Engaging Research:
Profession, Practice, Politics
Postgraduate Research Conference
University of Queensland, September 19, 2009
Jo-Anne Reid
Faculty of Education CSU
AARE
Why does educational research
matter?

In what ways does the research we do matter to
the field of education?

Who reads it, whose thinking and practice is
changed by it?

How does it make a difference in the lives of
teachers, children, parents and in the history of
the nation?
Engagement challenges for
educational research

the range of education professions that require the advocacy
and evidence of our research to build and strengthen
themselves as communities;

the range of everyday teaching, leadership and academic
practices that contribute to renewal and strengthening of
education through research; and

the range of political circumstances, constraints and
possibilities that frame the work of educational researchers
at the present time.

Drawing on the evidence of six years’ reflection
on the sorts of educational research Australian
universities have nominated as the very best
doctoral theses in the nation, I argue that
educational researchers must continue to ask the
difficult questions about our field and engage
more fully with the challenge of ensuring that
education research continues to matter.
The Problem of ‘the Problem with Educational
Research’
McWilliam & Lee (2006) suggest that the different positions on the
problem with educational research, and hence on the solution to
the problem, fail to engage in the question of education itself as a
problem of the present.
They argue that this problem is produced through twin fantasies
about education: a redemptive fantasy about the possibility and
the imperative for education to solve problems of social
disadvantage; and a disciplinary fantasy that faculties of education
can do this by themselves.
Through an examination of the ‘de-sciencing’ of education
in the past decade or so, and its recent ‘re-sciencing’,
they conclude that, with all the problems that might be
identified as pertaining to educational research and to
Faculties of Education, the most significant might well be
a failure of research imagination. Overcoming this
problem demands engagement with provocative ideas
coming from outside traditional educational expertise.
McWilliam, E & Lee, A (2006) The Problem of ‘the Problem with Educational Research’,
Australian Educational Researcher, Vol 33, No 2, pp 43-60
What needs to be studied?




Wagner (1993) reminds researchers of the difference between
what he calls ‘blank spots’ and ‘blind spots’ in our construction of
knowledge.
Blank spots are the bits of the picture that we think need to be
‘filled in’ by research. To fill in blank spots we do not need to
change or question the existing picture at all. Research that fills in
the ‘blank spots’ in our knowledge as teachers does not challenge
existing constructions or values.
Even when such research works right out at the edges of what is
already ‘sketched in’ to our picture of high quality educational
practice, it remains within the frame of the big picture it assumes to
represent reality and truth.
But when things in our professional practice are not ‘picture
perfect’ within our frame; when some of our students are failing to
learn in our classrooms; when our school is not achieving the same
level of outcomes as others; when we feel we could do things
better but don’t quite know what to do: we are seeing our blind
spots….
Teaching becomes a strategy for using research to reduce
ignorance, and research a strategy for preparing to teach.
While this articulates research closely with teaching, it also
suggests how complicated teaching really is. … Research
itself is a form of learning – and research reporting a form
of teaching (Wagner 1993:19, 21).
In order to generate new knowledge about education and
schooling, Wagner claims, “educational researchers must
begin with ignorance, not truth” (1993:15). In this way,
some of the ‘blind spots’ we have in our educational vision
are more likely to appear, and demand our attention.
Sometimes, indeed, we might be taken by surprise by
having a look at somebody else’s picture of normality and
truth.
Wagner, J. (1993) Ignorance in Educational Research, or How could you Not know that? Educational Researcher, Vol. 22, No.
5, 15-23.
AARE Doctoral Thesis Award 2004

Professional Work in the New Work Order: A sociological study of the shift from
professional autonomy based in expertise to professional accountability based in
performativity

Shaped by the Book: Changing Profession, place and practice in school librarianship
under the impact of new communications technologies

Western Australian Principals' Theorising on 'Good Schools‘

Semiotic Reflections of Clinical Chemistry: For 'Knowledge Work' in the Medical
Sciences

