Study with us

CRADLE’s doctoral program is an international network of students researching assessment and digital learning. Students can receive joint supervision from CRADLE researchers and leading local and international researchers, and benefit from mutual support within a collaborative research environment.

Doctoral opportunities with CRADLE

CRADLE offers a strong program of doctoral opportunities with a range of study options – we have full-time and part-time students, on campus and off-campus students, and even cotutelle students.

We’re looking to hear from engaged and dedicated students who would like to undertake studies in the field of assessment and digital learning. To submit an expression of interest, please get in touch with us.

Email the CRADLE team

Doctoral scholarship opportunities

Applications are now open for a full-time domestic PhD scholarship with CRADLE.

This scholarship is open to domestic students and will be awarded on a full-time basis. Based at Deakin Downtown in Melbourne's CBD, the successful applicant will work on a project that considers assessment and learning in the changing settings and increasingly digital context of education, and will contribute evidence to inform assessment research, policy and practice.

We welcome submissions that align to CRADLE’s current programs of research, and also encourage applicants to consult our list of proposed doctoral topics.

Applications close Monday 1 June 2020.

Scholarship information

CRADLE’s research program seeks to establish what works to improve learning in higher and professional education. Our current areas of research include:

  • academic progress and integrity
  • assessment design (including self/peer, authentic and programmatic)
  • feedback and feedback literacy
  • developing evaluative judgement
  • assessment in a digital world
  • digital identities
  • quality and standards.

Throughout this research we use cross-cutting approaches, including innovative methodological and theoretical approaches and knowledge transition. Our team of leading higher education researchers includes Alfred Deakin Professor David BoudAssociate Professor Phillip DawsonProfessor Margaret BearmanAssociate Professor Rola AjjawiDr Joanna Tai and Dr Trina Jorre de St Jorre. We collaborate with Deakin faculties and divisions, along with a range of industry partners and international collaborators.

Scholarship applicants must meet Deakin’s PhD entry requirements, enrol on a full-time basis and hold a honours (first class) degree or an equivalent standard masters degree with a substantial research component. The successful applicant will be enrolled through the Faculty of Arts and Education and will receive a top-up of $5000 per annum over three years.

Learn more about Deakin's research degree pathways

All expressions of interest (EOI) must be submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Education, although potential applicants should contact a CRADLE supervisor aligned with their preferred project topic before submitting an EOI.

Learn more about the Faculty of Arts and Education's EOI process

For all other enquiries please contact CRADLE Research Manager Dr Helen Walker. 
Email Dr Helen Walker
+61 3 9244 5448


    Developing evaluative judgement in university courses

    How can learners develop the ability to make judgements about their own learning? How can it be fostered in different contexts? How does it develop over time? – with Professor David Boud.

    Ensuring feedback influences learning

    What strategies and models are effective in enabling comments made by teachers and others to have a positive impact on student’s subsequent work? What types of feedback processes can be effectively incorporated across programs? How can students influence the kinds of feedback most useful for their own learning? – with Professor David Boud.

    Developing feedback literacy for study, work and life

    'Feedback literacy' is the capability to seek out, understand and make use of feedback, as well as making productive use of emotions throughout the process. It's important not just at university, but in life and work in general. But how can we develop feedback literacy in learners, and how can we help learners deploy their feedback literacy? – with Associate Professor Phillip Dawson.

    Designing assessment to prevent and detect contract cheating

    Contract cheating occurs when students pay someone else to do their assignment. Many recommendations have been made about designing assessment that helps prevent or detect contract cheating, however there is very little evidence about what actually works. This project aims to develop and test assessment designs that resist contract cheating – with Associate Professor Phillip Dawson.

    Building evaluative judgement in the workplace

    Students often have theoretical knowledge but struggle to apply this in workplaces. This PhD project investigates how educators and institutions can build students' evaluative judgement, which is the key capability to judge the work of self and others. It particularly focuses on work-based learning – with Associate Professor Margaret Bearman.

