La Trobe PhD students embed in schools

La Trobe University PhD students are going back to school in an Australian first that aims to improve education outcomes in schools.

The University has opened up its Industry PhD program, traditionally available to science and health students, to students embarking on research in Education.

La Trobe’s Dean of Education Professor Joanna Barbousas said the first two industry PhD candidates are now embedded at partner school, Parade College, and another student would soon join The Pavilion School.

“This program is a huge opportunity for schools and education researchers to build impactful research that will create real change in these schools, and beyond,” Professor Barbousas said.

“Our PhD students will be embedded in schools for three years to investigate problems of specific interest to the host schools.  The program is co-funded by the University and the schools who will gain insights, data and recommendations to help solve their unique challenges through world-leading research conducted by our students.”

Parade College Principal Andy Kuppe said two PhD students are now embedded in the school investigating how masculinity impacts education, and ways to improve the learning environment for students on the Autism Spectrum.

“We’re always working to make our college a better, safer and more inclusive place for all students. We were already going to do some work in these areas of focus. Now, thanks to this program, we’ll be basing our initiatives and strategic plan on solid data and research,” Mr Kuppe said.

Professor Barbousas said the program is expanding to include a new scholarship opportunity with The Pavilion School, at Charles La Trobe College. The Pavilion School educates students who have disengaged from, or been excluded by schools or education providers.

The PhD student will map the outcomes of former pupils who engaged in flexible learning at the school.

Charles La Trobe College Principal Andrew Robertson said the goal was to find out whether the Pavilion School had changed the life trajectories of some of Victoria’s most vulnerable young people.

“Having a PhD student based at our school will almost be like having a critical friend there,” Mr Robertson said.

“They will be able to help us make sure that we’re serving the needs of young people and their families, as well as making a contribution to the wider research on the topic.”

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