“Student engagement is fundamental to learning and yet a major and long-standing challenge to educators in Australia and elsewhere is how to engage all young adolescents in learning at school,’’ says Associate Professor Jeanne Allen.
“I’ve always been interested in how we can further empower teachers to engage their students in learning.”
Named as Australia’s leading researcher in the field of Teaching and Teacher Education in The Australian’s special Research Supplement Associate Professor Allen from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research (GIER) was recognised for her work in tertiary teacher education.
“Engagement in education is an issue at the core of the work of all school leaders, teachers, parents and other stakeholders who work with young adolescents,’’ she says.
“Teachers need to adapt or modify their teaching depending on the context, and they should remain fluid in the way they work with students. For example, the cognitive needs of a 12-year-old are very different to a 15-year-old. Teachers must take these developing needs into account.”
Associate Professor Allen said engagement should begin early.
“Ideally there should be smooth transitional processes throughout the different phases of schooling, particularly from primary to secondary school, so that students become, and remain engaged in learning from the beginning.
“Students also need to remain challenged and educators need to ensure they are cognitively, emotionally and behaviourally engaged. Setting high expectations for our young adolescents is key.”
She said The Australian’s research recognition validated her work as a researcher and was a quantifiable indicator that the research the GIER and the School of Education and Professional Studies carries out is internationally robust.
Associate Professor Allen has worked in tertiary teacher education since 2005 after spending an extensive career in secondary teaching and school leadership, both overseas and in Australia.
Her most recent work includes the Queensland Education Leadership Institute’s Youth Engagement Capabilities Project (2018) and leading the ACT Government’s Continuum of Educational Support for High Schools (Year 7-10) project (2016).
She was also a Chief Investigator of a large ARC-funded project into student retention in Tasmania (2012-2015). Currently, she is leading a Griffith team project on teacher professional learning around student engagement, in future partnership with Education Queensland schools. Associate Professor Allen is also Co-Editor of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education.
The research leaders’ list, based on big data analysis of up-to-date publicly available information, singles out Griffith as an ’up-and-comer’ ranking the University at seventh in Australia for its representation across 250 individual fields of research.