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Mr Alistair Jones

Job: Associate Professor and University Teacher Fellow

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Research group(s): Local Governance Research Centre

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 2078787

E: anjones@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/pol

 

Research group affiliations

Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)

Publications and outputs

  • Self-reflection as an assessment for Public Administration students: have we reflected on why we are doing it?
    Self-reflection as an assessment for Public Administration students: have we reflected on why we are doing it? Jones, Alistair; Lishman, Ros The use of self-reflection as part of an assessment component, or a summative assessment, is becoming widely utilised, across many academic disciplines. In professional courses, such practices are long-established. There is a suggestion, however, that self-reflection may mean different things to different academic disciplines. What is often unclear, for example, is why such an assessment is included in the learning strategies of a given module. It could be part of the learning package undertaken by students - to encourage them to reflect upon why they have undertaken particular aspects of study and what has been achieved as a result. This is a type of reflective questioning. Alternatively, for undergraduate students, it could be about developing a particular skill for use in a future work environment - we all undertake some type of appraisal. Finally, for some academic colleagues, it may be about the perception of reducing the marking burden, through self-assessment and self-rating. There are many things to consider here. Are the aims of these assessments explained clearly to the students? Can the students make the links between conducting self-reflection and applying it to another arena? Do the students take such assessments seriously? For many professional courses, such questions may elucidate much more positive answers. In this respect, the emphasis of this paper is very much upon our experiences in politics and public administration. There is also the issue of the perception of reducing the academic burden by undertaking such assessments. The reality is that - to do the job properly - it is likely to take longer to facilitate the assessment. The marking may also take longer if there is a need to examine the 'evidence'. This message will permeate throughout the paper. This paper will examine the issues around 'why' self-reflection may be a valuable part of assessment for both students and staff. It will include the case studies of two second-year modules in the Department of Politics, People and Place, which have forms of self-reflection embedded in their assessment strategies. The self-reflection aspect of these modules assessments comprises different modes and assessment weightings. There are variable experiences in these modules as to the value of these assessments. This paper will not be uncritical of the strategies undertaken in the modules with self-reflection as part of the assessment. The aim is to give careful consideration as to why such a form of assessment can be a valuable tool in developing a student's academic development and enhancing their potential employability, while also highlighting the drawbacks. Self-reflection is not the "all singing, all dancing" assessment that many may consider it to be. The context of the assessment needs to be explained clearly for the students to gain the maximum possible benefit from undertaking such an exercise. It could be questioned as to whether or not self-reflection is fit for purpose? To address this question, consideration must be given as to the purpose of the assessment.
  • Too Big to be Local: Local and National Elite Complicity in the Narrative of English Council Mergers
    Too Big to be Local: Local and National Elite Complicity in the Narrative of English Council Mergers Copus, Colin; Jones, Alistair; Wall, Rachel
  • Self-reflection as an assessment: have we reflected on why we are doing it?
    Self-reflection as an assessment: have we reflected on why we are doing it? Jones, Alistair; Lishman, Ros The use of self-reflection as part of an assessment component, or a summative assessment, is becoming widely utilised, across many academic disciplines. In professional courses, such practices are long-established. There is a suggestion, however, that self-reflection may mean different things to different academic disciplines. What is often unclear, for example, is why such an assessment is included in the learning strategies of a given module. It could be part of the learning package undertaken by students - to encourage them to reflect upon why they have undertaken particular aspects of study and what has been achieved as a result. This is a type of reflective questioning. Alternatively, for undergraduate students, it could be about developing a particular skill for use in a future work environment - we all undertake some type of appraisal. Finally, for some academic colleagues, it may be about the perception of reducing the marking burden, through self-assessment and self-rating. There are many things to consider here. Are the aims of these assessments explained clearly to the students? Can the students make the links between conducting self-reflection and applying it to another arena? Do the students take such assessments seriously? For many professional courses, such questions may elucidate much more positive answers. In this respect, the emphasis of this paper is very much upon our experiences in the social sciences. There is also the issue of the perception of reducing the academic burden by undertaking such assessments. The reality is that - to do the job properly - it is likely to take longer to facilitate the assessment. The marking may also take longer if there is a need to examine the 'evidence'. This message will permeate throughout the paper. This paper will examine the issues around 'why' self-reflection may be a valuable part of assessment for both students and staff. It will include the case studies of two second-year modules in the Department of Politics, People and Place, which have forms of self-reflection embedded in their assessment strategies. The self-reflection aspect of these modules assessments comprises different modes and assessment weightings. There are variable experiences in these modules as to the value of these assessments. This paper will not be uncritical of the strategies undertaken in the modules with self-reflection as part of the assessment. The aim is to give careful consideration as to why such a form of assessment can be a valuable tool in developing a student's academic development and enhancing their potential employability, while also highlighting the drawbacks. Self-reflection is not the "all singing, all dancing" assessment that many may consider it to be. The context of the assessment needs to be explained clearly for the students to gain the maximum possible benefit from undertaking such an exercise. It could be questioned as to whether or not self-reflection is fit for purpose? To address this question, consideration must be given as to the purpose of the assessment.
  • Local State-Society Relations in England
