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PhD, CPsychol, SFHEA, AFBPS
Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
+44 (0)1865 482584
Marston Road Site
My research focuses on understanding psychological factors that affect human growth and development, particularly in relation to education and wellbeing.
As a Principal Lecturer Student Experience, my research is concerned with supporting students to develop identities that promote engagement and learning. Please see www.brookes.ac.uk/SIIP for teaching resources
Winner: University Alliance Braveheart Award (2021)
Finalist: Oxford University Press and British Psychological Society Higher Education Psychology Teacher of the Year Award (2021)
Team Finalists: Pearson HE Innovate Teaching, Learning and Student Support Awards, Program team award for ‘Most innovative approach to widening participation in the curriculum’ (2021)
Winner: Student Union Led Teaching Awards Best Academic Advisor (2017-18)
Nominee: Student Union Led Teaching Awards Best Taught Module, and Best Academic Advisor (2018-19)
Nominee: Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence with the Brookes Student Research Launchpad Project (2019)
Committee Member: Student Research Launchpad
Module lead: Human Growth and Development, Research Methods (UG and PG), Dissertation Supervisor (UG and PG), Academic advisor
I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students who would like to work broadly within of my areas of interest in Developmental and Educational Psychology, Social Work, Children and Families, and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Specific topics may include resilience in social workers, experiences of racism, and the student-as-consumer approach in higher education. Please see 'Research' for more information.
Current PhD students
Josie Jacobs Developing a wellbeing and resilience programme for parents of Key Stage 1 primary school children
Factors affecting human growth and development, particularly in relation to education and wellbeing:
Supporting students who experience racial discrimination in higher education - working towards equality of outcomes
Resilience and wellbeing of social work students and social workers in the UK and Burundi, Africa
The student-as-consumer approach in higher education: effects on staff and student motivation, autonomy and performance
Impact of engaging in fantasy on creative performance in children and adults (collaboration with Dr Jacqueline Woolley, University of Texas at Austin, and Dr Elizabeth Boerger, Slippery Rock University, and The Science Museum, London).
Children's perspectives of museum objects (collaboration with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History)
Children's understanding of the fantasy-reality distinction (collaboration with Prof. Margaret Harris, Prof. Paul Harris, Harvard)
Understanding the electric vehicle driver's experience - a user perspective (collaboration with Prof. Margaret Harris, Dr Mark Burgess, and Dr Naomi King).
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange Network (Steering Group Member)
Prevention Science Research Group
Children and Families Research Group
2020: Oxford Brookes University Teaching Innovation Project (£3000)
2019: Social Prescribing Public Health England via Citizens Advice North Oxon and South Northants (£9000)
2019: Global Challenges Collaborative Research Award to investigate resilience in social work students in Burundi, Africa, and the UK (£11,300)
2018: Action for Children: Evidence review of mental health and the early years in the UK, with Prof. Jane Appleton and Sarah Howcutt (£8,000)
2017: Oxford Brookes University Teaching and Learning Project Scheme, Supporting engagement and academic success in BME students (£3,000)
2016: Oxford Brookes University, Building academic success and resilience in social work students using a self-determination theory approach (with Jill Childs and Adam Lonsdale) (£5,000)
2016: British Psychological Society, Undergraduate Research Assistantship. The impact of engaging in fantasy on cognition in children and adults (£1,600)
2015: The University of Winchester Learning and Teaching Award: Staff perceptions of the student-as-consumer approach in Higher Education and implications for pedagogy (£2,000)
2014: Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society, International Collaboration Scheme (£1,500)
2010: British Academy, Small Research Grant with Prof. Westermann. Young children's understanding of the fantasy/reality distinction: Perceptual or conceptual processing? (£7150)
My research in the media
Forest School provision is a growing phenomenon in the UK due to its perceived impact on participant learning and wellbeing. This study sought to understand the impact of Forest School provision on the social and emotional development of participants using practitioner’s reflections. Semi-Structured interviews with six qualified Forest School Leaders explored practitioner experiences working with children and young people. A thematic analysis with a social-constructionist epistemology revealed three interrelated themes, which are inherent in the Forest School ethos. These themes show Forest Schools to be micro-communities constructed by participants.
The study concluded that Forest School micro-communities are established by each Forest School that is formed. These micro-communities contribute to the social and emotional development of children and young people through the construction of a shared space, fostering a sense of community and a shared power paradigm between leaders and participants.
