You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Sarah Davies

Dr Sarah Davies

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences  (EEES) at the Open University—my research interests centre on environmental science education, particularly technology-enhanced learning, inclusive fieldwork learning and eco-anxiety.

I teach across the Environmental Sciences curriculum and am chair of the level 3 module Terrestrial Ecosystems



Research interests

I am researching ecoanxiety and learning: Ecoanxiety and environmental education: stories, conversations, actions | School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences ( 

I am co-developing and researching science education resources for improving participation in STEM subjects, particularly among girls, with Open STEM Africa.

I have been involved as a researcher on various technology-enhanced and virtual reality learning projects in the environmental and earth sciences, including the Enabling Remote Activity project which won an OU teaching award and a Handheld Learning Award. I have worked on the Out There In Here project (Social inclusion through synchronous distributed team collaboration) and the fieldwork strand of the OU’s Open STEM Laboratory project and on networked resources for STEM learning, particularly on new blends of physical and digital resources in the ‘Hybrid/Digital/Material/Networked learning project. 

Teaching interests

My teaching in the Environmental Sciences focuses especially on plants, soils and ecosystems. I have taught and developed teaching materials as a member of a number of module teams at the Open University:  Environmental Science (S206), Environmental Science in the Field (SXR216), Terrestrial Ecosystems (S397), Practical Environmental Science (SXE288), Environmental Science Practical Project Course (SXE390) and Environmental Science Challenges (S831).  I have also taught Environmental Management and Environmental Law at Masters Level at De Montfort University.  

I have also developed teaching materials around water, sanitation, hygiene and environmental health for the HEAT and OpenWASH projects working with academics and practitioners in Ethiopia. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science


Externally funded projects

[E3] - Astrobiology at The Open University
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Aug 201931 Mar 2023Research England

Astrobiology is an emerging scientific field and is driven by the question ‘are we alone in the Universe?’ With an increasing number of life-detection/habitability missions, astrobiology is at the core of nations’ space strategies. The Open University Astrobiology Unit focuses on understanding how, and where, life might be found, by combining field work, laboratory simulations and mission data. Building on this expertise, Unit members are involved in key astrobiology-related missions and in developing planetary protection regulations. E3 funding will build capacity in line with future missions by furthering our understanding of extraterrestrial environments and potential life, through developing facilities to simulate these environments and investigating analogue sites. This is aimed at understanding if, and where, life may be found beyond the Earth. The Unit will develop its expertise to meet the new challenges that arise as the private sector and smaller nations develop exploration capacity. This includes supporting the sector to meet, and define, planetary protection requirements and to address space governance, for example, ensuring environmental sustainability of missions. The Unit will develop relevant education material for the expanding space sector, and it will work to ensure knowledge and expertise in astrobiology is used in a just and equitable manner. Sustainability of the Unit will be underpinned by commercial services, external funding, and University investment. The Unit will support the growth of astrobiology networks of industry, higher educational institutes and policymakers, and early career researchers, to ensure that the UK is globally recognised and influential within the field.

Social inclusion through synchronous distributed team collaboration. (H-09-023-AA)
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Mar 201031 Dec 2011EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Mobile technologies bring the digital and the physical worlds together by providing just-in-time/contextual information related to what people are observing, visiting or walking past. However, people with mobility disabilities or socio-economic limitations are often prevented from experiencing these new forms of user experience. We are proposing an alternative approach through developing hybrid ‘social inclusion’ solutions that aim to support collaboration between teams moving around ‘in the field’ and those ‘in the home’. This proposal will develop new ways of connecting existing mobile and shared table-top technologies to support synchronous distributed team collaboration that enables innovative forms of vicarious experiences. An educational prototype system for investigating aspects of the environment will be built to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of the approach for supporting distributed team collaboration. With this project we seek to build systems with middlewear that will link information resource systems and co-located table-top collaboration applications at the home-base with and mobile data collection and communication devices. This will require seamless translation of mobile data collection (i.e. audio, video, geological readings) into table-top displays e.g. mash-ups between geological readings in the wild linked to mappings on table-tops. Partner companies will support the development of viable propositions. The software company, specialising in mobile learning applications, OOKL, will support the synchronous collaboration between mobile and home-based applications. SMART, who specialise in tabletop solutions for educational applications, are in the business of developing ‘ecology of technologies’ through the seamless interaction between devices and displays i.e middleware for table-tops.


Enabling remote access to fieldwork: gaining insight into the pedagogic effectiveness of ‘direct’ and ‘remote’ field activities (2012)
Stokes, Alison; Collins, Trevor; Maskall, John; Lea, John; Lunt, Paul and Davies, Sarah-Jane
Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(2) (pp. 197-222)

Enabling remote activity: widening participation in field study courses (2016-08)
Collins, Trevor; Davies, Sarah and Gaved, Mark
In: Kennepohl, Dietmar ed. Teaching Science Online: Practical Guidance for Effective Instruction and Lab Work (pp. 183-195)
ISBN : 978-1620361887 | Publisher : Stylus Publishing | Published : Sterling, VA, USA

eXtended Reality and Accessibility in Online and Distance Learning: Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges (2024)
Wild, Fridolin; Coughlan, Tim; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Shepherd, Rebecca; Collins, Trevor; King, Aitch and Matos Carew, Jade
In : 10th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (10-13 Jun 2024, Glasgow, Scotland, UK) (pp. 153-163)

Opportunities and challenges of tertiary level ICT-based science education in Ghana (2023)
Cullen, Jane; Ocloo, Augustine; Owusu, Kofi; Murphy, Kerry; Velasco, Maria; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric
In : Education for Social & Environmental Justice: Diversity, Sustainability , Responsibility: UKFIET 17th Conference on International Education and Development (07 Sep 2023 online; 12-14 Sep 2023 Oxfo UK, Oxford, UK)