    Local State-Society Relations in England Jones, Alistair; Copus, Colin The chapter explores the complex networks of local state-society relationships in England. After providing necessary contextual background the chapter explores local state-society relationships by examining: Local Action Groups (LAGs) established under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of and which are also part of the European network for rural development; and, the 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across England, formed by central government to shape relationships between local government, private business and voluntary groups in fostering economic development with their areas. The chapter elaborates the diversity of structure, practice and legal requirement shaping local state-society relationships which produce numerous patterns of interaction and activity and discusses this as a commonplace feature of the environment within which English local government operates.
  • Getting Brexit done and the future of the UK-EU relationship
    Getting Brexit done and the future of the UK-EU relationship Jones, Alistair Boris Johnson's populist slogan Get Brexit Done may have won him the 2019 General Election but the unrealistically easy call to arms which played well through the media disguises a reality of future problems for the UK, EU and Ireland which the PM seems unable to acknowledge.
  • Angleterre: Maires elus et leaders de conseils. Qui elit ceux qui dirigent?
    Angleterre: Maires elus et leaders de conseils. Qui elit ceux qui dirigent? Copus, Colin; Jones, Alistair
  • Putting the Action into Politics: Embedding Employability in the Academic Curriculum
    Putting the Action into Politics: Embedding Employability in the Academic Curriculum Lishman, Ros; Jones, Alistair We have developed a module which seeks to address the challenge of balancing academic and professional skills development. The Politics in Action module is currently delivered to approximately 80, second year undergraduate politics and IR students. After a period of confidence and trust building, students are tasked with working in small teams, to scope, develop and implement a project which aims to tackle one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a local level. The module is resource intensive. It takes specific competences and motivation to successfully lead this pedagogical model. For instance, the current module leader has expertise in digital capabilities, extensive experience of being a facilitator, teaching skills development and professional recognition and working with part-time professional students. The teaching team needs to be ‘agile’ in its approach, to deal with real-time issues as they arise. The module has been influenced by the requirements of the Quality Assurance Agency’s Benchmarks for Politics and International Relations (QAA, 2019). Students in their individual reflective assignment must engage with the graduate skills and knowledge they have gained through the year, linking this with their personal SWOT analysis. There is a focus on experiential learning to complement and reinforce the theoretical knowledge taught elsewhere. This co-created module gives students an opportunity to shine, to develop confidence and enhance their strengths. Practical research skills and ethics are also incorporated into the hidden curriculum to help those who go on to take the politics dissertation. Politics in Action is about giving students the opportunity to gain experiences of working on projects in a place where it is alright for the project to ‘fail’. This real-world experience can be included in the Higher Education Achievement Record at the same time as gaining academic credits. Where does politics fit? Firstly, students have to engage with and debate about the merits of the UN SDGs. They must also consider and explore the concept of what local politics in action means to them. Additionally, students are exposed to the theory and practice of project management, leadership and team development, which they might not otherwise encounter. Students have created projects which have raised awareness and acted on a range of issues such as food poverty, homelessness, and waste reduction. The projects have involved developing relationships with a number of external stakeholders. Students have commented how proud they are of their achievements and recognise their impact. The module aligns strategically with the University by working with the public engagement team (DMU Local) and embracing Universal Design for Learning. This module is seen as a template of good practice and the concept has been used to design a stand-alone module which could be embedded into any programme across the institution. The Politics in Action module does offer a model where skills development and employability take priority. But this is within a framework of academic integrity and personalised learning, linked with the concepts of education for sustainable development and political activism for a highly diverse group of students. ECPR Virtual Conference, 24-28 August 2020 This was the virtual replacement for the annual ECPR conference which was planned for Innsbruck, Austria for August 2020
  • The Resurgence of Parish Council Powers in England
    The Resurgence of Parish Council Powers in England Jones, Alistair Parish councils are often underappreciated and undervalued in what they do even though they are an essential part of the governing of England today. In spite of this, the number of parish councils and the roles they perform are increasing. This book explores the reasons for this apparent resurgence in parish councils. Some of it is a response to local demand, especially with the impact of austerity on local government as a whole. At the same time, austerity measures have seen moves to much larger units of local government. Again, the demand for a more local tier of government has resulted in the creation of new parish councils. There is a huge caveat and this is in relation to capacity. Do these new councils have the capacity to deliver the services demanded of them?
  • English Local Government and Environmental Matters
    English Local Government and Environmental Matters Jones, Alistair; Copus, Colin
  • Parish Councils - a real resurgence?
    Parish Councils - a real resurgence? Jones, Alistair This paper explores the ways in which parish councils are being revived. No longer are they dismissed as being superfluous or a joke. Instead, they appear to be taking up the reins of local government, and trying to make it ‘local’ again. Concepts such as ‘democratic deficit’ have been used against principal authorities and parish councils. The apparent resurgence in parish councils suggests a degree of interest in, and enthusiasm for, ‘local’ government. All of this brings into question the extent to which there may be such a democratic deficit. This deficit may be questioned further when noting the levels of interest from members of the public in standing for office at the parish council level. Part of this may be attributed to the ‘local’ issues, but there is also an important factor of party labels. Most parish council elections are fought without party labels – or, at least, open party labels. Party politics appears to matter far less at this most local level.