Purpose – Student loyalty is important if universities are to stay in business by recruiting and retainingsatisfied students who provide positive evaluations of their university to others. The current study employed atheoretical framework established by consumer researchers to test the hypothesis that university socialresponsibility (USR) would predict student loyalty, but that this relation would be mediated by perceivedservice quality, student satisfaction, and student trust in their university.Design/methodology/approach – Fee-paying university students in Pakistan (n 5 608) completed aquestionnaire to assess their perception of USR and service quality, their satisfaction with and trust in theiruniversity, and loyalty toward their university.Findings – Structural equation modelling with partial least squares software supported the hypotheses thathigher perceived USR would be related to higher student loyalty, and that this relation would be mediated byperceived service quality, student satisfaction, and student trust.Originality/value – This study provides a novel contribution to the limited literature on USR and its relationswith student loyalty. Several models have previously examined the relation between corporate socialresponsibility and general consumer loyalty, but these have limited applicability to the education sector. Thedata in this study support a model showing that USR supports student loyalty through its positive impact onperceptions of service quality, student satisfaction, and student trust. The findings suggest that USR could be a marketing tool that supports student loyalty, as long as USR initiatives increase students’ perceptions ofservice quality, satisfaction and trust in their university.
Fantasy orientation (FO) in childhood has previously been investigated in binary terms, with play being categorised as fantastical or not. This study examined the relation between FO and creativity by considering FO on a linear-type scale, with 0 = reality-oriented (e.g., playing basketball), 1 = possible fantasy (e.g., having a pretend tea party), 2 = improbable fantasy (e.g., pretending an alligator is hiding under the bed), and 3 = impossible fantasy (e.g., pretending to be a unicorn). Seventy-two 4- to 7-year-old children completed verbal, physical, and artistic creativity tests, and an FO interview. FO was only positively related to physical creativity when measured in binary terms. However, it positively related to both verbal and physical creativity when measured using the four-point scale, although, FO remained unrelated to artistic creativity. Future work could use this more nuanced coding of children’s FO to explore further the potential relations between FO and creativity.
Background. The marketisation of higher education (HE), which positions students as consumers and academics as service providers, may adversely affect students’ motivation for learning and academics’ motivation for teaching. According to self-determination theory (SDT), high-quality forms of motivation are achieved when individuals experience fulfilment of three psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Aims. This study applied SDT to examine academics’ perceptions of whether the marketized HE context in England, UK, supported or undermined these three psychological needs for their students and for themselves. It also examined their perceptions of the impact that this context had on their teaching. Sample. Participants were 10 academics teaching at five post-1992 higher education institutions in England, UK. Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and subsequently analyzed using thematic analysis. Results. Academics observed that students identifying as consumers seemed to display lower levels of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. This contributed to an HE environment that diminished the academics’ own psychological needs. Although some felt able to improve student motivation through their teaching, others felt demotivated and disempowered by top-down pressure from managers and bottom-up pressure from students. Conclusions. The marketized HE context may undermine high-quality motivation for students’ learning and academics’ teaching. Academics should be supported to teach in ways that facilitate competence, autonomy, and relatedness in their students and themselves.
The marketization of higher education and focus on graduate employability and earnings data has raised questions about how students perceive their roles and responsibilities while studying for their degree. Of particular concern is the extent to which students identify themselves as consumers of their higher education, for example, whether they view their degree as a purchasable commodity to improve future earnings. This is because research has found that a stronger consumer identity is related to lower academic performance. This study examined whether this relation could be explained by the impact of a consumer identity on the extent to which students adopt deep, surface or strategic approaches to learning. The hypotheses were that the relation between consumer identity and academic performance would be mediated by approaches to learning, whereby a consumer identity would be related to adopting a more surface approach, a less deep approach and less strategic approach. Undergraduates completed an online questionnaire that assessed the extent to which they identified as a consumer, their approaches to learning and academic performance. The analysis partly supported the hypotheses: a stronger consumer identity was related to a more surface approach to learning. However, a surface approach to learning did not mediate the relation between consumer identity and academic performance. Conversely, a deep approach to learning mediated the relation between consumer identity and academic performance, whereby a stronger consumer identity was related to lower academic performance through its negative impact on a deep approach to learning. There was no relation between consumer identity and strategic approach to learning. Implications of students identifying themselves as consumers of their higher education are discussed.
