Dr. Caroline Zwierzchowska-Dod

Dr. Caroline Zwierzchowska-Dod

United Kingdom
PhD Education

What Faculty are you based in?

I was in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, in the newly formed Department of Education and Childhood Studies, where I was the first PhD to graduate following studying with the department.

How did you come to study at Swansea University?

I followed my supervisor, Professor Janet Goodall, who moved to Swansea University. As I felt that with PhD study, the supervisor relationship was of more importance than the place of study, I came too! My PhD itself comes after two previous degrees in Education, both taken at the University of Cambridge, and a career as a primary school headteacher.

What is your research topic?

My thesis is entitled “Books, Babies and Bonding” and looks into the impact of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a programme which gifts a book a month to over 2 million children from birth to age five. My research looked into families experiences of receiving gifted books and on the educational attainment of children in relation to programme involvement.

What led to your interest in this area?

As parent and former teacher/headteacher I have seen my own children and those in my care enjoying early experiences with books. When this research project was advertised, I was drawn to is as it encompassed many strands of my professional and personal life experiences. Tawney (1931) expressed the idea that what the nation desires for all children should be what a wise parent would desire for their own children. This project offered me a chance to explore the research behind my personal values about the importance of reading and book-sharing with young children and to explore the views of other parents and the impacts on children.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?

It was really important to me that my doctoral study had real-world impact, so working on a project which would give a charity important information about whether or how their investment changed the lives of families and children was particularly appealing to me. Already, my research has led to local council investment in the Imagination Library and following producing public engagement materials to share my research findings I hope that more Imagination Libraries will be opened across the UK and beyond.

What are the best things about conducting your research at Swansea University?

Through the pandemic we had a fun, supportive online PGR group which kept us connected to each other from across the world.

What are your future plans?

I am hoping that as an associate researcher with Swansea I will be able to be involved in projects of interest, whilst using my skills as a social scientist to set up a private consultancy.