and how it influences their practice as academic developers in a research-led institution. Whilst the research activities of the team members appear diverse, they are all underpinned by a shared set of professional values to provide an anchor for these activities. Research-as-pedagogy and the relationship between the discourses of research and teaching are explored using Bernstein’s knowledge structures. The authors conclude that differences in research focus (horizontal discourse) provide dynamism across a department and that stability is provided through the underpinning core values inherent in the vertical discourse.

Marion Heron, Rebecca Head (2018)Discourses of peer observation in higher education: event or system?, In: Innovations in Education and Teaching International56(4) Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

This paper offers a new perspective on exploring peer observation as an event or system, and contributes to the discussion on what happens after the peer observation cycle in terms of opportunities for dissemination. Data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with members of academic staff in a UK higher education institution about their managerial roles in the peer observation scheme. An analysis of the interview transcripts revealed a dominant regulative discourse around peer observation as an event with corresponding instructional discourse focused on the procedures and administration of the scheme. We argue that middle managers are in a unique position to determine how peer observation can be shared in the learning and teaching community. This requires a considerable shift in the prevailing discourse around the purposes and potential of peer observation as part of a wider professional development system and we make suggestions for how this might be promoted.

Marion Heron, Tom Parkinson, Nidal Alajaj, Baraa Khuder (2020)Interdisciplinary collaborative writing for publication with exiled academics: the nature of relational expertise, In: Compareahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-19 Routledge

This paper aims to provide insight and guidance for developing and leading interdisciplinary collaborative writing groups when working with researchers in Centre-Periphery contexts. The participants in this study were exiled Syrian academics domiciled in Turkey working in interdisciplinary project groups with their UK-Turkey-based academic mentors and UK-based workshop leaders. The groups were at the writing for publication stage of the project. In exploring the processes involved in writing in such groups, the study identified a key dimension to successful collaborative writing - that of relational expertise. The study found that authorial identity played a significant role in the process of writing and that relational expertise was evidenced through confidence in knowledge, positive attitudes to others' knowledge and willingness to negotiate. We argue that explicit articulation of authorial identity and power differences are necessary first steps in establishing interdisciplinary collaborative writing groups in Centre-Periphery contexts.

Marion Heron, Erika Corradini (2020)A genre-based study of professional reflective writing in higher education, In: Teaching in Higher Educationahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-13 Routledge

There is a growing expectation internationally that teachers in higher education obtain professional recognition through accredited schemes which confer Fellowship status. Such schemes often require a written reflective submission to demonstrate effective teaching and professional experience. Yet despite this burgeoning interest, little is known about the generic features of professional reflective writing, and in particular, the 'case study' as part of a fellowship submission. Through a genre analysis of a corpus of case studies taken from successful texts we illuminate the rhetorical and linguistic features of the case study to inform writing support for teachers in higher education. We suggest how a genre pedagogy approach can both provide scaffolding to teachers engaging in professional reflective writing and empower teachers to manage new writing discourses by developing the tools of genre analysis.

Naomi Winstone, David Boud, Phillip Dawson, Marion Heron (2021)From feedback-as-information to feedback-as-process: a linguistic analysis of the feedback literature, In: Assessment and evaluation in higher educationahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-18 Routledge

Feedback is a term used so frequently that it is commonly taken that there is a shared view about what it means. However, in recent years, the notion of feedback as simply the provision of information to students about their work has been substantially challenged and learning-centred views have been articulated. This paper employs a corpus linguistics approach to analyse the use of the term 'feedback' in research articles published in key higher education journals on the topic over two five-year periods: 2009-2013 and 2015-2019. Analysis focused on the most common noun modifiers of 'feedback' and nouns modified by 'feedback', verbs with 'feedback' as the object, possessors of 'feedback', and prepositions representing an action or concept on or with 'feedback'. Whilst the analysis demonstrated that transmission-focused conceptions dominate publications on feedback, linguistic signifiers of a shift over time in representation of feedback away from a transmission-focus towards a learning-focus were evident within each grammatical relation category. The data indicate that the term 'feedback' is used by different authors to refer to very different representations of the concept, and the paper proposes that greater clarity in the representation of feedback is needed.

DORIS DIPPOLD, MARION HERON, KAREN LOUISE GRAVETT (2019)International students’ linguistic transitions into disciplinary studies: a rhizomatic perspective, In: Higher Education Springer Nature Switzerland AG

This paper offers a reconceptualisation of international students’ transitions into and through UK higher education. We present two case studies of students which explore their transitions in terms of their academic speaking skills from pre-sessional courses into their disciplinary studies. Students describe how the development of their confidence and performance in academic speaking was contingent on a number of factors and micro-moments, and how this progress into and within disciplinary studies often involved regression and discomfort. Nevertheless, they also talked of developing strategies to overcome challenges and the resultant learning. We argue that transitions to disciplinary studies in terms of academic speaking can be more helpfully understood as non-linear, fluid and rhizomatic. This study offers valuable insights for individuals and institutions to move away from a fixed student lifecycle perspective to consider instead how reciprocal, embedded and on-going support for international students may better reflect students’ experiences.

