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.

Other research by Nesta Devine

Nesta is currently engaged in several studies: some have to do with the nature of philosophy of education: particularly how it functions as a discipline, and how it relates to ideas of education as emancipatory and transformative. She is also engaged in thinking about the nature of doctoral studies, both in the form of the education PhD and the Doctor of Education degree.

Te reo Māori in the academy

In this Marsden-funded research project, Dr Georgina Stewart is exploring several aspects of the role played by te reo Māori in the academy, including: the challenges and potential benefits of writing doctoral thesis research in Māori; the history of academic writing in Māori; and the relevance of Māori-medium scholarship to the larger goals of biculturalism and bilingualism in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

A critical philosophical, sociological and historical examination of the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum, with emphasis on teachers' work and their work spaces

Dr Leon Benade critiques aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum, including Teaching as Inquiry and the relationship between knowledge, skills, competencies and dispositions in the Curriculum. His work considers the influence of educational reform on the ethical context of teacher' work, leading to publications on the role of critical thinking and reflective practices.

The response of teachers and leaders to the discourse of '21st-century learning', the development of innovative pedagogies, digital use and the development of flexible learning spaces in Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) is largely under-researched and under-documented at the present time, and Leon’s work seeks to address this gap.

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.

Current projects include:

  • Effective ILE pedagogy
  • The relationship between learning environments and dispositional learning
  • The marginalisation of parental and community voice in ILE development
  • Philosophical reflections on the question of hospitality in shared learning spaces

Mindfulness in schools

Dr Ross Bernay’s research focuses on mindfulness to enhance wellbeing of teachers and students.  Initial research identified the benefits of using the Pause Breathe Smile programme for children in primary schools in New Zealand.

Dr Bernay has published articles in the Australian Journal of Teacher Education, New Zealand Journal of Teachers Work, and Advances in School Mental Health Promotion.

His current research focuses on partnerships between universities and schools in initial teacher education and the potential of mindfulness as an underpinning philosophy for school culture rather than an add-on stress reduction strategy.

Mobilising Critical Education Research

This strand of work examines the interface between critical educational research and policy. Dr Ruth Boyask is currently working on the first case study of a series, which will develop iteratively in response to issues arising in the first case study. This case examines the significance of critical research to making policy that addresses student attainment outcomes in North of England schooling. It follows the progress of prominent educational researchers in engaging with policy makers around research findings.

Dr Boyask says: "I have two larger aims to which this case study will contribute: the first is to make a substantive contribution to knowledge of how those outside of educational research perceive critical research in education and the processes that are either enabling or limiting its uptake for informing policy and practice.

"The second aim is to contribute this knowledge to the development of an embedded and sustainable infrastructure for mobilising educational research, where socially critical research plays a substantial role."

Dramatic inquiry

Dr Carrie Swanson is exploring the use of the dramatic inquiry approach Mantle of the Expert to teach science at years 7/8.

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 pedagogy and gender in early childhood education

Vivienne Hogan is currently researching teaching and learning from a feminist pedagogy perspective in Teacher Education. She has also written about student teachers understanding of gender in early childhood education and has an interest in challenging simplistic and binary notions of gender.

"My research has developed out of teaching gender as a topic with early childhood education student teachers and has evolved into reflecting on my own teaching by exploring feminist poststructuralist ideas and writing," 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.

Capacity building for school improvement and inquiry

Dr Patricia Stringer's current research explores capacity building approaches that sustain inquiry in schools. Current research titled ‘The inquiring practitioner: Lived experiences of Master of Teaching and Learning graduate’ undertaken with her colleague Dr Jyoti Jhagroo, examines ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ from a critical, situated perspective.

Children’s participation in decision-making in primary schools

Alison Smith's current research employs a case study approach to critically examine the nature, extent and potential of children’s involvement in school decision-making, with a particular focus on student leadership roles and student ‘councils’. The study is framed by considerations of social justice and democratic schooling.

Narrative approaches to good reading

We know a significant amount about what it is good readers do while they are reading, including the types of strategies they use and the broad processes they use to control the use of those strategies in their development of comprehension and understanding of text. Less is known about how that process is orchestrated by individuals and the different paths by which those individuals come to an understanding of the texts they read. This research aims to shed light on individual reading styles through taking a narrative approach to describing individuals’ reading processes.

The lived experiences of teachers as inquiring practitioners

Since 2016 Dr Jyoti Jhagroo has been researching the lived experiences of first year practitioners in the school context from a phenomenological perspective. This study continues to create opportunities for her [together with her colleague, Dr Patricia Stringer] to be part of the conversation of practitioner-based research on different platforms. This research contributes to the discussions of ongoing professional learning for practitioners through self-initiated inquiries of their practice.

Leadership and collaboration in and across schools

Since 2015 Dr Howard Youngs has worked with Maggie Ogram from Osprey Consulting facilitating leadership development for the Eastern Learning Network of schools in Auckland. This has afforded him opportunity (along with his colleague Dr Patricia Stringer) to engage in some long term research where they employ a range of data collecting tools.

The research focuses on collaboration, inquiry and leadership practices that endeavour to support enhanced learning for students and the adults who directly or indirectly are engaged with the students.

Girls, sexualities and schooling

Toni Ingram's current research employs a feminist new materialist approach to explore the relations in-between girls, sexuality and the school ball. The aim of the study is to explore the becoming of the school ball-girl through dynamic entanglements of things, bodies, discourses, spaces and imaginings.

Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of social justice

Dr Sue Sutherland’s current research examines the development of professional identities of pre-service teachers from two Masters of Teaching programmes which have particular emphasis on learning to work with priority learners. The study investigates considerable variations in the development of the socially just teacher drawing on an adaptive expertise framework for conceptualising effective teaching. Notions of situating professional knowledge, practice and sense of self as a teacher within wider professional, social, political, economic and cultural contexts are examined.