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.

Prospective students 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 projects that align to CRADLE’s current programs of research, and also encourage students to consult our list of proposed doctoral topics listed below.

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

  • the digital world and its impact on learning and teaching
  • feedback and feedback practices
  • learning in and for the workplace
  • evaluative judgement
  • assessment security and academic integrity
  • inclusion and belonging in a digital world
  • representation in and beyond assessment.

Throughout this research we use cross-cutting approaches, including innovative methodological and theoretical approaches and knowledge transition.

Email the CRADLE team

Learn more about becoming a PhD student

Find out about scholarship opportunities

Doctoral scholarship opportunities

Applications for CRADLE’s Doctoral scholarship scheme for 2022 are now closed. Please stay tuned for further announcements relating to the scholarship scheme.

Scholarship information

Scholarship applicants work on projects that consider assessment and/or digital learning in higher education. They will contribute evidence to inform assessment research, policy and practice. Our current programs of research include:

  • the digital world and its impact on learning and teaching
  • feedback and feedback practices
  • learning in and for the workplace
  • evaluative judgement
  • assessment security and academic integrity
  • inclusion and belonging in a digital world
  • representation in and beyond assessment.

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 BoudProfessor Phillip DawsonProfessor Margaret BearmanAssociate Professor Rola AjjawiDr Joanna Tai and Dr Mollie Dollinger, and we collaborate with Deakin faculties and divisions, along with a range of industry partners and international collaborators.

Topics

    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 feedback processes 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 Professor Phillip Dawson

    Assessment security and online assessment

    As assessment has rapidly shifted online, many educators have expressed concerns about cheating. A range of assessment designs and technologies have been deployed in response. This project involves an investigation of the effectiveness of those approaches at addressing cheating, as well as their potential harms and benefits.
    With Professor Phillip Dawson

    Learning and the digitally-mediated world

    Workplaces are increasingly mediated by big data, analytics and artificial intelligence. This has implications for universities and for learning-on-the-job. How do we navigate a world with new kinds of knowledge practices?
    With Professor Margaret Bearman

    Assessment and feedback cultures

    Assessment and feedback cultures are often overlooked but have considerable influence on how assessment and feedback shapes learners. This project offers the opportunity to research assessment/feedback as a cultural, social or socio-material practice. How might this change what learners, teachers or institutions do? This project could have a digital learning focus if this is of interest.
    With Professor Margaret Bearman

    Feedback, emotions and power

    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 role of trust and relationships in feedback conversations by examining it across different disciplines and learning environments. The research asks how are emotions and power negotiated within feedback processes and how is this mediated through technology to influence the effects of feedback.
    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? Other angles might include what makes for authentic assessment and how to design assessment for inclusion.
    With Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi

    Inclusion and belonging in higher education

    Higher education is in the grip of social acceleration. This 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 and social inclusion in higher education.
    With Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi

    Note: each doctoral student has at least two supervisors. Please contact the person named for each topic for information about it

CRADLE Graduates

Our graduates have completed their doctoral research with CRADLE to help improve learning in higher and professional education.

Dr Sarah Lambert

Thesis Title: Open Education as Social Justice

Sarah’s thesis investigates how recent innovations in open, online education can act as social justice for socio-economically disadvantaged learners. Recommendations are made on how to design open education programs to overcome histories of disadvantage for many learners who are traditionally under-represented in or excluded from higher education. Sarah was supervised by CRADLE Director Alfred Deakin Professor David Boud,  Dr. Joanna Tai, Dr. Phillip Dawson, and Dr. Nadine Zacharias. Sarah graduated in 2020.

Highlights of Sarah’s PhD Journey
6 publications, Galway via Doha, and Geelong, a DIY Graduation festival between COVID lockdowns

Where to from here
Sarah co-edited and launched a special edition of the journal JIME devoted to Open Education and Social Justice with Professor Laura Czerniewicz from the University of Cape Town during her PhD candidacy. Sarah was successful in her first grant application and was the Chief Investigator on the Open Textbooks and Social Justice national scoping study throughout 2020. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at CRADLE, pursuing a number of related spin-off research, publication and practice projects. Sarah was awarded an Honourable Mention for Best Open Education Research Paper in the 2019 Fred Mulder GO-GN Awards for her important contribution to the open education literature, ‘Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education’. Sarah is currently developing an online course into Open Research for Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada. She is also employed part-time and using her research skills as an Equity Advisor at RMIT.

Biography
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.

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. Professor Phillip Dawson and Associate Professor Wendy Sutherland-Smith are supervising the work.

Biography

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.

Qualifications

  • 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.

Biography

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.

Damian Castanelli

PhD topic

Damian’s PhD explores the tension between assessment for learning and assessment of learning in the context of specialist postgraduate medical education in anaesthesia. Damian’s supervisors are Professor Margaret Bearman (primary), Professor David Boud, and Professor Liz Molloy from the University of Melbourne.

Biography

Damian is a Consultant Anaesthetist at Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Damian is a full-time clinician with experience providing educational and clinical supervision for trainee anaesthetists. Past projects have involved the development of training and assessment tools for procedural skills, and implementation of updated curriculum and workplace-based assessment for anaesthesia training in Australia & New Zealand. Damian has previous research experience, including both qualitative and quantitative investigation of workplace-based assessment in anaesthesia training.