    The sociomaterial foundations of assessment change

    It can be difficult to change assessment practices. This PhD project will trace assessment materials from inception to final use, in the process illuminating the complex teaching and learning interactions that underpin assessment design, delivery and use. This project could have a digital learning focus, if this is of interest – with Associate Professor Margaret Bearman.

    Feedback and the educational alliance

    The relational aspects of feedback are increasingly coming to be recognised as crucial in how learners make sense of and incorporate feedback. This research seeks to extend understandings of the educational alliance by examining it as a construct across different disciplines and learning environments. The research asks what judgements do students make about the credibility, interest and intent of their educators and how do these judgements influence their current and future feedback behaviours – with Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi.

    Assessment, authenticity and professional identity formation

    Taking part in assessment not only drives students' learning of knowledge, skills and attitudes, but it also shapes their professional identity. This occurs as students take part in authentic practices of the community, engage with standard and criteria and receive feedback on their work. This research asks: How do assessment practices influence students' professional identity formation? – with Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi.

    Authentic assessment in WIL

    Work-integrated learning is an important contributor to students' employability. Assessment can compromise authentic learning if it doesn’t contribute to both landscapes of practice in academia and the workplace. This research seeks to explore notions of authenticity in assessment design – with Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi.

    Inclusion and belonging in higher education

    Higher education is in the grip of social acceleration, which can lead to alienation in relationships with educational processes being depicted as a technology or instrument put to work to bring about pre-determined ends rather than a deep and transformative experience. Relationships of students to space and time and to buildings, objects, interactions, forms of practice – and, therefore, to forms of knowledge – need to be closely examined. This research seeks to explore notions of belonging in higher education – with Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi.

    Inclusive assessment

    Assessment in higher education must ensure that a diverse student population can demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes. This project aims to explore student experiences of inclusive assessment, and the affordances and limitations of current and emerging assessment designs, within the context of technology-enabled post-secondary environments – with Dr Joanna Tai.

    Peer learning in higher education

    The benefits of peer learning for knowledge and skills are well described. There are emerging descriptions of peer learning contributing to desirable graduate learning outcomes such as evaluative judgement. This project seeks to explore and characterise the situations in which peer learning, including but not limited to peer assessments, feedback and discussion, contribute to students' learning. This project can be undertaken in a specific disciplinary context or in a broader postgraduate education setting – with Dr Joanna Tai.

Current doctoral students

Our doctoral students conduct research across a range of themes in assessment and digital learning.

Rebecca Awdry

PhD topic

Rebecca Awdry is undertaking her PhD on the top of assignment outsourcing, including assignment bidding sites, bespoke essay mill services, peer-to-peer sharing sites and obtaining work from others. She is exploring the applicability of criminological theories of deviance to contract cheating in higher education. Rebecca is conducting an international research component to establish whether there are differences in outsourcing behaviours across different languages. Associate Professor Phillip Dawson and Associate Professor Wendy Sutherland-Smith are supervising the work.


Rebecca has spent 13 years working within higher education in Wales, England, Oman and Australia. Her roles have focused on the areas of improving academic quality, academic policy and governance, teaching and learning practices, and learning analytics.


  • NVQ in Management, Level 5, National Centre for Business UK
  • BScEcon (Hons) in Sociology and Criminology, 2.1, Cardiff University
  • MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Distinction, Cardiff University

Christoffer Bjerre Haase

PhD topic

Christoffer Bjerre Haase is investigating how clinical reasoning in general practice is influenced by data intensification. Data intensification refers to the trend towards more data, faster access to data and increased integration of data through big data approaches, personalised/precision medicine, machine learning, health apps and wearables. The data intensification is currently developing faster than our knowledge can assess the generated data. This project investigates how doctors cope with uncertainty and trustworthiness of data in the clinical and diagnostic setting.


