Dr Marie Bassford

Job: Associate Professor in Physics

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: School of Engineering and Sustainable Development

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

T: +44 (0)116 2577055

E: mbassford@dmu.ac.uk


Publications and outputs

  • On your e-bike: Riding towards the light
    On your e-bike: Riding towards the light Bassford, Marie open access journal Bassford, M. (2021) On your e-bike: Riding towards the light. Gateway Papers: A Journal of Education and Pedagogic Research
  • PuzzlEd: RAISE
    PuzzlEd: RAISE O'Sullivan, Angela; Nichols-Drew, L.; Bacon, Joanne; Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. In this interactive workshop, the HE Advance CATE (Spotlight) Award winning CrashEd team from De Montfort University will showcase our current innovative venture, PuzzlEd. Whereas CrashEd was the culmination of interdisciplinary subject specialisms including Criminology, Forensic Science, Physics, Maths and Policing, PuzzlEd has evolved from our differentiated personal learning styles. Between the team members, our varied strengths are represented including words (anagrams and homophones), associations (shapes, numbers, colours), language and images. By working together as partners, we have evolved our original collaborations which has culminated in an immersive and engaging pedagogic tool, that accommodates a range of learning styles and in doing so promotes teamwork and peer feedback. The purpose of PuzzlEd is to utilise the popular genre of escape rooms, whereby participants face tasks against the clock. We have created our challenges influenced from our own learning styles, resulting in an array of logic puzzles which when solved generate padlock codes leading to further clues. Underpinning PuzzlEd are numerous theoretical approaches such as Constructivist, Humanist and Connectivist, enabling scaffolding of learning and transformative opportunities. Utilising technology via computerised avatars as narrators further enhances the PuzzlEd experience for participants. This is a novel approach to teaching, learning and assessment, which will inspire and empower the higher education community. Workshop at 2019 RAISE Pedagogic Conference in Newcastle O'Sullivan, A. et al. (2019) PuzzlEd: RAISE. 2019 RAISE Pedagogic Conference, Newcastle
  • PuzzlEd: Playful Learning
    PuzzlEd: Playful Learning Nichols-Drew, L.; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; Bacon, Joanne; Fowler, Mark This interactive Playful Activity Session presents our current novel endeavour, PuzzlEd, being developed by the successful Advance HE CATE (Spotlight) 2018 award winning team CrashEd (Angela O’Sullivan [NTF], Marie Bassford, Annette Crisp, Joanne Bacon, Mark Fowler, Marisol Martinez-Lees and Leisa Nichols-Drew). This innovative project, replicates the inter-disciplinary and constructivist team ethos of CrashEd, whereby our scholarship and knowledge, stemming from good practice, provides the pedagogic foundation of PuzzlEd as a learning, teaching and assessment tool. PuzzlEd provides a unique opportunity for participants, utilising the experiential and engaging principles of escape room activities, to learn new concepts, whilst developing teamwork skills. An array of innovative and creative teaching and learning approaches will be demonstrated to nurture problem solving skills and encourage lateral thinking. Additionally, the involvement of computerised avatars throughout the activity, highlights the theory of connectivism in our technology facilitated practice. Participants will find the challenge of the ‘hands-on’ puzzles immersive, building bridges across inter-disciplinary subjects and scaffolds of knowledge through the experiential learning of solving progressively complex and interlinked puzzles. Cohesively working together, groups of participants will also have the opportunity to work to their individual strengths and learning preferences, solving abstract puzzles, anagrams and a range of other practical logic problems to literally unlock the padlocks. In doing so, they will not only reveal formative assessment answers, but the key to successfully engaging students in fun, interdisciplinary tasks to embed learning. As in any escape room scenario, the task is against the clock. Therefore, participants are briefly introduced to the task to maximise actual participation time, with a subsequent 15 minute plenary discussion, to identify essential factors that make this imaginative approach transferable and engaging. Nichols-Drew, L. et al. (2019) PuzzlEd: Playful Learning. Playful Learning Conference, Leicester 2019 - 60 minute interactive session.
  • PuzzlEd
    PuzzlEd Nichols-Drew, L.; O'Sullivan, Angela; Crisp, Annette; Bacon, Joanne; Bassford, Marie; Fowler, Mark R. This interactive workshop showcases the next creative and innovative project, PuzzlEd, being developed by members of the successful Advance HE CATE (Spotlight) 2018 award winners, CrashEd, (Marie Bassford, Joanne Bacon, Annette Crisp, Leisa Nichols-Drew, Mark Fowler, Marisol Martinez-Lees and Angela O’Sullivan [NTF] ). The project emulates the successful constructivist and inter-disciplinary approach employed in CrashEd, ensuring that the knowledge and scholarship developed by the team’s good practice underpins the pedagogy of PuzzlEd as a teaching, learning and assessment tool. Delegates will have the opportunity to experience PuzzlEd which uses the principles of escape rooms to engage learners to develop teamwork skills whilst learning new concepts. A range of creative and innovative teaching and learning tools will be employed to encourage abstract thinking and nurture problem solving skills. Participants will be immersed in the challenge, building scaffolds of knowledge and bridges across inter-disciplinary subjects with a range of 'hands on' puzzles. Teams of participants will have the opportunity to work to their strengths, solving anagrams, abstract puzzles and a range of other practical logic problems to literally unlock the padlock to reveal not only the answer to the formative assessment but the answer to engaging students in fun, interdisciplinary tasks to embed learning. Like any good escape room scenario the task is against the clock and so participants will have a brief introduction to the task and a 15 minute plenary discussion afterwards to identify the key factors that make this creative approach engaging and transferable. Faculties of HLS, CEM and interdisciplinary research. Nichols-Drew, L., O'Sullivan, A., Crisp, A., Bacon, J., Bassford, M., Fowler, M. (2019) PuzzlEd Workshop, National Teacher Fellow Symposium: Making a Difference 2019, Birmingham, UK, March 2019.
