HDR Student Profiles

Examining the transformation of teacher linguistic knowledge to writing instruction

Julie Arnold (M.Phil)

What English teachers know, and how they use their knowledge, is a vital part of the teaching process. This research project explores how two Year 10 English teachers, as part of a small community of professional learners, use knowledge about language. Specifically, a design-based research (DBR) methodology aims to provide insight into how teachers’ linguistic subject knowledge (LSK) and pedagogical linguistic subject knowledge (PLSK) influence the planning and delivery of writing instruction. Systemic functional linguistics (SFL) provides a framework to guide collaborative decision-making between teachers and the teacher-researcher about specific professional learning needs. Lee Shulman’s approach to pedagogical reasoning further supports an analysis of teachers’ accounts, gathered via semi-structured interviews and corroborated with supporting documentation, of the decisions they make.

Principal supervisor: Dr Jennifer Alford

Associate supervisor: Dr Lisa Van Leent

(Previous Supervisors: Dr Anita Jetnikoff and Assoc. Prof Beryl Exley)

Contact: jl.roach@hdr.qut.edu.au  or jarno17@eq.edu.au

Employing a dialogic approach to develop intercultural competence in an Australian university

Johanna Einfalt (​PhD)

In an increasingly globalised world, it is clear that universities need to produce students who are interculturally competent and able to successfully interact in a range of contexts. What is less clear, however, is how to ensure this is achieved and literature points to a lack of social interaction between international and domestic students, arguing that universities are not maximising the opportunity offered by a diverse presence on campus. This project investigates shifts in the development of intercultural competence in a group of first year students at an Australian university. This case study will focus on a mixed group of domestic and international students invited to participate in guided forums designed to promote dialogic intercultural interactions. Underpinned by Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism and Deardorff’s intercultural competence model, this study employs interviews, video recordings, reflections and stimulated recall sessions to provide insight into what influence, if any, the dialogic forums has on student participants. Findings will offer to the university sector a fine-grained understanding of interactions at the dialogic level and demonstrate the effectiveness of using a dialogic approach to develop intercultural competence.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Alford

Associate Supervisor: Dr Maryanne Theobald

Contact: j.einfalt@hdr.qut.edu.au 

iPads in the early childhood science classroom: an exploration of the uses of the iPad in hands-on science activities

Catherine Wilson (M.Phil)

In an increasingly digitally literate society, the ubiquity of technology in early childhood classrooms presents opportunities for technology integration into all facets of the curriculum, including science. In science education it is recognised that hands-on activities are beneficial for young learners, however the introduction of iPads in classrooms suggests there is a possibility that virtual learning activities using iPads could replace hands-on science investigations rather than be utilised as a tool that can enhance them. This case study project investigates how iPads can be used as part of hands-on science activities that explore the concept of motion in three Prep classrooms.


Email: ct.wilson@hdr.qut.edu.au

Parental engagement with private tuition: understandings parents’ beliefs about education and family in a liquid modern era

Elizabeth Briant (PhD)

Australia’s private tuition industry is booming. While previous research suggests that factors such as families’ socio-economic status and students’ academic progress contribute to the choice to employ private tuition, little is known about the latent social mechanisms that might be nudging parents to choose private tuition for their children in the senior years of school. Through the lens of Giddens’ structuration theory, this narrative study will explore how, in a liquid modern era characterised by change, risk and uncertainty, private tuition might be symptomatic of parents’ desire to anticipate the future, manage risks and preserve their sense of security in the world.

Principal supervisor: A/Prof Greg Thompson

Associate supervisor: A/Prof Karen Dooley

Contact: elizabeth.briant@qut.edu.au

Authorial voice in postgraduate writing in Australia: Formation, performance, and assessment

Do Na Chi (PhD Candidate)

Do Na ChiMy research explores how postgraduate students perform their positions, critical arguments, and demonstrate new perspectives as required in their written assignments. All these dimensions will be assembled and investigated under the umbrella of voice. Voice is a valuable concept but has been understudied, making it the subject of much debate. My research will provide evidence-based insights into how voice is understood, performed, and realised in postgraduates’ writing practices. It is useful to do this for (i) a more definitive conceptualisation of voice in academic writing based on the literature and my research findings, (ii) an identification of factors that constitute the understanding, performance, and recognition of voice, (iii) pedagogical implications to support postgraduate students to successfully perform voice in written assignments. Findings of this study may be further applied to other educational contexts in Australia.

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Margaret Kettle

Associate supervisor: Professor Annette Woods

Contact: dona.chi@hdr.qut.edu.au

Are you what you speak? A sociological analysis of family language policy in China

Danwei Gao (PhD)

Family language policies (hereafter, FLP) refers to a family’s thinking and decisions about the languages their children learn and how they implement and manage those beliefs in practice. The project will explore FLP of internal middle-class migrants who move as ‘talent’ to Guangdong, China, where both Pǔtōnghuà (Mandarin) and the Yuè Dialect (Cantonese) are used, and English is a key subject in school. The current study conceptualises the family as a field, looking at struggles over language and identity within that field, and relations with agencies within the field of institutionalised education. This Bourdieusian lens enables sociological understandings of dynamics identified by the sociolinguistic theorisations established in FLP studies.

Principal supervisor: Professor Karen Dooley

Associate supervisor: Dr Radha Iyer

Contact: danwei.gao@hdr.qut.edu.au

Elizabeth Wallace (MPhil Candidate)

Children in the early years of school engage in extensive reading instruction, primarily focused on the technicalities of learning how to read. It is known that children’s attitudes towards reading, and how often they read for pleasure, can have a significant impact on their reading development, with these factors providing a greater academic advantage for children than having well-educated parents. While a large body of research has focused on the how of reading instruction, there are few studies exploring reading for pleasure and how teachers cover this in the classroom. Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-Ecological Systems Theory places importance on the belief systems of adults working closely with children, and on the primary developmental relationships between adults and children.

This mixed-methods thesis aims to explore early childhood teachers’ self-reported beliefs about the importance of reading for pleasure in the early years of school. The study will further examine teachers’ literacy practices regarding the promotion of reading for pleasure. Six teachers working in Prep-to-Year 2 classrooms in one school will be invited to participate, with data collection involving classroom observation, stimulated recall interviews, and collection of teacher documentation. The results of the study will provide evidence to inform further research and may have implications regarding potential improvements in early school reading instruction.

Contact: ei.wallace@qut.edu.au

Michelle Jeffries (PhD Candidate)

Existing literature is clear that positive school-family relationships play an important role in children’s school and life success, and thus the ways in which schools engage and partner with parents play a pivotal role in the experiences of school for young children, their parents and families. For same-sex attracted and gender diverse (SSAGD) parents , the broader social and political complexities, including policy, constructions of family, legislation, and media, influence the ways in which schools engage with and respond to gender and sexual diversity within schools. My doctoral research explores some of these complexities and the experiences of SSAGD parents as they navigate schools. I draw on queer theory in my work, as well as Nancy Fraser’s three-dimensional theory of social justice and politics of belonging.

Contact: ma.jeffries@hdr.qut.edu.au