Empowering educators and leaders to drive educational change

The Transforming Professional Lives, Learning and Leadership group explores how educators and leaders navigate volatile and uncertain times. Our work translates across education, professional learning and policy context.

We work directly with educators, leaders and other relevant stakeholders across a spectrum of education settings to understand how their expertise contributes to knowledge production. Our research supports professional learning to have a real-world impact advocating for positive leadership development, organisational change, inclusive and equitable education practice and policies.

Our research areas

The School of Education is an active contributor to global education research and theory. Our research is essential to the success and growth of education programs at Deakin and around the world. Lead by our group convenors, the Transforming Professional Lives, Learning and Leadership group has three research streams:

Workplace contexts

We consider the multidimensional nature of ‘professionalism’ in education. We also look at how leaders, teachers and educators navigate diverse 'digital' considerations, policies, constraints and affordances in changing times.

Professional learning needs

We examine the differentiated and context specific nature of professional learning needs of educators and leaders, with the aim to support and build their agency for professional transformation and organisation change.

Agency and professional expertise

We explore how agency and professional judgement shape practice and identities, enabled by active engagement with digital and non-digital tools.

Explore policy, technology and pedagogy

When you study a PhD or postdoctoral research with the Transforming Professional Lives, Learning and Leadership group, you'll be supported by renowned researchers.

Explore our research degrees

Featured projects

Our partnerships with government, community and industry allow us to deliver research with impact. We lead bold initiatives that seek solutions beyond traditional research and organisational boundaries.

Primary teachers’ adaptive expertise

Primary teachers’ adaptive expertise

This project, led at Deakin by Dr Lihua Xu and and Associate Professor Wanty Widjaja, explores how primary teachers can be supported to develop adaptive expertise in the context of interdisciplinary mathematics and science learning. The project contributes to the design of teacher professional learning programs that effectively foster the development of adaptive expertise, leading to improved student achievement and interest in primary mathematics and science.

Linguistically diverse practices in higher education

Linguistically diverse practices in higher education

This study, led by Associate Professor Rod Neilsen and Associate Professor Michiko Weinmann, considers the benefits, challenges and contributions of linguistic diversity in the university, particularly in teaching, learning, research and communication. Participants include students, academic and professional staff, as well as executive and governance at Deakin and the University of Arizona. It seeks to understand how multilingualism perceived and engaged with in higher education and how participants use language in work, study and interpersonal interactions.

Our researchers

Steered by our group convenors, our members span from early to mid and senior career researchers. They bring a range of disciplinary expertise based on decades of combined experience.

Associate Professor Rod Neilsen is an associate professor in education (TESOL) in the School of Education. His research interests include language teacher professional development, multilingual approaches to language learning and pre-service teacher mobility.

Dr Lihua Xu is a senior lecturer in education (science education) in the School of Education. Dr Xu’s research aims to make impact on and improve teaching and learning practices in science and mathematics education.

Research team

Ondine Bradbury, Teaching Scholar, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Professional Learning Teaching

Dr John Cripps Clark, Lecturer in Education (Science Education)

Dr Seamus Delaney, Senior Lecturer in Education (Science Education)

Dr Shelley Hannigan, Senior Lecturer in Education (Arts Education)

Dr Joanne Henriksen, Lecturer in Education (Education Business Leadership)

Professor Linda Hobbs, Associate Head of School (Research)

Dr Brendan Hyde, Senior Lecturer, Education (Pedagogy and Curriculum)

Elizabeth Little, Lecturer in Education

Dr Katrina MacDonald, Senior Lecturer, Education Leadership

Associate Professor Rod Neilsen, Associate Professor in Education (TESOL)

Dr Maria Nicholas, Senior Lecturer in Education (Language and Literacy Education)

Professor Andrea Nolan, Professor in Education (Early Childhood)

Associate Professor Trace Ollis, Associate Professor in Education (Applied Learning)

Dr Fiona Phillips, Lecturer in Education (Arts Education)

Dr Piper Rodd, Lecturer in Education

Associate Professor Elizabeth Rouse, Associate Professor in Education (Early Childhood)

Dr Cheryl Ryan, Senior Lecturer in Education (Applied Learning)

Associate Professor Andrew Skourdoumbis, Associate Professor in Education (Pedagogy and Curriculum)

Associate Professor Wanty Widjaja, Associate Head of School (International Partnerships)

Dr Lihua Xu, Senior Lecturer, Education (Science Education)

Our partnerships

The Transforming Professional Lives, Learning and Leadership group partners with communities, government, non-government and other not-for-profit organisations to deliver research-informed outcomes. We work across a full spectrum of education settings, including early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools, TAFEs and universities.

We also partner with regulatory bodies including the Department of Education and Training, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, and the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

Our publications

Take an in-depth look at our latest research, available in a variety of formats and publications. For a full list of publications visit the profile pages of our researchers.

Latest publications:

Featured publications:

Contact us

Our team is here to answer your questions and help you learn more about the Transforming Professional Lives, Learning and Leadership group.

Associate Professor Rod Neilsen

Dr Lihua Xu