Current Students

Four talented education students are now recipients of UTAS Elite Research scholarships

Damon Thomas, Grant Cooper and Sun Hee (Sunny) Jang Katrina McNab, Damon Thomas, Grant Cooper and Sun Hee (Sunny) Jang are off to a great start with their PhDs.

These four talented education students are now recipients of UTAS Elite Research scholarships, receiving $30k per annum tax-free, over three years, with a possible six-month extension.

These students will not only have the support of accomplished supervisors, but a laptop, scholarship top ups, conference support funds and other generic skills workshops which will help them navigate their way through their PhD journey.

One recipient, Katrina McNab, an early childhood graduate from the Cradle Coast campus in 2009, who is eager to get started said “I’m passionate about early childhood literacy education and home-school relationships and I’m keen to investigate this through further research.”  

Katrina’s research topic Home School early literacy partnerships seeks to address and compare the effectiveness of “traditional shared reading” methods with multi-media methods. .  Her research will focus on concepts about print, phonological awareness, and vocabulary and comprehension with children aged four to six years old.

Grant Cooper will be delving into the values and beliefs that underpin school student’s decisions when selecting their senior secondary subjects, VET or pre-tertiary.  Grant will be surveying current Academy and Polytechnic students.

New technologies and semiotics (signs and symbols) also feature strongly, being the focus accounting for two out of the four topics being undertaken. 

Damon Thomas, who is a gaming enthusiast, is delving into the topic; The Semiotics of Game Authoring, which will investigate how primary school students can construct narratives through the medium of videogames.

“A body of research suggests videogames are a very relevant part of young peoples’ lives. The uptake of gaming by primary school students doesn’t seem to be gender specific, and by using software made by educators for educators, called “Mission Maker”, I will investigate how we can engage students in literacy concepts in new and exciting ways.”

The project will also explore the traditional elements of narrative, such as characterisation and plot, and the deeper dimensions such as identity, gender and other ideologies.

In another topic that seeks to supplement our knowledge and use of new technologies and semiotics in the classroom, Sunny Jang will look at how story telling on YouTube extends on the traditional concepts of narrative, with relevance to pedagogy and 21st century classrooms.  Her project is titled:  An investigation of the role of participation and its effect on narrative in young people’s multimodal storytelling practices on YouTube.  

Sunny, who has come from a computing background, is interested in what young people are learning from digital media.  She says that “young people spend enormous amounts of time online with their own learning activities. They spontaneously engage in social networking, expressing their own ideas and interests to build and shape an online global world.”

Sunny’s  research aims to inform teachers of the learning that is occurring and how it can be enhanced through integration into the classroom.

“I hope as a result we can provide possibilities to reduce the technological gap between the teacher and the student in order to fulfil class practices more fruitfully.” said Sunny. 

If you have an outstanding academic record and a passion for research a variety of other scholarships in the Education field are open for application in 2011.  Topics include:

Mathematics Education

  • Technology and the Implementation of the Statistics and Probability Component of the National Mathematics Curriculum
  • Probability Understanding in the Middle School Enhanced by Technology (PUMSET!)
  • Teacher beliefs about students and their implications for mathematics teaching practice


  • Preparing future school leaders:  What are the challenges, how do we address them?
  • Improving retention in education to Year 12 and beyond

Education, Health and Wellbeing

  • Curriculum and pedagogical initiatives to enhance social and emotional wellbeing
  • Movement development for children with developmental disabilities
  • Workplace Health and Wellbeing

Teaching and Learning in Teacher Education

  • Curriculum, pedagogies and innovations in support of quality teacher education
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy

Promising candidates within Australia and New Zealand are eligible for a return airfare to visit UTAS and their School of interest to help them decide. And if chosen, generous relocation support is available.

For more information go to the Elite Research Scholarships website.

Published on: 21 Mar 2011 12:08pm