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Dr Alison Buckler

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Senior Research Fellow in International Education, and the convenor of the International Teachers, Education and Sustainable Development research group (RITES) at the Open University. I am responsible for the academic direction of this group and, in collaboration with the international education academic director, am currently focused on more strategically embedding research within the university’s international teaching projects in order to extend the evidence base for our practical work and strengthen the group’s collective intellectual narrative.

I lead and co-lead a range of internally and externally-funded projects focusing on education and teacher development in low-resource contexts using visual, creative and collaborative methodologies. I currently lead the research strand of the SAGE (Supporting Adolescent Girls' Education) Programme - a collaboration between the OU and Plan International. This research is using a storytelling approach to map girls' aspirations as they participate in a community education programme. In August 2017 I was awarded funding from the AHRC to develop and lead a network of expert and early career researchers focusing on storytelling approaches for understanding learning exclusions in urban schools in Sub-Saharan Africa (the iBali Network). Other recent studies include: conceptualisations of education for social justice in colleges of education in Ghana (The Spencer Foundation); the impact of different modes of teacher education on the learning outcomes of pupils in rural Malawi (Open University) and; the use of participatory video as a research tool in remote communities (Open University and Humana People to People). I have recently been Co-I on projects which include: the impact of open educational resources on teacher educators' practice in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Mauritius (ROER4D - Freda Wolfenden as PI) and; policies and practices around English medium instruction in Ghana and India (British Council/CBfT - Elizabeth Erling as PI).

I was previously a researcher for the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme, which creates and supports the use of open educational resources (OER) for teachers and teacher educators. My PhD, awarded in 2012, was one of the first studies to apply Amartya Sen’s capability approach to the issue of teacher professional development in low income countries. I developed a new model of professional capability for women teachers in rural Sub-Saharan African schools, which sits at the heart of the book 'Quality teaching and the capability approach: evaluating the work and governance of women teachers in rural Sub-Saharan Africa' (Routledge, 2015).

Research interests

My key area of expertise is in the application of the capability approach to teacher education. My current work focuses on the relationship between the ‘doings and beings’ of teaching, which an analytical application of capabilities can surface, and the notion of ‘becoming’ a teacher which is embedded in socio-cultural learning theories.

My work draws on methodological innovation, and focuses on the possibilities for this in resource-limited contexts, for example creating spaces for storytelling and creative narratives in busy urban schools in South Africa, and the use of film in rural, un-electrified schools in Malawi.

Technology, gender and inclusion are cross-cutting issues in my work.

Teaching interests

I supervise PhD and EdD students, with current studies focusing on teacher reflection in India, community learning hubs in Uganda, teachers and inclusion in northern Nigeria and school leadership and motherhood in the UK. I teach capabilities and development on the inter-university Grand Union Doctoral Training Pathway and have taught seminars on fieldwork and methods on my department’s research methods programme.

I also helped to develop, and worked on, the Masters’ Level Education for Development module.

I prioritise capacity building of new research staff in international projects and have led research methods workshops in Ghana and Zimbabwe.

External collaborations

I have worked with and advised a range of organisations working in international education and teacher development, including Plan International, Plan Zimbabwe, World Vision, Save the Children, Humana People to People (Malawi), Restless Development, The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (South Africa), KEMRI Wellcome Trust (Kenya) and VVOB (Belgium). Much of the work I do with film is in collaboration with Catcher Media Social.

Through my work on TESSA I have collaborated with academics all over Africa, and I worked particularly closely with academic colleagues in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Sudan for an extensive ethnography into teachers’ lives.

The iBali Network brings together experts in storytelling, youth, urban issues and education from across Africa, and globally.

I am the Vice-Chair for the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) and between 2014-2018 led their national funding scheme for student fieldwork.

I am also a member of the Human Capabilities and Development Association, and am on the Review Panel for the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF).


