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Institute of Early Childhood

Staff Expertise

Professor Jacqueline Hayden 

  • International ECD
  • ECD in Emergency and Fragile Contexts
  • Influencing Change in and through Early Childhood Services
  • Community Resilience and ECD
  • Social Inclusion and Respect for Diversity in ECD programs
  • HIV/AIDS and the Young Child
  • Transition to school needs of Indigenous families with young children in rural NSW

Associate Professor Marina Papic 

Marina Papic's recent research focuses on patterning and early algebraic thinking specifically investigating the development of patterning skills in young children and the role of patterning in the development of early algebraic thinking. Marina was a member of a consortium of early childhood experts contracted to develop the national Early Years Learning Framework and a member of a multi-site team involving eleven universities investigating the mathematical thinking of preschool children in rural & regional Australia (funded by SiMERR). Marina currently leads the ARC Linkages Project Improving numeracy outcomes for young Indigenous children through the Patterns and Early Algebra Preschool (PEAP) Professional Development Program, which aims to: develop pedagogical content and mathematical subject matter knowledge of Indigenous early childhood educators; advance young Indigenous children's early algebraic thinking and mathematical reasoning; close the gap in numeracy achievement for Indigenous children; and evaluate the effectiveness of an early algebra program on children's mathematical development and professional learning.

Associate Professor Manjula Waniganayake 

Her undergraduate and doctoral studies, reflect Manjula's interests in cross-cultural research.  Her research, teaching and writing have typically involved taking account of diverse perspectives, and she is keen to learn from others. Her current research interests are concerned with exploring early childhood workforce issues including staff qualifications, quality assurance, mentoring and leadership as well as working with families from immigrant and refuges backgrounds. The majority of students that Manjula is currently supervising as doctoral candidates, are engaged in researching questions related to leadership  within early childhood settings,  schools and other organisations, She is also supervising a student who is investigating the development of social competence through the use of technology in school-based learning. This study is closely aligned with Manjula's work on using role-play simulations to learn about leadership in early childhood, developed with colleagues in Melbourne.

Dr Katey De Gioia 

  • Transition into educational settings for children and families from immigrant and refugee backgrounds.
  • Practitioner enquiry; teachers' practices as key in outcomes for children and families in the early years of school.

Dr Sheila Degotardi 

Sheila Degotardi's research in infant-toddler pedagogy, curriculum and development involves the investigation of the nature and potential of very young children's experiences in both home and early childhood centres. Her work on interpersonal relationships explores how children, their peers and adults understand and relate to one another, with a particular focus on ways that children's relationships shape their experiences, learning and development. Sheila Degotardi's research has resulted a body of international publications about:  

  1. Infant-toddler learning, curriculum and pedagogy
  2. The nature and potential of young children's play, interactions and relationships
  3. Parent and teacher perspectives about relationships in early childhood centres
  4. Methodological considerations related to conducting research with very young children

Dr Marianne Fenech 

Dr Fenech's program of research focuses on the establishing of a quality, equitable early childhood education system in Australia. Her specific research interests include:

  • early childhood policy
  • the regulation of early childhood education settings
  • parents as consumers of child care
  • early childhood management and leadership
  • the industrial context within which early childhood teachers practice.

Dr Fenech's research is intentionally critical. She utilises multiple perspectives and mixed methods to promote alternative ways of thinking and doing early childhood policy and practice that furthers the rights of young children and the interests of the early childhood profession.

Ms Jenny Nicholls

Jennifer's research interests have focused on online learning and the creative arts. As one of the first academics at Macquarie to introduce elearning in her courses she has been at the forefront of creating innovative and dynamic online learning spaces to promote collaboration and engagement of her students.  Jenny is currently researching collaborative and interactive online Drama experiences.

