Research

Research Collaborations with Honours, Masters, and Ph.D. Students

Since 2011, I have supervised a number of students at the University of Sydney, and their research projects have broadly focused on literacy and technology. The projects have included research into children’s literacy practices in a technology-rich primary school, young adult’s poetic literacy practices within a fanfiction website, pre-service English teachers’ participation in practicum-focused Facebook group, English teachers’ use of Twitter to support their professional learning, teachers’ beliefs about new literacies and high stakes assessments, and many more. We collaborate on their study design, I mentor them through data collection and data analysis, and we aim to share the findings with a wide audience. To date, my students and I have published chapters in several edited collections as well as articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Learning, Media and Technology, English in Australia, and Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education.

Professional Development for Academics: Evaluating a Personalised Mobile Website for Learning
from Student Feedback

In this project, Sydney colleagues Martin Tomitsch, Kate Thomson, Graham Hendry, and I designed an alternative approach to professional development. Funded by a grant from the Office for Learning and Teaching in 2014, we created Ask Charlie, a mobile website that automatically provides academics with personalised recommendations for teaching resources and allows academics to connect with each other. It developed and evaluated drawing on design-based research methods with the aim to understand how it can support academics in their professional development. A semester-long evaluation of the website led to recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness and value of providing academics with personalised and interactive resources. Findings from this study are forthcoming in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

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Young Adult Literature and Online Affinity Spaces

As part of an online ethnography, I researched how fans engage in online affinity spaces related to young adult literature, such as The Hunger Games trilogy.  My focal participants were drawn from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Through talking with fans and participating in fansites from 2011 to 2014, I learned how the culture of online spaces can support reading, writing, and designing practices and promote the development of leadership skills. I often collaborate with Jayne Lammers from the University of Rochester and Alecia Magnifico from the University of New Hampshire, due to their related studies of the Sims and Neopet fandoms. Findings from this study have been published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Language Arts, and English Teaching: Practice and Critique as well as the edited books Bridging Literacies with Videogames, Teaching with Harry Potter, and Exploring Technology for Writing and Writing Instruction.

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The Role of Teacher Professional Development in Shaping Students’ Writing Motivation

In this multiple case embedded research study, I designed and implemented writing-focused professional development for teachers at a boys’ high school in Australia. During the 2012 school year, I worked with English, Drama, Visual Art, Commerce, History, and Physical Education teachers to explore writing strategies and assessment tools. Each teacher engaged in an action research project related to writing and motivation, which involved conducting classroom observations, collecting evidence, and sharing their findings with colleagues. Andrew Martin from the University of New South Wales was a consultant on this project. Findings from this study are forthcoming in Educational Psychology.

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Collaborating with Middle School Teachers to Improve Students’ Literacy Achievement

In this case study, I collaborated with Mary Louise Gomez and Jessica Gallo at the University of Wisconsin – Madison to design and implement literacy-focused professional development for middle school teachers in the United States. From 2011 to 2012, we worked with teachers in an urban school to support their literacy instruction across the curriculum. In order to close the school’s achievement gap, we investigated the relationship between professional development, literacy instruction, and student achievement. We also supported teachers through classroom observations, collaborative reflections, and curriculum planning in order to cultivate their use of culturally relevant pedagogy.

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Digital Tools, Social Identities, and Cultural Models in Teacher Professional Development

This ethnographic case study examined how English teachers’ technology integration can be supported by professional development. Over the 2009 to 2010 school year, I designed and facilitated professional learning communities at two high schools; participants included English teachers, library media specialists, and technology coordinators. Drawing on microethnographic and critical approaches to discourse analysis, I focused on how teachers’ interactions within the learning community revealed their social identities and cultural models. Findings from this study have appeared in the Journal of Literacy Research, Teaching EducationEnglish in AustraliaE-Learning and Digital Media, and the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education.

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iPoetry: Digital Literacy and the Secondary English Curriculum

In this three-year action research project, library media specialist Lora Cowell and I investigated how technology could facilitate high school students’ multimodal composition and critical engagement. As a high school English teacher, I wanted to learn more about how my pedagogy shaped meaningful technology integration in the secondary English curriculum. From 2004 to 2007, Lora and I worked to develop, implement, and reiterate a digital poetry project. We gained insight into how audience and mode shape students’ use of digital tools.  We also learned how professional development can effectively support technology integration in school. Findings from this project have been published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and the International Journal of Learning and Media as well as the edited book Collaborative Models for Librarian and Teacher Partnerships.

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