Griffith’s education research receives national accolade

Associate Professor Jeanne Allen
Associate Professor Jeanne Allen

“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 canfurtherempower teachers to engage their students in learning.”

Named asAustralia’sleading researcher in the field of Teachingand Teacher Education inThe Australian’sspecial Research SupplementAssociateProfessorAllen from the Griffith InstituteforEducational 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 theyshouldremain fluid in the way they work with students. For example, the cognitive needs of a 12-year-old areverydifferent to a 15-year-old. Teachers must take these developing needs into account.”

AssociateProfessorAllen said engagement should begin early.

“Ideally there should besmooth transitional processes throughout the different phases of schooling, particularlyfrom primary to secondary school,sothatstudentsbecome, and remainengaged inlearningfrom 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 saidThe Australian’sresearchrecognition validated her work asa researcher andwasa quantifiable indicator that the research theGIER and the School of Education and Professional Studiescarries out is internationally robust.

Associate ProfessorAllenhas worked in tertiary teacher education since 2005 afterspending an extensive career in secondary teaching and school leadership, both overseas and inAustralia.

Her most recent work includes theQueensland Education Leadership Institute’sYouth Engagement Capabilities Project(2018) and leading theACT Government’sContinuum 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 retentionin 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 theAsia-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.