Click here to view a full listing of Alistair Jones' publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

“Where has all the Public Administration gone?”  This won the award for the best paper at the PAC annual conference 18-19 July 2012

Research interests/expertise

European Union, elections, English Parish Councils

Areas of teaching

British Politics

Politics of the European Union

Qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Political Science (Canterbury, New Zealand)
  • MA Political Science (Canterbury, New Zealand

Courses taught

Introduction to British Politics, Politics in Business, Politics of the European Union, Britain and European Integration

Honours and awards

  • Best Paper Award, PAC annual conference, Plymouth, July 2012
  • University Teacher Fellow, DMU, August 2014
  • Long Service Award, DMU, March 2017
  • Research Oscars, Faculty of Business and Law, DMU, for Research Engagement in the Media, July 2019

Membership of external committees

  • Public Administration Committee, member of the Executive Committee since 2008
  • Joint University Council, member of the Executive since 2008
  • European Urban Research Association, member of the Executive Committee since 2019

Projects

  • Parish Councils in England
  • Local Government engagement with civil society. I am working on the English part of this European project

Forthcoming events

I am co-convening the PAC annual conference at DMU, September 2021

 

Conference attendance

R. Lishman and A. Jones; "Putting the Action into Politics: Embedding Employability in the Academic Curriculum" Paper to the ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) annual conference (virtual), 24-29 August 2020

“Parish Councils – a real resurgence?” Paper to the PAC (Public Administration Committee) annual conference, University of Northumbria, 17-18 September 2019

Convenor of a panel for the ECPR annual conference, “Teaching Politics and IR to Non-Subject Students”, Wrocław, Poland, 4-7 September 2019

“Teaching Public Affairs – The Cinderella Subject of Journalism Courses” Paper to the ECPR annual conference, Wrocław, Poland, 4-7 September 2019, with Tor Clark

Speaker at a Faculty seminar at Liaoning National University, China, entitled “Me and My Teaching” 7 November 2018

 “Parish Councils and Councillors: a resurgence in the most local tier of government in England?” Paper to the ECPR annual conference, Hamburg, Germany 22-26 August 2018

