Research Projects - Gill Simpson

Gifts Differing: a survey of personality types and learning styles in undergraduate Theology and Religious Studies students

 (joint with Andrew Village)

The overall aim of the project is to undertake a department-based survey to examine the relationship between personality preferences and learning styles, and the progress and outcomes of students on a Theology and Religious Studies undergraduate programme at YSJU over a three year period.  In particular the survey aims to:

  • Identify the most common personality preferences and learning styles in first year undergraduates
  • Assess the outcomes of the survey against student records (in particular UCAS points and subjects previously undertaken)
  • Chart the progress of a group of volunteers taken from the cohort over a three year period to determine whether there are any changes in the results over the period.

The Educational Use of Holocaust Novels in Higher Education

 (joint with Julian Stern)

  • This article evaluates the use of Holocaust novels in higher education.  Starting from an analysis of the appropriate educational use of literature (other than in literary studies, of course), it explores the value of novels in particular as multi-vocal and as descriptive of large-scale social phenomena.  Those specific qualities of novels make them particularly useful in teaching the Holocaust.  The Holocaust is taught in a number of ways – across a number of disciplines – in higher education, with religious, historical, political and emotional aims, amongst others.  One common approach to teaching the Holocaust uses the perspectives of victims, perpetrators and bystanders, engaging emotional, as well as discipline specific approaches; three novels are offered as possible examples to be used to teach, respectively, about each of these three perspectives. 
  • There are opportunities and challenges in the use of Holocaust novels, including the danger of misrepresenting history and survivor narratives, misrepresenting or misusing the novels, and the various educational, emotional, political and religious challenges.  However, the article presents this approach to novels as, on balance, a good opportunity to learn and, as Kafka says, for a book to be ‘an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us’.
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