British university students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are less likely to achieve a ‘good’ degree classification than white students, despite taking prior attainment into account. To examine this gap, the current study conducted focus groups with 17 BME students studying health and social care related subjects to understand their experiences of learning and teaching. This was theoretically informed by self-determination theory, which proposes that achieving one’s full potential for learning, alongside experience of wellbeing, is supported by environments that help individuals to meet their needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy. Thematic analysis revealed that BME students encountered many obstacles that inhibited their experience of fulfilment of these three needs, which often undermined their initial desire to achieve their full potential. The findings are discussed in light of how universities can support BME students to achieve their full potential, and in doing so, address the BME attainment gap.
Social workers in the UK experience higher levels of burnout compared with other healthcare professionals, making it important to understand how they can develop resilience to protect themselves from psychological distress. The current study aimed to deepen our understanding of the psychological predictors of resilience, which include emotional intelligence, reflective ability, social competence, and empathy, using self-determination theory. This theory suggests that fulfilment of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness will support resilience and protect against distress. We expected these needs to explain additional variance in resilience and distress beyond other emotional and social competencies. Analysis of questionnaire data from 211 social work students in the UK provided partial support for these hypotheses. Autonomy, competence, and relatedness were significantly positively correlated with resilience, and hierarchical regression analysis revealed that they explained somewhat more variance in resilience than previous factors alone (p=.06). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness explained significantly more variance than previous factors alone in psychological distress, although only autonomy and competence correlated with less psychological distress. Unexpectedly, relatedness correlated with more psychological distress. Furthermore, resilience played a mediating role between key variables and psychological distress. Implications for supporting the development of resilience in social work students are discussed.
In higher education in the UK, there is an unnecessary and inequitable attainment gap of approximately 15% between the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) students and white students who receive a first class or upper second class degree. The aim of this study was to explore whether BME students experienced structural inequalities in teaching and learning that thwarted the extent to which they experienced satisfaction of their need for autonomy, which may contribute to the existence of an attainment gap. Three focus groups were conducted to explore these issues with 17 BME students studying at one UK university. They were all female, aged between 18–50 years, and most described their ethnicity as Black African. Thematic analysis combining an inductive and deductive approach generated two themes: lack of satisfaction of the need for autonomy, and satisfaction of the need for autonomy. All students predominantly discussed situations in which they felt unable to behave in ways that were concordant with their true sense of self, due to factors including course material that did not address diverse cultural issues and negative stereotypes held by students and staff. They described how this often led to a sense of isolation, diminished motivation, and lower wellbeing. In contrast, some students described specific lectures in which diversity was discussed in a way that satisfied their need for autonomy. Implications for teaching are discussed.
The UK government has made substantial investments in electric transport as a potential means of reducing CO2 emissions (DoECC, 2012). This paper investigates responses to recharging plug-in battery electric vehicles from the perspective of electric vehicle (EV) drivers. Drivers in the UK Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle trial (n = 135, 29% female, M = 47 years) completed questionnaires and were interviewed to assess their attitudes and experiences before they obtained their EV and after driving the EV for 3 months. The results demonstrated that drivers were positive about recharging – preferring it to ‘refuelling’ – and they became more relaxed over time about the frequency of recharging. Drivers managed without using a public charging infrastructure although such an infrastructure may be desirable to promote EV use. Finally, there was an interesting difference in drivers’ awareness of the environmental impact of driving and recharging an EV before and after the trial in relation to CO2 emissions and the energy cycle. The results are discussed in relation to the implications for developing the future EV market.
The socio-political context in which learning takes place has a significant impact on students’ ‘experience’ in higher education. In England, UK, and other countries such as Australia and the United States of America, the influence of neoliberalism has extended to higher education; as a result, individual students, not the state, have become responsible for its cost. This act of commercialisation transforms students into consumers and universities into service providers. It challenges the traditional roles of students and academics by placing different emphases and new demands on learning and teaching. Within this context, this chapter discusses research examining how commercialisation may impact some aspects of the student experience, including academic performance, motivation for learning, and how academics perceive the effects of commercialisation on students and themselves. This chapter also considers the experience of a specific group of students—those from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Much of the research discussed is underpinned by a theory of motivation, self-determination theory. This theory is supported by empirical research showing that when our psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are met, we experience optimal forms of motivation to achieve our goals and have greater wellbeing. Unfortunately, the environment created by the commodification of higher education may cause conflict between what students think they want as consumers with what they need as learners, which undermines motivation for learning and academic success. These findings are discussed in light of implications for facilitating student engagement, experience, and learning, with resources provided at www.brookes.ac.uk/SIIP.