Adolescence, Schooling and English/Literacy: Formulations of a Problem in Early
Twentieth Century South Australia

A People Learning: Colonial Victorians and their Public Institutions for Adult Learning,
1860-1880

Intertextual turns in curriculum inquiry: fictions, diffractions and deconstructions

In the neighbourhood of uncertainty: Poststructuralisms and environmental education
2004

Is Success a Matter of Choice? Exploring Indigenous Australian notions of success within the
context of the Australian university

Parental Involvement in their Children's Education in Taiwan

Decisions by 'Science Proficient' Year 10 Students About Post-Compulsory High School
Science Enrolment: A Sociocultural Exploration

The Influence of Students' Conceptual Perceptions on Motivational Goal Pursuit in the First
Year of Middle School

Exploring Flexibility and Lifelong Learning: the rhetorical work of policy discourse

Students' Engagement and Disengagement Behaviours When Learning with IMM Integrated
Mass Lectures

School Leadership and Cognitive Interests: The development of a leadership framework
based on Habermas' theory of knowledge-constitutive interest

The role of affective distress in final years school student achievement motivation

Reforming the System of School Administration in Thailand: facing the Challenges of the 21st
Century
2004
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But do they learn anything? Student learning at an interactive road safety
exhibition
Breaking the Mind-Forg’d Manacles: a study of adolescent transformation
Unimaginable bodies: Intellectual disability, performance and becomings
Competition, competence and conversation: a case study of strategic learning
in a petrochemical organisation
Alternative Subjectivities: Reading difference in media texts on Indian women
entrepreneurs
Action Research as a Professional Development Model for the Teaching of
Writing in Early Stage One/Stage One Classrooms
Why bother to be a student leader? An exploration of the school
experiences and self-perceptions of Year 12 students in three Catholic
schools
The Development of Sport in Singapore: An Eliasian Analysis
What is the nature of transformative learning and pedagogy?
2004

Context, complexity, and contestation in curriculum construction:
developing Social Studies in the New Zealand Curriculum

The Study of Teaching: A Longitudinal Study of Post-Compulsory
Students’ Perspectives on a Course in Teacher Education

School Governance: Phases, Participation and Paradoxes

The Design and Evaluation of a Cooperative Reading Instructional
Strategy for Children Experiencing Reading Difficulties

Complicit Institutions: Representation, Consumption and the
Production of School Violence

A Study into Support Provision for Primary School LOTE (Languages
Other than English) Teachers in the Context of the Inclusion of
Students with Special Needs

Emagining change: English teachers and technology
2005

Acting in the middle: the dialogic struggle for professional identity in adult
literacy and basic education in Victoria

Becoming leaders: An investigation into women’s leadership in male dominated
professions

Measuring and Modelling Student Engagement in Online and Campus-based
Higher Education

The Hungarian in Australia: A portfolio of belongings

Online Learning as Curricular Justice? A Critical Framework for Higher
Education

Peers helping peers: The effectiveness of a peer support program in enhancing
self-concept and other desirable outcomes

An evaluation of the dominant assumptions and practices of training packages
in Australian Vocational Education and Training and the extent to which they
coincide with the emergence of mode-2 society and its imputed education and
training needs
2005

A Study of Successful Implementation and Management of Educational Technology in
Three New South Wales Primary Schools

Classical Instrumental Musicians: Educating for Sustainable Practice

Teaching about teaching, learning about teaching: A self-study of my practice as a teacher
educator

Education for a just democracy: the role of ethical enquiry

Mentoring, Women and the Construction of Academic Identities

Glonacal' Contexts: Internationalisation Policy in the Australian Higher Education Sector
and the Development of Pathway Programs

The Social and Discursive Construction of Itinerant Farm Workers' Children as Literacy
Learners

Parent conceptions of their role in early childhood education and care: A
phenomenographic study from Queensland Australia

The structural and cultural dynamics of a multi-campus college: A case study inquiry of
four multi-campus colleges in New South Wales
2005

