Researcher of the month

Associate Professor Mary Dixon

Mary Dixon

Throughout my career as an academic, and before that as a teacher, I have been intrigued and provoked by 'pedagogy'- the connections of learning with teaching. I am particularly drawn to the relationship between identity and pedagogy. It was this concern with identity in learning which led to my first research project in Nepal. Since then I have worked as an academic in Thailand, Singapore and in Melbourne. (DIs)locating my work in this way caused me to encounter at new levels my researcher beliefs about knowledge and truth and ways of knowing.

I was invited to work at a large research centre at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Over two years, I was able to carry out large scale research projects concerned with teacher beliefs and curriculum renewal and located in classrooms (see image 1). In that space, I further developed my methodological positioning around feminist theory and pursued my work with visual methods as a way of 'seeing' pedagogy. The analysis of images in education is a new and problematic engagement. I have argued and applied processes of discourse analysis to images: Dixon, M, (2008), 'Images of teacher and student positionings: from speech act to body act' In J. Moss (ed.) Researching Education-digitally, spatially, visually, (pp87-106) Sense Publication, Netherlands. More recently my colleague, Kim Senior, and I have been working with Deleuzian theory to read pedagogic images: Dixon, M., & Senior, K. (2011 in press) Appearing pedagogy: from embodied learning and teaching to embodied pedagogy, Pedagogy, Culture and Society (see image 2). I have recently completed a project with Deakin researchers and with the DEECD on Innovative Learning Spaces. This project has employed a range of visual methods. The case studies from these are being used by the OECD in an international project on learning spaces in schools.

As pedagogy is to my teaching and researching, so methodology is to my researching. A highlight of recent work was a conference we ran in 2010: "Love, Lust, Lies and Talkin': Conversing into 21st Century Feminist Research". In my role as Associate Head of School (Research and Research training) in the School of Education, I am able to be involved in methodological conversations with our doctoral candidates who are not only the future of our research but also those most deeply involved in that conversation.

I have just completed an ARC Linkage project: 'A multi-disciplinary investigation of how trauma and chronic illness impact on schooling, identity and social connectivity, (2006). The 2010 report is titled Keeping Connected: Identity, social connection and education for young people living with chronic illness The final project report has recently been finalised and will be released soon.

In 2011 I was awarded two other ARC linkages, one as lead Chief Investigator: Moments in time: investigating a national history curriculum in early childhood settings and primary classrooms with Dr. Kim Senior, Dr. Nicole Green (UNE) Assoc Prof Tony Taylor (Monash) and Dr. Paul Reitano (Griffiths). This project has a heavy emphasis on classroom research and the use of visual methods. The second ARC Linkage is with a large team of researchers led by Professor Diane Mayer 'Investigating the effectiveness of teacher education for early career teachers in diverse settings: a longitudinal study'.

Associate Professor Mary Dixon


image 1 - photo of hands on learning in singaporean classroom research projectimage 2 - pedagogic lines of flight, Dixon and Senior 2011


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