This chapter explores the relation between imagination and creativity, with an emphasis on its origins and development. We discuss different models of creativity, debates about its nature, and different ways of measuring both imagination and creativity. The bulk of the chapter reviews empirical studies with children, both correlational and experimental, and we conclude from these studies that, although the evidence is promising with regard to uncovering a causal relation between imagination and creativity, there is still much work to be done. We report our own research exploring how the content of children's imagination may play an important role in relation to creativity and also discuss our findings on the effects of various personality variables on adult creativity. We conclude with directions for future research.
Bunce discusses the impact of students being defined as ‘consumers’ of their higher education. The chapter first considers when and why students came to be defined as consumers in England and Wales, UK, and then reflects upon the advantages and disadvantages associated with treating students as consumers of their education. This discussion includes the perspectives of both students and academic staff, and reviews empirical evidence about the effects of students themselves identifying as consumers on their approaches to learning and academic performance. The chapter concludes with a summary of the challenges for universities when listening to the student as consumer voice and emphasises the importance of striking a balance between making students feel heard, while resisting the notion that ‘the customer is always right’.
Research co-produced with my students over several years provided the first empirical evidence regarding the negative impacts on learning of students identifying as consumers. This work has culminated in the recent development and successful validation of a teaching resource (see www.brookes.ac.uk/SIIP) to support students’ motivation for learning by enabling them to critically reflect on the extent to which they identify as consumers. Our first publication on this topic (Bunce et al., 2017) found that a consumer identity is associated with lower academic attainment, and it is the highest cited paper in this area (371 citations according to Google Scholar). The open-access teaching resource has already been adopted by several universities nationally and internationally.
Joseph-Green, H. & Bunce, L. (Spring, 2017) To imagination and beyond…my experience as a BPS research assistant. Developmental Psychology Forum, British Psychological Society, 85, 16-17.
Baird, A. & Bunce, L. (2016) To what extent do undergraduates perceive themselves as learners or consumers? ALFRED, 5, 8-15
Shaw, S., Bunce, L. & Kotttasz, R. (2014) Recommendations to inform the setting up of regional e-mobility information centres. E- Mobility NSR, Workload Package 6.8
Shaw, S. & Bunce, L. (2014) Mapping public and private gaps in the electric vehicle market. E-Mobility NSR, Workload Package 6.6 Visit the E-Mobility website
Bunce, L. (2014, Jan) “The Butler” A poignant history lesson. The Psychologist
Bunce, L. & Westermann, G. (Spring 2010) Babylabs: What can they tell us about development? Developmental Psychology Forum, British Psychological Society.
Bunce, L. (2007) Children's understanding of distinctions between real and not-real. PhD Thesis. Oxford Brookes University.
Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol)
Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS)
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
In the past I have conducted consultancy for Action for Children, OASIS Art, Disneyland Paris, and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
I am available for consultancy in areas broadly related to my teaching and research.
Beck, S. R., Whalley, C., Bunce, L. & Lagaha, S. (2021) Can priming spatial distance improve children’s ability to innovate tools? Symposium presentation at Society for Research in Child Development, Online
Invited speaker: Bunce, L. (2020) How can we meet the needs of students as ‘learners’ and ‘consumers’ in post-pandemic higher education? The Higher Education Sector in the Post Pandemic Landscape, online
Invited keynote speaker: Warwick University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference (2020)
Foxcroft, D., Howcutt, S., Matley, S., Bunce, L. & Davies, E. (2019) Testing social status and family socialisation hypotheses of alcohol use in Norwegian young people: a causal mediation analysis. Poster presentation at 10th European Society for Prevention Research. Ghent, Belgium.
Boerger, E., Woolley, J. & Bunce, L. (2019) Development and validation of a creative thinking task for young children, Poster presentation at Cognitive Development Society Biennial Conference, Louisville, KY
Talib, S., Bunce, L., King, N. & Saran, S. (2019) Experiences of BME students at university and implications for academic success: an application of self-determination theory. Talk at Department for Education, University of Oxford Inclusivity Conference STORIES.
