Listening works: using the Listening Rooms methodology to explore diversity


  • Helen Parkin Sheffield Hallam University
  • Emma Heron Sheffield Hallam University



qualitative research methods, minoritised groups, equality, diversity and inclusion, listening


This case study presents how two innovative methods have been used at a UK university to explore the lived experiences of minoritised groups. The Listening Rooms Project collects data through friendship conversations between friends, and places key stakeholders with the audience and influence to affect change at the heart of the data analysis process. Using these methods creates safe spaces for minoritised groups to share their lived experiences in a meaningful and empowering way. Here, we describe how the project has learned from the experiences of students of colour, LQBTQ+ staff and students, disadvantaged males, and female employees to create a better place to study and to work. The study found distinct differences in the themes covered between cohorts despite fairly consistent conversation ‘prompts’, but also some common themes such as the need for better role models for minoritised groups and better training and guidance in challenging negative behaviours. The study concludes that listening, using these methods, provides a depth of understanding of the lived experiences of minoritised groups, resulting in real and impactful change. 

Author Biographies

Helen Parkin, Sheffield Hallam University

Helen J. Parkin is a Senior Lecturer in Research, Evaluation and Student Engagement. She is responsible for conducting research into and evaluation of student experience and engagement across Sheffield Hallam University. She co-leads Listening Rooms alongside Emma.

Emma Heron, Sheffield Hallam University

Emma Heron is the Head of Teaching and Learning Enhancement in the College of Social Sciences and Arts at Sheffield Hallam University. Her portfolio covers teaching quality and student engagement, and she co-leads Listening Rooms across and beyond Sheffield Hallam University.


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How to Cite

Parkin, H. and Heron, E. (2023) “Listening works: using the Listening Rooms methodology to explore diversity”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (26). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi26.914.

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