South West Region


This page will contain information about Research and Shared Learning. Detailed information on Shared Learning Projects can be found under Links.

What is research and shared learning in the u3a?

At its broadest sense, research (or “finding out”) can be described as the systematic collection and analysis of information for the advancement of knowledge.

If you look into the history of a local hospital, investigate birds visiting your garden, compare costs and benefits of insurance policies or ask people about their views on something, you are conducting research.

There are many different types of research and levels of complexity. If you carry it out with another group external to the u3a it can be known as shared learning but is still a form of “finding out”.

Take a look through the list of projects others have done so far. The u3a Research Database might stimulate ideas and get you going quicker than you thought possible.

There are many opportunities for u3a members to engage in various types of research/enquiry-led learning. For more information, visit u3a Research and Shared Learning.

In the South-West Region, we currently have one Research and Shared Learning Co-ordinator (RSLC), Chris Knight.

Her main role is to promote and support enquiry-led learning and research within the U3A region. A more detailed description of what Chris does is here RSLC Role Description.

What does this mean in practice? Some examples . . .

• Help with surveys
• Support for building relationships with educational institutions such as colleges and universities
• Working out how to set up a research project
• Formulating a research question
• Etc!

Chris says “I would be delighted to have contact with any interest group or u3a which is seeking to move forward on any aspect of research or shared learning and needs a bit of help”.

Moving forward, Chris is going to be approaching networks in the Region and would very much like to be part of their ongoing agenda, with the aim of actively promoting research activities in the Region.

The networks have been split as follows:

RSLCNetwork / Link
Vacant: Bristol, Yate & Sodbury Link, Cotswold Link, Devon Link, Far West Cornwall Network, Mid Cornwall, North Devon Link, Northern Somerset Network, Tamar Valley Network, Two Moors Network, West Somerset Network.
Chris: Avalon, Bath & Wilts, East Devon, East Dorset and West Dorset.


A workshop to explore Research and Shared Learning (or “finding out”) was held online for anyone interested in the SW u3a Region on 29 July. It was called by the Trustee and Chris Knight, Research and Shared Learning Co-ordinator. It provided an opportunity for people to explore what is involved in active learning or “finding out”, how to set about it and what support is available. The presentations are available to read under the Links column. Following breakout rooms, members reported back on a wide variety of ideas and ways forward with a common theme of how to motivate more members locally to want to be involved in active learning.

For the future, as a region, we will concentrate information about local news and what’s going on here, on the Research web page and we are going to look into the provision of a noticeboard that we can all contribute to, again on this web page. Contact Chris Knight for more information, help and support.

Would you like to join this new 'Private Group' then click the link u3a SW R&SL Discussion Group on Facebook. Further information can be found in this document u3a SW R&SL Facebook Group.

To contact Chris, you can email her via the Contact page.

The Institute of Cancer Research run clinical trials trying to improve treatment for patients with cancer, please see Advert under Links.
Questionnaires are used to collect information from trial participants on the impact that treatments and health conditions may be having upon their quality of life. These are normally completed on paper.
They are conducting a survey to see what peoples’ views would be on completing these questionnaires electronically rather than on paper.
They are seeking views from a wide range of the UK public and would be grateful if you could take the time to complete the survey.
It is available electronically via this website link Survey or you can telephone 0208 722 4615 to either complete it over the phone or request a postal copy with a return envelope. A Paper copy of the Survey is also available to view, print and complete under Links.
This research has been approved by the Committee for Clinical Research at The Institute of Cancer Research. Data collected will be handled in accordance with The Institute of Cancer Research's policy on research data, see this Privacy Notice.

Caring about Carers project, is a sub-project of Meaningful Mobility, a European Research Council funded study is carried out at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen and has been approved by the Faculty of Spatial Sciences’ Research Ethics Committee. The research team consists of social scientists who specialise in later life mobility, but who do not have medical knowledge about memory or physiological issues.
A Caring about Carers: Information Sheet and Caring about Carers Flyer under Links contains further information on this project.