Faculty of Education and Arts

Better pedagogies research group

Better pedagogies is a research group based in the Faculty of Education and Arts that focuses on researching learning and teaching. The group values, promotes and facilitates effective teaching in higher education. We aim to create new possibilities, open opportunities, be inclusive and engage in critical conversations and research with others.

Better pedagogies was officially launched by Professor John Macdonald at the Post Office Gallery in Ballarat on Tuesday May 8. The launch was well attended by representatives of a wide cross-section of the education community of Ballarat and beyond. Dr Robyn Brandenburg, Dr Sharon McDonough, Dr Amanda McGraw, and Dr Jacqueline Wilson gave an ensemble talk about the importance of building and facilitating community partnerships and possibilities for the education community and university. They highlighted the potential for Better pedagogies to further promote such relationships. In opening the discussion about researching, learning and teaching, the group was inviting people to think about what those areas mean for them. It was great to see, from the number and diverse range of attendees on the night, that the group is already making connections with schools, teachers, academics and others.

What do we do?

Better pedagogies is engaged in a number of activities. As well as conducting research into learning and teaching, we hold regular reading circles to enable colleagues to have critical conversations about topics of interest. Two of our steering committee members, Robyn Brandenburg and Jacqueline Wilson, are editing an interdisciplinary book entitled 'Pedagogies for the Future', which contains chapters from members of the group and from Schools across the university. We are also engaged in supervision of Higher Degree Research students, and are looking to expand this into cohort supervision.

Steering committee

Dr Robyn Brandenburg

Dr Robyn Brandenburg is a teacher educator in the School of Education. Over the past decade, she has successfully researched, redesigned and coordinated mathematics and professional experience courses in the Bachelor of Education program. Her learning and teaching philosophy is based on placing pre-service teacher experience at the core of learning to teach. Reflection, feedback and evaluation are integral practices in each of her courses. Robyn has developed Round table Reflective Inquiry (RRI) - an innovative practice enabling participants to learn about the complexities of teaching through systematically examining their own experience in supportive learning environments. This practice has been successfully used with teachers, school leaders and university staff. Her animation – Freida's feedback on feedback – provides evidence of the power of feedback for further developing pedagogical understanding. Robyn's ongoing commitment to researching learning and teaching has led to national and international recognition. She regularly engages with schools, advises on education trends and presents at national and international conferences. Her current research includes identifying and examining the ways pre-service teachers develop their conceptions of teachers and teaching and ethical research practices.

She has published extensively. Her book, Powerful Pedagogy: Self-Study of a Teacher Educator's Practice (2008) has been acclaimed by her peers. Robyn received a Vice-Chancellor's Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2009, an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation in 2010 and the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011.

Contact: r.brandenburg@federation.edu.au

Dr Sharon McDonough

Sharon McDonough is an early career academic in the Faculty of Education & Arts. Prior to commencing her position as a full-time lecturer in 2011, Sharon spent two years combining sessional work at the university with part-time work in a school setting. She has 14 years experience teaching in schools and has held numerous positions of responsibility, including Head of English and Special education coordinator. Sharon has presented at both national and international conferences, and writes a regular column on the use of social media in teaching for Practically Primary, a publication of the Australian Literacy Educator's Association. She has a commitment to working closely with schools and researching learning and teaching in both school and university contexts. Her current research includes an examination of teacher educator identity, mentoring for teacher graduates and pre-service teacher's perceptions of English teaching.

Contact: s.mcdonough@federation.edu.au

Dr Amanda McGraw

Amanda McGraw coordinates the Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) course at this university. The course is known for its innovative practices in relation to preparing pre-service teachers and is involved in a number of unique partnership initiatives with regional and rural schools. While Amanda loves teaching more than most things; pedagogy continues to perplex her. She is increasingly regarding her classroom as a 'research laboratory' where, through reflection, dialogue and experimentation, she learns more about complex learning and thinking processes. Amanda's research interests are teachers' professional learning, pedagogy in higher education, the teaching of thinking in secondary schools and literacy learning. The professional doctorate she completed in 2010 examines the nature of deep professional learning for teachers. In that year Amanda was also awarded the Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence. Amanda taught for nearly 20 years in both state and independent schools. She has held a number of leadership positions in schools including Deputy Principal. She worked with David Loader at Wesley College for three years as a pedagogical coach focused on enhancing students' thinking and learning. She has also worked for the Department of Education and Early Childhood as a literacy project officer, for the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English as their Education/Executive Officer and she managed the English key learning area for the then Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board. She continues to work closely with practising teachers in schools in ongoing professional learning experiences and collaborative research projects. This year she has received a Teaching and Learning Fellowship to research effective teaching practices in higher education. This will involve talking to students across discipline areas about their learning experiences at university. She is also working on a collaborative research project with teacher education colleagues from the International Study Association for Teachers and Teaching.

Contact: a.mcgraw@federation.edu.au

Dr Jacqueline Z Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is a graduate of La Trobe University, where she was awarded the David Myer University Medal, and has a PhD in History from Monash University. Before taking up her position as a lecturer in the School of Education in 2007, Jacqueline taught History and Globalisation at the University of Melbourne and Monash University. She has over 10 years experience teaching across the disciplines of History and Education, and is passionate about the teaching and learning of Australian and world history. She has published extensively in the fields of public history; dark tourism; memory and national identity. She is the author of Prison: Cultural Memory and Dark Tourism, (Peter Lang; New York, 2008). Her current research focuses on the formation of youth identity, and the national history curriculum. Jacqueline is an executive board member and treasurer for the International Australian Studies Association (InASA): http://www.inasa.org/ and a member of the History Teachers Association of Victoria (HTAV) www.htav.asn.au/.

Contact: JZ.Wilson@federation.edu.au

Want to know more?

To find out more about Better pedagogies, contact any of the steering committee members listed above.