Hear from our students and graduates from the School of Education.
Recent graduates from Curtin University’s School of Education have been recognised for their academic achievements and commitment to the field of teaching at the School’s annual awards ceremony.
A joy to teach
Many people aspire to be as happy in their work as Kendall Schuts. A primary school teacher in Geraldton – a regional port city four-hour’s drive north of Perth, Western Australia – Schuts spends her workdays among the eager smiles and laughter of a class of five- and six-year-olds.
Tracy Bennett, BEd (Primary Education) va Open Universities Australia “The ﬂexibility of online study meant that I could be the mother I wanted to be to the three little people who meant the world to me, while also investing in securing the future I wanted for myself."
“The ﬂexibility of online study meant that I could be the mother I wanted to be to the three little people who meant the world to me, while also investing in securing the future I wanted for myself. While my nights were full of i-lectures, text books and web searches, my days could still be devoted to those that I loved.
Curtin University provided the best quality tutors to lead us through this journey – tutors who left no doubt in my mind that we were being moulded and trained just as highly as any on-campus student.
These men and women were devoted, passionate, knowledgeable and most importantly, understanding of the isolation that might arise from studying alone. They worked hard to ensure that we were listened to and supported every step of the way – making themselves contactable at hours that any normal tutor would never consider.
My passion for what I was learning inspired me to achieve something I didn’t think I was capable of. I didn’t only get a Bachelor of Education from the last four years – I made amazing friends and I developed a belief in myself that was never there before. And this was all achieved from the other end of a computer.”
Jared Bruning, BEd (Primary Education) (Hons) "One of the favourite parts of my degree was the research project I was able to complete as part of the Honours course."
“Studying at Curtin was a very positive experience. First, I met many people of different backgrounds and cultures. In addition, the modern and functional study facilities, equipped with computers and up-to-date technology, made assignment work simple. Further, the teaching staff within the School of Education were approachable, helpful and relatable. The staff certainly gave me a number of ‘light bulb’ moments and inspired me to teach well. For example, as one whole never enjoyed mathematics in primary school, my tutors completely changed my attitude and confidence to teaching the subject.
One of the favourite parts of my degree was the research project I was able to complete as part of the Honours course. After three years of studying in a university classroom, the yearlong project allowed me to gain a different perspective on education. I chose to study the experiences of non-English speaking migrants in Australian schools. Looking back, the project helped me to gain a more holistic and global perspective on the impact of education. Not only that, the study also allowed me to develop strong professional relationships with the staff of Curtin. Many thanks goes to Professor Rhonda Oliver for her guidance and input.
Since graduating I have been teaching Year Three at a small independent school in Perth’s South Eastern suburbs. As a teacher I really enjoy the rhythm and diversity of working in a school. While it’s a busy job, with many long days, there’s nothing better than the smile on a student’s face or two shining eyes in the moment you know they have made a break through in their learning. It’s a humbling experience to see the way I see children inspired their learning and growing week-by-week, term-by-term. It’s amazing to experience the innovative lessons that seem to “take off” as it were and help students become engaged and excited about their learning, almost to the point at times that they’d rather not let the lesson end. I think in a number of ways this reality flows out of what my tutors and lecturer modelled for me. In a number of units I had tutors who pursued excellence in their work, set a high standard and communicated their knowledge, understandings and passions in an engaging and interesting way. Because of that I wanted to learn and they in turn inspired me to teach well! Further, these same tutors insisted on high standards of quality work from me as well, which put me in good stead for life outside the academic world.
Finally, these tutors also taught me a reality that all of us face. That reality is that we are all ‘lifelong learners’ and need to be actively learning and growing in order to further improve in the profession we find ourselves in.”
Education student gets a taste of Singapore through New Colombo Plan
Many education students find it difficult landing an opportunity to teach overseas, but that doesn’t apply to Curtin University secondary education student Leanne Duong, who recently undertook a one-month teaching placement in Singapore.
Robert writes 447-page novel using voice recognition
Twenty-five-year-old Robert Kooy, Japanse major, has achieved something many people only dream about – writing his own novel – and he has done it using voice recognition software.
Kimberley Goh, Master of Education "I chose to do a Master of Education with Curtin University because they were one of the few universities that offered flexible online study within a suitable time frame. I thoroughly enjoyed the strong educational research component of this course."
“I chose to do a Master of Education with Curtin University because they were one of the few universities that offered flexible online study within a suitable time frame.
I thoroughly enjoyed the strong educational research component of this course. This was due in large part to my wonderful supervisor, Dr Rebecca Walker, the knowledgeable expertise of the tutors in the course and the efficiency of the administration department. Staff were extremely dedicated and so supportive of my learning as well as professional development. They made certain that I received timely, helpful feedback and advice on every occasion. This made life as a working student so much easier and for this I am very grateful.
I have since been offered the opportunity to undertake doctoral study at Curtin and am currently working towards completing a PhD in the area of feedback and formative assessment. At the same time, I am continuing to do what I love doing – teaching primary school students and learning together with them at the lovely school where I work!”
