C4IE Students


Julie Arnold

Diverse experiences of assessment for learning pedagogies

The research base for assessment for learning (AfL) pedagogies is well established internationally and enshrined in Australia’s Professional Standards for Teachers; however, the affordances of an AfL approach have not been fully realised in classrooms. In the context of a new tertiary entrance system in Queensland, characterised by more standardised curriculum and fewer, higher stakes, more tightly controlled assessments, there is a need to reconsider the centrality of student experience to the success of AfL pedagogies. These engage students in processes including seeking and responding to feedback from a variety of sources. The associated interpersonal, language and cognitive demands are challenging for all students but may present significant barriers to students with language and/or attention difficulties. This Doctor of Philosophy study is part of a sequential phase mixed-methods waitlist design in three large state high schools as part of the Accessible Assessment ARC Linkage project.  It will specifically investigate the experiences of students and how teachers respond to their insights about AfL pedagogies. The research will contribute to an understanding of how current assessment practices affect students and suggest how the agentic power of students might improve the ways teachers and students learn from one another.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis

Associate Supervisor: Dr Andrew Gibson

Joseph Athiende

Exploring the experience and the impact of positive behaviour supports from the perspective of high school students on the autism spectrum, their parents and teachers in Queensland

The implementation of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) within secondary school education systems varies with significant variable impact on the engagement, well-being, and educational outcomes for students on the autism spectrum. While education policies guiding the practices and processes in supporting students’ behaviour promote a proactive approach to behaviour support, educators struggle to effectively meet the basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and relatedness) of students on the autism spectrum who often experience significant behaviour challenges. This qualitative study will explore the experience and the impact of PBS from the perspectives of secondary school students on the autism spectrum, their parents and teachers. This empirical investigation will be informed by the Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT), which is embedded within the self-determination theoretical (SDT) framework.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Sofia Mavropoulou

Associate Supervisor: Dr Glenys Mann

Kirsten Baird-Bate

Conceptualisations of wellbeing: Through the eyes of primary carers of children with autism

Primary carers play a pivotal role in the lives of children with autism across their lifespan. Current understandings of wellbeing within autism spectrum literature tend to be limited within a negative, dyadic, reductionist narrative, yet wellbeing, autism, and caregiving are multidimensional, complex constructs that shift according to context and time. Strength perspectives on autism and caregiving present a more balanced view with individual perceptions linked to wellbeing outcomes. More complete understandings are thus essential to better support primary carers and those they care for. This research proposes a new holistic conceptual framework and an innovative combination of survey and visual narrative methods to deliver more comprehensive perspectives on autism, caregiving, and wellbeing.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Lyndal O’Gorman

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Dr Julie Dillon-Wallace


Elise Bray

Exploring how students on the autism spectrum experience learning in contemporary flexible learning spaces

School learning environments are changing, with innovative and flexible spaces being designed in an effort to improve student outcomes and 21st century learning skills such as collaboration and problem solving. Within these new spaces, students encounter adjustments to the learning environment that often include increased incorporation of technology, changes to teaching practices and social and sensory elements of the environment. For students on the autism spectrum (ASD) who may experience difficulty with processing changing environments and stimuli, the increased collaborative pedagogy, noise levels and movement is under researched and may intensify anxiety levels, impacting their learning, academic performance and wellbeing.
With the intention of ensuring school learning environments promote inclusion and wellbeing for all students, this study will focus on capturing the experiences of students with ASD in contemporary flexible learning spaces. Using a qualitative approach, the interaction of the students with their peers, teachers and their learning environment will be explored as they navigate their learning within these spaces. Student perspectives and experiences of potential barriers or enablers will provide insights that can inform future changes in policy and practice, importantly addressing the need to prioritise student voice in teaching, learning and educational design considerations.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Dr Natalie Wright

Emma Carpendale

Social-emotional learning in middle childhood: An Australian child population cohort study

