Current research

Current research projects focus on:

  • Systemic functional semiotics
  • Montessori education
  • Children's blogs
  • Online reading of multimodal texts
  • Cross-curriculum literacies
  • Knowledge about language
  • Disciplinary knowledge
  • Technology integration in languages teaching
  • Learning and identity in communities of practice
  • Metacognition and critical literacy.

Projects and their leaders (listed in alphabetical order)

Communities of Practice

Zuocheng Zhang (Project Leader)

Research into how people learn and the character of communities of practice that facilitate particular kinds of learning. (See recent publication)

Recent publications

Zhang, Z.C. (2014). Unpacking professional identities. In D. Djenar, A. Mahboob, & K. Cruickshank (Eds.), Language and identity across modes of communication. Boston, MA: Walter de Gruyter.

Zhang, Z.C., & Li, S. (2014). Negotiating membership in employment interviews at a Chinese media institution. International Journal of Business Communication, 51 (1), 9–30.

Zhang, Z.C. (2013). Business English students learning to write for international business: What do international business practitioners have to say about their texts? English for SpecificPurposes, 32, 144–156.

Cross-curriculum Literacies (Anne-Marie Morgan)

Studies of cross-curriculum literacies (See recent publication)

Multimedia research in literacies

Dr Devo Devrim capturing video data for the project Interactive multimedia technology in English Language Teaching.

Use of interactive multimedia technology in English Language Teaching: Impact on pedagogy, practice and student outcomes

2013 UNE DVC Major Equipment Grant ($53,165)

Investigators: Greg Winslett, Tanya Hathaway, Eveline Chan, Susan Feez,  Deidre Clary  , Zuocheng Zhang, Anne-Marie Morgan and Devo Devrim 

This project examines the intervention driven effects of Mondopad interactive multimedia technology on English language teaching and students learning at UNE's English Language Centre. Qualitative and quantitative data are gathered from surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups and document analysis to examine teachers' well-being, classroom practice and students' engagement with learning.Partners: Teaching and Learning Support and School of Education (Centre for Research in English and Multiliteracies Education).

Enhancing students' reading of multimodal texts in online environments

2012–13 UNE University Research Seed Grant   ($12,000)

Eveline Chan (Chief Investigator)

Students who struggle with traditional print literacy in the classroom often engage more readily with multimodal texts via digital media. While this engagement with text is a necessary condition for effective reading, it is not sufficient for improving literacy outcomes.  The aim of the study is to identify factors that contribute to high level comprehension of web-based texts in order to design explicit strategies to support low performing students. The study focuses on students who attend provincial and remote schools and are in the critical middle years of schooling, factors which are pivotal in terms of future educational success.

Genre-based pedagogy & knowledge about language

2013 UNE University Research Seed Grant: 'Teachers Learning through Language Across the Secondary Curriculum' ($12,090)

Deidre Clary (Chief Investigator) and Susan Feez

A collaboration of Susan and Deidre with teachers at Armidale High and at Campbell High, supported by a with teachers at Armidale High originating out of the Write it Right project, and teachers at Campbell High (ACT), this research is documenting high school teachers' experience of adopting a literacy pedagogy designed to foster teachers' growing understanding of how language works in a way that enables students to make informed decisions about their use and understanding of the specialist texts students are required to write to meet the discipline-specific literacy demands in English, Maths, History, Geography, Science and PDHPE.

Grammar and praxis: Investigating a grammatics for 21st century school English

2011–14 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant  ($452,951)

Chief Investigators: Mary Macken‑Horarik (Project Leader), Len Unsworth, Kristina Love and Dr Carmel Sandiford (SRA)

The project is investigating English teachers' current levels of knowledge about language (KAL) and kinds of knowledge needed for a twenty‑first century English curriculum. Project findings from diverse classrooms will yield vital information about how grammar contributes to development of coherent, cumulative and portable KAL at key stages of schooling.

Recent publications

Macken-Horarik, M. (2013). English in a Tempest: The Value of Metaphor for Re-Imagining Grammar in English.English in Australia (special issue in honour of Garth Boomer), 48 (3), 46–53.

Macken-Horarik, M. (2012). Why school English needs a 'good enough' grammatics (and not more grammar). Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, 19 (2), 179–194.

Macken-Horarik, M. Love, K. & Unsworth, L. (2011). A grammatics 'good enough' for school English in the 21st century: Four challenges in realising the potential. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy. 34, (1), 9–21.

Unsworth, L. & Macken-Horarik, M. (in press). Interpretive responses to images in picture books by primary and secondary school students: Exploring curriculum expectations of a 'visual grammatics,' for English in Education.