  • SPaCE- Sensory Processing and Classroom Environments: Methodology for evaluating and improving teaching spaces for better student experience
    SPaCE- Sensory Processing and Classroom Environments: Methodology for evaluating and improving teaching spaces for better student experience Bassford, Marie; Painter, B. SPaCE combines building assessment and pedagogic research to establish improved ‘inclusive learning spaces’ to improve the health and wellbeing of all students, including those with a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses. This creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks and impacts upon many aspects of life including motor clumsiness, behavioural problems, anxiety, depression and school/college/university performance. Preliminary research has shown that this can affect the quality of the student experience and thereby their progression and retention. Whilst it is accepted that students with physical disabilities have specific environmental requirements and, where possible, reasonable adjustments are made, specific requirements for students with SPD are not normally considered at University. Practitioner experience in other educational contexts suggests that the physical layout of a classroom may be adapted to maximise student participation and engagement, enabling all students to benefit from a non-traditional classroom layout, but no academic research exists. The SPaCE methodology involves capture of data about the physical environment (lighting, temperature, air quality etc) simultaneously with the student experience in typical classrooms (through physical measurements, Sensory Profile questionnaires, observations, interviews and focus groups). This multi-method data set will provide us with a better understanding of conditions and how they are experienced by students, and to identify areas for improvement, to be implemented in a campus demonstrator project. The aim of the project is to provide guidelines for improved teaching provision, in terms of sensory processing issues, for dissemination within the wider education sector. This paper reports on an on-going project – the main rationale and methodology are described, with a focus on the mixed-method data collection approach and setup of the pilot study. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the URI link. Bassford, M. and Painter, B. (2018) SPaCE- Sensory Processing and Classroom Environments: Methodology for evaluating and improving teaching spaces for better student experience. In: Elsharkawy, H., Zahiri, S., Clough, J. (eds) Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Design of the Built Environment (SDBE18), 14-16 September 2018, London, UK.
  • The Co-creation, Connectivism and Collaboration Jigsaw; assembling the puzzle pieces for a successful multi-disciplinary student learning experience
    The Co-creation, Connectivism and Collaboration Jigsaw; assembling the puzzle pieces for a successful multi-disciplinary student learning experience Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Nichols-Drew, L.; Fowler, Mark R. CrashEd is a multi-disciplinary, cross-Faculty, University project that arose from five academics’ collaborative commitment to develop a car crash scenario as a widening participation activity. The success of the outreach project culminated in the inspiration to develop more academically challenging forensic scenarios for study at Higher Education level. The ethos of the Forensic Investigation module is on realistic, scenario-based learning and assessment methods, and involves subject specialists across five Schools, an FE college and the Leicestershire Constabulary. CrashEd team members and the police Forensic Crash Investigator have delivered their specialist expertise on anatomy and physiology, ballistics and trauma injuries to students on a local college FdA Theatrical Make-up and Special Effects course. These students have reciprocated the collaboration with the development of bespoke prosthetic resources designed from remits written by University Forensic Science students. The result is realistic latex ‘injuries’ for use as teaching and assessment tools for the new undergraduate module (optional for Physics, Mathematics, Criminology and Forensic Science students). This is a novel example of students working as co-creators. This study involves an investigation into the practicalities, benefits and challenges of co-creation and collaborative work; for example, the expanded specialist knowledge base available to the Physics and Maths undergraduates has provided them with wider vocational career awareness. The connectivist approach has stretched students to think across subject boundaries; a great motivator that has enhanced student engagement. The specialist resources provided by the police have enabled students to learn from real life simulations; a truly ‘hands on’ experiential learning environment. Bassford, M.L. et al. (2017) The Co-creation, Connectivism and Collaboration Jigsaw; assembling the puzzle pieces for a successful multi-disciplinary student learning experience, 'Discovering Teaching Excellence at Leicester' Conference and Exhibition, 4-5 July 2017
  • Evaluating the Performance of Physics Students on the Autistic Spectrum within HE
    Evaluating the Performance of Physics Students on the Autistic Spectrum within HE Bassford, Marie; Snape, J. Richard Currently, a third of first year physics students at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, have declared that they have a disability. The majority of these students are on the autistic spectrum. How many more of the physics student cohort are also on the spectrum but have not declared it to the University or ever sought a diagnosis is unknown. A tangible consequence of the composition of the class is that classroom dynamics are different to other groups of comparable size and experience; we have an evidently intelligent, inquisitive group of students, however there are noticeable barriers and adjustments that need to be made in order to maximize the student learning and performance of the cohort. At DMU, we are examining student performance as part of the University’s engagement with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). We are exploring how our learning materials are perceived by students, whether they are accessible and ultimately whether they adequately provide the necessary background for students