Externally funded projects

English Medium Instruction in Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs); challenges and opportunities in Ghana and India
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Apr 201531 Oct 2016British Council

This research will explore the evidence of the potential of English Medium Instruction (EMI) to improve equity and access to school that results in better educational and life chances, particularly for disadvantaged groups in India and Ghana


Out-of-school girls’ lives in Zimbabwe: what can we learn from a storytelling research approach? (2022)
Buckler, Alison; Chamberlain, Liz; Mkwananzi, Faith; Chigodora, Obert and Dean, Caroline
Cambridge Journal of Education, 52(2) (pp. 195-215)

What Prevents Teacher Educators from Accessing Professional Development OER? Storytelling and Professional Identity in Ugandan Teacher Colleges (2021)
Buckler, Alison; Stutchbury, Kris; Kasule, George; Cullen, Jane and Kaije, Doris
Journal of Learning for Development, 8, Article 1(1) (pp. 10-26)

Being and becoming in teacher education: student-teachers’ freedom to learn in a College of Education in Ghana (2020)
Buckler, Alison
Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 50(6) (pp. 844-864)

[Book Review] Unfolding narratives of Ubuntu in Southern Africa (edited by Julian Müller, John Eliastam and Sheila Trahar) (2020)
Buckler, Alison and Mkwananzi, Faith
Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 50(1) (pp. 150-152)

Celebration, reflection and challenge: The BAICE 20th anniversary (2018-09)
Crossley, Michael; Gu, Qing; Barrett, Angeline M.; Brown, Lalage; Buckler, Alison; Christensen, Carly; Janmaat, Jan Germen; McCowan, Tristan; Preston, Rosemary; Singal, Nidhi and Trahar, Sheila
Compare: A journal of comparative education, 48(5) (pp. 801-820)

[Book Review] Authentic learning for the digital generation: raising the potential of technology in the classroom (2017-09-27)
Buckler, Alison Sarah
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME), 1(6) (pp. 1-8)

Book Reviews (2016-07-08)
Beavers, Sian; Brasher, Andrew; Buckler, Alison and Iniesto, Francisco
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1 (p 16)

Quality teaching in rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Different perspectives, values and capabilities (2015-01-01)
Buckler, Alison
International Journal of Educational Development, 40 (pp. 126-133)

Learning from TESS-India’s approach to OER localisation across multiple Indian states (2014-12-23)
Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Buckler, Alison and Seal, Timothy
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2(7)

Teachers’ Professional Capabilities and the Pursuit of Quality in Sub-Saharan African Education Systems: Demonstrating and Debating a Method of Capability Selection and Analysis (2014-12-23)
Buckler, Alison
Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 17(2) (pp. 161-177)

The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: insights from the TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects (2014-09)
Buckler, Alison; Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Seal, Timothy and Musafir, Shankar
Open Praxis, 6(3) (pp. 221-233)

Capturing changes in Sudanese teachers' teaching using reflective photography (2013-08)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
Teaching and Teacher Education, 34 (pp. 189-197)

OER Adaptation and Reuse across cultural contexts in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) (2012)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison and Keraro, Fred
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (p 16)

Reconsidering the evidence base, considering the rural: aiming for a better understanding of the education and training needs of Sub-Saharan African teachers (2011-05)
Buckler, Alison
International Journal of Educational Development, 31(3) (pp. 244-250)

Quality Teaching and the Capability Approach: Evaluating the Work and Governance of Women Teachers in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa (2015-05-13)
Buckler, Alison
Routledge Research in Education
ISBN : 9781138799684 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon and New York

Overcoming adversity for marginalised adolescent girls in Zimbabwe (2023)
Chamberlain, Liz; Buckler, Alison; Worwood, Kelly; Chigodora, Obert; Chishava, Charlotte and Hedges, Claire
In: Holliman, Andrew and Sheehy, Kieron eds. Overcoming Adversity in Education (pp. 223-233)
ISBN : 978-1-032-01778-5 | Publisher : Taylor and Francis | Published : London

Internet kiosks in Uganda: A window of opportunities? (2022-01-26)
Mohamud, Khadija; Buckler, Alison; Pitt, Beck and Twining, Peter
In: Rienties, Bart; Hampel, Regine; Scanlon, Eileen and Whitelock, Denise eds. Open World Learning: Research, Innovation and the Challenges of High-Quality Education (pp. 131-143)
ISBN : 9781003177098 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York, USA

Building a case for inclusive ways of knowing through a case study of a cross-cultural research project of out-of-school girls in Zimbabwe: practitioners’ perspectives. (2021-11-30)
Chamberlain, Liz; Buckler, Alison and Mkwananzi, Faith
In: Fox, Alison; Busher, Hugh and Capewell, Carmel eds. Thinking critically and ethically about research for education (pp. 27-39)
ISBN : 9780367556914 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