“Are we doing them a dis-service? Preparing students to study overseas: a case study of Chinese students and British Culture” Paper to the ECPR annual conference, Hamburg, Germany 22-26 August 2018

“Are we learning from the old? A case study of Welsh local government restructuring” Paper to the European Urban Research Association (EURA) annual conference, Tilburg, Netherlands, 20-23 June 2018

“Restructuring Local Government - It's not just central interference: A case study of Wales” Paper to the ECPR 2017 Annual Conference, Oslo, Norway, 6-9 September, 2017

 “What is 'Good Governance'? A Model of 'Good Governance' for restructuring English Local Government” Paper to the EURA 2017 Annual Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 21-24 June, 2017

“Combined Authorities: Urban imperialism or loss of urban identity?” Rachel Wall and Alistair Jones. Paper to the EURA 2017 Annual Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 21-24 June, 2017

"Independent Politics in Wales: Diverse practices but needing a permanent presence” Paper to the EURA 2016 Annual Conference, Torino, Italy, 16-18 June 2016

C.Copus and A.Jones; "Restructuring Welsh Local Government: Lesson-learning from New Zealand", EURA annual conference, "Transforming cities, transformative cities" University of Lucian Braga in Sibiu, Romania, 17-20 September 2015

T. Clark and A.Jones; "Teaching Public Affairs - the Cinderella Subject of Journalism courses", UK Association for Journalism Educational annual conference - The Future of Journalism Education, University of Greenwich, 25-26 June 2015

T. Clark and A.Jones; "Not what they want but what they need - teaching Politics to Journalism students" Student Transitions - the Triad of Understanding Learning and Teaching conference, De Montfort University, 3 September 2014

 "Junior Ministers: Are they really political eunuchs?", PAC annual conference, Edinburgh, 9-11 September 2013

“Where has all the Public Administration gone?”  PAC annual conference, 18-19 July 2012. This won the award for the best paper at the conference

 

Key articles information

Copus, C. and Jones, A. 'Welsh Local Government Association Literature Review on Council Size: Commission on Public Service Governance & Delivery Service Provider Consultation'

Consultancy work

Worked with the Council of Europe to advise the Parliament of Ukraine on ethics and accountability in local government, 2017; compiled a literature review to inform the Welsh Local Government Association's submission to the Williams Committee on public sector governance and delivery, 2014. Currently available

Current research students

  • Rachel Wall, full time, second supervisor
  • Lynn Wyeth, part-time, second supervisor

Media work

Below are some of my most recent media appearance:

11 December 2020  - BBC Asian Network, where I discussed the state of play in relation to the Brexit negotiations

7 December 2020  - RT UK, where I discussed the impact of the Internal Market legislation (which was returning to the House of Commons) and the impact on the Brexit trade negotiations.  Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA0IhKJg7w4

1 December 2020  - BBC Radio Leicester, where there was an interview on one month until the end of the Brexit Transition Period, and what is likely to happen

29 November 2020  - Sputnik International, where I discussed the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle in the New Year.  Available at https://www.companynewshq.com/coronavirus-news/bojo-is-in-difficult-balancing-act-if-stays-on-as-both-pm-and-conservative-leader-professor-says/

23 November 2020  - Sputnik UK, where I discussed the possibility of a No Deal Brexit.  Available at https://player.fm/series/radio-sputnik/no-brexit-deal-for-britain-if-the-uk-doesnt-abide-by-eu-state-aids-rules-says-professor

19 November 2020  - RT UK, where I discussed the possibility of a backbench rebellion over plans to extend the Covid lockdown.  Available at https://www.facebook.com/RTUKnews/videos/growing-tory-group-could-rebel-against-johnson/1052708958503670/

15 November 2020  - Daily Express, where I was interviewed over the impact of the US Presidential election results on Brexit (available at https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1360012/brexit-news-uk-us-trade-deal-boris-johnson-joe-biden-internal-market-bill-northern-ireland), and on Keir Starmer and Labour's anti-semitism inquiry

3 November 2020  - RT UK, where I examined the future of the Union

ORCID number

orcid.org/0000-0002-4540-563X

alistairJones