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Professor Rebecca Strachan

Faculty Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Knowledge Exchange / Professor of Digital Technology and Education

Department: Computer and Information Sciences

Rebecca Strachan is the Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Knowledge Exchange within the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, and Professor of Digital Technology and Education. Rebecca is on a sabbatical in semester 2 of the 2017-18 academic year.

Becky 2 Dec 2014

I really enjoy being part of academic life at Northumbria University and value the opportunities this brings to work with students, undertake research in computing and learning and teaching and collaborate with our various partners across the region and more globally.  

I left school unsure whether to study mathematics or chemistry at university. Eventually I went to study Chemistry at the University of Sheffield. I then worked for Sheffield Friends of the Earth setting up a recycling scheme before returning to academic study and completing a MSc in Computer Studies (with distinction) at Sheffield Polytechnic. After this I worked for Midland Bank as a computer programmer before heading off to Leeds Polytechnic as a researcher to investigate the performance of computer networks where I gained my PhD in 1991.

I became a computing lecturer at Leeds Polytechnic specialising in computer networks, and stayed there for several years before moving to Sheffield Hallam University to take up a senior lectureship. During this time I developed an interest in e-learning mainly through leading the postgraduate distance learning courses in computer networks. I also led on business development and spent some of my time as a professional trainer in the IT training facility. Following my appointment to Head of Postgraduate within the Faculty, I became responsible for the postgraduate student experience from those taking fine art degrees through to journalism, computing and materials engineering. I was delighted to take up a senior management role in 2008 here at Northumbria initially with the main focus on learning and teaching but now as Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Knowledge Exchange.

I enjoy living in the vibrant city of Newcastle and being close to the beautiful North East coastline and countryside. I like walking and gardening and spending time with family and friends.

Campus Address

Ellison Building
D Block, Room D109

0191 227 3979


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD: End User Performance of Computer Networks, Leeds Beckett University
  • MSc Computer Studies (Distinction), Sheffield Hallam University
  • BSc Chemistry 2(ii), University of Sheffield


Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Digital Technology and Education. I explore the use of technology in education from school to higher education and beyond. This encompasses learning, teaching and assessment that is face to face as well as that conducted at a distance. Recent work has explored the use of online gaming to support language learning and mathematics teaching; how students are using technology in both formal and informal settings, and how to use technology effectively to support work based learning including the full range of stakeholders.
  • Active learning and student engagement. I am particularly interested in techniques that ensure students are active participants in their learning. This encompasses authentic learning, innovative use of technology, peer student support and assessment and team work.
  • Performance and end user experience of computer networks and technology. Computer performance and network management often use ‘average’ measures of performance leaving individual users with isolated performance issues. I am interested in the performance and experience of end users of technology in a variety of settings from education, work and social/home, and recently undertook a study to provide insights into how home and business users are using emerging broadband technologies.
  • STEM and Diversity. This has grown out of a concern for the lack of diversity particularly in computer and physical sciences, technology and engineering. With a focus on gender and other under-represented groups, I am engaged in research examining interventions that can alleviate this situation to ultimately create a more diverse and therefore more sustainable and successful set of disciplines. I am also a STEM ambassador, delivering outreach activities to local schools and colleges.
  • Green ICT. With the growing use of ICT across the globe, sustainable use of technology is of increasing importance. Recent work has looked at the university’s own use of ICT and how to make it more sustainable including low power PCs and more energy efficient computer networks.

Key Publications

2017 Strachan, R., Dele-Ajayi, O., Sanderson, J., Pickard, A., A Modified TAM for Predicting Acceptance of Digital Educational Games by Teachers, IEEE EDUCON 2017, Athens, Greece, April 25-28 2017.

2016 Dele-Ajayi, O., Strachan, R., Pickard, A., Sanderson, J., Learning Mathematics through Serious Games: an Engagement Framework, IEEE Frontiers in Education, Erie, USA, October 12-15 2016. 

2016 Padwick, A., Dele-Ajayi, O., Davenport, C., Strachan, R., Innovative methods for evaluating the science capital of young people, IEEE Frontiers in Education, Erie, USA, October 12-15 2016. 

2016 Strachan, R., Moscardini, A., Vlasova, T., Palka, P., Reshaping the Higher Education System in Ukraine through Improvements in the Student Experience: A Pan European Action Research Approach, Higher Education Conference, Amsterdam, July 2016.

2014 Strachan, R., Liyanage, L., ‘Active Student Engagement: The Heart of Effective Learning’. Chapter in Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Eds. Layne, Prudence C., and Lake, Peter, Springer.

2014 Farid, Dewan Md, Li Zhang, Chowdhury Mofizur Rahman, M. A. Hossain, and Rebecca Strachan. "Hybrid decision tree and naïve Bayes classifiers for multi-class classification tasks." Expert Systems with Applications 41, no. 4 (2014): 1937-1946.