This project seeks to characterise the social and emotional competencies present in middle childhood (aged 11-12 years) within an Australian population cohort (NSW-CDS). This project will utilise variable-oriented structural analyses and person-oriented profile analyses to examine population variation in how these competencies present in childhood and their association with the delivery of whole-school social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. This research will also explore the role these competencies play in enhancing positive educational, health, and social outcomes and reducing adverse outcomes, and therefore will provide timely information to educators, health professionals, and policy developers regarding how to optimize childhood development.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Kristin Laurens

Associate Supervisors: Associate Professor Kate Williams and Professor Melissa Green


Melissa Close

The evolution of systemic reform initiatives for student mental health and wellbeing: An international comparative case-study

Educators play a crucial role in preparing students for an uncertain future, with rapid and profound social, economic, and environmental changes worldwide due to globalisation and developments in technology. Providing students with more than just academic instruction is vital for their mental health and wellbeing. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an approach that aims to address and attend to the social and emotional development and wellbeing of children. The study aims to characterise the evolution of SEL within and across the United States and Australia to expand understandings of how SEL is operationalised in both contexts, and whether these processes foster adequate learning and support for student mental health and wellbeing. The study will also seek to provide insight into improved SEL implementation in each context to inform future practice.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Jenna Gillett-Swan

Associate Supervisor: Dr Callula Killingly

Jacinta Lisec

How do students’ assessment experiences influence their academic wellbeing and achievement?

Students’ assessment experiences have been found to influence their conceptualisations of academic wellbeing and achievement. Also, research from the last few decades indicates ongoing issues of decreasing wellbeing and achievement for middle years students. Therefore, this research project aims to facilitate student voice, for students to co-design contributions that present their perspectives about summative classroom assessment. Findings aim to inform school-based approaches for strengthening assessment implementation to support students.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Jenna Gillett-Swan

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis

Hoa Thanh Do

Developing an understanding of inclusion of children on the autism spectrum in mainstream primary schools in Vietnam

The purpose of this study is to understand current inclusive practices in Vietnam to include children on the autism spectrum in mainstream primary school settings. The study will proceed in three phases. The first phase of the study will be a qualitative exploration of inclusive education at primary schools, where semi-structured individual interviews will be collected from three principals at primary schools in Hanoi. In Phase 2, self-reported questionnaires will be collected from 60 participants (or 20 triads of a parent/carer of a student on the autism spectrum, the student’s mainstream teacher, and the student’s teacher aide). The third phase will be non-intervention observations of practice in classroom settings and confirmatory interviews with participants from Phase 2. Information from this phase will help to interpret findings from Phase 1 and 2.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Professor Philip Baker


Danielle Gordon

Developing teacher self-efficacy in a context of reform

High Teacher Self-Efficacy (TSE) is a strong indicator of teacher resilience, longevity in the profession and improved student outcomes. However, reform can negatively influence TSE. This study explores the development of TSE from initial teacher education into the first year of teaching, in a context of significant curriculum and assessment reform. Using a longitudinal sequential explanatory mixed-methods design, the relationship between developing TSE and reform will be examined. This study will be the first of its kind, contributing to ongoing conversations between schools, universities and policy makers about support mechanisms which encourage the development of high TSE, in a context of reform.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Terri Bourke

Associate Supervisor: Dr Chris Blundell

Associate Supervisor: Dr Reece Mills

Sentha Govin-Vel

Association between Overparenting, Social Media Use and Anxiety

This research aims to conduct a correlational study of overparenting on social media and anxiety in both parents and children in an Australian context. The research will include parents and emerging adults aged 18 to 20 using a mixed method research design. Focus groups for parents and emerging adults will be conducted to develop a survey on overparenting on social media. The findings could help to raise awareness and deepen the understanding of the complexity of parenting styles and social media use, and their impact on emerging adults and their parents. The impact of the research seeks to inform parents on how parenting styles both enhance and limit their children’s future, specifically with regards to their mental wellbeing, by making recommendations on parenting strategies.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Marilyn Campbell

Associate Supervisor: Dr Stephanie Tobin

Jo Kingsman

The making of men: Investigating adolescent boys’ experiences of school-based rites of passage programs

