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Recently Completed Theses

Lucinda McKnight

Thesis Title: The glitterbomb: designing curriculum and identity with girls’ popular culture

Awarding institution: Deakin University

Award: PhD conferred by Deakin University in December 2014

Supervisors: Dr Jo O'Mara and Dr Claire Charles

Other Awards: 2014 Deakin University Naomi and Isi Leibler Prize for best thesis in the social sciences


This thesis contributes to the academic fields of gender and education through an empirical account of how female teachers design curriculum around girls’ popular culture in a contemporary coeducational secondary setting. This collaborative project enables the expansion of the design space in the search for an absent subject – the teacher – marginalised in discourses of neoliberal curriculum. The thesis presents an argument for reflexivity around curriculum design, and also for the re-articulation of curriculum theory with feminist and poststructuralist perspectives. This highlights the way curriculum emerges from the struggles of ideological becoming as teachers, and the researcher, seek to produce and perform both individual gendered identities and plans for the identities of student subjects, while negotiating subject positions made available to girls and women in broader social contexts.

Ben Whitburn

Ben Whitburn

Thesis Title: Critical Engagement with Insider Accounts of Inclusive Schooling          

Award: PhD conferred by Deakin University in April 2015






This thesis by publication contributes a methodological orientation to inclusive education research that is simultaneously political, theoretical and personal. The body of work engages critically with the perspectives of young people with disabilities in inclusive secondary schools in Australia and Spain. The developed methodology is put to work to reveal how “included” subjects are constituted in schools—revealing that while inclusive schooling might be effective for students, policy imperatives, teacher underservicing and inappropriately assigned support adversely impact the inclusion project. The thesis concludes that education might be recast anew via the redeployment of resources away from special education traditions.


This PhD by publication completed over the years 2011-2014 makes two principal contributions to disability studies in education: a reorientation of the field of disability scholarship that is centred on embodied experience, and an insight into the nature of school inclusion as it is experienced daily by research participants. This thesis is based on the understanding that efforts to research and develop inclusive schooling should not be undertaken only at the technical and professional levels, but critically—from the inside, incorporating the perspectives of young people whose subjecthoods render them at risk of marginalisation.

The methodological approach employed in this thesis aims to push disability studies in education forward beyond the limited scope of materialist models of disability. It relies on poststructural representation, the Foucauldian conception of subjectivity, and constructivist grounded theory to critically explore how discursive practices within (and around) secondary schools shape “included” disabled subjects. This work moves away from technical rationality about inclusive schooling by providing an opportunity to understand the entangled, multiple, and often contradictory discourses that comprise day-to-day experiences of inclusion for young people with impairments in different country contexts.

This work offers the accounts of insiders—those of secondary students with impairments in inclusive schools in Australia and Spain, and those of the researcher in reflection on his schooling and in post school situations. The multi-voiced texts produced from the data of this thesis provide an account that illustrates the precarious nature of inclusive education for students who receive specialist support. Along with the researcher, the five young people (aged 13-17 years) who participated in the Australian phase of the project each had impaired vision, and attended one setting in the State of Queensland. Twenty-three young people from six different schools in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Salamanca (aged 12-19 years) also participated in the project. Across this sample the young people had diagnoses of sensory, intellectual, developmental or physical impairments. Each participated in either individual or focus group interviews.

Results are presented by way of the construction of theory grounded in the data of the project (Charmaz, 2006) and through narrative experiments (Gough, 2010). Through analysis of the data, it becomes apparent that a host of routine discursive practices within the schools were constitutive of the included/excluded subjects—the students. However their positions were under constant threat by their perceived distance from normalcy and other contingent elements that include policy, teachers' practices and the provision of special educational support at different levels.

The thesis advocates for a renegotiation of power and truth in inclusive education research, urging—through engagement with students' perspectives—a redeployment of the objects of inquiry away from special education traditions. Explanations of how the subjectivities of young people living in the second decade of the 21st century and yet still remain tied with special education support is critiqued to reconsider the role of diversity in inclusive schools. This thesis then offers a possible research model for use in disability studies in education, as well as a set of empirical exemplars of researching inclusive education that the methodology can achieve.

Sri Wuil FitriatiDr Sri Wuli Fitriati

Thesis Title: Teachers' language ideologies and classroom practices in English bilingual education: An ethnographic case study of a Senior High School in Central Java, Indonesia

 Award: PhD conferred by University of Southern Queensland

Supervisors: Dr Ann Dashwood and Associate Professor Robyn Henderson




This study reported an ethnographic case study of a Senior High School in Central Java Province, Indonesia, where English bilingual education was implemented. Central to the study was an exploration of the links between Mathematics and Science subject teachers’ ideologies of English language, classroom practices and the contexts that shaped both of these. Kroskrity’s (2010) concept of language ideologies was the theoretical lens for this study, which offered deep insights into the complexities of the implementation of English bilingual education in the school. The findings offered understandings about what needs to be taken into account when establishing English bilingual education, particularly when a top-down policy is involved.


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