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Professor David Read BSc PhD

Professorial Fellow in Chemical Education, Head of Education

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Professor David Read is Professorial Fellow in Chemical Education within Chemistry at the University of Southampton.


David Read obtained his BSc in Chemistry (1996) and PhD in Organic Chemistry (1999) from the University of Bristol, the latter under the supervision of Professor Roger Alder FRS. After two years postdoctoral work with Professor Peter Gaspar at Washington University, St Louis (USA), he then trained as a chemistry teacher on the Graduate Teacher Programme at Theale Green Community School, just outside Reading. In 2007, he was appointed as School Teacher Fellow in Chemistry at Southampton. David was promoted to Principal Teaching Fellow in 2013, and is currently Head of the Education Group and Director of Outreach in Chemistry. David is also the Programme Leader for the Science Foundation Year, where he is responsible for all chemistry teaching and pastoral care.

David was a member of the RSC’s Education Division Council from 2009 until 2012, and has been a member of the editorial board of Education in Chemistry since 2009, holding the position of chair since December 2010. David has also worked with a number of A-level awarding bodies, advising on changes to specifications and providing viewpoints from both sides of the school-university divide. David has spoken at a number of international conferences, including an invited keynote at the International Conference on Chemical Education in Sri Lanka and an invited lecture at the European Conference on Research in Chemical Education in Finland, both in 2014.

David received a Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 2008 for his role in integrating new forms of learning technology in teaching in Chemistry. In 2010, David was the recipient of the RSC’s Higher Education Teaching Award and the 'Most effective use of video in an educational context' award from the Association for Learning Technology. David’s contributions were recognised by students when he was awarded the 2014 ‘Lifetime Achievement Award: Teaching and Learning’ for the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences after being nominated by students in Chemistry and on the Science Foundation Year. David became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2014.

The School Teacher Fellow’s role

Funding from the RSC’s Chemistry for our Future programme supported the project from 2007-2009, with David splitting his time equally between the development of innovative educational resources to provide support for students making the transition from School-to-University and delivering outreach activities in local schools and colleges. Many of the new approaches implemented at Southampton have been inspired by the work of colleagues in other institutions, with the RSC School Teacher Fellow network proving a rich source of fresh ideas. The networks established during the course of Chemistry for our Future and the HE STEM Programme which followed have been extremely valuable in the development and dissemination of resources and ideas. Since taking on the role of Programme Leader (Science Foundation Year) in 2012, David has been producing new teaching materials and resources which have been shared with GCSE and A-level teachers via the internet and during CPD sessions.

Learning Technology

David first developed an interest in the field of Learning Technology while teaching at secondary level, and has built on that foundation since coming to Southampton. David has worked extensively on the use of electronic voting systems (‘zappers’) and the deployment of different types of video resources and has published a number of articles on these topics. In 2009, Chemistry pioneered the use of recorded lectures to support students in coming to terms with the different learning approaches required for success at university. David has subsequently worked with a number of colleagues who have adopted Tablet PCs as a tool for the delivery of material in lectures, this being an approach which has attracted positive feedback from students. Since taking over teaching of the chemistry component of the Science Foundation Year, David has pioneered the ‘flipped learning’ approach, working in collaboration with national leaders such as Professor Simon Lancaster at the University of East Anglia to promote the value of this strategy in making more effective use of precious face-to-face time and enhancing the learning experience for students.

Virtual Learning Environments have become almost ubiquitous in the delivery of online learning in schools and universities, and the initiatives developed at Southampton have greatly extended the use of the VLE (Blackboard) by staff and students alike. An innovative use of the VLE for the delivery of the Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme resulted in David being nominated for the ‘Blackboard award’ by the Centre for Innovations in Technologies and Education in 2013. As technology develops further, the scope for effective online learning will grow, and this is an exciting time to be at the forefront of developments.