MARION HERON, EMMA LOUISE MEDLAND, NAOMI E WINSTONE, Edd Pitt (2021)Developing the relational in teacher feedback literacy: Exploring feedback talk, In: Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education Routledge

The higher education literature on feedback has generally explored spoken feedback delivered on a summative written assignment. In contrast, this study explores spoken feedback as part of the teacher – student dialogue in classroom interaction (i.e. feedback talk). Drawing on a discourse analysis approach we identified linguistic and rhetorical indicators of feedback talk and found a number of common patterns in six seminar events. Interviews with two teachers revealed a perception that feedback was an inherent part of the teaching and learning process and the significance of feedback talk in supporting relationships. We argue that a recognition and understanding of feedback talk can support the relational dimension of feedback literacy in the micro-moments of learning and teaching. We frame our discussion of feedback talk and teacher feedback literacy within the wider context of learning and teaching and call for a more holistic perspective on feedback.

Marion Heron, Doris Dippold, Anesa Hosein, Ameena Khan Sullivan, Tijen Aksit, Necmi Aksit, Jill Doubleday, Kara McKeown (2021)Talking about talk: tutor and student expectations of oracy skills in higher education, In: Language and educationpp. 1-16 Routledge

Although participation in academic speaking events is a key to developing disciplinary understanding, students for whom English is a second language may have limited access to these learning events due to an increasingly dialogic and active higher education pedagogy which places considerable demands on their oracy skills. Drawing on the Oracy Skills Framework we explore disciplinary tutors' and students' expectations of oracy skills required for disciplinary study. An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data found that disciplinary tutors placed importance on the cognitive dimension of oracy skills such as argumentation and asking questions, whilst students placed importance on linguistic accuracy. The findings also suggest that tutors and students lack a shared metalanguage to talk about oracy skills. We argue that a divergence of expectations and lack of shared terminology can result in compromising students' access to valuable classroom dialogue. The paper concludes with a number of practical suggestions through which both tutors and students can increase their understanding of oracy skills.

Marion Heron, Helen Thompson (2019)How do trainee teachers engage with a flipped learning approach?, In: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Educationpp. pp 92-106 Taylor and Francis

To date, research on student engagement in a flipped learning approach has almost entirely focused on students’ emotional engagement. This study further explores students’ engagement through the additional constructs of behavioural and cognitive engagement in a UK pre-service teacher education context. Data were gathered from learning analytics, focus group interviews and tutor diaries. Results revealed that whilst students held positive attitudes towards the in-class activities, their behavioural and cognitive engagement was evidenced by a variety of strategic uses of the online learning resources and a limited awareness of the constructivist principles on which a flipped learning approach is based. The study supports the need for a systematic induction period and explicit discussions on the learning principles of flipped learning.

Marion Heron (2018)Pedagogic practices to support international students in seminar discussions, In: Higher Education Research & Development38(2)pp. pp266-279 Taylor & Francis

This article explores pedagogic practices, in particular material artefacts, which support participation and structure the interaction of international students in seminar discussions. Using both a fine-grained analysis of the artefact in interaction as well as student perspectives on its affordances, the findings reveal how material artefacts in the form of worksheets and reading guides can provide international students with linguistic resources, content, and familiarity of routines and participation structures. This article concludes that pedagogic practices are crucial to increasing interaction and participation of international students in seminar settings.

Marion Heron (2019)Making the case for oracy skills in higher education: practices and opportunities, In: Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice University of Wollongon

In this paper I make the case for embedding oracy practices in the HE curriculum through explicit teaching of oracy skills and a shared common language to describe these skills. Active learning and teaching approaches as well as growing expectations of graduate employability skills have resulted in greater demands on students in UK higher education in terms of their oracy (speaking and listening) skills. Whilst oracy skills have long been the focus of studies in compulsory educational contexts, there is little transfer of research findings to a higher education context. With the aim of opening up the discussion on oracy skills in HE, this paper reports on an exploratory study carried out to investigate how teachers on two undergraduate business modules incorporated oral communication skills in their content, pedagogy and assessment. Data were gathered from observations of lectures and seminars, course documents, and semi-structured interviews with tutors. With reference to an Oracy Skills Framework the paper concludes with suggestions for how oracy skills may be more explicitly embedded into the undergraduate curriculum.