Thesis Title: A Phenomenological exploration of feelings, thinking and learning: A practitioner action research investigation

February 7, 2018

My PhD (2010) is based on four strands of data, which took eight years to collect. I carried out collaborative action research while teaching teenage school refusers, mentoring teachers and artist action researchers -  recording pupil and teacher voices and artwork.  


In it I collected real stories of feelings about learning using participant voices showing how this kind of teaching research can improve understanding.

My thesis researches and analyses feelings and emotions about learning. The proposition is that feelings both physical and mental inform rational thinking and behaviour affecting learning both positively and negatively.


Acceptance of this in education can improve teachers' ability to support and enable learners.

​Ten of my 'Thoughts' paintings were included in my thesis.



"The examiners found the work represented a thoughtful and ambitious project, underpinned by a belief that the emotions form a vital part of learning....The candidateargues vehemently for a participative approach to enquiry (and to learning) challenging the power held traditionally by both academics and politicians.  She navigates the tensions involved in her dual-role thoughtfully...the thesis argues that emotions play a significant role in learning which needs to be much more acknowledging of and responsive to, these.  The stories offer compelling food for thought.""The examiners found the work represented a thoughtful and ambitious project, underpinned by a belief that the emotions form a vital part of learning....The candidate  

Anna Craft and Peter Gilroy in 2008

"Jenny Hawkins ....has produced an impressively creative and innovative thesis exploring emotional blocks to learning.  The work is academically sound and has the potential to inform educational practice to benefit all within the education system.  Specifically it offers insight into the experiences and struggles of children who are often excluded or considered 'difficult' and how neglecting emotional aspects involved in the learning process disadvantages both learners and teachers. These insights offer creative and sensible ways to facilitate learning. The thesis is a highly original piece of academic work whilst also having very practical and beneficial application, an unusual harmony." Carol Tindall in 2007 Director, MSc Psychology and Counselling Division of Psychology & Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University


"The research and practice journey Jenny has taken during her PhD encompasses three aims...First, the work Jenny has engaged in throughout her PhD arises from practical issues, which have been subsequently researched and now can be re-embedded back into practice. Second, Jenny has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to disseminating work as she has been immersed in the PhD.  Third, as Jenny comes from the practitioner world but engages in praxis, she is well positioned to continue this mentoring and developing of research into practice." Dr. Rebecca Lawthom 2007 Professor , Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University


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