Christoffer is a medical doctor and PhD fellow from Deakin University and the University of Copenhagen. Based on the philosophy of science and evidence-based medicine, Christoffer is interested in the inter-relations between understandings of data and the concepts of diagnosis, and the ways science and societal discourses influence those concepts. Christoffer is also undertaking research in overdiagnosis and the concept of evidence-based medicine.

Andrew Eyers

PhD topic

Andrew Eyers' research explores how literacy-based relational assessment may develop student’s pedagogical capabilities in initial teacher education. This study is interrogating an assessment procedure that measures a relationship between a pre-service teacher and a school student with whom they have worked. The use of a text, a ‘thank you’ note used in the teacher–student relationship, has been shown to capture multiple audiences and assessment purposes. The possibilities and opportunities of this technique and practice are yet to be explored. Andrew’s direct supervisor is Associate Professor Phillip Dawson.


Andrew was a primary school teacher for the best part of 20 years. His recent career has been in the initial teacher education field working mainly in literacy-related teaching units, or briefly stated, teaching aspirant teachers how to teach English. In what now amounts to 10 years of experience in higher education, he is immersed in the tensions surrounding assessment and higher education.

Juan Fischer

PhD topic

Juan’s research explores how science students can develop evaluative judgement capabilities throughout their undergraduate studies. Using a Practice Theory framework, he is interested in how students engage in evaluative judgement practices inside and outside classrooms, and understanding how this might influence the development of their evaluative judgement.  At CRADLE, Juan is supervised by Dr Joanna Tai, Associate Professor Margaret Bearman and Alfred Deakin Professor David Boud.


Prior to commencing his PhD with CRADLE, Juan undertook a Master’s in education at Monash University, where he also collaborates as a research assistant. His minor Master’s thesis addressed the conceptions of assessment held by academics at a faculty of science, which led him to propose the doctoral research project he is currently developing. Before moving to Australia, Juan worked for four years as a research assistant at Icesi University in Colombia, where he had obtained a Bachelor in Social Psychology (Hons).

Cedomir (Chad) Gladovic

Master of Education (Research) topic

Chad’s research explores the significance of the concept of evaluative judgement in its ability to transform learners into professionals. Chad is supervised by Associate Professor Phillip Dawson and Dr Joanna Tai.


Chad is a senior academic in the Built Environment Degree Programs Department at Holmesglen Institute. He has a strong interest in student-centred education including curriculum, delivery and assessment design. He strongly believes that educational experiences can be transformational for students. He is also interested in educational technology and the integration of online delivery with curriculum and pedagogical objectives.


  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Built Environment), Holmesglen Institute
  • Bachelor of Construction Management and Economics, Holmesglen Institute
  • Master of Facility Management, Deakin University

Lasse Jensen

PhD topic

Lasse Jensen is enrolled as part of a joint PhD collaboration between Deakin University and the University of Copenhagen. In his PhD project Lasse investigates what students do when they participate in online courses, in particular the actions they take in relation to dialogic assessment feedback. At CRADLE he is supervised by Associate Professor Margaret Bearman and Professor David Boud.


Since 2008 Lasse has been working in the higher education sector, mostly within education strategy, educational technologies, and communications. Previous projects have focused on MOOCs and open education, public/global health education, international humanitarian education, and the use of virtual reality technologies in education and training.


  • Master of Disaster Management, University of Copenhagen
  • Master of Arts in Cognitive Semiotics, Aarhus University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies, Aarhus University

Sarah Lambert

PhD topic

Sarah’s PhD research explores how open education programs (including use of open technologies) are used to support the access, progress and success of students from various equity groups who typically struggle or are excluded from higher education. Sarah’s supervisor team includes Professor David Boud (primary), Associate Professor Phillip Dawson and Dr Nadine Zacharias, Equity Fellow, from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE).


Sarah’s research builds on 16 years practice in technology-enhanced learning within higher education settings. Motivated by equity and social justice concerns, her most recent work has developed MOOCs and open education programs bringing accessible information to a wide international audience including: science-based medical information about our most common medical problems; lessons to support stressed maths learners transitioning to higher education; and digital literacies training as preparation for online study in higher education. Sarah also provides consultancy on the strategic development of distance education (online) programs.

