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Professor Jonathan Tummons


BA (Hons); MA; PGCE; MEd; PhD.

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Professor in the School of EducationED309 
Acting Deputy Executive Dean, Education and Student Experience (until 31 August 2023) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


I am an ethnographer of education, and am interested in using ethnographic methods to explore the everyday practices of students and teachers in a variety of contexts in higher and further education.

My current research draws on the recent work of Bruno Latour (his Modes of Existence project) within education research (I have written blogs about this ongoing research which you can find here and here). I have published extensively in this field and the most recent papers can be found here, here and here. Other elements of my work also draws on communities of practice theory (the focus of my books Communities of Practice in Further and Adult Education and Learning Architectures in Higher Education); and actor-network theory (my most recent work using ANT can be found here.)

Between 2013 and 2020 I was co-investigator for three funded projects led by Professor Anna MacLeod, Dalhousie University, Canada: "Becoming a Professional Through Distributed Learning: a Sociomaterial Ethnography" and "Medical Education in a Digital Age: an institutional ethnography". These were three-year research projects funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. I was also part of the research team for "Cadaver as Practice" - also led by Anna MacLeod and funded by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

I also research and write about professionalism and professional standards in teacher education, with specific reference to the post-compulsory education sector in England. This is the focus of a book that I have recently edited. My research has recently been featured in a report from the OECD (you can download the OECD report here.) I am a member of the Ofsted Further Education and Skills Research Reference Group, a platform to inform and advise concerning research relevant to the Ofsted inspection framework for the Further Education and Skills sector: you can read the first report from the group here.) I am also a member of the advisory panel for the Ofsted reliability study for assessing the quality of provision within Further Education colleges.

I am currently teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules relating to ethnographic research in education, social practice theory, curriculum theory, and qualitative research methodologies.

I sit on the organising committee for the Oxford Ethnography and Education conference, and am happy to hear from anyone who is interested in presenting their work there.

Completed supervisions

‘Fish out of water?’ A case study exploring low-income students’ experiences of an elite university.

The Study of Teacher Written Feedback: The Effectiveness of Electronic Feedback on Student Writing Revisions.

Graduating from care: A narrative study of care leavers' journeys into and through university

The Formative Potential of Standards-Based Grades and Report Cards.

An Examination of How Teachers Operationalise Formative and Summative Assessment.

Student learning experiences in higher education in Hong Kong:
An investigation of students’ experiences of academic engagement in relation to the affective dimension of learning.

Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

I would be pleased to hear from potential research students with an interest in conducting research in matters relating to learning, teaching and/or assessment in further, higher or adult education; I am also interested to hear from prospective students who are interested in employing communities of practice, literacy as social practice or actor-network theory approaches within these or other subject areas.

Research interests

  • Further, Higher and Adult Education
  • Professional learning and development
  • Communities of Practice
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Modes of Existence

Esteem Indicators

  • 0000: Editing: I am the incoming deputy editor of ;Ethnography and Education and am an associate editor for Higher Education Research and Development. I am reviews editor for ;Studies in the Education of Adults.

    I am also a member of the editorial boards for ;Higher Education Quarterly, ;Research in Post-Compulsory Education ;and Studies in the Education of Adults.

  • 0000: External Examining and Advising: I have ;recently examined PhD and EdD theses at the universities of East Anglia, Exeter, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Leicester, Newcastle, Plymouth, ;and for Canberra and Griffith [Australia]. Other external roles have included: University of Central Lancashire (external examiner for Doctorate in Education); Universities of Derby and Greenwich (external examiner for PGCE (PCET)); Open University (external advisor for Childhood and Youth qualifications).
  • 0000: Invited Conference Papers: Curriculum as Accomplishment: Tracing human and non-human actors in the delivery of educational curricula. Presented at Le Sujet de L’Acteur. An anthropological outlook on Actor Network Theory. Centre for Advanced Studies, Univeristy of Cologne, 2013. The papers from this symposium were published in 2014 and details are available here.

    Breaking Boundaries? Interdisciplinary perspectives on using technology for learning and participation in society [ESRC-funded seminar series]. Department of Education and Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, 2014.

    ICTs and the Internet as Field and Framework. Presented at ;Rethinking Educational Ethnography. University of ;Borås, 2015. Selected papers from this conference were published in 2017 and details are available here.

  • 0000: Peer reviewing: Studies in Higher Education; Higher Education Research and Development; International Journal of Educational Research; Ethnography and Education; Culture, Pedagogy and Society; Research in Post-Compulsory Education; Medical Education; Critical Studies in Education; ;International Journal of Lifelong Education; Social Epistemology; Critical Studies in Education; Education for Primary Care; British Educational Research Journal.
  • 0000: Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy:


Authored book

  • Tummons, Jonathan (2022). Exploring Communities of Practice in Further and Adult Education. Routledge.
  • Tummons, J. (2018). Learning Architectures in Higher Education - Beyond Communities of Practice. Bloomsbury.
  • Tummons, J. & Ingleby, E. (2014). The A-Z of Lifelong Learning. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.
  • Curzon, L.B. & Tummons, J. (2013). Teaching in Further Education: an outline of principles and practice. London: Continuum.
  • Tummons, J., Orr, K. & Atkins, L. (2013). Teaching Higher Education Courses in Further Education Colleges. London: SAGE/Learning Matters.
  • Duckworth, V., Flanagan, K., McCormack, K & Tummons, J. (2012). Understanding Behaviour 14+. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.
  • Tummons, J. & Duckworth, V. (2012). Doing your research project in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.
  • Tummons, J. (2011). Assessing Learning in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters.
  • Powell, S. & Tummons, J. (2011). Inclusive Practice in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters.
  • Tummons, J. (2010). Becoming a Professional Tutor in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters.
  • Duckworth, V. & Tummons, J. (2010). Contemporary Issues in Lifelong Learning. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.
  • Tummons, J. (2009). Curriculum Studies in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

  • Kits, O., Angus, C., Macleod, A & Tummons, J. (2013), Open access to qualitative grant data in an interdisciplinary Canadian ethnographic research study, 12: 19th Qualitative Health Research Conference. University of Alberta, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, University of Alberta, Edmonton 785-786.

Edited book

  • Russell, L, Barley, R & Tummons, J (2022). Ethics, Ethnography and Education. Studies in Educational Ethnography. Emerald Publishing.
  • Tummons, J. (2020). PCET: Learning and Teaching in the Post Compulsory Sector. Sage/Learning Matters.
  • Tummons, J. (2018). Professionalism in Post-Compulsory Education and Training: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Journal Article

Supervision students