My research, which is to be completed as a series of publications, draws on feminist post-structuralism, and employs narrative research methodologies. The project seeks to understand adolescent boys’ lived experiences of a school-based rites of passage (ROP) program and the perceived meanings for masculine identity construction and emerging adulthood. The Rite Journey, a year-long ROP program implemented in over 100 schools, will serve as a case study, with field research being conducted in a Brisbane secondary school currently implementing the program. Longitudinal in nature, the project will investigate boys’ experiential narratives at various points throughout the duration of the program.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Michael Flood

Associate Supervisor: Professor Martin Mills and Dr Ian Davis


Kai-Stefanie Lorimer

Kai-Stefanie is a Master of Philosophy student researching socio-cultural heterogeneity and the development of creative thinking in high school entrepreneurial education. Her research interests include human creativity and the educational and cultural contexts that support its development. Stefanie is also a music teacher with experience teaching at all levels and across sectors both in Australia and overseas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Music Performance) from Griffith University, a Bachelor of Education and Graduate Diploma in Aural Studies from UQ, and a Master of Education from CHC.

Principal Supervisor: Dr James Davis

Associate Supervisor: Professor Hitendra Pillay

Associate Supervisor: Professor Martin Obschonka

External Supervisor: Professor Pauline Taylor-Guy (ACER)

Lara Maia-Pike

Aspirations Through Time: The Year 10 Transition Planning Experience of Queensland Students on the Autism Spectrum

Improving equity by raising aspirations for and participation in further education has been a priority in Australia for over a decade. Yet, people with disability still experience significantly poorer post-school outcomes, increasing dependency and lowering opportunities for self-determination. Transition planning has been shown to improve post-school outcomes for students with disability, however, research is limited for students on the autism spectrum. This study will use qualitative longitudinal multi-case study methodology to map the transition planning experiences and aspirations of students on the autism spectrum over time, providing valuable insights to help improve transition planning for students on the autism spectrum.

Principal supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

Associate supervisor: Professor Suzanne Carrington


Helen McLennan

Agency in Education: Perspectives of Young Neurodivergent Children

Children’s agency provides them with a sense of empowerment and allows them influence over their everyday environments. Giving children voice in matters relevant to them can support their agency when engaging in their everyday environments. Historically, children in early primary school have had less opportunity for agency in education. This is particularly the case for neurodivergent children, who think and perceive the world in different ways. My research will explore the concept of agency in education by listening to the perspectives of neurodivergent children in the early years of primary school.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Jenna Gillett-Swan


Ulfah Muhayani

Examining Educational Inclusion of Minority Children in Indonesia

Children from minority groups are children who have highest potential of being excluded from education. There are a considerable number of minority children in Indonesia such as children with disability, children from ethnic and religion minorities, and LGBTQ children. This present study aims to investigate the state of educational inclusion of minority children in Indonesia by examining government policy and strategies on education, listening to the voices of teachers and administrative leaders of schools about their experiences with children from minority groups, and also by exploring minority students’ experiences directly from the perspective of the children themselves and their classmates. To this end, data will be gathered through document analysis, interviews, focus group discussion and ‘photo-voice’ interviews. Understanding how different levels of society experience exclusion in education allows for sustainable and pro-active policy development to put inclusion for all into practice. Finding out how these children experience exclusion is also a crucial step for developing strategies and actions to address exclusion in education especially in the Indonesia context.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Marilyn Campbell

Associate Supervisor: Dr Jenna Gillett-Swan

Deborah Munro

How are women with unpaid caring responsibilities making decisions about higher education study?

Unpaid care work is primarily undertaken by women. While much has been learned about the ways in which persistent gender inequities hinder women’s career opportunities and thus economic advancement, less is understood about the ways in which the unequal distribution of care work limits women’s choices with regard to furthering their education. Carer responsibilities frequently impact on educational decision-making processes in ways which are little understood. This qualitative study will explore how unpaid female carers are making decisions about whether or not to engage in higher education. The results could lead to better understandings of the factors which effect women’s higher education decision-making processes and may influence the way in which higher education institutions and policy makers encourage women with unpaid caring responsibilities to participate in university study. It may also inform strategies through which women can more effectively prepare to engage in non-traditional ways of tackling the challenges that might prevent them from achieving their educational aspirations.