Effect of Dual-Modality Instruction on Comprehending English as a Foreign
Language: A Cognitive Load Approach

Phonological processing and early reading acquisition: a longitudinal study

Relations of Power and Competing Knowledges Within the Academy: Creative
Writing as Research

Silent Voices: A study of English teachers' responses to curriculum change

Sense of Humour and teacher-student relationships in school-age children

Improving Intellectual and Affective Quality in Mathematics Lessons: How
Autonomy and Spontaneity Enable Creative and Insightful Thinking

The contexts and purposes of school literacy pedagogy: 'Failing' in the early
years
2006
A Study of Successful Implementation and Management of Educational Technology
in Three New South Wales Primary Schools
Classical Instrumental Musicians: Educating for Sustainable Practice
Teaching about teaching, learning about teaching: A self-study of my practice as a
teacher educator
Education for a just democracy: the role of ethical enquiry
The Hungarian in Australia: A portfolio of belongings
Mentoring, Women and the Construction of Academic Identities
2006

Glonacal' Contexts: Internationalisation Policy in the Australian Higher Education Sector
and the Development of Pathway Programs

The Social and Discursive Construction of Itinerant Farm Workers' Children as Literacy
Learners

Parent conceptions of their role in early childhood education and care: A
phenomenographic study from Queensland Australia

The structural and cultural dynamics of a multi-campus college: A case study inquiry of
four multi-campus colleges in New South Wales

Effect of Dual-Modality Instruction on Comprehending English as a Foreign Language: A
Cognitive Load Approach

Phonological processing and early reading acquisition: a longitudinal study

Relations of Power and Competing Knowledges Within the Academy: Creative Writing as
Research
2006

Silent Voices: A study of English teachers' responses to curriculum change

Sense of Humour and teacher-student relationships in school-age children

Emagining change: English teachers and technology

Improving Intellectual and Affective Quality in Mathematics Lessons: How
Autonomy and Spontaneity Enable Creative and Insightful Thinking

The contexts and purposes of school literacy pedagogy: 'Failing' in the early
years
2007

The spatiality of English language teaching, gender and context

Thirnda Ngurkarnda Ityrnda: Ontologies in Indigenous Tertiary Education

Constructing Visual Literacy: An investigation into Upper Primary Teachers' Construction of Visual
Literacy Teaching

Contemporary Ways of Learning in Secondary Teacher Education: Towards a deeper understanding of
teacher learning

Delineating and Developing Expertise in Three-Dimensional Computer Aided Design

Organisational Learning in a Food Value Chain

Learning to be Kunwinjku: An Australian Indigenous Pedagogy

Multiliteracies for academic purposes: A metafunctional exploration of intersemiosis and multimodality
in university textbook and computer-based learning resources in science
2007

Going digital: The impact of ICTs on the identities and professional practices of teachers
of English

Enhancing Resilience for Children and Young people: Implications for Teacher Education

Please knock before you enter: An investigation of how Rainforest Aboriginal people
regulate outsiders and the implications for western research and researchers

A Grounded Theory: Realising Family Potential through Choice of Schooling

Multiliteracies: A Critical Ethnography. Pedagogy, power, discourse and access to
multiliteracies

The construction and practice of creativity policy in Singaporean education (1985-2004): A
holistic discourse-oriented policy analysis
2007

Participation in School Leadership and Management (PSALM): Its Impact on
the Creation of Better Philippine Public Secondary Schools

Examination of a profile of the ideal lecturer for teaching international
students

The Principalship: A Study of Prescriptions, Practices and Perceptions
within a Christian School Context

(Re)searching shared meanings of identity: collaborations between teacherresearchers and children
2007