to prepare for assessments. This research involves a detailed statistical analysis of how students perform at a per assessment level, for example comparing student performance data for those on the spectrum to the rest of the cohort. Assessment types include exams as well as specific coursework elements ranging from multiple choice phase tests (paper based and online), laboratory books, laboratory reports, presentations and group work. The aim of the research is to understand if students on the autistic spectrum perform significantly better or less well at any particular assessment type. Our research will include student focus groups to explore the reasons behind poor student performance in order to identify any specific obstacles encountered and to identify where we can adapt our resources to enhance future student performance and maximize retention and progression. This work may also give insights into how autistic students in other STEM subjects perform and lead to further studies in other subjects such as engineering and mathematics. Funded by De Montfort University Teaching Innovation Project (TIP) funding Bassford, M.L. & Snape, J. (2017) Evaluating the Performance of Physics Students on the Autistic Spectrum within HE, National Association of Disability Practitioners Annual Conference 2017.
  • CrashEd - A live immersive, learning experience embedding STEM subjects in a realistic, interactive crime scene
    CrashEd - A live immersive, learning experience embedding STEM subjects in a realistic, interactive crime scene Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Fowler, Mark R. Interactive experiences are rapidly becoming popular via the surge of ‘escape rooms’: Part game, part theatre, they are exploding globally, having gone from zero at the outset of 2010 to at least 2800 world-wide today. CrashEd is an interactive learning experience that parallels many of the attractions of an escape room – it incorporates a staged, realistic ‘crime scene’ and invites participants to work together to gather forensic evidence and question a witness in order to solve a crime, all against the backdrop of a ticking clock. An animation can enhance reality and engage with cognitive processes to help learning; in CrashEd it is the last piece of the jigsaw that embeds the students’ incremental acquisition of knowledge to tie together the pieces of evidence, identify a suspect and ultimately solve the crime. This paper presents the background to CrashEd and an overview of how a timely placed animation at the end of an educational experience can enhance learning. Our lessons learned from delivering bespoke tailored versions of the experience to different ages and demographics are discussed. The paper will consider the successes and challenges raised by the collaborative project, future developments and potential wider implications of the development of CrashEd. Open Access journal Bassford, M., A., Crisp, O'Sullivan, A., Bacon, J., Fowler, M. (2016) CrashEd - A live immersive, learning experience embedding STEM subjects in a realistic, interactive crime scene. Research in Learning Technology, 24 (1)
  • Intelligent Bio-Environments: Exploring Fuzzy Logic Approaches to the Honeybee Crisis
    Intelligent Bio-Environments: Exploring Fuzzy Logic Approaches to the Honeybee Crisis Bassford, Marie; Painter, B. This paper presents an overview of how fuzzy logic can be employed to model intelligent bio-environments. It explores how non-invasive monitoring techniques, combined with sensor fusion, can be used to generate a warning signal if a critical event within the natural environment is on the horizon. The honeybee hive is presented as a specific example of an intelligent bio-environment that unfortunately, under certain indicative circumstances, can fail within the natural world. This is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The paper describes the design of a fuzzy logic methodology that utilizes input from non-invasive beehive monitoring systems, combining data from dedicated sensors and other disparate sources. An overview is given of two fuzzy logic approaches that are being explored in the context of the beehive; a fuzzy logic system and an Adaptive Neuro-Fuzzy Inference System (ANFIS). Project in collaboration with the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) Bassford, M. and Painter, B. (2016) Intelligent Bio-Environments: Exploring Fuzzy Logic Approaches to the Honeybee Crisis. Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE'16), 14-16 September 2016, London, UK.
  • Real Engagement
    Real Engagement Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. Pedagogical practice in STEM education is directed to authentic learning approaches in order to engage students and develop graduates with the skills employers demand. This pecha kucha considers the outcomes of this approach to learning and assessment in a physics and mathematics module at De Montfort University. The collaborative CrashEd project was developed by university Teacher Fellows, academic specialists, police crime scene investigators and and an FE college Theatrical Make-up and Special Effects department. The result is a ‘real life’ car crash. Undergraduates have been taught a wide range of forensic crash investigation skills on a cross-faculty module by academics and police staff. These include criminology, blood pattern analysis, skid mark and light bulb analysis alongside forensic entomology and palynology (creepy crawlies and pollen!) Teaching and formative assessments utilise realistic learning tools including the university’s forensic house and a bespoke crashed car. Qualitative evidence drawn from multiple deliveries of the course suggest that authentic assessment is a valuable tool for improving student learning outcomes and delivering key insights into workplace practices. Students were enthused by this novel approach; “It was such a refreshing change to our usual assessments”. Academics were equally enthused by the professionalism displayed by the students as they became emersed in the realism of the summative assessment investigation. This involved students collating evidence at the scene of a fatal car crash, complete with a realistically injured manikin. Assessment has never been such fun, both for the students and the academics! Bassford, M., O'Sullivan, A., Bacon, J., Crisp, A., Fowler, M. (2016) Real Engagement. Proceedings of the Raising, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement Conference (RAISE) 2016, held at Loughborough University 8-9 September 2016