Higher degree by research
Dr Susan Barkdoll is Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award winner
Science educator and Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dr Susan Barkdoll reflects on 30 years of teaching, from kindergarten to university level in San Bernardino, California.
Agbon Stephen Enoma “I plan to become an advocate for the voices of individuals with disability and to continue to support global efforts that maximise their life choices and chances as well as their inclusion into the wider society.”
Senior Special Education Teacher, Department of Education (WA)
Research topic: Understanding the number sense competence of high school students with borderline, mild, and moderate intellectual disabilities
- Chief supervisor: Professor Barry Fraser
- Co-supervisor: Professor John Malone
I have worked in diverse capacities in Australia with students with disabilities and their families, as a special education teacher, principal of a special education school and as a disability and early childhood disability advisor.
Building on my Master of Special Education I chose to study at Curtin because it is highly regarded internationally and because it had a team of supervisors whose wealth of expertise and long-standing experience could guide me in my area of research interest.
I am proud to have published three referred papers from my doctoral thesis and to have achieved high distinctions in the coursework components of all my units of study at Curtin.
A highlight from my time at Curtin has been the development of an assessment tool for mathematics students with intellectual disability and others with mathematics learning difficulty.
I plan to become an advocate for the voices of individuals with disability and to continue to support global efforts that maximise their life choices and chances as well as their inclusion into the wider society.
My advice to future students would be:
- Understand that organisation-, stress- and time-management skills are key factors to your success.
- Have an operational plan/research proposal with clearly defined goals and do your best to adhere faithfully to it so that you can account for each day as the years roll by. Because time does fly!
- Set aside time for recreation.
- Store your drafts in multiple destinations.
Dr Adit Gupta, PhD “My PhD in the field of ‘Learning Environments’ … has helped me progress my career as an academician and also as an administrator.”
Joint Director at Model Institute of Education and Research
I competed my PhD in the field of ‘Learning Environments’ from the Science and Mathematics Education Centre at Curtin University in 2008 and it has helped me progress my career as an academician and also as an administrator.
Through studying with Curtin, I developed strong work ethics, a secular outlook, interest in world cultures, out-of-the-box thinking capability, a great respect for academic values, the teaching profession and a belief in the transformational power of education and technology.
I am the Director of Model Institute of Education and Research Jammu which is a premier educational organisation devoted to the cause of education for the past over 80 years in Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir State) and am also a Professor at the MIER College of Education, Jammu.
I have over 19 years of teaching and professional experience at various levels and have contributed a lot for the promotion of educational research in the institution.
Having been exposed to international-quality education with Curtin I was given the responsibility of developing a modern work culture in my organisation with major focus on educational research.
My primary areas of research are:
- Psychosocial learning environments
- Educational Technology
- Educational Psychology
- Educational Measurement and Evaluation
- Teacher and school education
I have also been supervising and guiding research dissertations at the MEd and PhD levels and am also the managing editor of the MIER Journal of Educational Studies, Trends and Practices (MJESTP), an international peer reviewed journal.
I have participated and presented papers in numerous national and international conferences and have been working as a reviewer and assessor of research papers at the international level.
I am a member of various prestigious bodies, including:
- the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), USA
- The American Education Research Association (AERA)
- All India Association for Educational Research (AIAER)
- Australian Science Education Research Association (ASERA)
As the Director of the Model Institute of Education and Research (MIER), my role and responsibilities include both academic and administrative tasks.
I teach the Masters of Education class at the college level and am looking after the overall administration of the institute with specific focus on the Model Academy (Higher Secondary School) and the MIER College of Education (Teacher Education Institute).
All aspects covering the policy development, financial management, monitoring the Quality management system, recruitments, establishing linkages etc. are being looked after by me.
I am the first faculty member from my college who has been selected as an Associate Professor and then I was also the youngest faculty from my college to be selected as a Professor in the Post Graduate Department of Education.
As the Director of the organisation, I lead a team of over 200 academic and administrative personnel. I have been instrumental in getting the coveted “Autonomous Status’ and the status of ‘College with Potential for Excellence’ for our teacher education college from the University Grants Commission.
I am also a trained Assessor of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for assessing and grading institutions of Higher Education.
Rewards and recognition:
- 2016 – Appointed as the ‘Endeavour Awards Ambassador’ by the Australian Government
- 2009 – ‘Endeavour Executive Award’ of the Australian Government
- Alumnus of the ‘International Visitors Leadership Programme’ (IVLP) of the US Government.
Melissa McMinn, PhD “I plan to complete my PhD and continue to work in teacher education while furthering my research portfolio in maths and science education.”
Lecturer (Education) at Higher Colleges of Technology
Research topic: Maths teaching anxiety in pre-service Emirati teachers
- Chief supervisor: Dr Jill Aldridge
- Co-supervisor: Dr David Henderson
I have a primary education background, but have been working in teacher education in the United Arab Emirates for over five years, at both the under- and postgraduate levels.
A highlight from my time at Curtin has been the Learning Environments course, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and am enjoying working on my own research.