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis

Associate supervisors: Dr Andrew Gibson and Dr Melinda Laundon

Tshewang Namgyel

Exploring emotional engagement during explicit nature of science instruction among pre-service science teachers

The Nature of Science (NOS) is a concept developed by science education researchers to understand and explain scientific epistemologies, and the ways science may be considered a process for generating knowledge, as a human endeavour. Science education research illustrates the benefits of NOS instruction in teaching scientific literacy. Existing research on NOS instruction fails to address student emotions and their role in learning about NOS. This is despite more than a decade of research in science education which has investigated and established the role of emotions in learning science. My study explores the interplay between pre-service science teachers’ emotional engagement during explicit NOS instruction in the context of science inquiry.

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Alberto Bellocchi

Associate supervisor: Dr James Davis

Lauren Piltz

Exclusionary school discipline and justice system involvement: Identifying opportunities to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline

This project uses linked administrative records from education, justice, health, and community services to characterise the use of exclusionary school discipline practices within a large NSW population cohort, and to examine the relationship of disciplinary exclusion with different forms of justice system involvement. The project expects to deliver new information to inform policy makers, educators, criminologists, and psychologists regarding opportunities to avert the adverse outcomes of exclusionary discipline practices in Australian schools.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Kristin Laurens

Associate Supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

External supervisor: Professor Melissa Green

External supervisor: Professor Kimberlie Dean

Priscila Rebollo de Campos

Investigating social bonding dynamics across three levels of social reality in a Brazilian science classroom

Students report being disengaged with school science in numerous countries, including Brazil. Social bonds (social and emotional connections) between classroom members help to promote such engagement. This research explores how structures of macro-level of social reality, such as education policies, ingrained in hegemonic classroom practices of a specific school (meso-level), may impact social bonding dynamics that unfold during science lessons (micro-level).  Studies of social bonds analysing multiple social levels are scarce. A novel combination of ethnomethodology oriented by micro-sociology of emotion and Fairclough’s approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (methodological contribution) will guide data analysis. This research has the potential to advance the knowledge of social bonds, benefiting those concerned with promoting student engagement with school science (e.g., teachers and policymakers).

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Alberto Bellocchi

Associate supervisor: Dr James Davis

Sabrina Schmid

A study of preservice teachers’ engagement with the concept of risk-taking in entrepreneurial thinking

Sabrina Schmid is a Master of Philosophy Student currently researching the risk-taking attribute in entrepreneurial education at a tertiary and high school level. Sabrina’s main areas of interest are Entrepreneurship Education, Entrepreneurial Thinking and Second Language Learning. Sabrina has worked in both private and public secondary schools within Queensland as a German Language Teacher and most recently Head of Language Acquisition. She taught across both the Queensland Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate. Sabrina holds a Bachelor of Business (QUT), Graduate Diploma in Education (German and Business, UQ) and a Master of Education (QUT).

Principal Supervisor: Professor Hitendra Pillay

Associate Supervisor: Dr James Davis

Irina Silva

Young children on the autism spectrum: Using digital technology in daily living

Digital technology is a common aspect of 21st century living and generally part of an individual on the autism spectrum daily living. Little is known about the influence of digital technology on the daily lives of children on the spectrum. To understand this phenomenon, four families with at least one child on the spectrum aged between three and six years will be invited to participate in this digital ethnographic study. The interactions involving the focus child with digital technology and family members will be video recorded over a 3-month period. Understandings will inform the use of digital technology by children on the autism spectrum in family contexts and has implications for early years education and care.