Click here to view a full listing of Marie Bassford's publications and outputs

Research interests/expertise

Optics/Imaging Technology, STEM pedagogy.

Areas of teaching

Current: ENGD1101 Engineering Mathematics 1, ENGD3000 Individual Project,

Past: IMAT2203 Clasical Mechanics, PHYS1001 Physics Fundamentals, PHYS2002 Optics, PHYS4001 Physics Project, STEM2001 Forensic Investigation, STEM2002 Education for Mathematics and Physics, TECH1004 Media Capture and Processing, TECH2004 Video and Imaging Techniques, TECH2003 Electronic Sound and Vision, TECH3025 Imaging Technology.



MPhys Physics (1997 from the University of Leicester)

PhD Physics (2001 from the University of Leicester)

Courses taught

BEng/MEng Electrical Engineering, BEng/MEng Mechanical Engineering, BEng/MEng Aeronautical Engineering, BEng/MEng Energy Engineering, BEng/MEng Mechatronics, BSc/MPhys Physics, BSc Multimedia Computing, BSc Media Technology, BSc Media Production, BSc Audio and Recording Technology

Honours and awards

Advance HE "Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence" (CATE award) 2018

Membership of external committees

British Science Association, Treasurer (Leicestershire Branch)

Membership of professional associations and societies

Member of the Institute of Physics MInstP 2001 to present


CrashEd - An interactive learning experience, delivered by De Montfort University, showcasing STEM subjects in a hands-on car crash scenario.


Consultancy work

2011 Consultancy project with Rolls Royce (Civil Nuclear)

2012 Consultancy project with Rolls Royce (On-wing)

2013 Consultancy for iForce

2014 Consultancy for Everards Brewery

Internally funded research project information

Project Title: Evaluating the Performance of Physics Students on the Autistic Spectrum within HE.

Funding Source: Teaching Innovation Project (TIP 2017), awarded February 2017. 

Role: Principal Investigator.


Project Title: Development of forensic investigation cross-faculty module and crime scene outreach activities across the maths/physics/forensic subject disciplines. 

Funding Source: Teaching Innovation Project (TIP 2015), awarded June 2015. Project commenced July 2015.

Role: Co-Principal Investigator.


Project Title: Development of crime scene outreach activities and investigation into a cross-faculty module across the maths/physics/forensic subject disciplines.

Funding Source: Teaching Innovation Project (TIP 2014), awarded June 2014. Project commenced September 2014.

Role: Co-Principal Investigator.


Project Title: From Proof-of-Principle to Prototype: Industry Applications of Novel Visual Environment Sensor.

Funding Source: Higher Education Innovation Fund for Research (HEIF Round 5), Networking funding awarded August 2014. 

Role: Co-Principal Investigator.


Project Title: Development of a novel visual environment sensor for advanced monitoring applications to improve comfort, well-being and energy efficiency in buildings.

Funding Source: Higher Education Innovation Fund for Research (HEIF Round 5), awarded summer 2013. Proof of principle funding awarded January 2014. 

Role: Co-Principal Investigator.


Project Title: Medical and industrial applications of multi-exposure imaging on portable, cost-effective programmable cameras.

Funding Source: Revolving Investment Fund for Research (RIF Round 4), awarded December 2012. Project commenced January 2013.

Role: Principal Investigator.