Understanding student emotion to enhance science inquiry practices
Science inquiry is one approach used to engage students, develop their knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, improve scientific literacy, and model how scientists explore phenomena. Existing research has found that students’ emotions present obstacles and opportunities for learning science, however there is scant research into students’ emotions in science inquiry, which negates the opportunity for developing science inquiry teaching practices that consider emotionally receptive learning environment. This study addresses the need for exploring social interactions and emotional experiences of Year 10 Chemistry students during science inquiry to inform teaching practice. New understandings about students’ emotional experiences during science inquiry will be developed through a post-paradigmatic study design that combines interpretive and the participatory paradigms through a methodology informed by ethnomethodology and microsociology.
Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Alberto Bellocci
Associate Supervisor: Dr James Davis
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
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
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
Following the Actors in Gifted Education Policy and Practice: An Australian Ethnographic Multi-Site Case Study
Gifted and talented students are entitled to appropriate educational opportunities. However, the literature demonstrates a disparity between gifted education policy and practice. In Australia, gifted education policy implementation varies amongst the states and territories. This multi-site case study investigated gifted education policy and practice within Queensland regional schools. Employing Actor-Network Theory (ANT) blended with enthnographic methods, this study was conducted over two phases. This investigation focused on four state primary schools, and analysed the diverse human and non-human networks connected to gifted education policy and practice. Findings from this study aim to illuminate the dynamic relationships between the policy actors, and how they shape gifted education policy and practice within some Queensland state primary schools.
Principal supervisor: Dr Carly Lassig
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
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
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
Because happiness matters: Exploring 13-year-old children’s lived experience of happiness in a rural Bhutanese context
Positioned within the social constructionist research paradigm, this study explores 13-year-old children’s lived experience of happiness in a rural context in Bhutan through a collective case study design. The study is situated within Bhutan’s emphasis on Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a development philosophy and Educating for GNH as an education policy. Despite this emphasis on happiness, there is limited knowledge about Bhutanese children’s experience of happiness and their participation in conversations about what matters for their happiness. This study will provide insights for GNH from children’s perspectives. It will further contribute to children’s perspectives of the phenomenon of happiness, which has been receiving increasing global attention but dominated by western perspectives, quantitative measurements, and adult views.
Principal Supervisor: Dr Jenna Gillett-Swan
Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Deborah Henderson
Exploring teachers’ knowledge, understanding and practice for supporting students with autism in inclusive schools in Bhutan
Despite the extensive global evidence on teachers’ knowledge of autism and its importance for fostering inclusion, relevant research conducted in Bhutan remains scarce. This study is designed with the aim to investigate Bhutanese teachers’ knowledge and understanding of autism and their classroom practices for including students on the spectrum. The study will adopt an exploratory sequential mixed-methods approach, which will guide the use of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations and online surveys as data collection methods. Data will be gathered from teachers in the 18 schools identified as inclusive schools in Bhutan. Drawing from the social constructionist approach for the social production of knowledge under the influence of the historical/cultural context, as well as personal beliefs and values, this study aims to capture teachers’ understanding of autism and inclusive practice within the context of Bhutan. The study is positioned in the context of scarce research and scholarly literature in the field of autism and disability in Bhutan. Therefore, findings generated from this research will contribute towards filling the gap of empirical research on autism and inclusive education in that particular cultural context. This study will be carried out following the thesis by publication route/pathway instead of the traditional “thesis by monograph” pathway. To this end, the research findings will be disseminated through three journal articles.
Principal Supervisor: Professor Suzanne Carrington
Associate Supervisor: Dr Sofia Mavropoulou
A national assessment model for school-age students with disability: An institutional ethnography of the practice of policy
There is an expectation students with disability will attend their local school, on the same basis with similarly aged peers (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005). Teachers are expected to plan learning for students with disability that ensures full access to, and participation in, the mandated curriculum. Inevitably the issue of additional resources that may (or may not) be needed to meet the educational needs of students with disability is raised. The new national policy, the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD), collects information about the number of students with disability, their location, and the level of educational adjustments they receive. This data will be used to inform Commonwealth Government planning and funding for school students with disability. In seeking to understand how teachers enact this policy, it is anticipated the outcomes of this research will provide important insights for school leaders, and education authorities, as they develop and implement structures to support teachers in this work.
Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis
How do students explain their identity as co-designers of assessment?
My study focuses on the experiences of students in authentic partnerships with teachers and their peers, as co-designers of assessment. Assumptions and prior experiences of power relationships within schools and other societal systems may have an impact on students’ views of the capacity to be valued participants in co-designed assessment. This study will identify and theorise students’ perspectives on their identities as co-designers of assessment within the context of one innovative secondary school. The study aims to contribute practical ideas to educators, and theoretical insights to the body of research on student voice, co-design and identity development.
Principal supervisor: Dr Prue Miles
Associate supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis
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