Qualifications

  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Research Methodology, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Master of Clinical Education, University of New South Wales
  • Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery, University of Melbourne
  • Fellow, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists

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.

Biography

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 Professor Phillip Dawson and Dr Joanna Tai.

Biography

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.

Qualifications

  • 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.

Biography

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.

Qualifications

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

Olsi Kusta

PhD topic

Olsi’s PhD project explores the developments induced by imaging and data-intensive technologies, what is known as digital pathology, in diagnostic and knowledge practices regarding cancer diseases at departments of pathology. The empirical approach in this research seeks to trace the collective practices involving digital pathology as an assemblage of technologies, practices, and actors. The theoretical perspective of this project revolves around science and technology studies, sociology of medicine, and philosophy of science. The purpose is to understand the opportunities and challenges prompted by digital pathology through a critical study of its clinical and epistemological impact in cancer diagnostics and treatment. This project is a joint PhD Program between University of Copenhagen and Deakin University. At Deakin, Olsi is supervised by Professor Margaret Bearman and Associate Professor Radhika Gorur.

Biography

Olsi Kusta has graduated from Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana, with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and sociology, specialized in the latter. As of 2019, he holds a master’s degree (MA) in science and technology studies (STS) from the University of Vienna. Main research interests focus on innovative and data-intensive technologies and their influence on clinical and biomedical settings, knowledge practices, and their impact on medical education. In his master thesis, he studied the impact of a virtual microscope in teaching histopathology courses at the Medical University of Graz, Austria.

Jessica Lees

PhD topic

Jessica Lees is enrolled as part of a joint PhD collaboration between Deakin University and the University of Copenhagen. In her PhD project Jessica will investigate how learning touch-based practice (eg physiotherapy, midwifery) is altered/affected in an increasingly digitally mediated environment. She is supervised by Professor Linda Sweet from the Faculty of Health, and CRADLE supervisors Professor Margaret Bearman and Professor Torsten Risor (Copenhagen).

Biography

Jessica has been working in the higher education sector since 2016 primarily focusing on effective and meaningful community engagement. Jessica has a keen interest in global health and the Sustainable Development Goals. She continues to pursue these areas of interest through her involvement in project work with the Universitas 21 where she has lead the development of The Global Learning Partnership, a project for interprofessional and international student electives in developing countries. Jessica has clinical experience working as a physiotherapist in a major tertiary hospital, professional sport and in private practice.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT), University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor Health Science (Comp Med), Charles Sturt University
  • Adv dip. Myotherapy, RMIT

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.

Biography

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.

Qualifications

  • 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.

Biography

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.

Biography

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.

Tegan Miller

PhD Topic

Tegan’s research explores concepts in the feedback space. Her PhD topic is investigating the effects of student feedback literacy on peer feedback. Tegan is supervised by Professor Phillip Dawson and Dr Joanna Tai.

Biography

Tegan is a new face to the higher education sector. She graduated from her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2019 at Deakin University, where her fourth-year research centred on emotion regulation in romantic dyads. Fresh to the field, Tegan has a strong fascination with the student experience of feedback at University. Her interests lie in student agency, peer feedback, and online feedback delivery.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), Deakin University

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 Professor Phillip Dawson.

Biography

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.

Qualifications

  • 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).

Biography

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.

Qualifications

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

Anastasiya Umarova

PhD topic

Anastasiya’s PhD project explores the impact of students’ prior experiences (feedback histories) on their feedback practices. Anastasiya is supervised by Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi, Professor Phillip Dawson and Professor David Boud.

Biography

Anastasiya has an education background with more than 5 years' experience in teaching German and English as foreign languages and one year experience as a learning designer. Prior to commencing her PhD journey, she was a Research Assistant in a CRADLE project on inclusive assessment. Anastasiya’s research interests are in higher education, feedback and feedback literacy, digital learning, and student identity.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Teaching, Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, Russia
  • Graduate Diploma in Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand
  • Master of Education in Digital Learning, Monash University, Australia

Karla Wells-Duerr

PhD topic

Karla Wells-Duerr is undertaking her PhD exploring how belonging for higher education students studying online is facilitated.  Karla’s supervision team comprises Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson, Dr Elicia Lanham and Associate Professor Rola Ajjawi.

Biography

Karla is an Instructional Designer with the Deakin Learning Futures Pod team in the Faculty Science, Engineering and Built Environment.  She currently works on both staff facing and student facing learning enhancement and on building learning design capability with academic staff.  She has 15 years experience working in the higher education sector and has developed an understanding and interest in the student experience both as a student and from her work. Karla is interested in online learning, agency, identity, inclusive practices and creating place.  She has also been involved in research on supporting students introduction to study and on learning to make connections in first year of university.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts (Sociology & Literature), Deakin University
  • Master of Adult Education (Global), Monash University in conjunction with Linkoping University, the University of British Columbia and Western Cape University
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Learning and Teaching, Deakin University.

Contact us

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

Email CRADLE