Language and Literacy Education

Members of the Language and Literacy Education discipline group are engaged in dialogue and inquiry into a range of aspects of language and literacy education.

About the group

We are all committed to exploring the multiple ways in which language and literacy mediate social relationships, the construction of knowledge and culture, and the formation of identity. They hold to the ideal that all people are entitled to experience an education that gives them access to language and literacy in its rich complexity, both as readers and creators of texts in a variety of forms.

A key feature of the work of people in this team is their commitment to establishing strong collaborative partnerships with teachers for the purposes of sustained inquiry in classroom settings. Several have engaged in major projects involving the participation of classroom teachers. They are committed to the view that academic researchers, teacher educators and practising teachers are co-equals in their ownership of the professional knowledge that informs and sustains the profession.

Contact us

The group welcomes enquiries from future HDR candidates, schools and the industry and business sector. We invite you to contact any of our staff to discuss future collaborations.

HDR Supervision

Staff describe their current research interests and list some of the topics they have been involved in supervising. Enquiries from future HDR candidates are welcomed.

Dr Glenn Auld

My research explores the complex intersection between Indigenous Education and Literacy in a classroom and higher education contexts. Theoretical perspectives include Bakhtinian theorists such as Gary Saul Morson, Rights based theorist such as Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and critical theorists of Indigenous studies such as Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Martin Nakata. My research is based on my many years of teaching in remote and rural communities in Australia. I seek to challenge the 'othering' that is common in Indigenous Education. Through respectful partnership strategies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders I seek to reposition the discourse of Indigenous Education as a resource for mainstream educational practices in Australia and beyond.

Dr Anne Cloonan

My research, which spans the broad area of contemporary notions about and teaching of literacies, has predominantly drawn on traditions of participatory action research and case study incorporating visual methodologies. Working in partnership with teachers, these approaches enable sustained, nuanced and situated explorations of teaching and learning, which are sometimes supplemented by quantitative means. Theoretically, I locate my research at the intersection of studies of new literacies (including socialsemiotics influenced theories of multimodality) and sociocultural studies of literacies and teaching which foreground the social, cultural, political and historical meanings of literacies across contexts. I seek to stimulate and support innovative literacy pedagogies which engage and transform teachers and their students.

Recent supervision experience

  • Professional learning to support middle years reading comprehension pedagogies
  • Experiencing belonging and a sense of place in virtual spaces
  • Higher education provision for the visually impaired in the United Arab Emirates Team professional learning to support middle years reading comprehension pedagogies
  • Technology, playful pedagogies and creative meaning-making compositional skills in music

Professor Brenton Doecke

My research ranges from literary studies to classroom based inquiry in collaboration with practising teachers. Key theoretical resources for me currently include the work of Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Frigga Haug, and other philosophers of 'praxis'. My research foregrounds the importance of writing (including storytelling) as a mode of inquiry into our everyday lives. Thus I seek to challenge the epistemological assumptions behind traditional forms of research, especially the 'evidence' that underpins standards-based reforms. I encourage my research students to explore alternative ways of constructing knowledge and representing experience to traditional forms of academic writing.

Recent supervision experience

  • Alternative programs, student engagement and the curriculum
  • Constructing professional knowledge: Voices from a teacher learning community
  • Cultural and professional identities of English teachers in Indonesia
  • Explicating the textual construction of gender: The factors affecting one approach
  • Everyday learning: Exploring opportunities for professional learning in the day-to-day work of primary school teachers
  • Facing the complexities of writing: My journey as a learner and teacher of EFL writing in Indonesia
  • Globalisation, international education and the marketing of TESOL: Student identity as a site of conflicting forces
  • Images of doing university English through a literature-language subject in Bangladesh
  • Investigating the role of teachers in the research-policy-praxis nexus: Constructions of reading in the early years
  • Literacy and accountability: The changing shape of English teachers' work
  • Learning to teaching against the grain: Beginning English teaching and the processes of professional learning
  • Notions of work-related skills and general abilities: The generic skills debate and the whole-school assessment of generic skills
  • Pedagogical challenges and opportunities: My professional journey as a teacher of English in China - A narrative inquiry
  • Popular culture as curriculum: Adolescent literacy practices and secondary English
  • Popular culture: Negotiation and communication
  • Teaching against the grain: Relocating a colonialised Indonesian classroom into a space of critical engagement (a collection of narratives)
  • Teaching Literature in a TAFE Setting: The value of literary theory
  • The paradoxes and complexities of language learning in Indonesia. A narrative inquiry
  • The English classroom as a site for developing insights into literacy practices: A narrative approach about teaching and learning
  • VCE literature: Curriculum document and classroom event
  • We thought we had the power: An inquiry into the role of teacher knowledge in the development of the VCE English Study Design 1986-1990
  • What do I know? Where has it come from? Where does it fit now?: Using journal writing to track the construction of professional knowledge for the beginning English teacher
  • Working for change: Improving my 'self' and my workplace