I plan to complete my PhD and continue to work in teacher education while furthering my research portfolio in maths and science education and I am considering undertaking a master in educational psychology.
My advice to future students would be to get involved! There may never be a ‘right time’ to get back into studying, so just go for it!
Dr Greg Morgan, PhD “The study led me to a much richer understanding of contemporary leadership than I would otherwise have attained.”
Head of School at Australian School of Applied Management
When I began my PhD I had a vague idea that I wanted to explore what might lie at the heart of leadership. I took nearly 10 years to complete the study and came to realise I needed that amount of time to understand and learn what I needed to learn about the field of inquiry, the methodology and myself.
My PhD study evolved into a phenomenological and autoethnographic inquiry into who I am as a leader. (When I began I had never even heard of ‘phenomenological’ or ‘autoethnographic’.)
I must acknowledge the wisdom and empathy of my supervisor, Dr Roya Pugh, for nurturing the gradual awakening in me which I needed for completing the study; and also the flexibility of Curtin for allowing me the time and space needed for my unstructured learning to unfold.
The study led me to a much richer understanding of contemporary leadership than I would otherwise have attained. It enabled me to iteratively reflect on and inquire into my practice of leadership, the process of which had a personally transformative effect. The learning journey sparked by my PhD, and which will continue for as long as I draw breath, has also enabled me to offer leadership professional learning to colleagues across a range of sectors, culminating in my taking up a senior position with a private company engaged in developing and offering leadership programs.
After a full career in schools, from classroom teacher to principal, the learning from my PhD had me yearning to continue my career of teaching and learning, but now with a changed focus of working more with adults about their understanding and practice of leadership.
I am currently the Head of School for the National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative (NESLI), an arm of the Australian School of Applied Management. NESLI provides state-of-the-art live, online-face-to-face leadership programs for school leaders throughout Australia, New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific and parts of the USA.
My role is primarily around taking online leadership classes for school leaders, while also, when time allows, article writing and developing new material and programs.
While peer and department recognition has been affirming, my greatest achievement remains seeing the ‘Aha!’ moments in students’ eyes – formerly school students, and more so now their teachers and principals.
Rewards and recognition:
- 2007 Australian College of Educators Quality Teaching Award
- 2015 Principals Australia Institute John Laing Professional Development Award
Dr Linda Pfeiffer, Doctor of Science Education (ScEdD) “My greatest career achievement to date has been completing my Doctor of Science Education (ScEdD).”
Lecturer and Research Fellow at CQUniversity
My greatest career achievement to date has been completing my Doctor of Science Education (ScEdD). After gaining my ScEdD I successfully obtained a position as an Academic at CQUniversity as an Educational Developer on contract.
I worked for two years on contracts, one year fixed term and I am now continuing. I was given a three-year 0.2 Research Fellow contract as a direct result of my qualification and the learning I achieved through my ScEdD.
I have been a lecturer, tutor, course coordinator, and Research Fellow. Currently I am the Senior Education Academic on Gladstone Marina campus. I am coordinating a three-year project in STEM education and I am developing a new unit in Gladstone called STEM Education and Engagement. Recent Drone Races, which formed part of this project, have gained valuable exposure to the potential of coding and attracted over 50 media articles across QLD and NSW.
Rewards and recognition:
- 2016 Women in STEM Research Prize for STEM Education and Engagement
- 2015 – Selected to participate in the ECR (Early Career Research) program at CQUniversity
- 2015 CQUniversity Opal Awards for the Science Education Experience event
- 2014 CQUniversity Opal Awards for the RUN Digital Classrooms Project
- 2014 QLD State finalist for FameLab
Philip Teal, PhD “I am currently completing my PhD studies from China via a distance learning pathway through Hobart.”
Principal Consultant at Talent and Organisation Development Consultants, HK & Guangzhou (China)
Research topic: Realising talent potential and corporate capabilities for sustainable success
- Chief supervisor: Professor Barry Fraser
- Co-supervisor: Dr Roya Pugh
I am currently completing my PhD studies from China via a distance learning pathway through Hobart. My decision to study at Curtin was influenced by the distance learning option available to me to complete my PhD by research only. Since 2001 I have worked as consultant in China as a stand-alone expert in my field of Talent and Organisation Development (OD).
My research is an extension of my work as an OD consultant in Asia, mainly in China, HK and the Philippines. I am very keen to apply my work as the ultimate pathway for students to leverage their STEM skills in organisations to create value and further the sustainable development of organisations.
Two years ago I wrote a book for Chinese entrepreneurs titled Winning the War for Talent and I plan to publish more books in my field. I also plan to offer my experience to Australian leadership to better engage local talent to innovate for sustainable local and global success and ensure the future prosperity of your nation.
While my thesis will apply what I have researched within an Australian context, in theory my work can support any organisation globally. As I prepare to return to Australia I hope my experience will help to shape future STEM Education and leadership development programs to better appreciate the rich talent resources that remain untapped in Australia.
My advice to future students would be to apply your research to real world problems and initiatives that can make the world a better place for everyone. This way your efforts will not be a waste of your talent and national resources.