Current research in education

This page outlines some of the diverse research being undertaken by academic staff in the AUT School of Education.

Keeping them at school

Dr Nesta Devine's current research entitled 'Keeping them at school' is a project which looks at schools, students and alternative forms of education in relation to excluded students, i.e. kids who have been 'expelled' from school.

The transitional experiences of teachers in the context of modern teaching and learning practice

Dr Leon Benade is examining the various challenges to teaching and leading in New Zealand schools that are at the forefront of implementing modern teaching and learning practice, particularly in regard to the design and construction of Modern Learning Environments (MLE) and the implementation of digital pedagogies, with particular reference to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

The response of teachers and leaders to these challenges is largely under-researched and under-documented at the present time, and Leon’s work seeks to address this gap.

How do early childhood Leaders theorise Leadership?

School of Education Senior Lecturer Dr Anne Grey is conducting research into the many beliefs, values, and contexts that influence leadership in early childhood education settings in Aotearoa.

Dr Grey says that literature about educational leadership from other disciplines is often inapplicable to early childhood. While there are some core aspects in contemporary educational leadership theory that are relevant to early childhood leaders, such as the values of vision and courage, there are also many weaknesses in the relevance of existent theory.

One important reason for this is the very diverse nature of educational settings that young children and their whanau can choose. In previous research Dr Grey found that there are indications that intentional, thoughtful teaching practice is less likely to exist if not supported by strong leadership.

"As the role of leadership is second in importance to quality in early childhood learning programmes (the presence of qualified teachers being first), it would seem vital to be able to articulate what constitutes effective leadership in early childhood education," says Dr Grey.

"Additionally it must be recognised that in early childhood education in Aotearoa, the important cultural influence that exists in Kohanga Reo and Pacific Island language nests would result in a different conception of what constitutes effective leadership."

In this project interviews are being conducted with individuals in diverse leadership positions. These will investigate how the elements of leadership (the person, the place, and the position) are combined in leadership, and how and if the current frameworks on leadership studies (critical, humanistic, instrumental and scientific) used in the school sector, apply. Dr Grey's research has received a grant from the AUT University Faculty of Culture and Society's Centre for Research in Leadership in Education.

Mindfulness in schools

Dr Ross Bernay is involved in a joint project looking at the effects of a mindfulness intervention for students in year 5 in 5 schools across New Zealand.

Best practice in career education and counselling

Dr Dale Furbish is involved in a research project that investigates best practice in career education and counselling in New Zealand secondary schools.

As part of the research, career advisers from 20 schools that were nominated by peers as engaging in best practice were interviewed. Seven themes that were often found in the schools were identified.

The results have been reported at national and international professional conferences and have served as the basis for an article in the Australian Journal of Career Development.

Teacher learning groups

Dean Nugent is looking at facilitating teacher learning groups — exploring a disposition of no belief, opinions, or expectations, and very few ideas.

Feminist teaching

Vivienne Hogan is currently researching feminist pedagogy and teacher education with specific reference to early childhood education.

"My research has developed out of my teaching experience with first year early childhood education student teachers and I am interested in exploring feminist teaching from a feminist poststructuralist perspective," says Vivienne.

Māori teachers who specialised in Steiner education

Neil Boland is engaged in a study that investigates the experience of Māori teachers who specialised in Steiner education in their BEd degree at AUT.

They articulate what drew them to Steiner education and how their experiences relate/do not relate to their cultural traditions.

Tribal knowledge in early childhood education

Desma Cornhill is exploring Tribal knowledge in early childhood education: A Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua case study.

This study is researching what, why and how tribal knowledge features in a Māori language immersion centre in Waiuku, the mana whenua (traditional homeland) of Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua iwi (tribe).

Desma is currently collecting data in Te Kāhui iti nei o Te Kōpū (Tribal early childhood care and education centre) via observation and whitiwhiti korero (focus group).

"To date my research has found iwi (tribal) visions and principles seek to transmit tribal knowledge in many tribal forums but are committed to early childhood education as a place of revitalisation and affirmation of traditional knowledges and tikanga (customs and practises)."