Dr Kirsten Hutchison

Broadly located within educational sociology, my research is centred on the nexus between education and social justice. I am interested in the intersections between gender, race, culture and class and their relationships to the experience of schooling. In particular, my research foregrounds the centrality of literacies in the everyday lives of children, families and teachers, within and beyond the classroom and explores the power of sociocultural contexts in shaping educational trajectories. I draw on Bourdieusian and feminist theory and traditions of ethnographic, case study and visual research methodologies. I endeavour to engender and support the development of innovative pedagogies and research activities which explore the dynamic, changing and situated nature of literacy.

Recent supervision experience

  • Student-led learning: A contemporary case study
  • Teaching critical English literacy in an Indonesian secondary school: An action research study
  • Technology, playful pedagogies and creative meaning-making compositional skills in music

Dr Sarah Ohi

The core focus of my research is upon the importance of language and literacy development of children in the early years. I draw upon a number of research approaches including critical discourse analysis, casestudy, action research and mixed methods. My research in this area involves collaborative investigations with teachers, parents and children about their perceptions of literacy, their literacy pedagogy and practices (including digital) and how they can work in partnership. My interest in the operation of the Research-Policy-Praxis Nexus has also lead to research about improving the quality of teaching and learning in Higher Education, through innovations involving the use of technology.

Recent supervision experience

  • Developing professional learning strategies for the teaching of English in Indonesian preschool settings Early childhood educators' and parents' perspectives on pre-schoolers' emergent literacy
  • Investigating the effects of pre-schoolers' language impairments on their behaviour: Perceptions of pre-school educators and speech therapists
  • Investigating the use of mathematics language in early childhood settings

Dr Jo O'Mara

My research program is centred around questions about teaching and learning across the areas of new literacies studies, secondary English and the Arts. I work across a range of theories and methods, but am particularly enthusiastic about critical theory and arts-based methodologies. I am passionate about my ongoing series of research projects around drama education pedagogy and practices, digital games and emergent literacies and new textual practices. I work with a range of teachers in primary and secondary school settings in these projects, and am concerned to support teachers to innovate. I supervise a wide range of PhD studies, some of which use arts-based methodologies such as theatre performance and art exhibition.

Recent supervision experience

  • Artistic practice, identity
  • Experiences of new teachers
  • Inclusive schooling
  • Literacy practices of students on the edge of schooling

Dr Louise Paatsch

My research investigates the types of discourse surrounding language and literacy learning and practice, including digital communication practices. Specifically, I am interested in the use of pragmatic skills in face-to-face and on-line conversations in students with and without hearing loss, as well as teacher and child talk during literacy teaching and learning. I am also interested in the innovative teaching practices which promote language and literacy development in primary school aged children. This research is informed by sociocultural studies of literacies and aspects of applied linguistics. The key research methodologies used in my research include mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative), and comparative case study.

Recent supervision experience

  • Phonics intervention and its impact on the phonic skills, phonological awareness, speech perception, and speech production of children with hearing loss using spoken language
  • Preparing students for reading success in their first year of schooling
  • Proactive psychosocial attributes and tactics of vocationally and socially successful people who are deaf: A pragmatist study
  • Teacher beliefs and Professional Learning around formative assessment
  • Teacher professional learning for sustained improved reading comprehension outcomes
  • Teachers' aides' perceptions of their training needs in relation to their roles in state secondary schools in Victoria
  • Visually impaired in higher education: A United Arab Emirates case study

Dr Muriel Wells

My research is focussed across the use of emerging technologies including digital literacies and teacher professional learning. I am interested in how teachers use emerging technologies to bring teaching and learning into the 21st century. Key theoretical perspectives that I draw on are the use of Action Research methodologies in collaboration with practicing teachers and Narrative Inquiry as a way to understand the complexity of the lived experience of work of teaching.

Recent supervision experience

  • Developing cultures of quality in Higher Education using information technology
  • Forms of learning in informal online communities
  • Understanding and interpreting the literacy practices of Middle Years students

Research programs available to prospective students


An investigation of the role of text-based computer-mediated conversations in facilitating peer relationships.

