Dr Rebecca Cairns is a lecturer in Humanities Education at Deakin University, Geelong. Her curriculum inquiry research focuses on history education and studies of Asia. Prior to this she was a teacher of Humanities and English in secondary schools in Victoria and Queensland.
At Deakin, she co-convenes the Transforming Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy Research Program and the Australia-China Relations and Higher Education Research Network, and is a member of the Contemporary Histories Research Group. Rebecca is also on the Council for the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) and is an associate editor for the journal Curriculum Perspectives.Read more on Rebecca's profile
Rebecca investigates how contemporary and historical socio-political conditions shape curriculum. This includes examining how curriculum gets made and mediated by a range of curriculum policy actors across contexts.
Her research contributes to understanding the ways curriculum practices can be enriched by more relational representations of people, places and the past through multiple perspectives, narratives and knowledges–particularly in relation to Asia-related history and decoloniality. This work brings much needed socio-historical understandings of curriculum policy practices to the often highly politicised debates around the relationship between curriculum policy, public policy, historical narratives and socio-cultural change.
The Asia literacy dilemma: A curriculum perspective (Cairns & Weinmann, 2023) is a co-authored book in the Routledge series on Schools and Schooling in Asia. It examines the dilemma of Asia literacy as an education goal by bringing into focus Asia as a curriculum dimension using curriculum inquiry as the central lens. In doing so it interrogates current curricular imaginations of Asia and aims to move towards a more multifaceted discussion of Asia-related curriculum beyond utilitarian conceptualisations. The book seeks to amplify the voices of students and teachers as key curriculum actors.
Rebecca and Deakin colleague, Kerri Garrard, are currently undertaking the Senior Secondary School History Health Check project, which is an ongoing national study that investigates the status and relevance of senior secondary school History from the perspective of students.
She is also interested in the potential of Open Educational Resources (OER) for initial teacher education and teacher professional learning. Rebecca and Phillip O'Brien edited the open book, Historical Thinking for Senior Secondary Students: A collection of teaching and learning activties 2022, which was co-authored by 44 pre-service History teachers and two librarians.
Much of her work takes a poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis and draws on decolonising and deimperialising theoretical frameworks, as well as critical policy analysis and interview methods.
She has experience reviewing journal articles, examining PhD theses and is available to supervise Higher Degree Research students.
Research interests: curriculum inquiry; curriculum enactment; History curriculum; decolonising history education; studies of Asia; Asia as method; senior secondary curriculum; critical policy analysis; discourse analysis; modern Chinese history
Transforming Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy Research Program, Deakin
Australia-China Relations in Higher Education Research Network, Deakin
Contemporary Histories Research Group, Deakin
History Teachers' Association of Victoria (HTAV)
Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)
Australian Historical Association
EHI702 History Curriculum Inquiry
EEO101 Humanities through Experiential Pedagogy
EEG402 Teaching in a Global World
EEO301 Sustainability, Inquiry and Action: A Humanities Perspective
EEO211 Humanities Education in the Primary 3-6 Levels
ECN720 Youth Cultures and Learning Pathways
ECN730 Introduction to Teaching: Later Years
ECN724 Later Years Teaching Strategies
ECN723 Middle Years Teaching Strategies
ECN728 Indigenous Students and Cultural Diversity
curriculum inquiry; history education; studies of Asia; Asia as method; senior secondary schooling; critical policy analysis; discourse analysis;
Cairns et al. (2022). Symposium - Curriculum intentions and curriculum realities: Exploring assumptions and possibilities for curriculum transformation. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, University of South Australia.
Cairns, R. (2021). Curricular Responsiveness to Crisis Panel. Comparative and International Education Society’ International Conference, May, Seattle, USA [online].
Cairns, R. (2018). Deimperialising Constructions of Asia in Senior Secondary History Curriculum. World Curriculum Studies Conference, Melbourne University, December 9-12.