Dr Peter Whiteman

My research interests lie in the areas of early childhood musical development, music cognition, reconstructed childhoods and emergent symbol systems. For over a decade, from the outset of my doctoral research, I have been amazed at young children's musical skills and knowledge and the complex musical cultures they construct. With music and other literacies playing central roles in children's development, it is vitally important that contemporary research acknowledges children's voices. To this end, I am currently involved in a project that explores children's constructions of the concept of "music" using digital photography and other means of expression in prior-to-school services. I have undertaken commissioned research for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training and the South Australian Department of Education and Children's Services.

Dr Shirley Wyver

Research includes a multidisciplinary investigation of outdoor play and learning and development of cognition in children who are blind.

Ms Rebecca Andrews 

  • Early childhood teacher education
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Reminiscing and future talk conversations between children and adults
  • Children with vision impairment and/or blindness and autistic tendencies

Ms Sandra Cheeseman 

  • Practitioner Inquiry as a model of professional learning and engagement
  • The influence of curriculum documents on the lives of infants.

Dr Kathy Cologon

  • Disability studies in early childhood education
  • Inclusive education
  • Inclusive approaches to literacy
  • Inclusive approaches to numeracy
  • Teacher education
  • Inclusive approaches to disaster risk reduction
  • Child and family experiences of disability
  • Rights based approaches to inclusion in early childhood
  • Community based approaches to early childhood education

Dr Yeshe Colliver

  • Learning through play 
  • Educators entering into children's play to achieve learning outcomes
  • Young children's perspectives on early childhood education and care
  • Educators partnering with families to improve learning and developmental outcomes
  • Policy analysis and development

Ms Belinda Davis

  • Curriculum
  • Teacher's practice
  • Infant peer relationships
  • Infant play and routines    

Dr Emilia Djonov

Emilia Djonov's research areas include:

  • (critical) multimodal and hypermedia discourse analysis
  • multimodal literacy and learning in early childhood
  • multiliteracies education in early childhood
  • social semiotic and systemic functional theory

She is particularly interested in exploring:

  • the relationships between the design and use of interactive multimodal and hypermedia texts and environments for children
  • young children's engagement with toys, picture books, 3D spaces, hypermedia and digital technologies (including software applications), and its role in children's learning and literacy development
  • the ways visual and multimodal texts and environments for children promote different ideologies of childhood and different ways of learning and making meaning.

She is currently involved in the following research projects:

  • comparing the talk of mothers and preschool children jointly reading the same picture book in traditional vs. interactive iPad-app format
  • developing a framework for analysing educational and mass media websites from a critical multimodal perspective (with Dr John Knox)
  • exploring the relationship between (software) technology, language and multimodality in contemporary communication practices (with Prof. Theo Van Leeuwen).

Dr Fay Hadley

  • Supporting early childhood teachers in their work
  • Parent-Centre partnerships with diverse families
  • International early childhood education and development. 
  • Management and leadership

Dr Kate Highfield 

Broadly Kate researches the impact of technology as a tool in learning and play, with young children, undergraduate students, parents and educators. Under this broad umbrella Kate has worked with teachers in rural and remote settings, parents and children.Kate's PhD examined young children's technology plan and the use of programmable toys (simple robotics) in the development of early mathematical and meta-cognitive understandings. This work, with preschool and K-2 children, also investigated children's problem solving, gesture and drawn representations of learning. Kate's current research explores young children's learning and play with technology, with a focus on touch technologies, including mobile devices, Tablets, iPads and smartphones. This work examines digital play, in both home and educational settings, and focuses on the impact of interactive multi-media on learning and play. 

Dr Helen Little 

  • Risk-taking
  • Outdoor play
  • Outdoor environments
  • Playground safety
  • Risk management

Dr Carol Newall

  • Childhood anxiety disorders
  • Early learning and 'unlearning' of fear
  • Parental factors in psychopathology (internalizing disorders)

Dr Amanda Niland

  • Early Childhood Music Education
  • Early Intervention
  • Children's Literature
  • Creative Writing

Ms Doranna Wong

  • Early Childhood Teacher Education
  • Early Childhood Philosophy & Pedagogy
  • Professional Experience
  • Diversity