MSc Applied Educational & Social ResearchChima Eden

MSc Applied Educational & Social Research student Chima Eden

Chima is a graduate from the MSc Applied Educational & Social Research programme at the University of Strathclyde

Tell us a little bit about your background before beginning the course...

My name is Chima Eden. I was born and raised in Nigeria. I completed my first degree in Law at Madonna University. During my undergraduate studies, I developed a keen interest in the role of education in driving positive change within communities. This motivated me to gravitate in the field of teaching and learning and then I went ahead to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the University of Lagos,

My journey through the Nigerian education system, both as an educator and an administrator, provided me with invaluable insights and it gave me a profound understanding of the multifaceted challenges confronting our educational landscape. I am particularly passionate about exploring issues of equity, wellness, inclusion, and the integration of technology to enhance learning outcomes.

This passion motivated me to embark on a new chapter at the University of Strathclyde, to build upon my previous knowledge and skills. Collaborating with classmates and faculty to gain deeper insights into the latest trends and best practices in applied educational research. My goal is to develop the expertise needed to design and implement impactful studies that can inform policy decisions and drive meaningful change in educational systems, both in Nigeria and globally.

What drew you towards undertaking this degree?

The decision to pursue an MSc in Applied Educational and Social Research at the University of Strathclyde was a natural progression for me, stemming from my deep-seated passion for using research to drive positive change in education.

Throughout my academic and professional experiences in Nigeria, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of evidence-based approaches to addressing educational challenges.

As an educator myself, I have seen the impact that data-driven decision-making can have on improving learning outcomes, especially for marginalized student populations. By leveraging the latest advancements in educational and social research, I believe we can develop innovative, equitable solutions to complex issues such as student engagement, teacher well-being, and access to quality education.

The interdisciplinary curriculum of this MSc program at the University of Strathclyde aligns perfectly with my interests and career aspirations. I was particularly drawn to the program's emphasis on applied research, which I believed will equip me with the practical skills to design and implement impactful studies within real-world educational contexts. Additionally, the opportunity to learn from the esteemed faculty and collaborate with a diverse cohort of students from around the world.

Tell us about the format of the programme. What is a typical working week like?

The MSc in Applied Educational and Social Research at the University of Strathclyde is structured as a full-time, on-campus and a form of blended learning program delivered over the course of 12 months. The curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive foundation, looking at the issues facing educational and social researchers and offers a range of intellectual and practical resources to structure and explore these issues. It allows you to study at times that suit you and the classes are flexible.  The programme will enable you to evaluate, design, conduct, analyse and justify educational and social research. It consists of Core modules, electives, and a substantial dissertation project. Core courses cover topics such as research design, data collection, qualitative and quantitative analysis or other techniques of data analysis, research ethics. Electives which are advance qualitative and advance quantitative allow me to tailor the learning experience to my specific interests.

"A typical working week for me involves a balance of scheduled classes, independent study, and collaborative projects. My classes were twice a week which are morning /afternoon lectures or seminars, where we dive deep into the latest theories and methodologies in educational research. These sessions often involve lively discussions, small group activities, and presentations.

Other days, I typically have time for independent study, essay assignments, literature reviews, and working on my dissertation. I also make use of the well-equipped state-of-the-art library. Additionally, my schedule includes regular meetings with my dissertation supervisor to receive guidance and feedback on my research.

Throughout the week, I also participate in research-related workshops, and networking opportunities. These extracurricular activities allow me to expand my knowledge, build connections, and explore potential career paths."

"One of the highlights of this program so far has been the opportunity to collaborate with my classmates. The process of working together to discuss how to identify research question, develop methodology, collect, and analyse data, and disseminate findings has been incredibly valuable. Not only have I gained hands-on experience in all aspects of the research, but I have also learned effective communication.

Another highlight has been the chance to work closely with my dissertation supervisor, Alastair Wilson. His extensive expertise in educational & social research has challenged me to think critically about the real-world implications of my research. Our one-on-one meetings have provided me with tailored guidance and support, helping me to refine my research topic and sharpen my analytical skills."

Tell us a little bit about your dissertation topic..

"For my dissertation, I conducted an in-depth exploration of anxiety and stress experienced by primary school teachers in Lagos, Nigeria. This topic is deeply meaningful to me, as I have witnessed firsthand the immense challenges and pressures that educators in my home country often face.

The goal of my research was to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key causes of stress and anxiety among this critical group of professionals, as well as the coping mechanisms they employ and potential solutions to address these issues. To achieve this, I undertook a systematic literature review, analysing a wide range of scholarly sources to synthesize both the global and Nigerian perspectives on teacher wellbeing.

Through my analysis, several key themes emerged. I found that primary school teachers in Lagos grapple with a complex interplay of factors that contribute to high levels of stress and anxiety, including heavy workloads, limited administrative support, student behavioural issues, personal financial pressures, and broader societal expectations. These challenges are further exacerbated by contextual realities such as resource constraints and cultural norms within the Nigerian education system.