Invited speaker: Westminster Insights Policy Forum, Student consumers (2018)
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S. & Talib, S. (2018) Understanding experiences of black and minority ethnic students: implications for academic success. Talk at Access and Participation across the student lifecycle: highs and lows of research and practice conference, Reading, UK.
Bunce, L. & King, N. (2018) Academics’ perception of attitudes towards learning in undergraduate student 'consumers': a self-determination theory approach. Talk at the British Psychological Society Education Section Annual Conference, Oxford.
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S. & Talib, S. (2018) Understanding the psychological needs of black and minority ethnic students at university. Talk at the British Psychological Society Education Section Annual Conference, Oxford.
Bunce, L. & Bennett, M. (2018) A degree of studying? Approaches to learning and academic performance among undergraduate student ‘consumers’. Talk at the British Psychological Society Education Section Annual Conference, Oxford.
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S. & Talib, S. (2018) Inclusive learning and teaching practices to enhance academic achievement for black and minority ethnic students in social work. Talk at Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, Canterbury.
Bunce, L. (2018) Research-informed practice? How to co-produce research with social work students in the classroom. Talk at Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, Canterbury.
Bunce, L., Lonsdale, A., King, N., Childs, J. & Bennie, R. (2018) Emotional intelligence and self-determined behaviour reduce psychological distress: Interactions with resilience in social work students in the UK. Talk at Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, Canterbury.
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S., Sheriff, M. & Talib, S. (2018) Understanding the psychological needs of black and minority ethnic students at university. Talk at the British Psychological Society Division of Academics, Researchers, and Teachers in Psychology Inaugural Annual Conference, Birmingham.
Bunce, L. & King, N. (2018) How do academics respond to student ‘consumers’? An exploration using self-determination theory. Talk at the British Psychological Society Division of Academics, Researchers, and Teachers in Psychology Inaugural Annual Conference, Birmingham.
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S., Sheriff, M., Talib, S. & Bell, J. (2018) Learning and teaching to enhance academic achievement among black and minority ethnic students. Talk at Oxford Brookes University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Oxford.
Bunce, L. (2018) Perception of value for money and educational engagement in undergraduate students. Talk at Oxford Brookes University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Oxford.
Beck, S., Whalley, C., Cutting, N. & Bunce, L. (2018) Tool innovation, manufacture, and use in evolutionary, ontogenetic, and neurocognitive perspectives. Symposia at the 26th Conference of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Rijeka, Croatia.
Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S., Childs, J. & Sheriff, M. (2018) Understanding the psychological needs of black and minority ethnic social work students at university. Poster presentation, Talk at CRISOWO Professional Social Work and Sustainable Development in Africa, Rwanda.
Bunce, L., Lonsdale, A., King, N., Childs, J. & Bennie, R. (2018) Resilience and psychologicalwellbeing in social work students: supporting social work education in challenging times. Talk at CRISOWO Professional Social Work and Sustainable Development in Africa, Rwanda.
Beck, S., Whalley, C., Cutting, N. & Bunce, L. (2018) Social and psychological contexts for tool-innovation Poster presentation at Eighth Annual Budapest CEU (Central European University) Conference on Cognitive Development, Hungary.
Chair Elect, Psychology of Education Section of the British Psychological Society (2021-22)
External Examiner, Birmingham City University (2021-)
Committee member: Joint University Council for Social Work Education and Research Committee (2017-
Co-Editor Psychology Teaching Review (2020-
Mentor: Feminist Leadership in Science (FELISE) (2020-2021)
You can book me to give a talk about my areas of interest https://www.speakezee.org/speaker/profile/307/louise-bunce
See my website containing teaching resources on inclusion and identities www.brookes.ac.uk/SIIP
Advance HE How can we become anti-racist?: a guide
WonkHE Imagining a more flexible post-pandemic university
A degree of studying
Learning versus Earning
How to build creativity
Collaboration with myself and a writer, Deborah Fielding, who wrote a short story inspired by research entitled 'Is it real?' https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/projects/science-writes-to-life/louise-bunce-and-deborah-fielding/
Follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/l_bunce or connect with me on linked in https://uk.linkedin.com/in/lbunce, researchgate https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Louise_Bunce and academia https://oxfordbrookes.academia.edu/LouiseBunce
Google scholar profile https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=ihpyOoMAAAAJ&hl=en&authuser=2
The British Psychological Society - the regulatory body for Psychologists in the UK.
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