Learning to research

This week, the Research Inspector looks at the University of Lincoln, which has been blending learning and research and, with the active involvement of the police, including some co-teaching on its Police Studies Module.

Dec 13, 2017

Research is getting more and more common for policing professionals – new training curriculums will introduce staff at an early stage with a view to embed career-long use. The University of Lincoln has been blending learning and research on its Police Studies Module. The module is led by Principal Lecturer Katie Strudwick, who explains the ‘scaffolding or platform approach’ to curriculum design is influenced by the ‘Student as Producer’ agenda – where students play an integral role in their learning, as researchers and independent learners, to become part of the production of knowledge. With teaching and research embedded together, students are encouraged to build their own learning and research within their preferred route. This module was a clear exemplar of how effective different innovative learning approaches can enhance research skills of students through their knowledge acquisition and skills development. The collaborative module design encouraged students to participate, engage and benefit from their own learning progression and the research process. They explored ‘where policing is going’ and disseminated conceptual visual representations of policing (see diagram). Research outputs on the direction of policing highlighted important conceptual and practical aspects, with a recognition of the increasingly multi-levelled nature of policing practice. Some of the researchers framed their conclusions with the following quotes: “Policing was moving towards a service which is going to be more fragmented and increasingly outsourcing some of its aspects to private companies”; “Modern measures highlighting a more transparent and accountable police ‘service’”; “Modern policing is moving towards a community-focused approach recognising cultural diversity within communities and building on police community relations”; and “The police must ensure transparency to enable trust and respect for the force to be built”. Bringing together research and teaching, with short-term mini-projects over the 12 weeks of the module, enabled undergraduate students to develop their critical research skills and reflexive learning on the practical application of skills through professional practice. By focusing on professional practice within the broad themes of ‘trust and confidence’, ‘transformations and modernisation’, and ‘policing futures’, students analysed core contemporary aspects of research through theoretical and practical engagement from the practitioners’ sessions. Using research on issues such as child sexual exploitation (CSE), ethical policing, public order, threat, risk and vulnerability, and technological advances found in policing academic papers, they critically analysed specific themes. One case study on CSE critically addressed the shift in policing over recent decades, exploring the use of multi-agency partnerships and the impact on policing in tackling CSE. Through applying and analysing four case studies, explored by police practitioners in their sessions, the research addressed the domestically and internationally recognised problems of policing CSE. The paper critically challenged definitional constructs of vulnerability and risk factors, while theoretically analysing the implications of the rise of managerialism on key aspects of policing roles. Arguing that such shifts have had an impact on budgetary restraints, perceived levels of efficiency and productivity, the paper explored the impact on the place of victims within the process. The author further explored the positive implications of the rise towards furthering multi-agency alliances in policing as “strengthening protective measures for the victims”. It was interesting that this case study made clear connections between policing CSE and wider debates both on an academic and professional practitioner level regarding the services offered to victims. The paper on the rise of social media on poli

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