Outreach and interaction with schools and colleges

In his first two years at Southampton, David worked with Professor Gill Reid, who was then Director of Outreach, and to expand the programme of outreach with local schools and colleges. In 2010 David took on the role of Director of Outreach in Chemistry, in which he has ensured that work with the young scientists and citizens of the future remains an important feature of activities in the department. Interactive talks, featuring the use of zappers, have been in great demand, with different versions being given to youngsters at different levels of education from ages 10-18. A talk on biofuels and sustainability has proved to be particularly popular, and David has delivered the talk to over 8000 pupils in the South East and beyond over the last 7 years. This particular talk includes discussion of the cutting edge research being done at Southampton in the fields of catalysis, fuel cells and lithium ion batteries.

David worked closely with a number of regional Science Learning Centres to design and deliver a range of CPD courses for practising chemistry teachers and continues to facilitate such courses in various parts of the country. He has also worked with a large number of teachers in schools and colleges locally and nationally to promote the implementation of a range of new initiatives, including the use of voting technology, educational video and ‘flipped teaching’. These activities have contributed to successful action research projects, some of which have been discussed in articles written for Education in Chemistry and other publications.

David retains a strong interest in primary and secondary education, having spent a great deal of time in schools and colleges since 2007. A review of the content of A-level chemistry and the prospects for students embarking on chemistry degrees from 2010 onwards has been produced for use by colleagues across UK HE. David has also commented frequently in Education in Chemistry and other outlets on matters of concern in STEM education.

Beyond the chalkface

David enjoys spending time with his family and has already introduced his young daughters to the wonders of science. David has played bass guitar since his second year at university, and played sporadically from 2010-2013 with Punk Recruit, a London-based outfit who have featured on BBC 6 Music. David also enjoys walking and cycling, as well as assisting with the growing of a variety of vegetables (including unfeasibly large quantities of courgettes and pumpkins) in the back garden. David is an avid follower of a number of sports, most notably football (supporting Everton and Torquay United), Formula 1 and Baseball (St. Louis Cardinals).




Research interests

Chemical Education Research

David has been developing a programme of chemical education research over recent years, and has published in excess of 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals, magazines and the University of Southampton’s EdShare repository. David has supervised a number of undergraduate project students, and their work has contributed substantially to the progress that has been made in this area. David’s first Masters student, Charles Harrison, graduated in the summer of 2013 and continues to contribute to learning development projects and outreach as a staff member with the Education Group in Chemistry. David is currently supervising a Ph.D student, Tom Wilson, who is working on a range of projects relating to the implementation of learning technology and self-regulated learning. David is also co-supervising an MPhil student, Rachel Koramoah, with Dr Paul Duckmanton in Chemistry. Rachel is investigating the factors which influence students’ perceptions of chemistry at different ages.

Undergraduate project students and their dissertation titles:

Charles Harrison (BSc 2010, MA 2013): “Investigating the effectiveness of new approaches to teaching chemistry”

Rosie Brooks (BSc 2011): “Student perceptions of the impact of practical work in secondary school science”

Joanne Boniface (BSc 2011): “Investigating the significance of sharing learning outcomes with students in higher education”

Sarah Dinsdale (BSc 2011): “Video mark schemes to support pupil self-assessment in GCSE Science”

Hannah Ambler (BSc 2011): “Video resources for use in A-level chemistry classrooms”

Anneka McLeod (BSc 2012): “Combining animations and videos the help students to understand difficult concepts in chemistry”

Mariam Mohd Adenan (BSc 2012): “Evaluation of new approaches to laboratory work in physical chemistry”

Dawn Seddon (MChem 2013): “Context-based A-level teaching resources based on cutting edge research in Chemistry at Southampton: Creation and evaluation”

Steve Barnes (BSc 2014): “Enhancing A-level Students’ Skills in Mechanistic Organic Chemistry”

Research group(s)


References and links

1) For an example, see:

2) News release regarding the 2010 ALT/Epigeum award for ‘Most effective use of video’.

3) Read, D. and Harrison, C. K., Review of A-level Chemistry Content. (accessed September 2010).

4) a) The Wax Fireball: 

b) The Mushroom Cloud Reaction:

c) Nitrogen Tri-iodide:




Professor David Read
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 30/4047

Telephone: (023) 8059 8562

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