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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Maria is the Deputy Head of the School of Health Sciences for Operations and Planning. She is responsible for recruitment and admissions for the School, timetabling for staff and students, workload models and their use, and the physicial resources of the School. Prior to this appointment, she was the Deputy for Practice Learning & Partnership activity. Practice Learning includes all placement provision. Partnerships include NHS and private partners, international and business partners, service user and carer partners, and alumni.

She was the course leader for the BSc (Hons) Podiatry for 10 years until September 2016, and has led many podiatry-specific and inter-professional modules in both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the School of Health Sciences.

She is a former Chair of the Podiatry Programme Leaders Association of the College of Podiatry, and is a reviewer for a number of healthcare journals.

Her academic teaching is principally in anatomy of the lower limb and she is the Human Tissue Authority Designated Individual for the School of Health Sciences dissection room.

Maria became an RGN from the Nightingale School of Nursing in 1988 specialising in theatre nursing and children’s nursing. In 1995 she gained a first class honours degree in Podiatry at the University of Brighton, then joined the staff of the University as a clinical tutor, becoming a lecturer in 1996, senior lecturer in 2000 and principal lecturer in 2013.

Maria gained a Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in 1999, an MSc Podiatry in September 2001 and a Doctorate in Education. She is an HEA Senior Fellow, and has an Excellence in Facilitating/ Empowering Learning Award.

Approach to teaching

I like to think I have an energy to my teaching which encourages the students to engage on a practical and intellectual level, and take an inquisitive and reflective attitude towards their learning. I employ a variety of teaching methods to enable students to access what they need in an enjoyable and productive way. I use online learning such as podcasting, the Personal Response System, wikis and other e-learning tools in my teaching and assessment.

I am sensitive to how students receive feedback on their work and ever mindful of enhancing the student experience. I have been utilizing pod casts as a mode of feedback for some years and students report this strategy to be a highly effective method of receiving feedback.

I am a ‘champion’ of the Peer Assisted Study Sessions project, and am a staunch advocate of inter-professional learning. To these ends, I have endeavored to facilitate the development of meaningful activities within the course, School and the wider University community.

Research interests

My main research interests are the learning and teaching of anatomy, independent learning, and reflection.

Early in my career I worked on the use of the portfolio in clinical learning and this led to my writing a chapter entitled ‘The development of critical reflection in the Health Professions’ for an ILT Occasional Paper publication, in which the use of critical reflection in undergraduate degrees of various health disciplines was explored.

I have devised, developed, and led an innovative ‘BSc Module by Learning Objectives’ module since 2003. I have researched the impact of this module on the student experience and presented the findings at national and international conferences. I am now developing the module further to enhance the experience of our most talented students.

I have a doctorate in education and studied the undergraduate student’s learning of anatomy. I took a phenomenological approach to do two things:

  1. Understand how undergraduate students describe the experience of learning and applying anatomy across the podiatry curriculum
  2. Discover the students’ lived experiences of learning and applying anatomy for podiatric practice

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

1 Oct 20136 Jan 2020

Award Date: 6 Jan 2020

Master, University of Brighton

4 Jan 20103 May 2010

Award Date: 7 Jun 2010

Master, University of Brighton

1 Jul 19951 Jun 2001

Award Date: 25 Jul 2001

Master, University of Brighton

28 Sep 199825 Jun 1999

Award Date: 25 Jun 1999

Bachelor, University of Brighton

28 Sep 199230 Jun 1995

Award Date: 30 Jun 1995

Bachelor, St. Thomas' Hospital

2 Sep 19852 May 1988

Award Date: 6 Jun 1988

External positions

Former Chair of Governors, Hankham Primary School

1 Sep 20121 Sep 2015

Former Chair Podiatry Programme Leaders’ Association, Podiatry Programme Leaders’ Association

30 Oct 200830 Oct 2013

Committee Member London and South East Committee of Anatomists, London and South East Committee of Anatomists

1 Jan 2005 → …

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Research Output

Forensic Gait Analysis Principles and Practice

Birch, I. (ed.), Nirenberg, M. (ed.), Vernon, W. (ed.) & Birch, M. (ed.), 7 Jul 2020, 1 ed. Oxon: Routledge. 211 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook - edited

  • The accuracy and validity of the Sheffield Features of Gait Tool

    Birch, I., Birch, M. & Lall, J., 8 Aug 2020, In : Science and Justice.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • The repeatability and reproducibility of the Sheffield Features of Gait Tool

    Birch, I., Birch, M., Rutler, L., Brown, S., Rodriguez Burgos, L., Otten, B. & Wiedemeijer, M., 19 Apr 2019, In : Science and Justice. 59, 5, p. 544-551 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Interplays of psychometric abilities on learning gross anatomy

    Smith, C. F., Stockholm, C., Sinha, R., Ponikwer, F., Carter, M. & Birch, M., 20 Jun 2017, In : MedEdPublish. 6, 2, 1045.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
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