Macken-Horarik, M. & Unsworth L. (in press). New Challenges for literature study in primary school English: Building teacher knowledge and know-how through systemic functional theory, for special issue of Onomázein focused on papers from IXth ALSFAL Congress.

See the Grammar and Praxis project website.

Investigating the relationship between executive function and higher order LLL pedagogies: Metacognition and critical literacy

Michelle Bannister-Tyrrell (Chief Investigator)

Identifying and evaluating a text's social functions, biases and power ideologies that is at the heart of Australian critical literacy, requires a reader to draw on domain-specific knowledge while simultaneously reflecting on and drawing connections between personal understandings and knowledge of our own and other's cultural ideologies. Initial research has identified integral links between one's knowledge and regulation of cognition (metacognition) and the ability to successfully navigate critical literacy discourse. Continuing research is focused on the interrelationship between executive functioning and higher order literacy tasks, which in turn will enhance our understanding of effective pedagogical practices in the classroom.

Recent publication

Bannister-Tyrrell, M. & Clary, D. (2014). Taming the 'many headed monster': Metacognition, self-regulation and the new NSW English syllabus. Metaphor 2014 (1) pp. 15–25 ISSN 1440–0022, 02/2014.

Literacy Enhancement Strategy (LES):  Building Teacher Capacity towards Whole School Literacy Learning

2012–13 School of Education Internal Research Grant [$3000]

Deidre Clary (Chief Investigator)

This research is located in disciplinary knowledge that defines today's secondary school curriculum, and "typically resides in the high stakestexts students need to read and write…" As such, knowledge of language resources to create academic language needs to be substantive enough to uncover the language resources of specialized academic discourses. The context of the project is an ACT high school. The project's aim is to help secondary teachers build their repertoires in ways that support their students' literacy development and explicitly teach them the "conventions of language and text patterns within their own learning area" (ACARA, 2012, p. 14). The project served as a pilot for a SEED Grant (2013). Project findings indicate that small interventions are helping teachers to address their students' literacy skills development in writing texts specific to their learning areas. This research is also examining the notion of communities of practice and how a school's dialogue about literacy is being shaped, and by whom.

Montessori education

Susan Feez (Chief Investigator)

This project is part of a larger exploration of the history of Montessori education in Australia: 'Establishing a benchmark for the delivery of grammar lessons in the Montessori English curriculum for children aged from 3 to 6 years, and children aged from 6 to 9 years'. [Link to publications]

Recent publications

Feez, S., with Quade, L., Montessori, C., and Verheul, J. (Eds.) (2013) The 1913

Rome Lectures: First International training course - by Maria Montessori. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company.

Feez, S. (2013) Montessori: The Australian story. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Feez, S. (2010) Montessori and early childhood. London: Sage.

Feez, S. & de Silva Joyce, H. Theory, research and practice of literacies/applied linguistics(working title of book) (Series editor Chris Candlin). [Upcoming publication due March, 2015]

Pre-service teacher education literacy, numeracy and ICT survey

2012 UNE SAF ($30,000)

Investigators: Stephen Tobias, Susan Feez, Eveline Chan, and Helen de Silva Joyce

Graduates of pre-service teacher education programs are expected to meet externally determined standards, including personal levels of literacy and numeracy equivalent to the top 30% of the population, and information and communication technology skills and strategies which enable them to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.  This project reviewed the literacy, numeracy and ICT requirements of assessment tasks in all units of study delivered in 2012 across the four years of the BEd. The aims were to: analyse the course requirements in terms of the language, numeracy and ICT demands inherent in assessment tasks; to ascertain if the tasks increased in complexity across the years of study and to identify any inconsistencies, gaps or other issues that emerged in relation to assessment.

Storytelling: Oral and digital

Mutuota Kigotho (Chief Investigator)

Funded by an Internal Research Grant, this project is currently correcting stories from businesses and families in Armidale Community about their use of the National Broadband Network. Mutuota is also developing a project where students digitally record what they have learned in various curriculum areas (History, Geography Maths and Science) in the form of images and blogs.

Use of interactive multimedia technology in English Language Teaching: Impact on pedagogy, practice and student outcomes

2013 UNE DVC Major Equipment Grant ($53,165)

Investigators: Greg Winslett, Tanya Hathaway, Eveline Chan, Susan Feez,  Deidre Clary  , Zuocheng Zhang, Anne-Marie MorganDevo Devrim, Thu Ngo and Nicolas Gromik

This project examines the intervention driven effects of Mondopad interactive multimedia technology on English language teaching and students learning at UNE's English Language Centre. Qualitative and quantitative data are gathered from surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups and document analysis to examine teachers' well-being, classroom practice and students' engagement with learning.Partners: Teaching and Learning Support and School of Education (Centre for Research in English and Multiliteracies Education).