Transforming astrobiology research and innovation: embedding an ethos of engaged research (2021-05-25)
Holliman, Richard; Marino, Alessandra; Berardi, Andrea; Grand, Ann; Mistry, Jay; Jafferally, Deirdre; Thomas, Raquel; Roberts, Grace; Marcus, Carol-Ann; Roopsind, Indranee; Roberts, Anthony; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Pearson, Victoria; Cooper, Hannah and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference: Time, Technology and Transformation (24-27 May 2021, Online)

Urban Ancient Woodland in Britain’s Modern Landscape (2021)
Woo, Holly; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Maseyk, Kadmiel and Wheeler, Philip
In : Ecology Across Borders 2021 (12-15 Dec 2021, Liverpool, UK)

Openness and collaboration in astrobiology education (2020)
Grand, Ann; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Pearson, Victoria; Holliman, Richard and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Europlanet Science Congress 2020 (21 Sep - 9 Oct 2020, Virtual)

Broadcasting from the field: enabling student-led investigations by distance (2020)
Cooke, Julia; Wheeler, Philip; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Collins, Trevor; Bradshaw, Kate; Hawkridge, Ben; Valentine, Chris and Morgan, Gwyneth
In : Enhancing Fieldwork Learning 2020 (8 Sep 2020, Online, United Kingdom)

Inclusive Field Kit: sharing approaches for including students with disabilities (2020)
Collins, Trevor; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Marshall, Anita
In : Enhancing Fieldwork Learning 2020 (8 Sep 2020, Online, United Kingdom)

Live, interactive fieldcasts: How flexible and robust is our technology and teaching design to multiple changes? (2019)
Cooke, Julia; Wheeler, Philip; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Davies, Sarah and Collins, Trevor
In : The 8 th eSTEeM Annual Conference 2019 - STEM Scholarship: From Inquiry to Implementation (8-9 May 2019, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

Widening access to fieldwork for large numbers of students with interactive livecasts (2018)
Cooke, Julia; Wheeler, Phil; Collins, Trevor; Maseyk, Kadmiel and Davies, Sarah
In : Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Showcase 2018 (3-4 Sep 2018, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom)

Digital, material and networked: some emerging themes for SET education (2015-05-26)
Davies, Sarah-Jane; Thomas, Elaine and Walker, Steve
In : EDEN 2015 Annual Conference Expanding Learning Scenarios: Opening Out the Educational Landscape (9-12 Jun 2015, Barcelona, Spain) (pp. 91-99)

3D virtual geology field trips: opportunities and limitations (2014-06-11)
Minocha, Shailey; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Richardson, Brian and Argles, Thomas
In : Computers and Learning Research Group Annual Conference 2014 (10-11 Jun 2014, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK)

Examining hybrid digital/material resources in networked learning: a critical realist approach (2014-04)
Walker, Steve and Davies, Sarah-Jane
In : Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (7-9 Apr 2014, Edinburgh, UK) (pp. 315-322)

3D virtual geology field trips: opportunities and limitations (2013-04-17)
Argles, Tom; Richardson, Brian; Davies, Sarah; Minocha, Shailey and Braithwaite, Nick
In : HEA STEM: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013: Where practice and pedagogy meet (17-18 Apr 2013, Birmingham)

Enabling live dialogic and collaborative learning between field and indoor contexts (2011-07-04)
Coughlan, Tim; Adams, Anne; Rogers, Yvonne and Davies, Sarah-Jane
In : The 25th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction (04-08 Jul 2011, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) (pp. 88-98)

Live linking of fieldwork to the laboratory increases students inquiry based reflections (2011-07-04)
Adams, Anne; Coughlan, Tim; Rogers, Yvonne; Collins, Trevor; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Blake, Canan and Lea, John
In : CSCL 2011: International Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (04-08 Jul 2011, Hong Kong)

Designing interconnected distributed resources for collaborative inquiry based science education (2011-06-13)
Adams, Anne; Coughlan, Tim; Lea, John; Rogers, Yvonne; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Collins, Trevor
In : ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (13-17 Jun 2011, Ottawa)

Working with ‘mission control’ in scientific fieldwork: supporting interactions between in situ and distanced collaborators (2011-03-19)
Coughlan, Tim; Adams, Anne; Collins, Trevor; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Lea, John and Rogers, Yvonne
In : The 2011 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (19-23 Mar 2011, Hangzhou, China)

Enabling remote activity: using mobile technology for remote participation in geoscience fieldwork (2010)
Davies, Sarah-Jane; Collins, Trevor; Gaved, Mark; Bartlett, Jessica; Valentine, Chris and McCann, Lewis
In : Proc. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2010 (EGU 2010) (02-07 May 2010, Vienna, Austria)

Out there and in here: design for blended scientific inquiry learning (2010)
Adams, Anne; Davies, Sarah; Collins, Trevor and Rogers, Yvonne
In : 17th Association for Learning Technology Conference ALT-C 2010 - (07-09 Sep 2010, Nottingham, UK)

ERA: On-the-fly networking for collaborative geology fieldwork (2008)
Gaved, Mark; Collins, Trevor; Bartlett, Jessica; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Valentine, Chris; McCann, Lewis and Wright, Michelle
In : mLearn 2008 'The bridge from text to context' (8-10 Oct 2008, Wolverhampton, UK)

eSTEeM Ten Years of Scholarship and Innovation: Marking the tenth anniversary of the OU Centre for STEM Pedagogy (2020-12-10)
Collins, Trevor; Berry, Elizabeth; Davies, Sarah-Jane and Kear, Karen
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.