Dr Ben Looker


Principal Lecturer in Secondary Education: Sciences, Secondary and Post Compulsory Education

Secondary and Post Compulsory Education

Contact Details

email: b.looker@worc.ac.uk

Ben has taught in a range of different and contrasting comprehensive schools where he gained a lot of valuable experience, including working as Head of Science and subsequently as an Assistant Headteacher.

It was during his time as Assistant Headteacher, with responsibility for Teaching and Learning and Continued Professional Development, that Ben found his love of training teachers. He set up and facilitated a variety of professional development programmes and is an accredited OLEVI facilitator.

In addition to running the Science PGCE course, Ben also facilitates the science Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses for postgraduates. These allow prospective trainee science teachers to develop and hone their KS3-5 subject-specific knowledge and understanding, enabling them to be effective practitioners.

Ben has developed two enhancement activities for the PGCE which are unique to the University of Worcester. The first (Aspiring Leaders Enhancement Activity) aims to develop trainee teachers who have aspirations of leadership by talking about the roles and characteristics of school leaders and issues currently facing middle and senior leaders. The second enhancement activity (Educational Research) focuses on the role research plays in education. It explores qualitative and quantitative research methods and guides students through the research process, from idea to publication.

Ben’s educational research interests are focused on social psychology of education, including examining the various manifestations of alienation pupils might experience while at secondary school and exploring effective pupil-teacher relationships. Having a background in natural sciences, but now researching in social sciences, Ben is particularly interested in the intersection of these two research disciplines. He has formulated a critical realist approach to grounded theory with a focus on how this can be effectively used in educational research. In addition to this, Ben is on the editorial board for the Science Teacher Education journal


  • EdD, University of Worcester, 2022
  • PGCert, University of Worcester, 2017
  • PGCE, University of Birmingham, 2007
  • BSc (Hons), University of Birmingham, 2006

Learn Upon Training completed

  • Safer Recruitment
  • Introduction to the Prevent Duty as it affects Higher Education
  • Safeguarding Essentials

Teaching & Research

Teaching Interests

  • Secondary Science PGCE (all three sciences)    
  • Interest in teaching outside of specialism    
  • Masters dissertation supervision

Research Interests

  • Teacher/pupil relationships    
  • Alienation in secondary school education    
  • Teacher Identity

Professional Bodies

  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry   
  • Member of ASE 
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Looker, B, Vickers, J and Kington, A (2021) The Case for a Critical Realist Grounded Theory Research Design. In: Dealing with Grounded Theory: Discussing, Learning, and Practice. Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp. 139-168.

Koller, J., Looker, B and Delorenzo, J (2021) A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Is Tablet Technology the Answer to a Catch-up Curriculum? Science Teacher Education, 89. pp. 15-20.

Looker, B and Kington, A (2020) Developing Teacher-Pupil Relationships in the Classroom: The Influence of Primary Teachers' Career Phase and Experience. In: Social and Learning Relationships in Primary Schools. Bloomsbury Academic, London

Conference Presentations

Looker, B. (2021) Using Critical Realist Grounded Theory for Educational Research. In: BERA Annual Conference 2021, 13-16 September 2021.

Looker, B., Kington, A., Hibbert-Mayne, K. (2021) The Illusion of Perspective: Examining the dynamic between teacher effectiveness and self-efficacy. In: ICALT Final Project Meeting - University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 26-28 July 2021, Online/University of Groningen ICALT Annual Conference.

Looker, B. and Delorenzo, J. (2018) Fifty Shades of Science revisited. In: Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference 2018, 4-7 January 2018, University of Liverpool.

Looker, B. and Delorenzo, J. (2017) Fifty Shades Of Science: Experiments To Capture The Imagination Of Pupils. In: Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference 2017, 4-7 January 2017, University of Reading.

Looker, B. and Delorenzo, J. (2017) Does the Use of Video Recording Lead to an Improvement in a Trainee Teacher's Confidence Both in Assessing Pupil Progress and Behaviour Management? In: University of Worcester Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, 16th June 2017, University of Worcester.

Howarth, S., Delorenzo, J., Looker, B and Scott, L. (2016) Super! Cool! Science. In: Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference 2016, 6-9 January 2016, University of Birmingham.

External Roles

Board of Editors – ASE Science Education Journal