School of Education and Continuing Studies


Photo of Dr Jessica Gagnon

Dr Jessica Gagnon

  • Role Title: Senior Research Fellow
  • Address: St George's Building, 141 High Street, Portsmouth PO1 2HY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 5316
  • Email:
  • Department: School of Education and Childhood Studies
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Dr Jessica Gagnon joined the School of Education and Childhood Studies in July 2016. She is an educational sociologist and she completed her PhD in February 2016 at the University of Sussex, earning an unconditional pass/no corrections. She earned an MSc in Social Research Methods from the University of Sussex and an MA in Higher Education Administration from Santa Clara University, both with distinction. She completed her BA in English and journalism with honours at Framingham State University. Jessica is a first-generation student from an American working-class, single mother family. She has worked in higher education in the US and UK for more than 15 years. Jessica has taught at the undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral levels.


Jessica’s doctoral research was focused on the university experiences of the daughters of single mothers in the United Kingdom.  Her research was featured in The Times Higher Her thesis can be accessed online: Jessica’s M.A. research was a longitudinal case study focused on the vocational discernment process and persistence of first-generation premedical students in the United States. In addition to her own research, she has served as a researcher for multiple mixed methods and qualitative projects focused on higher education.

Research Interests

  • Higher education
  • Widening participation
  • Student experiences
  • Underrepresented students
  • First-generation students
  • Teaching and learning
  • Critical and creative pedagogies
  • Identities and intersectionality
  • Gender studies
  • Families and kinship
  • Social justice, inequalities and social exclusion
  • Political and social protest and activism
  • Language, discourse, and power
  • Qualitative and mixed research methods

Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

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