C4IE Students

Subhashni Appanna

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


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

Kirsten Baird-Bate

Making visible the lived experiences of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

This research explored the lived experiences of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the effectiveness of photographic journaling as a reflective tool. Five mothers of children with ASD participated in this visual narrative study, each capturing daily photographs and engaging in a semi-structure interview. Both photographic and narrative data were thematically analysed. Child health/behaviour significantly influenced the maternal lived experience within the family; external systems; and the mothers’ own experience of wellness. Although maternal vulnerabilities are prevalent, the mothers showed agency. Nuanced insights from this research contribute towards understanding of ASD, provide strength-based perspectives on caregiving, and highlight the importance of family-centric policies.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Lyndal O’Gorman

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Jo Bell

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

Associate supervisors: Associate Professor Deborah Henderson and Dr Mallihai Tambyah

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

Meegan Brown

How do teachers in rural and remote primary schools experience their work with children living with the effects of complex childhood trauma?

Children from Australian rural and remote areas are vulnerable to complex childhood trauma (CCT) as their communities face higher rates of disadvantage and exposure to traumatic circumstances such as natural disasters, and family and community violence. This is compounded by difficulties associated with the tyranny of distance in accessing effective support. In such contexts, the role of schools and teachers in addressing trauma’s debilitating effects is both vital and amplified. Yet in the field of education, trauma-informed practice is in its infancy, and research reveals that teachers feel ill-equipped to deal with its challenges. This is exacerbated by a context in which many teachers working in rural and remote areas are early career teachers, and little is known about their experiences and how to best support them. This Doctor of Philosophy study using qualitative grounded theory methodology will investigate how teachers in Queensland’s rural and remote primary schools experience their work with children living with the effects CCT. The research will contribute important insights into the scope and nature of teachers work with children experiencing CCT and recommend how cognate systems can prepare and support teachers in rural and remote areas in their important role as key professionals in the lives of children who have experienced CCT.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Kerryann Walsh

Associate Supervisor: Dr Judith Howard

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

Tshering Dolkar

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

Dawa Dukpa

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

Jeanine Gallagher

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

Associate supervisors: Dr Nerida Spina and Professor Gordon Tait


Fiona Gibson

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

Jaedene Glasby

Meeting the needs of teachers: What teachers know and want to know about Developmental Language Disorder

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a common, yet complex and hidden disorder. This leads to it being commonly ‘missed, misinterpreted and misunderstood’, yet its impacts on behavioural development, wellbeing, relationships, learning and attainment, independence and employment are profound and far reaching. The challenges of school are significant, as language is the currency for learning and socialising. For teachers of students with a Developmental Language Disorder, the challenges are equally significant. They are charged with providing access to learning for these students on the same basis as their peers, in what is typically a fast-paced, language-loaded, literacy-laden environment. The success with which teachers can effectively include students with DLD has the potential to alter, not only their success at school, but also their life trajectory. This project aims to understand what it is teachers know about DLD and what they feel they want or need to know, in order to facilitate effective inclusion and learning for this group of students. It is anticipated that understanding current teacher knowledge and desired knowledge about DLD is a crucial first step in assisting teachers to accurately recognise and effectively address the learning requirements of these students.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Linda Graham

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Sonia White


Liesl Harper

Whole school approach to language immersion using augmentative and alternative communication for students with multiple disabilities and complex communication needs

This study responds to the challenges inherent in providing communication systems for students with multiple disabilities who are are unable to use speech to meet their daily communication needs. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) provides students with functional communication which facilitates their ability to participate in their daily lives, and engage with curriculum and learning. There are many barriers to establishing individualised AAC systems, these include: access to skilled speech language pathologists and time required to determine, trial and get training in the AAC approach. In response to these barriers the study school has implemented a whole school approach to language immersion using AAC. Research is required to determine the features and effectiveness of this whole school approach to AAC implementation.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Beth Saggers

Associate Supervisor: Dr Julie Dillon-Wallace

Pinky Pritika Kumar

Listening to the voice of students with an intellectual disability in inclusive schools in Fiji

Following the ratification of the UNCRPD in 2017 in Fiji, five demonstration inclusive schools were established and a Special and Inclusive Education Policy and Implementation Plan was launched in 2017. The aim of this research project is to contribute to the limited research on student voice and inclusion in the Asian Pacific region. Qualitative methods will be employed to analyse individual semi-structured interviews with learners (9-12 yrs) with an intellectual disability educated in inclusive schools.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Sofia Mavropoulou

Associate Supervisor: Dr Vinesh Chandra


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

Jessica McLeod

Teachers’ perceptions of their obligations to uphold education rights of young primary children with disabilities

