Benjamin Looker


Ben has worked in a range of different and contrasting comprehensive schools, holding a variety of positions, including assistant headteacher for teaching and learning. Following this, Ben was a principal lecturer at University of Worcester where he developed his passion for educational research. Ben is now the Head of Education, Childhood and Professional Studies at the Newman University. His research interests are focused on social psychology of education, including examining the various manifestations of alienation pupils might experience while at secondary school. Having a background in natural sciences, but now researching in social sciences, Ben is particularly interested in the intersection of these two research disciplines and has formulated a critical realist approach to grounded theory with a focus on how this can be effectively used in educational research. 


Teaching Interests 

  • Studies in education 
  • Masters in education 
  • Doctoral supervision 

Research Interests 

  • Teacher/pupil relationships     
  • Alienation in secondary school education 
  • Teacher Identity 

Other Activities

Recent Publications 

Maulana, R., Kington, A., Ko, J., Feng, X., Helms-Lorenz, M., Looker, B., Blackmore, K. & Hibbert-Mayne, K.  (2023). Observing effective teaching behavior in the Netherlands, England, and the United States using the ICALT observation instrument. Frontiers in Education. 8:1170854.  

Looker, B., Kington, A., Hibbert-Mayne, K., Blackmore, K. & Buckler, S. (2023). The Illusion of Perspective: Examining the dynamic between teacher effectiveness and self-efficacy. In: Maulana et al (Eds), Effective Teaching around the World: Theoretical, empirical, methodological and practical insights. The Netherlands: Springer.  

Looker, B. (2022). The discovery of the implicit pupil-teacher social contract, Review of Education, 10(3), e3378. 

Looker, B. (2022). The pupil-teacher relationship. Psychology in the Classroom Podcast. Available at: Psychology in the Classroom: The Pupil-Teacher Relationship with Dr Ben Looker (  

Looker, B, Vickers, J and Kington, A (2021) The Case for a critical realist grounded theory research design. In: Dealing with Grounded Theory: Discussing, Learning, and Practice. Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp. 139-168. 

Koller, J., Looker, B and Delorenzo, J (2021) A bitter pill to swallow: is tablet technology the answer to a catch-up curriculum? Science Teacher Education, 89. pp. 15-20. 

Looker, B and Kington, A (2020) Developing teacher-pupil relationships in the classroom: the influence of primary teachers’ career phase and experience. In: Kington, A. & Blackmore, K. (Eds), Social and Learning Relationships in Primary Schools. Bloomsbury Academic, London 


Recent Conference Presentations 

Maulana, R. et al. (2022). Observing teaching behavior using the international comparative analysis of learning and teaching measure across countries: Is there measurement invariance? In: AERA Annual Meeting 2022, April 2022 

Maulana, R. et al. (2022). Differentiated instruction in secondary education across countries: Measurement invariance and comparison. In: ICSEI Virtual Congress 2022, January 2022 

Looker, B. (2021) Using Critical Realist Grounded Theory for Educational Research. In: BERA Annual Conference 2021, 13-16 September 2021. 

Looker, B., Kington, A., Hibbert-Mayne, K. (2021) The illusion of perspective: Examining the dynamic between teacher effectiveness and self-efficacy. In: ICALT Final Project Meeting – University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 26-28 July 2021, Online/University of Groningen ICALT Annual Conference.