Demystification and Reconceptualisation of the Intricate Web of
Metacognition

Source of the Communicative Body

Circus Acts: Performative subjectivities of women who teach drama

The Experience of River Places in Outdoor Education: A
Phenomenological Study
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The disabled culture of schooling: Becoming and being autistic
2008
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Mothers and school choice: Effects on the home front
The impact of a leadership training program on school-based
management and school community action in Praya Barat Daya,
Indonesia
Teacher identities: professional experience as discursive practice
A sociocultural perspective as a curriculum change in Health and
Physical Education
Psychopathic-like traits and aggression in suspended mainstream
school children and adolescents
Getting up close and textual: An interpretive study of feedback
practice and social relations in doctoral supervision
2008
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Young children’s learning in two rural communities in Tanzania
Setting events and social interaction between preschool children
with disabilities and regular peers
Practice in context: teaching and learning about history and the
past in secondary school classrooms
Schooling attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders
Identity, image and meaning beyond the classroom:Visual and
performative communicative practice in a visual 21st century.
The experience of university academic staff in their use of
information communications technology
A study of the Geelong Local Learning and Employment Network
2008
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Professionally developing teachers or teachers developing
professionally.
Inquiry-based professional learning of English Literature teachers:
negotiating dialogic potential
Learning approaches and outcomes in a first-year Biology topic
Jumping through spinning hoops, chance or a carefully constructed
learning journey
The shifting sands of curriculum development: A case study of the
development of the Years 1 to 10 The Arts Curriculum for
Queensland schools
The social and discursive construction of boys experience of their
schooling.
2009
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Doing school well
Supportive online learning environments for primary students:
Literature circles in an Education MOO
Linguistics training in indigenous adult education and its effects on
endangered languages
Australian schools: social purposes, social justice and social cohesion
Race matters in talk in inter-racial interaction
Reading in the margins: EAP reading pedagogies and their critical, post
critical potential
Picturing currere towards cura: Rhizo-imaginary for curriculum
Teachers’ literacy programming and context
The Big-Fish-Little Pond Effect under the grill: tests of its universality, a
search for moderators and the role of social comparison
2009
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Global routes/rural roots: Identity, rural women and higher education
Adolescent literacies for critical social and community engagement
Finding social relevance: young people, wellbeing and regulated support
Lost in translations: A socio-technical study of interactive
videoconferencing at an Australian university.
A theatre of the observed: A study of adolescent meaning making
An investigation into my career chapter: A dialogical autobiography
Disciplining the principal
Towards inclusive standards
The emergence of a dominant discourse associated with school programs:
A study of CLaSS
Our schools and their war: Victoria’s Education Department and the Great
War 1914-18
AARE Thesis Award nominations by topic – 2004-2009
Topic
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
Total
Literacy/English/Reading
111111
1111111
1111111
1111
11
1111
30
Sociology of Ed
1111
111
1
11
1111
111
17
Psychology of Ed
1111
111
1
111
11
11
15
Higher Education
11
11111
11
11
11
1
14
School subjects
1111
1
11
11
1
Leadership
11111
1
11
1
1
10
Teachers & teaching
11
111
11
7
Indigenous education
1
111
11
6
11
1
5
1
3
1
3
ICT
1
History of Ed
1
Curriculum theory
11
Adult Education
1
1
1
10
1
2
International Ed
1
1
2
Inclusive/Special Ed
1
1
2
Philosophy and ethics
Education Policy
1
1
1
2
1
1
Early Childhood Ed
1
Other (research/ Hungarians)
1
1
18
23
TOTAL
33
23
2
1
19
19
0
2
3
2004
2
3
2005
1
4
2006
5
10
Total
2
4
6
2 Examiners
8
10
3 Examiners
12
14
16
References

McWilliam, E. & Lee, A (2006 forthcoming) The Problem of ‘The Problem
with Educational Research”, Australian Educational Researcher.

Wagner, J. 1993, ‘Ignorance in Educational Research, or How can you not
know that?’, Educational Researcher,Vol. 22, No. 5, pp. 15-23.

Yates, L. (2004) What Does Good Education Research Look Like? Berkshire,
Open University Press.
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Engaging Research/Engaging Education