New teachers and corporal punishment in Ghana (2018-07-17)
Buckler, Alison S.
In: Safford, Kimberly and Chamberlain, Liz eds. Learning and Teaching Around the World: Comparative Studies in Primary Education
ISBN : 9780429958076 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Medium of Instruction (MOI) policies in Ghanaian and Indian primary schools: an overview of key issues and recommendations (2018)
Erling, E. J.; Adinolfi, L.; Hultgren, A. K.; Buckler, A. and Mukorera, M.
In: Milligan, L. O. and Tikly, L. eds. English as a medium of instruction in postcolonial contexts: issues of quality, equity and social justice
ISBN : 978-1138564022 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Oxford

Teacher educators and OER in East Africa: Interrogating pedagogic change (2017-10-26)
Wolfenden, Freda; Auckloo, Pritee; Buckler, Alison and Cullen, Jane
In: Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl and Arinto, Patricia B. eds. Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 251-286)
ISBN : 978-1-55250-599-1 | Publisher : ROER4D | Published : Cape Town, South Africa

Teacher learning in Sudan: building dialogue around teachers' practices through reflective photography (2014-12-10)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
In: Miles, Susie and Howes, Andy eds. Photography in Educational Research: Critical Reflections from Diverse Contexts (pp. 79-95)
ISBN : 978-0-415-85495-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Adapting OERs for professional communities: The Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa experience (2012-03)
Wolfenden, Freda and Buckler, Alison
In: Connolly, Teresa; Okada, Alexandra and Scott, Peter eds. Collaborative Learning 2.0 - Open Educational Resources
ISBN : 9781466603004 | Publisher : IGI Global (In Press)

Inclusive ways of knowing? Problematising the relationship between research and the design of inclusive education (2019-10-03)
Buckler, Alison; Mkwananzi, Faith; Chamberlain, Liz and Dean, Caroline
In : 2019 UKFIET Conference (17-19 Sep 2019, Oxford)

“… by Seeking Help I Became Equipped, Skilled and Enlightened”: Ugandan Tutors’ Stories, Identities and Spaces for Professional Development in Teacher Colleges. (2019)
Buckler, Alison; Stutchbury, Kris; Kasule, George; Kaiije, Doris and Cullen, Jane
In : Pan Commonwealth Forum (9-12 Sep 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland)

Understanding teachers’ working experiences: capturing data on teachers as professionals, learners and change-makers in low resource contexts (2017-09-05)
Moore, Rhiannon; Buckler, Alison; Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric; Singh, Renu; Rossiter, Jack and High, Chris
In : Young Lives and RITES (OU) symposium (5-7 Sep 2017, Oxford, UK)

The role of OER localisation in building a knowledge partnership for development: The TESSA and TESS-India teacher education projects (2014-04)
Buckler, Alison; Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Seal, Timothy and Musafir, Shankar
In : OCWC Global Conference 2014 (23-25 Apr 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

From global to local: learning from TESS-India’s approach to OER localisation across seven Indian states (2014-04)
Perryman, Leigh-Anne; Buckler, Alison and Seal, Timothy
In : OER14 Building communities of open practice (28-29 Apr 2014, Newcastle)

OER adaptation and reuse across cultural contexts in sub Saharan Africa: lessons from the TESSA consortium (2010-03)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison and Keraro, Fred
In : OER10 (22-24 Mar 2010, Cambridge, UK)

Embracing ‘yes, and…’ as a researcher. (2022-11-07)
Buckler, Alison
WELS Research Conversations, UK.

Storytelling research in international education and development studies: a resistance to, or reproduction of coloniality? (2022-02-07)
Buckler, Alison; Agbaire, Jennifer; Wheeler, Joanna; Mkwananzi, Faith and Yusra, Price

Community Help for Inclusive Learning and Development (CHILD): A Study of How Mobile Phones Were Used to Recruit and Equip Community Volunteers to Support Children’s Learning During Covid-19 School Closures in Zimbabwe. (2021-02-04)
Power, Tom; Buckler, Alison; Ebubedike, Margaret; Tengenesha, Martha; Jama, Mbuso; Ndlovu, America; Mukoyi, Jane; Ndou, Mashudu and Mubaira, Simbarashe
The EdTech Hub, London.

Minimising the ‘distance’ in distance learning during a global health crisis: Framing an international education response to Covid-19 (2020)
Buckler, Alison; Chamberlain, Liz; Stutchbury, Kris and Hedges, Claire
UKFIET The Education and Development Forum

Education Workforce Initiative: Initial Research (2018-04-30)
Wolfenden, Freda; Buckler, Alison; Santos, Cristina and Mittelmeier, Jenna
International Commission on Financing Education Opportunity (The Education Commission)