However, my research also revealed that teachers are not simply passive victims of these circumstances. Many have developed various coping strategies, such as seeking support from colleagues, engaging in self-care practices, and pursuing professional development opportunities. Additionally, the literature pointed to the critical role that institutions, policymakers, and the broader community can play in creating a more nurturing environment for these educators.

Based on these findings, my dissertation proposes a multifaceted approach to addressing anxiety and stress among primary school teachers in Lagos. This includes advocating for targeted policy interventions to alleviate workloads and enhance job resources, facilitating access to mental health support services, and empowering teachers through skills-building programs. Importantly, I also highlight the need to consider the unique cultural and contextual factors that shape the experiences of teachers in this setting.

 I believe this research makes an important contribution to the limited body of literature on teacher wellbeing in the Nigerian context. By centring the lived experiences of primary school educators, my aim is to inspire meaningful, evidence-based action that can cultivate a more supportive, sustainable, and rewarding teaching profession in Lagos and beyond."

What is the academic support at Strathclyde like?

The academic support at the University of Strathclyde has been exceptional throughout my time in the MSc in Applied Educational and Social Research program. From the moment I arrived on campus, I have been impressed by the university's commitment to fostering a nurturing and enriching learning environment for its students.

I was privy to the wide selection of resources accessible on Myplace, the library which is accessible to all students both onsite and online, Learner Development Services (LDS) which also support students in learning and research excellence through one-to-one consultations and online resources. Also, the guidance and mentorship provided by my dissertation supervisor, Alastair Wilson, the one-on-one meetings have been invaluable, as he provided tailored feedback to help me refine my research topic, sharpen my analytical skills, and strengthen the rigor of my methodological approach. He has challenged me to think critically about the real-world implications of my research. Overall, the academic support at the University of Strathclyde has been truly exceptional. From the guidance of renowned faculty to the wealth of resources and opportunities available, I feel incredibly well-equipped to tackle the challenges of my dissertation and emerge as a confident, well-rounded educational researcher. This supportive system has been instrumental in pushing me to grow both academically and personally throughout the program.

What are your future career goals?

My future goal is to leverage the knowledge and skills I have gained from my MSc in Applied Educational and Social Research at the University of Strathclyde to embark on the next chapter of my professional journey. My overarching career goal is to continue my academic pursuit through a PhD and become a highly skilled, culturally responsive educational researcher who can contribute to the global dialogue on promoting equity and excellence in learning.

During this program, I developed a deep passion for using rigorous, data-driven approaches to address complex challenges in educational systems. Through my coursework, research projects, and interactions with esteemed faculty, I will hone my expertise in designing and implementing impactful studies that can inform policy decisions and drive meaningful change.

Looking ahead, I am particularly interested in pursuing research opportunities that explore educational leadership and administration.

Beyond academic research, I also aspire to take on a leadership role in advocating for equitable and inclusive education practices on a global scale. I envision myself collaborating with policymakers, community organizations, and other key stakeholders to translate research insights into sustainable, contextually relevant interventions. Through this multifaceted approach, I hope to make a tangible difference in improving access to quality education for learners around the world.

I am confident that the training and invaluable connections I have gained through this MSc program at the University of Strathclyde has exceptionally prepared me to turn this vision into reality.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for this course?

For someone considering this program, I would advise:

Clearly articulate your motivation when crafting your application, be sure to clearly articulate what has drawn you to this course of study. Admissions committees will want to see a genuine, well-reasoned passion for educational and social research, and how this program aligns with your short and long-term career goals. Reflect deeply on your previous experiences, research interests, and vision for the future to craft a compelling narrative.

Highlight relevant skills and experience, leverage your academic and professional background to demonstrate your preparedness for the rigors of this program. Emphasize any prior research experience, whether through undergraduate projects, work responsibilities, or volunteer initiatives. Additionally, highlight transferable skills such as critical thinking, data analysis, project management, and effective communication - all of which are essential for success in this field.

Reach out to current students and alumni, try to connect with current students or recent alumni of the program. They can provide invaluable, first-hand insights into the curriculum, faculty, campus resources, and overall student experience. This can help you make a more informed decision about whether this program is the right fit for you.

Prepare for a rewarding journey. Be prepared for an intensive, yet deeply rewarding, educational journey. This program will push you to grow both intellectually and personally. Embrace the challenge, be proactive in seeking support, and remain open to new perspectives and ways of thinking. If you are truly passionate about educational research and creating positive change, this program can be transformative.

Overall, my advice is to approach the application process thoughtfully, highlighting your unique qualifications and motivation. With careful preparation and a genuine commitment to the program's mission, you can position yourself as a strong candidate poised to thrive in this challenging, yet incredibly fulfilling, course of study.