Dr Joan Woodhouse SFHEA MBPsS

Dr Joan SmithAssociate Professor of Education

MBA (Leicester), PhD (Leeds)

Tel: 0116 252 3696
Email: jms32@le.ac.uk

Personal details


MBA (Leicester), PhD (Leeds)

Initially a community-based teacher of English as a Second Language, I subsequently taught modern foreign languages and held a range of middle and senior leadership posts in urban, 11-18 comprehensive schools over a period of almost 20 years. Throughout my school teaching career,  I was involved in pastoral work and running extra-curricular activities for young people.  This included organising regular trips to Europe and leading a youth theatre.

In my later role as Senior Lecturer in Secondary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, I was responsible for the dual certification programme PGCE (mfl) with Maîtrise FLE (Français Langue Etrangère), offered via a partnership arrangement with Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale. I also worked as an associate PGCE tutor (mfl) for the University of Nottingham, and as co-ordinator and teacher of French on the ‘Languages at Leicester’ programme. Prior to taking up my current post in the School of Education, I was Postgraduate Training Co-ordinator, responsible for the provision of research skills training for doctoral students university-wide.

I am currently Associate Professor of Education. Outside the University, I am a member of the British Educational Research Association, the British Educational Leadership, Management and Adminstration Society and the British Psychological Society, including specialist sub-sections on the Psychology of Women and Qualitative Research methods.  I am associate editor for Educational Management Administration and Leadership and a member of the editorial board for Management in Education. 


I teach students following the Master's in International Education programme, both campus based and distance learning.  I supervise doctoral students and Master's dissertation students.   I have a strong interest in developing pedagogies for teaching research methods and critical writing to postgraduate students.


Selected recent publications

Woodhouse, J. & Pedder, D. (2017) Early career teachers’ perceptions and experiences of leadership development: balancing structure and agency in contrasting school contexts, Research Papers in Education, DOI:10.1080/02671522.2016.1225794

Smith, J., Wood, P., Lewis, G. & Burgess, H. (2016) Critical friendship as a pedagogical strategy, in V. Storey (Ed) International Perspectives on Designing Professional Practice Doctorates: Applying the Critical Friends Approach to theEdD and Beyond Florida: Palgrave Macmillan

Wood, P. & Smith, J. (2016) Educational Research: taking the plunge Camarthen: Independent Thinking Press Limited

Smith, J. (2015) Motherhood and women teachers’ career decisions: a constant battle in J. Harford and K. Fuller (Eds) Gender and leadership: women achieving against the odds Oxford: Peter Lang

Smith, J. (2015) Gendered trends in student teachers’ professional aspirations Educational Management Administration and Leadership 43 (6): 861-882

View a full list of publications.


My research interests include gender and leadership, and teachers' lives and careers. I am also engaged in pedagogical research focussed on developing postgraduate students' critical writing skills and methodological understanding. I have a particular interest in narrative research and feminist perspectives on Education.

Current research projects

Developing doctoral students' critical writing skills through peer assessment

This project, which is funded by HEA Social Sciences (Teaching Research Methods) and the University of Leicester College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, focuses on effective pedagogies to enable doctoral students to develop critical writing skills through their engagement in peer assessment and review.  Students volunteered to take part in an intensive critical writing weekend when they were engaged in peer assessment activity.  The weekend culminated in students forming an editorial board and creating their own online journal 'The Bridge', written for and by EdD students.  We have recently engaged in a third phase of data analysis, in order to ascertain the long-term impact of the project on students' learning.

Reflecting on an era of reform: older teachers' insights on school sector restructuring and teachers' work

This project is funded by the University of Leicester College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  Using career life history interviews, we are investigating older (50+) teachers' perceptions of the impact on their work of the last 20-30 years of policy change in the schools sector.

Topics available for doctoral supervision include:

  • Women teachers
  • Teachers' and headteachers’ careers
  • Gender and leadership
  • Women’s and girls’ experiences of school

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