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


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 Supervisor: Associate Professor Kate Williams

Associate supervisor: 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

Shanelle Fiaalii

A First Nations Pedagogical Framework for Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in the Teaching of English

There is an expectation in the Australian Curriculum that teachers embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures through the cross-curriculum framework based on Country/Place, Culture, and People. To do this effectively, they must have a deep understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing. This can only be achieved by developing a relationship with Country and Community.

This qualitative study will adapt the Country, community and Indigenous research framework by Bobongie-Harris, Hromek and O’Brien (2021) for use with English teachers in an Independent school system. It will use the Indigenous methodologies of storytelling and yarning. With a local elder guiding them, the participants will engage in an on-Country experience to determine the impact that connection to Country and Community has on attitudes to embedding, and understanding of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. The research project will be analysed through Decolonising Race Theory.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Francis Bobongie-Harris

Associate Supervisor: Dr Radha Iyer

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

Smita Nepal

Preparedness of Nepalese teachers to implement inclusive pedagogy

Despite being on the global education reform agenda for over two decades, interpretations and practices of inclusive education vary widely across the world. In Nepal, similar to many other developing countries, inclusive education is still an emerging concept, and limited research is available to date in relation to how inclusive education is conceptualised and implemented here. Moreover, very little is known about how teachers, who are at the forefront of providing inclusive education, understand this concept and how well they are prepared to teach inclusively. Hence, this PhD research intended to address this research gap by investigating an overarching research question, “How prepared are Nepalese teachers to practise inclusive pedagogy?” using a sociocultural conceptual framework and adopting a sequential mixed method research design. This research will have significant implications for initial teacher education and professional development policies and practices.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Suzanne Carrington

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Nerida Spina

Adjunct Supervisor: Professor Sue Walker


Shannon O’Brien

Factors Impacting on Australian School Staff Intervention in Bullying Incidents

Bullying among school students is an issue that is widespread across the globe. The potential consequences of bullying at school, both short and long term, can be dire for both the person being victimized and the person who is doing the bullying. These consequences include poor academic performance, school attendance issues, drug and alcohol problems, and mental health concerns including suicidal ideation. Bullying can be considered a public health issue.

This study will initially investigate what school staff members are involved in managing cases of bullying. It will then explore how the identified staff knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy in respect to bullying are associated with the interventions they employ. This project will utilize an exploratory sequential mixed methods design. The findings from the study aim to inform teacher training and professional development on the topic of bullying.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Marilyn Campbell

Associate Supervisor: Dr Chrystal Whiteford


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

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 Supervisor: Associate Professor Callula Killingly

Associate Supervisor: Adjunct Associate Professor Naomi Sweller

Associate Supervisor: Ms Gaenor Dixon


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


Carolina Vidal

Title: Accessible peer assessment: improving inclusion in Australian schools

Improving equity and fairness has been a growing priority for education, in the field of assessment, one of the most recognizable students led strategy for it is peer assessment. Peer assessment is a complex process that involves a dialogic relationship between teacher and students which enhances metacognitive thinking. Also, peer assessment involves cognitive skills and social demands that could imply additional barriers for students with learning difficulties. There is growing recent research that shows that assessment interactions have the potential to overcome these barriers. Yet, little is known how peer assessment enables all students to learn, or how these interactions are designed and implemented in inclusive classrooms. This study aims to address these gaps by collecting data from teachers and students in Australian classrooms. The data collection will focus on the process where teachers work collaboratively in Professional Learning sessions, designing and implementing peer assessment strategies with their pupils to make this process more inclusive for all students.

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Jill Willis

Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Nerida Spina