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Personal profile



Dr John Gordon is a Reader in English Education, a UEA University Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He was awarded a British Academy Mid-career Fellowship in 2016. He is co-convenor of the English in Education special interest group for the British Educational Research Association, and a member of the editorial board for English in Education.


Research and research supervision
John’s research and teaching focus on language, narrative, voice and identities. He is particularly interested in vernacular expression and orality in relation to learning, learning conversations around texts, and what formal education can learn from informal conversation and interaction.
His current research projects examine shared experiences of reading novels in formal education and in public book groups, and explore community heritage through interdisciplinary arts-based research comprising oral history, film-making and drama.
John welcomes research applications related to any of the areas detailed above, as well as proposals researching education and poetry, drama, the expressive arts, creativity, culture and cultural capital, literacy, curricular issues, pedagogy, teacher identities and teacher development. He can also support empirical research of classroom language and interaction in any discipline.
John has expertise in several research methods and theories including narrative research methods, conversation and discourse analysis, positioning theory, interextuality, oral history and life history methods. In his publications, he has developed innovative methods for analysing conversations in education and the relationships between talk and learning, especially around learning resources.
In doctoral supervision, John has worked with students researching areas as diverse as teachers’ career trajectories, international literacy assessments, institutionalised violence in schooling, using poetry in second language learning, and the interpretation of national policy in a secondary school English department. John’s own doctoral research considered teaching and learning with poetry in schools, focussed on how children respond to poetry they hear.


John’s specialisms in teaching focus on first-language learning in English and literary studies. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher-educator and leads current Masters modules on Shared Literary Reading (MA  Education Practice and Research) and Key Concepts in Education (MA Learning, Pedagogy and Assessment). He is a supervisor for EDU’s Doctorate in Education (EdD) and for post-doctoral (PhD) research. He makes regular contributions to initial teacher education programmes at UEA and at other universities, and to continuing professional development for teachers.
John joined the School of Education and Lifelong Learning after working as a secondary phase teacher of English and Media Studies for several years, in Norfolk and Suffolk schools. Since joining UEA he has acted as the school’s Director of Teaching and Learning and director of UEA’s Secondary PGCE(M) partnership. From 2000 to 2019 he led the Secondary English PGCE(M) programme. John also taught on the BA in Education.


Publications and research awards
John’s research publications have addressed teaching and learning in English education, particularly literary response in the classroom, and teacher knowledge and expertise. He has published work in both areas in the books A Pedagogy of Poetry and Teaching English in Secondary Schools. His most recent book publication is Researching Interpretive Talk Around Literary Narrative Texts: Shared Novel Reading (Routledge, 2020).
He has published widely in international peer-reviewed journals (Classroom Discourse, Curriculum Journal, L1 Educational Studies in Language and Literature), including the journals English in Education for the National Association for Teachers of English and the international perspective English Teaching: Practice and Critique. He contributed the chapter on ‘Literacy Across the Curriculum’ to the book Preparing to Teach in Secondary Schools (Second and Third editions).
John has a record of successful research grant applications, receiving funding awards to lead education research for the Council for British Teachers, the Department for Education (formerly via the Training and Develop Agency), the British Academy and the Heritage Fund. He has also acted as a co-applicant for projects exploring students’ behaviour in schools and contributing resources to the Teacher Training Resource Bank.


Partnerships and collaboration
John has brokered and developed collaborations and partnerships with numerous renowned organisations nationally and locally, including the British Library, the English & Media Centre, the BBC, the British Film Institute, Into Film, Norwich City Football Club and The History of Advertising Trust. He has provided consultancy services for retail companies and for the arts and culture sector. He has extensive experience as an external examiner in higher education, having examined for Queen’s University Belfast, Brunel University, the University of Southampton, Leicester University and the University of St Mark and St John.




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or