Dr Joan Woodhouse (Smith) 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 and a member of the School of Education senior management team, with responsibility for research environment and doctoral studies. Outside the University, I am an active member of the  British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS), where I have fulfilled a number of key roles, including co-founder of the Gender and Educational Leadership Research Interest Group, book reviews editor and associate editor for the BELMAS journal Educational Management Administration and Leadership (EMAL), and co-editor of its sister journal, Management in Education (MiE).  I am also a member of the  British Educational Research Association, the Society for Research in Higher Education and the British Psychological Society, including specialist sub-sections on the Psychology of Women and Qualitative Research methods.  I have recently joined the British Sociological Association.



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.

Selected recent publications

Woodhouse, J. & Wood, P. (forthcoming) Creating dialogic spaces: developing doctoral students' critical writing skills through peer assessment and review, Studies in Higher Education

Wood, P. & Woodhouse, J. (forthcoming) The temporalities of the writing experience of part-time doctoral students in Education, Chapter 12 in F. Vostal (Ed) Inquiring into academic timescapes, Emerald

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.

Research and current projects

My research interests include gender and leadership, and teachers' lives and careers.  I have a particular interest in narrative research and feminist perspectives on Education.

Reflecting on an era of reform: older teachers' perceptions of the impact of 30 years of policy shift on their daily work

I am currently engaged in a collaborative project investigating older teachers' perceptions of how thirty years of policy shift has impacted on their daily work. This project is jointly funded by the University of Leicester College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Nottingham School of Education.  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.

Developing doctoral students' critical writing skills through peer assessment

I have been recently engaged in pedagogical research focussed on developing postgraduate students' critical writing skills. This project, which was funded by HEA Social Sciences (Teaching Research Methods) and the University of Leicester College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, focused 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 engaged recently in a third phase of data analysis, in order to ascertain the long-term impact of the project on students' learning.

Student teacher mothers' perceptions and experiences of combining PGCE and motherhood

Following a pilot study in which two PGCE students who were mothers were interviewed about their experiences of combining motherhood and initial teacher education, we are devising a wider scale project.  The aim is to interview PGCE primary and secondary students who are mothers about their perceptions of combining the two roles, with a view to considering how the University and partnership schools might work to support them.

Topics available for doctoral supervision include:

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

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