Dr David Johnston

Dr David Johnston
MA (Hons), PGCE, MEd, PhD


Dr David Johnston
Dr David Johnston

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274646
The University of Aberdeen Room 517  MacRobert Building School of Education King's College Aberdeen University AB24 5UA


I have been active in Initial Teacher Education since 1999, firstly as a Lecturer at Northern College and then in the School of Education at the University of Aberdeen. Prior to this, I was a secondary English teacher with 17 years' experience in Aberdeenshire.

My teaching focuses mainly on Literacy, where I work with both primary and secondary graduates and undergraduates. I am joint course leader for the PGDE Secondary English. More recently I have assumed responsibility for supporting Masters and PhD students. With Liz Curtis, I am currently  joint PGR Co-ordinator and PGR Officer. I supervise a number of both Masters and PhD students, with a particular focus on student teacher placement research.

I completed a PhD in 2016, entitled 'a sociocultural perspective on student teacher belonging as an achievement, in a school placement context'. I have published on student teachers' experiences on school placement and am interested in the implications of taking an ecological stance on practicum. This has involved working to explore the relational connections of Barbara Rogoff's personal, interpersonal and community levels of student teacher development as these work in interplay with the temporal dimensions of Emirbayer and Mische's iterational, practical-evaluative and projective levels of influence on action. The fusion of these theoretical ideas has enabled me to create an original theoretical framework for understanding student teacher learning and development in school placement situations. I have also become interested in the emotional dimensions of micropolitical activity in schools, focusing on student teachers in particular. I have also become interested in learning at the boundaries of systems, learning at the edges - again with specific respect to the experiences of student teachers on placement.


Research Interests

Student Teachers' Field Experiences

Student Teachers' development of  a 'Sense of Belonging' while on school placement

Workplace learning - specifically looking at beginning teachers' learning experiences in the school as a workplace

Socio-Cultural Theories of learning and development, with particular emphasis on the early development experiences of student teachers while on placement


Secondary School Departments as Communities of Practice

Current Research

Student Teachers and Belongingness while on school placement - with Yvonne Dewhurst

Tensions in student teachers' experiences of learning on school placement


With Aberdeen City Literacy Group

With Aberdeenshire Literacy Strategy Group


Teaching Responsibilities

Education MA - ED2555 Learning and Teaching In and Through the Curriculum

Education MA - ED 3004 and ED3005  MA 3 Literacy Tutor

Education MA - ED 4017 and ED4052 The Emerging Professional (Curriculum)

Education Chartered Teacher - MEd Work Based Practice: Course Co-ordinator and Dissertation Supervisor

Education PGDE (P) ED4018 and ED 4511: PGDE Primary Curriculum

Education PGDE (S) ED 4018 and ED 4511 FT English Tutor

Depute Director Postgraduate Studies and PhD Supervisor




Further Info

Admin Responsibilities

Course Leader: Literacy and English Course in Education BEd - ED 4017 and ED4052 The Emerging Professional (Curriculum)

Course Leader: Education PGDE P and S ED4018 and ED4511: Further Professional Studies Tutor: Literacy For All

Co-Leader: Education PGDE (S) FT English

Co-Leader : Belongingness Research Study

Course Co-ordinator: MSc/MEd Work Based Project Dissertation

Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies



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  • Johnston, DH 2006, 'Johnston, D. H. (2006) "You don't know how important staff relationships are until it's a bad situation you're in." PGDE Secondary English students' interactions with host teachers on school placement and the impact of these on learning to become a teacher.'.
  • Johnston, DH 2006, 'Johnston, D.H. (2006) Report on Analysis of Bed 1 student teachers’ perceptions of field experience. Paper presented as part of STNE symposium, SERA Conference, Perth, 2006'.
  • Johnston, DH 2005, 'Johnston, D.H.(2005) ‘PGDE Secondary English Student Teachers’ Interactions with Colleagues on School Placement: a study of the emotional dimensions of learning to be a teacher.'.
  • Johnston, DH 2004, 'Student Teachers' Thinking about Teaching and the Use of Reflective Logs in Supporting the Ownership of Conceptual Change'.
  • Johnston, DH 2003, 'Johnston, D.H (2003) ‘A Study of PGCE English Students’ Personal Constructs of ‘Teaching’ and ‘Learning’: Paper presented at 2003 SERA Conference in Perth.'.
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