Dr Alke Groppel-Wegener

Associate Professor

School of Digital, Technologies and Arts

Alke is passionate about helping students link their creative practice to academic research, methods and contexts – work she received a National Teaching Fellowship for. Her own research is on (analogue) experiences and particularly theme park design.

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. 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. For this work I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015. 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.

In 2017 I joined the Animation team, leading the contextual studies ‘spine’ that accompanies the students throughout their studies.

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

Member of the Experience research Society (EXPRESSO)

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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


Academic Writing (and teaching thereof)

Adaptation Studies

Animation in Context

Experience Design

Experiential Learning

Visual metaphors and analogies

Research interests

Linking creative and academic practice

Experiential storytelling (mainly theme parks)


Enterprise and commercial interests

I run Tactile Academia, an educational consultancy focusing on the links between creative and academic practice that plans and facilitates workshop for HE staff and researchers.

As a creative practitioner I occasionally sell my art work, specifically artist books.


Contextual Studies for Animation


  • ‘Choose Your Own Collaboration: An adventure in academic time and space’ (with Eleanor Johnston and Lydia Bales) in: Abegglen, S., Burns, T. and Sinfield, S. eds. (forthcoming). Collaboration in Higher Education. Bloomsbury
  • ‘It’s a Game of Skill – Playful learning through board game design’ (with Helen Tracey and Katy Vigurs) in: Black, K. and Warhurst, R. eds. (2022). Organisational Studies and Human Resource Management: An Educator’s Handbook. Routledge
  • Critical Encounters with Immersive Storytelling (with Jenny Kidd) (2019). Routledge
  • Writing Essays by Pictures: a workbook (2016). Huddersfield: Innovative Libraries Press (this developed out of a crowdfunded limited edition in 2015)
  • 'Exploring 'academic depth' in Higher Education - A collaborative evaluation of a visual method for facilitating information discernment for HE students from varied disciplines' (with Leslie Raven, Helen Bowstead, Katy Vigurs and Geoff Walton) (2015). Innovative Practice in Higher Education, Vol 2 (2)
  • ‘The Fishscale of Academicness’ (with Geoff Walton) and ‘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
  • “How to design an academic quilt – An artefactual conversation” (2015). Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 7, No 2, 233-247
  • ‘”…and I remember every single session!” – on the usefulness of making reflective books as active note-taking’ (with Sarah Williamson) (2013). Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 6, No 2, 155-167
  • ‘Developing Academic Writing Skills in Art and Design through Blogging’ (2012). Journal of Academic Writing, Vol 2, No 1
  • ‘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
UK University

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Job Prospects

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

for Student Satisfaction

Complete University Guide 2022

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

for Course Content

StudentCrowd University Awards 2022

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021