Education is a fundamental human right for all and is recognised through international conventions and declarations of the United Nations. This study researches the views of teachers of children in the early years of primary education. Long-standing research in early years primary education has shown that this period can have a significant impact on the trajectory of children’s development. However, there is also research to indicate that when children have disabilities, they can experience greater exclusion in accessing quality education compared with their peers who do not have a disability. The aim of this study is to understand: (1) what teachers perceive their obligations are in upholding the rights of children in the early years of primary education, (2) how their perceptions change when considering children with disabilities, and (3) how teachers report that they uphold children’s rights in practice. This qualitative study will investigate 12 practicing teachers’ perspectives. Findings of this study will provide nuanced insights regarding teachers’ understanding of education rights in order to support teachers in navigating the complexities of children’s rights in education.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Jenna Gillett-Swan

Associate Supervisor: Dr Nerida Spina

Carolyn Minnie

How do teachers prepare students with the coexistence of Autism Spectrum Disorder – Level 1 (ASD-1) and intellectual giftedness (IG) as twice-exceptional (2E), to transition to secondary school?

In Australia, transition to secondary school coincides with the onset of adolescence which presents challenges as students move to new campuses, have multiple teachers, and strive to be socially accepted. For students with 2E, this often intensifies challenges that they face socially and in having to change routines. This study explored teachers’ understanding of 2E and how they prepared these students to transition. The experiences of students with 2E, who had already transitioned, were considered to establish the influence of teachers on transition.

Principal supervisor: Dr Carly Lassig

Associate supervisors: Dr Donna Tangen and Associate Professor Denise Beutel

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 do carer responsibilities impact women’s higher education decision-making processes?

This research investigates the ways in which care work impacts upon women’s higher education decision-making processes. 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. A mixed methods research approach with an Exploratory Sequential Design has been chosen for this doctoral study (Creswell & Clark, 2018). 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 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

Leighann Ness Wilson

Enhancing the capabilities and self-efficacy of Australian pre-service primary teachers with design thinking

Design thinking has been established as a pedagogical framework for developing transferable 21st century skills in students (such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving), though much of the research examines secondary school design studies, professional development of practicing educators or student outcomes.  This research focuses specifically on the role of design thinking in the education of pre-service primary school teachers and how a deeper understanding of design might invigorate, motivate and even enhance enjoyment of educators planning to deliver learning experiences across the curriculum. The findings of this research will highlight the value of design thinking as a framework for pre-service teacher education and contribute to a growing culture of practice for design-led education as a model for 21st century skill development, teacher self-efficacy and life-long learning.

Principal supervisor: Dr Natalie Wright

Associate supervisor: Associate Professor Kate Thompson

Donna Pennell

Legal solutions in the prevention and intervention of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is an issue often connected to youth suicide, often leading to public calls for the law to address it.  While schools play a substantial role in the prevention and intervention of cyberbullying amongst students, their voices about legal remedies have not been included in much of the debate.  This research employs thematic content analysis of interviews and focus group data collected from participants from two large independent secondary schools.  Taking a social ecological view that the systems of education and law might both contribute to the reduction of cyberbullying, this project proposes three publication toward informing, from the perspective of schools, how complementary solutions might be approached to support, acknowledge and complement school-based efforts.

Principal supervisor: Professor Marilyn Campbell

Associate supervisor: Dr Donna Tangen


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


Karlie Ross

Discreet Disengagement in the Classroom: A Mixed Methods Study with Middle Years Students

Students who frequently disengage from classroom learning are more likely to feel excluded in their classroom, achieve lower academic results, and experience social-emotional issues. Since these implications have socio-economic effects distally, classroom disengagement is of high importance to researchers, policymakers, and is particularly concerning for classroom teachers whose responsibility it is to identify and support students who disengage. But what happens when classroom teachers do not notice the more discreet types of student disengagement like daydreaming? Building on previous work on the notion of ‘ghost learners’ (Ross, 2020; Goss & Sonneman, 2017), this study will investigate discreet disengagement in the classroom, problematising the idea that some students’ disengagement flies under the radar of teachers or is not prioritised when compared to more disruptive typologies. To understand this important issue, this PhD study will conduct a scoping literature review and will investigate disengagement experiences with Middle Years students and their teachers. It is hoped that the demystification of this typology will contribute to a more comprehensive conceptualisation of student (dis)engagement in theory and policy, as well as practical insights for educators so that any student who experiences disengagement, no matter its typology, is identified and offered equal opportunity to engage with their education.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis

Associate Supervisor: Professor Linda Graham


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 Silvia

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

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: A/Prof Jill Willis


Zoe Vaill

How do universities prevent and manage peer bullying amongst university students: A policy analysis.

This research aims to assess the quality, usability and implementation of university student anti-bullying policy. This is done through three studies which will analyse the quality and usability of policies in Australia and the UK, as well as gain an understanding of student knowledge and use of those policies and their experiences with bullying at university. This research will start the creation of a database of information relating to quality of policy, implementation and usability, and prevalence of bullying. This, in time and with more contributions from different countries, may lead to a better understanding of the impact policies have on bullying in a university context and if there are better ways of handling peer bullying at university.

Principal supervisor: Professor Marilyn Campbell

Associate supervisor: Dr Chrystal Whiteford