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Dr Claire Hewson

Profile summary

Professional biography

I commenced a degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire (then Hatfield Polytechnic) in 1987, with interests in social psychology, gender, feminist and social constructionist perspectives. Subsequently, I developed interests in cognitive psychology, philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, and upon finishing my degree I went on to study at the Centre for Cognitive Science (now 'Informatics') at Edinburgh University where I completed an MSc in Cognitive Science and Natural Language in 1991. I stayed on there to complete a PhD in 1996; my thesis focused on the nature of 'folk psychology' and its role in developed scientific psychological theories. After then working for a brief period as a Research Associate at the Human Communication Research Centre, Edinburgh University, I took up a full time Lectureship at the University of Bolton in 1997. I have been working at The Open University since September 2007.

Research interests

My research interests are fairly broad and interdisciplinary. Recently I have been involved in researching the use of the internet in teaching, learning and research methodology; and the nature, role and status of folk psychology. In relation to the latter my focus has been on exploring how empirical data can inform issues within the 'folk psychology debate' - for example, how empirical claims about peoples' intuitions made by philosophers can be verified, or otherwise, by carrying out empirical research which probes peoples' actual intuitions. My interests in this area also extend to lay beliefs more generally, e.g. beliefs about religion and science. My work relating to the role of the internet in teaching, learning and research methodology has focused on exploring the scope and validity of various emerging new approaches in this area; for example I have carried out work to explore relationships between computer-related attitudes and preferences and performance when using online assessment methods. I have co-authored a book on internet research methods (Sage, 2nd edition 2016), and published several articles on this topic, including a set of ethics guidelines for internet-mediated research for the British Psychological Society (2013).

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Recent selected publications:

Hewson, C., & Charlton, J.P. (2019). An investigation of the validity of course-based online assessment methods: The role of computer-related attitudes and assessment mode preferences. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(1), 51-60.

Hewson, C. (2017). Research design and tools for internet research. In N. Fielding, R. Lee, & G. Blank (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods (2nd edition). Sage: London, pp.57-75.

Hewson, C., & Buchanan, T. (Eds.) (2017). Ethics guidelines for internet-mediated research. British Psychological Society, INF206/04.2017. Available:

Hewson, C., Vogel, C. & Laurent, D. (2016). Internet Research Methods (2nd edition). Sage: London.

Hewson, C. (2015). Ethics Issues in Digital Methods Research. In H. Snee, C. Hine, Y. Morey, S. Roberts & H. Watson (Eds.) Digital Methods for Social Science: An interdisciplinary guide to research innovation, pp 206-221. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hewson, C. (2015). Research Methods on the Internet. In L. Cantoni & J.A. Danowski (Eds.) Communication and Technology. Handbooks of Communication Science Series (5). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Hewson, C. (2014). Conducting Research on the Internet – A New Era. The Psychologist, 27, 946-951.

Hewson, C. (2014). Qualitative Approaches in Internet Research: Opportunities, Issues, Possibilities. In P. Leavy (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods (Oxford Library of Psychology Series). Oxford University Press: New York.

Hewson, C. (2012). Can online course-based assessment methods be fair and equitable? Relationships between students' preferences and performance within online and offline assessments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(5), 488-498

Recent selected conference presentations:

Hewson, C. (2013). What Can Measuring Folk Intuitions Really Tell Us? Presented at The 4th Conference of the Experimental Philosophy Group, UK. Bristol, UK. September, 2013.

Hewson, C. (2013). Ethics Issues in Internet-mediated Research. Presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of Research Ethics Committees. London, UK, November, 2013.

Hewson (2012). Review and Evaluation of Existing Online Survey Software Packages for Implementing Surveys and Simple Experiments. Presented at the General Online Research conference. Mannheim, Germany, March, 2012.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

Current Modules

DD210, Living psychology: From the everyday to the extraordinary (Level 2 psychology module). Mid-life review consultant.

Previous Modules

Production Chair / Presentation Chair for DD210, Living psychology: From the everyday to the extraordinary (Level 2 psychology module)

Examination Award Board Chair for Exploring psychology (DSE212)

Production team member for DE300, level 3 psychology core module

Production team member for Introduction to Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods (D849)

Presentation team member for Applying Psychology (DSE232)

Production team member for Understanding Children's Development and Learning (ED841)

Course Director for Exploring Psychology On-line Project (DZX222)

Course team Chair for Research Methods Dissertation in Social Sciences (D845)

External collaborations

British Psychological Society (BPS) working party convenor and editor for BPS guidelines on Ethics in Internet-mediated research (published November, 2013, 2017).

Member of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP), European Society for Philosophy and Psychology (ESPP), History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the BPS.

Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society.

Member of reviewer panels for the British Journal of Technology (BJET), Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL), and Computers in Human Behavior (CiHB).

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Applied Cognitive Psychology Research GroupGroupFaculty of Social Sciences