2013 Liyanage, L., Strachan, R., Penlington, R., Casselden B., Design of educational systems for work based learning (WBL): the learner experience, Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 3(1), pp. 51 – 61

Emerald Highly Commended Literati Award Winner 2014: Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning 

A full list of publications is available on Northumbria Research Link and my academic profile is on Google Scholar

Professional Activity

Membership of professional organisations:

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) UK,
  • Member of Council for Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC),
  • Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • From January 2017, Elected committee member of the IEEE Education Society

Recent Speaker Invitations:

  • 2017 Invited Speaker to Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar: Technology in Higher Education - data analytics, the learning experience and next steps for MOOCs, 18th October 2017.
  • 2016  Invited Speaker to Auril Annual Conference, 6th – 7th  October 2016, Edinburgh. Title of session: Degree Apprenticeships: A new way for Universities to engage with Industry.
  • 2015  Invited Speaker to Socitm North East Regional Meeting on Pressing Issues/Future Workforce, 17th July 2015, Durham. Title of Talk: Diversity in the Workplace – Women in ICT.
  • 2015  Invited to participate in BQ North East Live Debate in association with BT, 24th March 2015, Newcastle,
  • 2015  Invited Speaker to the Inside Government forum on The Next Steps in Delivering Higher Apprenticeships, 18th March 2015, London. Title of Talk: Case Study: Launching Innovative Models of University-Led Higher Apprenticeships.



Other Professional Activities:

  • 2017  External Panel Member, Periodic Collaborative Review of Derby College as a Validated Centre of the University and FdSc Construction Management by Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, 17th July 2017.
  • 2016 => External Panel Reviewer for Athena Swan
  • 2009 - 2013: Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Auditor.
  • Conference technical programme committee member for IEEE Educon 2018, ALT-C 2011, 2012 and 2013; Member of Editorial Board, ITALICS Journal, Higher Education Academy (HEA); External Reviewer: HEA ICS Subject Centre – learning and teaching funding applications and ITALICS journals, Computers and Education journal, ALT-C, various IET and IEEE network conferences;
  • External examiner for PhD thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University; Internal examiner for Professional Doctorate, Northumbria University;
  • External examiner for BSc programmes, University of Ulster and MSc programme, University of Hertfordshire. Past external examiner for MSc programmes, Swansea Metropolitan University and University of East London;

Current/Recent Projects

2017-2019  Building Routes into Degrees with Greater Equality (BRIDGE): a project led by Gateshead College in conjunction with Northumbria University and Derby College securing funding of £317k from HEFCE Catalyst Fund. A key aim of the project is to break down existing socio-economic and cultural barriers and improve the diversity of graduate recruitment and employment in the construction industry. R Strachan is the Principal Investigator at Northumbria University responsible for funding of £127k.  Website:

2016-2018: Creative Fuse North East: Led by Newcastle University, Creative Fuse North East investigates how new approaches to innovation-led problem solving can support the region's creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector. Co-strategic lead at Northumbria with Heather Robson. Funding £1.2 million from AHRC.

2016-2018: Digital Ideas Centre: a summer internship scheme for computer science students working with local community and charitable organisations, and NUSTEM. R Strachan is the university lead, securing £10k of external funding from the Sir James Knott Trust.

2016-2018: British Council Internationalisation of Higher Education Programme. Secured a mobility grant for UK – Ukraine collaboration with one of the leading universities in the Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv to strengthen their university leadership and explore the concepts of a Skills Plus Portal for Leadership to support both staff and students. Graduate employability, science communication and outreach and technology enhanced learning are also key areas of work. Funding £12k.

2016-2017  HEFCE Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund (DADF). Focused on expansion of degree apprentices in the digital, built environment and business sectors, R Strachan is Co-Investigator. Funding £140k.

2015-2016: User Evaluation of Broadband Technologies. Principal Investigator exploring the consumer and business users’ experience of newer broadband technologies at three UK locations.

2014-2017: Faculty executive lead on NUSTEM (formerly Think Physics), an innovative, cradle-to-career project aimed at using physics to inspire young people, particularly girls and other under-represented groups into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. This three year project is supported by the HEFCE catalyst fund and uses a partnership approach to engage young people. Partners include employers, science and education trusts and museums, local authorities and schools. The project has two key strands: one aimed at the young people themselves from early years to sixth form, and the second focussed on their key influences: teachers, families, and the wider community. Funding (including partner contributions) £3.2 million. Website:

2012 -2016: CLINK: Centre of Excellence for Learning, Innovation, Networking and Knowledge under Joint Projects Sub Programme of Tempus IV. This project aims to strengthen links and encourage exchange between Asian and European partner institutions through research activities focusing on health informatics, green communication, green energy disaster management, business process automation and technology enhanced learning. Over 100 scholarships will also be offered to the Asian partners for students, researchers and academic staff to study at six European universities over the project’s four years. Northumbria is the lead partner, with R Strachan a key member of the team focusing on ‘Technology Enhanced Solutions’ for education. Funding: 2.5 million Euros

2012 – 2016:  IMPRESS: Improving the Efficiency of Student Services under the Structural Measures Sub Programme of Tempus IV. The role and status of students in Ukraine lags behind that of European students. This project seeks to draw on expertise from Northumbria and two other European universities, to establish fully operating modern Student Support Service Centres in four leading classical Ukrainian universities. R Strachan is the primary contact, Northumbria is the lead partner. Funding: 880,000 Euros. Website:

Sponsors and Collaborators

Current and recent research, and learning and teaching projects are being conducted with the collaboration, funding and/or support of:

  • EU Tempus Programme
  • British Council
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
  • Reece Foundation
  • James Knott Trust

Externally funded international collaborations have included the European Students Union, Belgium; Ukraine Ministry for Science and Education; University of Cordoba, Spain; Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine; and Tomas Batu University, Czech Republic.

Externally funded UK collaborations have included the International Centre for Life, Institute of Physics, Engineering Council, British Telecom, Sheffield Hallam University and Leeds Beckett University. 

PGR Supervision

Research supervision of 10 successful PhDs completion and 1 MPhil. Supervisor of 3 PhD students and 1 Professional Doctorate student;


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