November 29, 2022

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John Richardson obituary | Better schooling

My good friend and colleague John Richardson, who has died aged 73 of bowel cancer, liked a distinguished career, initially in cognitive psychology and recently as a scholar-centred bigger education and learning researcher. He was a main contributor to the enhancement of the UK’s Countrywide Pupil Survey and a larger comprehension of students from typically underrepresented groups.

Born in Overseal, Derbyshire, John grew up with his mother, Mavis (nee Watts), in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, next her separation from his father, Edwin Evans, a miner and Baptist lay preacher. In 1956 Mavis, by then a civil servant, married Denis Richardson, a clerk whom she had achieved when the two have been functioning in different branches of GCHQ.

At a time when entry to larger schooling in the British isles was minimal, John secured an open up scholarship in mathematics at St John’s Higher education, Oxford, having excelled at Cheltenham grammar university and benefited from a part design in his uncle, Cedric Watts (the initially in the household to pursue better instruction).

He transferred to Oxford’s joint degree programme in philosophy and psychology in advance of completing a PhD in experimental psychology at the University of Sussex. In 1975 he took up a lectureship in psychology at the nascent Brunel University, exactly where he was appointed head of the division of human sciences in 1989 and was promoted to professor in 1991. His early analysis appeared at human memory and cognition in healthier folks, but he also studied the influence of mind damage in human sufferers (specially after insignificant head accidents).

John promoted the use of qualitative methods this sort of as interviews, diaries and concentrate groups on the component of scientists and their pupils. Through the 1990s he organised training funded by the Financial and Social Exploration Council, which led to a extensively applied textbook on qualitative procedures in psychology and the social sciences.

In 2001 John moved from Brunel to the Open up University where he had been appointed to a new chair in college student finding out and assessment, based mostly in its Institute of Academic Technologies. His get the job done started with the ordeals of college students who have been deaf or listening to-impaired, and later on examined the role of gender, social course and ethnicity in participation and attainment in United kingdom better training.

He contributed to a 2003 report on accumulating and making use of university student feed-back for the Larger Education and learning Funding Council for England (Hefce), and was element of a team that carried out a pilot examine for Hefce that led to the introduction of the National Pupil Survey in 2005 – now a remarkably influential source of once-a-year data about the experiences of nearly 50 % a million students in British isles better instruction.

John was a fellow of equally the Culture for Research into Bigger Education and the Academy of Social Sciences. He retired from the OU in 2017 and was appointed emeritus professor. He continued to supervise study students and to publish. His past operate was a critique of the analysis literature evaluating the legibility of serif and sans serif typefaces, revealed in February 2022.

In 1984 John marrried Hilary Robertson, who was functioning at the OU when they fulfilled. Hilary survives him, as do their daughters, Kat and Annie.