A university lecturer has won an award for her unusual research approach at the BERA Conference 2018 at Northumbria University.
Tracy Hayes, a lecturer in Health, Psychology and Social Studies at the University of Cumbria received the ‘Anna Craft Creativity in Education Award’ for her paper ‘Responsive, Responsible Research: Lexi's Story’ which uses story-telling techniques to share research findings in an engaging and easy way to understand.
“Story-telling is the oldest method of communication used by different cultures for centuries to convey information. The narrative format is so much more engaging and interactive than other methods used to present research data and I use everyday language so everybody can understand it,” said Tracy.
“It can be difficult to make a connection with people on a personal level. Using this method makes it easier to engage and inspire them to appreciate their surroundings and decide on the things they can do on an individual level to protect the environment.”
Before working at the University of Cumbria, Tracy studied a PhD at the university researching the relationship that young people have with the natural environment. Prior to that, she studied a BSc in Natural Sciences and MA in Youth Work and Community Development. As her CV proves, Tracy has always been interested in encouraging young people and their families to get outside.
In fact, Tracy is such a proponent of the outdoors, she took part in Chris Packham’s ‘People’s Walk for Wildlife’, which took place in London at the weekend, to raise awareness of the catastrophic declines in Britain’s plants and animals and things people can do to stop them.
“My work really focuses on the small changes people can make that have a big impact on their environment, such as reducing plastic use, putting bird feeders out in cold weather etc. Using story-telling to get that message across the inspire people to make a change is a really powerful technique.”
In the future, Tracy plans to continue to share her wonder and excitement of being in nature with others so together they can conserve it. Her current project, ‘playing with words, connecting through story’, investigates people’s engagement with nature, focusing on our relationship with predatory animals, and exploring ways to highlight issues in a way that inspires action.