Cairns, R. & Weinmann, M. (2018). ‘Successful participation’? Exploring the gap between intended and experienced Asia curriculum in senior secondary schooling, Where’s your Asia? Symposium, University of Western Australia, November.
Cairns, R. (2018). Beyond borders: methodological nationalism, mobilities and history curriculum. Re-positioning Asia literacy: Beyond Binaries and Boundaries, Deakin, Melbourne, May.
Cairns, R. (2016). The Shrinking VCE History Curriculum and a History of the Curricular Present. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Melbourne, November.
Cairns, R. (2016). Analysing the discursive construction of Asia in senior secondary History curriculum in Australia. Asia Pacific Education Research Association (APERA) Conference, Kaohsuing Taiwan, November.
Cairns, R. (2022). The national history curriculum should not be used and abused as an election issue. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/the-national-history-curriculum-should-not-be-used-and-abused-as-an-election-issue-176783
Cairns, R. (2018). ‘Western civilisation’? History teaching has moved on, and so should those who champion it. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/western-civilisation-history-teaching-has-moved-on-and-so-should-those-who-champion-it-97697
Cairns, R. (June 7, 2018). The Politics of History Education. Breakfast. ABC Radio Perth.
Cairns, R. (July 15, 2018). Whose Civilisation? Morning Juice. Radio Adelaide.
Transforming Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy Research Program
Contemporary Histories Research Group https://chrg.deakin.edu.au/
Australia-China Relations and Higher Education Research Network https://blogs.deakin.edu.au/australia-china-relations-and-higher-education/
Deakin School of Education Innovative Pedagogue Award 2022
Arts and Education Teaching Excellence Award (Middle Years Teaching Strategies Team) 2018
Philip Brown History Award 2016
'Learning from history is something that is important for the future': Why Australian students think history matters
Rebecca Cairns, Kerri Garrard
(2023), pp. 1-14, Policy Futures in Education, London, Eng., C1
The Asia Literacy Dilemma: A Curriculum Perspective
Rebecca Cairns, Michiko Weinmann
(2022), London, Eng., A1
Recognizing, reproducing and resisting West as method discourse: an analysis of senior secondary Asia-related history curriculum enactment
(2021), Vol. 18, pp. 21-44, Journal of curriculum and pedagogy, Abingdon, Eng., C1
Towards Asia "curriculum-as-lived": Amplifying student voice in the Asia literacy curricular landscape
R Cairns, M Weinmann
(2021), Asia Pacific Journal of Education, C1
Learning Firsthand: Vietnam War Digital Teaching Resource
Kerri Garrard, Rebecca Cairns, Julianne Moss
(2021), Geelong, Vic., A6
Tracing the unsteady relationship between Asia Education Policy Discourse and History Curriculum in Australia
(2020), Vol. 44, pp. 258-277, Asian Studies Review, Abingdon, Eng., C1
Deimperialising Asia-related history: an Australian case study
(2020), Vol. 50, pp. 126-148, Curriculum Inquiry, Abingdon, Eng., C1
Exams tested by Covid-19: An opportunity to rethink standardized senior secondary examinations
(2020), Prospects, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, C1
Flatlining? National Enrolment trends in senior secondary History
Rebecca Cairns, Kerri Garrard
(2020), Vol. 50, pp. 1-9, Agora, Collingwood, Vic., C1
A systematized review of research into/on Asia literacy in schools
R Cairns, Christine Halse
(2018), Vol. 45, pp. 9-23, Asia literacy in a global world an Australian perspective, Singapore, B1
The many voices of senior history curriculum enactment
(2018), Vol. 53, pp. 4-13, Agora, Collingwood, Vic., C1
Funded Projects at Deakin
Other Public Sector Funding
Learning first Hand: Vietnam War teaching and learning resources.
Prof Julianne Moss, Dr Kerri Garrard, Dr Rebecca Cairns
DPCGV Grant - Research - Department of Premier and Cabinet, Government of Victoria
- 2020: $68,181
No completed student supervisions to report