Louise Paatsch and Dianne Toe

Funded by Telematics Trust

Bridging pre-service teaching with out of school learning (2011)
Andrea Allard, Mary Dixon, Ingrid Galitis, Kirsten Hutchison, Jill Loughlin, Dianne Mayer, and Simone White.
Funded by Deakin University Centre for Educational Futures and Innovation Research Development Grant

Children with hearing impairments in Victoria outcome study (CHIVOS). Centre for Community and Child Health (CCCH), Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and The University of Melbourne.
Melissa Wake, Field Rickards, Zeffie Poulakis, Louise Paatsch and Alison King

Deep Leadership for Learning and Deep Support for Learning
Muriel Wells
Funded by the Catholic Education Office, Western Region

Developing Essential Language and Literacy Tools for Early Childhood
Sarah Ohi
Faculty Teaching & Learning Grant, Deakin University

Early childhood mentoring program (2011-12)
Sarah Ohi (as part of Deakin University and Victoria University Early Childhood research teams)
Funded by Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Engaging adolescents in learning: A longitudinal study of student use electronic self-assessment tools within advocacy models of student support (2008 - 2011)
Bernie Neville, Frank Hardman, Ramon Lewis, Kim Keamy, Kirsten Hutchison, Tricia McCann, Caroline Walta
Funded by the Australian Research Council

Engagement, expression and embodiment: Bridging multimodal literacies and language arts through constructing an interactive virtual museum
Caroline Ho, Wolfgang Müller-Wittig and Mark Nelson
Funded by the Singapore Ministry of Education/Office of Educational Research

Evaluating student use of technology in a one-to-one computing program
Anne Cloonan, Kirsten Hutchison and Louise Paatsch
Funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria

Evaluation of the Yached accelerated learning program
Brenton Doecke, Brian Doig, Susie Groves, Alan Marshall and Muriel Wells

Innovative learning environments (2010)
Jill Blackmore, Anne Cloonan, Deb Bateman, Mary Dixon, Jill Loughlin, Jo O'Mara and Kim Senior
Funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Investigating conversational competence in school-age children with hearing loss who use spoken language
Louise Paatsch, Dianne Toe and Amelia Church
Funded by ANZ Trust and Deafness Foundation of Victoria

Investigating narrative skills in adolescents with hearing loss: A longitudinal study.
Melissa Wake, Zeffie Poulakis, Louise Paatsch, Field Rickards, & Karen Wirth
Funded by Deafness Foundation of Victoria

Investigating the effectiveness of teacher education for early career teachers in diverse settings: A longitudinal study (2011-2014).
Dianne Mayer, Brenton Doecke, Mary Dixon, Alex Kostogriz, Andrea Allard, Simone White, Bernadette Walker-Gibbs, Leonie Rowan, Clare Wyatt-Smith and Richard Bates
Funded by the Australian Research Council (Linkage Project)

Investigating the impact of professional learning for teachers and their students' learning (2011)
Anne Cloonan
Funded by the Catholic Education Office, Melbourne

iPreps: Supporting early uears literacy learning with iPods and iPads
Julie Lynch and Terri Redpath

Listening in the lives of higher education students
Terri Redpath

Researching leadership, communication and decision making in school improvement
Shaun Rawolle, Russell Tytler, Louise Paatsch, Carol Campbell and Muriel Wells
Funded by Barwon South Network

Scaffolding pre-service 21st century teacher-researchers: Technology-infused assessment (2010)
Anne Cloonan, Kirsten Hutchison, and Louise Paatsch
Funded by Deakin Teaching and Learning Grant

Teachers as theorists: Developing a multimodal metalanguage (2009)
Anne Cloonan and Catherine Beavis
Funded by Deakin Central Research Grant.

Teaching and learning issues of undergraduate early childhood education courses of a selected university in Victoria
Bonny Yim, Jenny Grenfell and Sarah Ohi
Faculty Teaching & Learning Grant, Deakin University

The effects of mandated literacy assessment and reporting processes on educators' work (2009-2011)
Barbara Comber, Phil Cormack, Brenton Doecke, Alex Kostogriz, Rosie Kerin, R., Griffith, A, Dorothy Smith
The project applies concepts deriving from Dorothy Smith's Institutional Ethnography to inquire into the way the work practices of English literacy teachers are being changed by mandated assessment
Funded by the Australia Research Council (Discovery Project)

The young learners' project: Identifying personalised teaching strategies for early literacy in children in the preschool and the first year of school.
Field Rickards, Margaret Brown, Bridie Raban, Esther Care, Andrea Nolan, Janet Scull, Louise Paatsch, Linda Byrnes, Anne-Marie Morrisey, Jan Deans, Robert Brown, Anna Bortoli, Linda Watson, Pauline Nott, Renata Aliani, Derek Patton, Man Chan
Funded by ARC linkage in collaboration with Australian Scholarships Group

Youth-designed social networking: Investigating emergent literacies, identities, and relationships at the intersection of online and offline experience
Glynda Hull and Mark Nelson
Funded by the Spencer Foundation

Youth tell: Bridging formal and informal learning through digital storytelling with singapore youth
Kate Anderson, Mark Nelson and Prudence Wales
Funded by the Singapore National Research Foundation


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