Principal supervisor: Professor Susan Danby

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Ying Sun

Promoting self-determination of young learners on the autism spectrum: Exploring early childhood educators’ knowledge, understanding, perceptions, and teaching practices in Australian inclusive settings

Self-determination is recognised as an important personal and social capability in the Australian Curriculum and teachers play a key role in promoting self-determination in all students from the early years of schooling. The aim of this study is to explore Australian early childhood teachers’ knowledge, understanding and practice in relation to the development of self-determined skills in young learners on the autism spectrum in inclusive educational settings. To achieve this aim, the current project will apply an explanatory sequential mixed-method design, utilizing surveys (phase 1) and semi-structured interviews (phase 2) with early childhood educators supporting students on the autism spectrum. It is anticipated that the findings of the study will inform teaching practice and professional development opportunities for early childhood teachers to better support the development of self-determination skills in young children on the spectrum in inclusive contexts.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Sofia Mavropoulou

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers


Loren Swancutt

Curricular inclusion for students with complex learning profiles in Australian secondary school classes: A multi-case study investigation

The benefits of inclusive education are well documented. Decades of research have evidenced that when students with disability experience inclusive education, the result is superior social, academic and post-school outcomes. The impacts of such outcomes transfer long term and result in greater independence and increased social and economic participation. Despite the reported benefits, including students with complex learning profiles in age-equivalent secondary school curriculum is an aspect that presents a particular challenge for schools and education systems. Research tells us that most students with complex learning profiles are more often removed from the regular classroom and have little access to age-equivalent content. A review of the literature also indicates that there is less extant research on inclusive practices at the secondary school level, particularly in the Australian context. This results in a lack of exemplars and guiding processes that can be drawn upon when teachers are looking to build their confidence and capability to enact inclusive curriculum provision. This research aims to respond to the gap in the research by investigating a systematic way in which students with complex learning profiles can be included in the age-equivalent curriculum in Australian secondary school classes.

Principal supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

Associate Supervisor: Professor Suzanne Carrington


Haley Tancredi

The impact of accessible pedagogies on the classroom experiences, engagement and academic output of students with language and/or attentional difficulties

Students with language and attentional difficulties are present in all classrooms. Despite the significant barriers these students can face in accessing the curriculum, making use of teachers’ pedagogical practices, and demonstrating their learning, students who experience language and attentional difficulties are poorly identified and supported. As a result, many students with language and attentional difficulties disengage and underachieve. As part of the Accessible Assessment ARC Linkage project, this doctoral study will investigate whether reducing instructional language and cognitive load in Year 10 English classrooms improves the educational experiences, engagement and learning outcomes of students with language and/or attentional difficulties.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

Associate Supervisors: Associate Professor Sonia White, Adjunct Associate Professor Naomi Sweller and Ms Gaenor Dixon


Tanya Taylor

Teacher attitudes towards the inclusion of students with ASD in primary mainstream settings

The prevalence of students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within educational settings has continued to rise during the past decade. There is very little research conducted into how Australian teachers’ attitudes influence the inclusion of these students in mainstream primary educational settings. Using a mixed methods research design, this study will examine the barriers teachers experience within a mainstream classroom setting when catering to the academic and social needs of students on the autism spectrum within a primary school setting. Furthermore, this study aims to investigate possible solutions to assist educators to overcome perceived barriers when providing inclusive curriculum drawing on attitude theory and social constructionism.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Professor Suzanne Carrington

Claire Ting

Evaluating the process and impact of co-designing a self-advocacy toolkit with high school students with dyslexia

Students with disability, including dyslexia, have the legal right to access the curriculum on the same basis as their peers. Australian schools are required to provide reasonable adjustments to enable equal curriculum access to students with disability. Schools are also required to consult students about their preferred adjustments. Despite these legal obligations, it is well documented that students with disability face barriers to curriculum access in high school, and are not always consulted about their preferred adjustments. Consequently, students with dyslexia may face barriers to equal access due to limited knowledge of their rights, their options for adjustments, and how to self-advocate. Knowledge of rights, entitlements, and self-advocacy skills can help students overcome these barriers and experience success as learners. 

Drawing on self-advocacy research, self-determination theory, universal principles, and student voice research, this project aims to adapt the content and accessibility of existing international self-advocacy programs to the Australian educational context, using a co-design approach involving high school students with dyslexia. It is hoped that by participating in the design and implementation of a self-advocacy toolkit, students will be empowered to advocate for their preferred adjustments, and that they will access these for their senior year of high school.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Sofia Mavropoulou

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis