Dr Alke Groppel-Wegener

Associate Professor (Tef)

School of Digital, Technologies and Arts

My undergraduate studies revolved mainly around the theatre – after reading Theatre, Film and Radio Studies in Erlangen, Germany, I moved to England to study Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Based on this I developed a particular interest in not only the design of experiences (further explored through my MPhil), but also how creative practice is externalised and shared (an aspect of which I investigated for my doctoral thesis on the role of writing in design education). I have worked in the theatre environment for a few years, designing shows, conducting evaluative research and teaching Design for Performance on an hourly basis.
Since taking up my post at Staffordshire University in 2008, I have become particularly interested in learning and teaching in the arts, media and design context. After being awarded a Teaching Excellence Fellowship by the university in 2011, I have developed a creative and innovative teaching approach called ‘Tactile Academia’, which is based on the exploration of the links between academic and creative practice. My main aim is to make academic conventions accessible to students, by utilising visual analogies and metaphors, and incorporating object-based learning, thinking-through-making and exploratory writing tasks. You can find out more about this work at: www.tactileacademia.com

My creative practice is currently focused around the written word and its visual possibilities, as well as around questions of identify. During a sabbatical term in 2014 I was visiting scholar and artist-in-residence at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, culminating in a solo exhibition at PRESS gallery in North Adams, MA. My artist’s books are held in collections around the world.

Professional memberships and activities

I am a member of the Design Research Society and its Special Interest Group on Design Pedagogy, as well as the Staffordshire University’s representative of the Writing PAD network.

Academic qualifications

PhD, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2005
Thesis: The Role of Writing in Design Education in the UK

MPhil by research, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2001
Thesis: Rethinking the Modern Museum

Post-graduate Certificate in Higher and Professional Education (with Distinction), Staffordshire University, 2011

BA(Hons) Performing Arts (Performance Design) (First Class), Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, 1999


Areas of expertise include experiential learning, object-based learning, sharing creative practice, writing in design education, academic writing, visual metaphors and analogies.

Research interests

My main research interest at the moment is exploring ways of linking academic and creative practice. I am currently working on taking this beyond the realms of art and design to investigate whether the visual methods developed as part of Tactile Academia can be useful to other disciplines as well.

Enterprise and commercial interests

As a creative practitioner I sell my art work and as an educational consultant I have organised and facilitated workshops all around the UK.


Contributing to first year modules in 3D Design/Crafts, Animation, Comic and Cartoon Arts, Film and Media Production, Photography, Photojournalism, Product and Transport Design, Surface Pattern and Textile Surfaces, providing an introduction to academic writing and research skills.
Module Leader of contextual module for Animation students.

Module leader of MA Research Methods Seminar, a module designed to build up advanced research skills at Level 7.
Contributor to Approaches to Flexible Learning, a module that allows students to put together a Learning Contract for their own tailor-made Masters study.


Journal Papers
Groppel-Wegener, A (2015) “How to design an academic quilt – An artefactual conversation” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 7, No 2, 233-247 (forthcoming)
Groppel-Wegener, A (2013) ‘The Button Connection – Embedding Quotations’ Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 6, No 2, 293-297
Groppel-Wegener, A and Williamson, S. (2013) ‘”…and I remember every single session!” – on the usefulness of making reflective books as active note-taking’ Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 6, No 2, 155-167
Groppel-Wegener, A (2012) ‘Developing Academic Writing Skills in Art and Design through Blogging’ Journal of Academic Writing, Vol 2, No1
Groppel-Wegener, A and Francis, P (2012) ‘Making the Workshop work: A dialogue between Alke Groppel-Wegener and Pat Francis’ Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 5, No 2, 291-300
Groppel-Wegener, A (2011) ‘Beyond the Object – an exploration of collections in arts, media and design teaching’ Networks Magazine, Volume 15

Book Chapters
Groppel-Wegener, A (2013) ‘The Winning Hand of Independence’ in: Walsh, A. and Coonan, E. eds. (2013). Only Connect … Discovery pathways, library explorations, and the information adventure. Huddersfield: Innovative Libraries
Groppel-Wegener, A and Walton, G (2013) ‘The Fishscale of Academicness’ in: Walsh, A. and Coonan, E. eds. (2013). Only Connect … Discovery pathways, library explorations, and the information adventure. Huddersfield: Innovative Libraries
Groppel-Wegener, A (2011) ‘Creating heritage experiences through architecture’ in: Jackson, A and Kidd, J eds. (2011) Performing heritage: Research, practice and innovation in museum theatre and live interpretation. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 39-52
Groppel-Wegener, A (2011) ‘Found in Translation’ in: Felcey, H. ed (2011) Pairings Conference Papers, Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University, available at: http://www.miriad.mmu.ac.uk/pairings/, 3-4
Groppel-Wegener, A (2010) ‘Draw over me if you like’ in: Groppel-Wegener, A ed. (2010) Pairings: Exploring Collaborative Creative Practice [catalogue of the Pairings Project]. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University, 44-45

