Research highlights in Education

From teacher support to curriculum creation, our researchers are tackling the big issues in Education today

Creating a curriculum

Dr Kate O’Connor (pictured above), Director of Graduate Research, has published a new book examining the complex work involved in university curriculum making. 

‘Unbundling the University Curriculum’ provides a unique perspective on online learning in higher education and makes an important argument for why curriculum matters. 

“The book reflects on how higher education has engaged with massive open online courses and other forms of unbundled online learning in the early 2010s, the effects of these reforms on curriculum practice, and provides insight about some of the critical problems we face today,” says Dr O’Connor. 

Find out more.

Supporting teachers

Research by Associate Professor Tanya Serry and colleagues has revealed teachers do not feel well-equipped to support students with learning difficulties in reading. 

The study of more than 500 Victorian public school teachers showed more than one third lacked confidence to teach a student with reading difficulties, and teachers described feeling poorly prepared by their preservice education. 

“Ultimately, this leaves these students vulnerable to academic failure, and at significant risk for poor longer-term outcomes across personal, economic, health and psychosocial domains,” Associate Professor Serry told the Herald Sun. 

About 50 per cent of the teachers surveyed reported feeling confused about which teaching method to use to help students with learning difficulties in reading. 

“A lot of teachers don’t realise that these students don’t need anything different. They just need a more intensive dosage of high-quality reading instruction in a lot of cases,” explains Associate Professor Serry. 

Read the article.

Improving teaching practices

PhD candidate, Tessa Weadman, has developed a new tool to help early childhood educators improve their language and literacy teaching practices.

These practices include different prompts to elicit responses from children and ways of expanding on the meaning of written text.

The Emergent Literacy and Language Early Childhood Checklist for Teachers (ELLECCT) captures the strategies teachers use to develop children’s oral language and emergent literacy skills during shared book reading.

Weadman says that these skills help young children to learn about words and printed text.

“These skills are strongly linked with the ability to read, write and spell throughout primary school. Teachers play a significant role in ensuring preschool children receive a high-quality instruction that prepares them for later literacy learning,” says Weadman.

“We developed the ELLECCT as an observational tool to describe teacher practices, and it should also be useful in teacher coaching and pre-service training.”

Read the article.

Sensitive topics in the classroom

Research by Dr Babak Dadvand and colleagues has examined how to address sensitive topics in the classroom. 

“The global community is facing many challenges including the climate crisis, the continued spectre of armed conflict, growing economic inequalities, racism, homophobia and gender-based violence,” says Dr Dadvand.  

While this ‘difficult knowledge’ can be distressing for students and teachers, addressing these issues in an educational context is also necessary. 

“Our research shows the discomfort of engaging with difficult knowledge can be mitigated by providing teachers with tools that enable them to teach about these topics in a responsive way, such as active participation and artistic expression.”  

“We hope our findings can inform new pedagogical approaches in Initial Teacher Education programs and within school settings.”

Read the article.

Find out more about the School of Education on the website and LinkedIn. Learn more about our research.