Susie Macfarlane

PhD topic

Susie MacFarlane is undertaking her PhD investigating higher education students’ teamwork and collaboration, supervised by Professor David Boud and Dr Rola Ajjawi. She also conducts research in assessment feedback, educational technologies and multimedia, and social inclusion.


Susie is a Senior Lecturer and researcher working with the Deakin Learning Futures Health Pod team, undertaking capacity building and organisational change projects at Deakin University. She is thrilled to be working with committed and passionate colleagues in the higher education sector working to enhance the student experience, and is particularly interested in understanding systems and approaches that promote both educators’ and students’ agency and intrinsic motivation.


  • Bachelor of Science (Hons), Monash University
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University

Bianka Malecka

PhD topic

Bianka Malecka’s PhD research investigates the impact of ipsative feedback on the development of student feedback literacy. Bianka’s supervisory team includes Dr Rola Ajjawi, Dr Joanna Tai and Professor David Boud.


Bianka’s research builds on 20 years’ practice as an English language instructor in tertiary institutions in Poland and Australia. She currently teaches a direct entry course at UNSW Global in Sydney. Bianka’s recent projects include exploring the effects of e-portfolio on students’ writing skills (English Australia Action Research programme) and increasing student engagement with feedback through backfeed.

Abbas Mehrabi

PhD topic

Abbas Mehrabi’s PhD research explores sustainable assessment practices in first-year academic writing contexts, particularly assessment and feedback practices that assist first-year undergraduates not only to adjust to their new academic setting but also to develop lifelong learning behaviours. He is particularly interested in understanding the interplay between assessment, learning and teaching approaches towards academic writing in the first-year curriculum within a discipline-specific framework. Abbas is supervised by Dr Rola Ajjawi and Professor David Boud.


Abbas has an Education background with over seven years’ experience in teaching and research activities, centring mainly on theoretical and practical issues in second language teaching. Prior to commencing his PhD journey, he was a research fellow at the Language Research Centre in Isfahan, Iran, where he conducted a number of research projects which resulted in published papers and conference presentations. Abbas also taught academic writing to senior undergraduates at Isfahan University, Iran, for four years.

Darci Taylor

PhD topic

Darci Taylor is undertaking her PhD investigating how higher education students conceptualise personal goals in the context of their placement learning experience. Darci also conducts research in staff–student partnerships and the changing nature of the higher education workforce. Darci is supervised by Professor David Boud and Associate Professor Phillip Dawson.


Darci has spent the last 15 years working in higher education in a variety of roles that have seen her develop her research, learning and teaching, management and leadership capabilities – positioning herself as a ‘third space’ individual able to meet the changing demands of a contemporary higher education sector. She is currently a lecturer in the Deakin Learning Futures Health Pod with key responsibilities in curriculum development, online learning design and strategic project implementation.


  • Bachelor of Arts/Science (Hons), University of Melbourne
  • Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary), Monash University
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Monash University

Lincoln Then James

PhD topic

Lincoln Then James’s PhD explores the impact of higher education on students’ ability to make sense of information and make decisions in line with their life and career goals, i.e. their ability to self self-author. Lincoln’s research interests lie in career education, curriculum development and student learning. His supervisors are Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi, Dr Joanna Tai and Associate Professor Denise Jackson (external, Edith Cowan University).


Lincoln has worked in higher education since 2013, in a multitude of roles including student mentoring, marketing, teaching, and curriculum development. Currently he is employed as a Learning Designer in Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law, and teaches in MWL101 Professional Insight, a first-year career education unit for Bachelor of Commerce students.


  • Bachelor of Arts/Commerce (Honours), Deakin University
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education Learning and Teaching, Deakin University

Contact us

To get in touch about the doctoral study opportunities available through CRADLE, please contact us.