Editorial Work
Guest editor of Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, (2013) Vol 6, No 2
Groppel-Wegener, A (2013) ‘Writing in Creative Practice ‘on tour’ (editorial) Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 6, No 2, 151-153
Editor of Pairings: Exploring Collaborative Creative Practice, (2010) the catalogue of the Pairings Project based at Manchester Metropolitan University
Member of the Editorial board and peer-reviewer for Innovative Practice in Higher Education

Book Reviews
Groppel-Wegener, A (2014) ‘Design Education – Learning, Teaching and Researching Through Design by Philippa Lyon’ Innovative Practice in Higher Education, Vol 2, No 1
Groppel-Wegener, A (2013) ‘Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword’ Innovative Practice in Higher Education, Vol 1, No 3
Groppel-Wegener, A (2012) ‘Writing in the Disciplines edited by Mary Deane and Peter O’Neill’ Innovative Practice in Higher Education, Vol 1, No 2

Keynote Address
‘The Importance of Sharing Practice’, Pairings Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 12 May 2011

Full Papers
‘I’m An Artist Not A Writer!’, International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research conference Writing Research Across Borders III, 19-22 February 2014, Paris (with Dr Fiona English)
‘Testing the waters – can the use of visual sensibilities in teaching information literacy be successful in art and design and beyond?’ Cumulus conference 2013, 7-9 November 2013, Dublin
‘Thinking through Making – The Missing Link in Academic Writing?’, Writing Development in Higher Education conference 2012, Liverpool 2-4 July 2012
‘Developing Academic Writing Skills in Art and Design’, European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing conference 2011 in Limerick, Ireland, 29 June – 1 July 2011
‘Developing Digital Literacies in the Context of Creative Practice’, Computer Assisted Learning conference 2011, Manchester, UK, on 13-15 April 2011
‘From Object to Academic Paper – the use of visual and tactile research methods to provide authentic context’, International Visual Sociology Conference 2011, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, 6-8 July 2011
‘Developing Haptic Knowledge – The Betty Smithers Design Collection at Staffordshire University’, Cabinet: Connection and Collection: Design Knowledge conference at the University of Plymouth, 17 May 2011
‘Using a Practitioner’s Blog to develop Reflection-on-action’, International Perspectives in Art and Design Pedagogy, Leeds College of Art, 8 October 2010
‘The Practitioner’s Blog: Reflection-On-Action in Web 2.0’, Designs on eLearning conference, Savannah, Georgia, USA, 15-17 September 2010
‘Experiential, Embedded, Electronic – Integrating Academic Skills into the Art and Design Curriculum’, Design Research Society conference 2010, Montreal, Canada, 7-9 July 2010; repeated in a revised format at the DRS Special Interest Group Design Pedagogy on 28 January 2011, Coventry, UK

‘Tactile Academia – Integrating Creative Practice into Teaching and Learning’ (panel chair) at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference 2012, with Sarah Williamson and Dr Lisa Gold. McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 23-28 October 2012
‘Creative Collaborations’ invited panel member of discussion for Craft Northern Ireland’s Crafts Month at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 August 2011

Conference Workshops
‘I’m an artist not a writer! Exploring genre as a pedagogical resource’ (with Peter Thomas and Dr Fiona English), Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE): Future Directions in Academic Writing conference, 9-11 July 2014, Coventry
‘Hunting Seamonsters: How to bust the ghosts of academic practice’ (with Lesley Raven and Dr Katy Vigurs) at HEA Arts and Humanities conference, 2-4 June 2014, Salford
‘Exploring the Fishscale of Academicness: Visual Analogies in Study Skills Teaching’ Eighth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices – Design as Collective Intelligence, 16-18 January 2014, Vancouver
pre-conference workshop ‘ Pop Up Tactile Academia – Developing Reflective Thinking through Book Making’ at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference 2012, co-facilitated with Sarah Williamson and Dr Lisa Gold. McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 23-28 October 2012

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