Skip to main content
  • Home
  • Thesis Topics 
  • Initial Teacher Education: Learning Cultures, Assessment and Online Engagement

Research Thesis Topic

Initial Teacher Education: Learning Cultures, Assessment and Online Engagement

Topic ID

Thesis Topic/Title
Initial Teacher Education: Learning Cultures, Assessment and Online Engagement


This program of research led by Professor Sue Saltmarsh and Dr Tony Dowden draws on a large archival assessment and online engagement data set, to consider design and delivery of quality Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs. The research builds an evidentiary basis for programmatic efficacy and impact, and quality curriculum and pedagogy in tertiary programs. The research is located specifically within ITE, and links to broader national concerns regarding external accreditation requirements such as Personal Literacy and Numeracy Tests and Australian National Professional Standards for Teachers to which the academic rigour of ITE programs is crucial. The research considers how issues such as academic literacies, academic integrity and online engagement impact on student learning and graduate outcomes. It is also interested in how these issues contribute to distinctive learning cultures within ITE programs. Findings will contribute to strategies for improving efficacy of ITE programs, and new knowledge about ways that ITE teaching and learning can be enhanced through assessment and engagement strategies for maximising knowledge and skills of beginning teachers prior to their entry to the profession. Findings will also provide evidence upon which new approaches to learning design, professional development and programmatic improvements can be based.

This program of research aims to:

- Identify a range of academic literacy skills demonstrated through examples of student writing, in order to identify areas in which ITE curriculum, pedagogy and assessment might be developed to enhance students' scholarly achievement.
- Map patterns of engagement in online courses against academic literacies and outcomes in specified assessments, in order to identify ways in which course and program assessment and participation strategies might be utilised to foster student engagement.
- Explore formation of and challenges within student learning cultures as a feature of online learning in ITE.
- Examine the utility of student assessment for documenting aspects of student learning, learning cultures, academic literacy, academic integrity, professional knowledge and skills.
- Identify ways in which ITE programs can be enhanced to meet students' scholarly and professional learning needs.

This program of research can accommodate postgraduate students interested in exploring any of the above topics, or other related topics in consultation with Professor Saltmarsh and Dr Tony Dowden. The research team has expertise in social, cultural and educational theory, and qualitative methodologies including critical discourse analysis, social semiotics, ethnography and case study.

Principal Supervisor

Associate Supervisors

Research Affiliations
  • School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood

Field of Research
  • Specialist Studies in Education

Available Academic Programs

Application Open Date

Application Close Date

USQ Scholarship Applications

Other Scholarship Funding Details

Pre-approved for Ethics
Not Applicable

Admission Requirements

Please review the admission requirements for the academic program associated with this Thesis Topic

Prospective applicants should contact Professor Saltmarsh at or Dr Tony Dowden at to discuss their research interests and proposed topic for their study prior to submitting their application.

Back to List