Michelle Parks

UTAS Home Dr Michelle Parks

Michelle Parks

Academic Director, Professional Experience
Lecturer in Curriculum & Pedagogy

Newnham Campus

+61 (3) 6324 3468 (phone)

Dr Michelle Parks is a lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Tasmania. She focuses on the development and preparation of pre-service and graduate teachers as they embark on their early teaching careers and develop their teacher identity. Through her research, Michelle studies the motivations for choosing to teach and seeks to identify the factors that sustain their commitment to the profession; the implications of which are critical to shaping initial teacher education and the recruitment and retainment of our future educators.

Within her institution, Michelle leads the implementation of the Australian Government mandated Teacher Performance Assessment. The University of Tasmania is a key member of the national Graduate Teacher Performance Assessment (GTPA) Collective developed by The Australian Catholic University. Michelle is a regular speaker and contributor at the GTPA annual symposium and is a GTPA recognised assessor at the national level. Michelle prepares all final year preservice teachers in all Bachelor and Master degree offerings at the University of Tasmania to complete the GTPA through the units EDU306 and EMT607.


2015 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2016 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2016 – UTAS Teaching Merit Certificate (Individual)

2017 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual and Team)

2017 – Citation for outstanding contribution to student learning (Team)

2018 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2019 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2019 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2020 – Certificate of Recognition- Cross institutional GTPA Assessor

2020 – UTAS Teaching Award Nomination (Individual)

2020 – Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution (Team) Finalist

View more on Dr Michelle Parks in WARP

Current projects

Exploring pre-service teachers’ lives lived experiences of completing a TPA and their evolving perception of preparedness for classroom teaching.

Collaborators: Beasy, K., Morrison, C. & Clayton, S.

There is a sustained political appetite for improved outcomes for students across all education sectors and in particular, primary and secondary schooling (Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). One strategy to achieve this is through a focus on producing better-quality teachers which may resolve a host of societal ailments while realising national aspirations (Day, 2017; Goe & Stickler, 2008; Ingvarson et al., 2006; Skourdoumbis, 2017). Perceived deficits in policy and practice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) has led to a number of recommendations of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) (2014) to improve graduate teacher quality with the view to improve student outcomes. The mandatory introduction of a Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) in 2018/2019 for all States and Territories of Australia is an authentic culminating task designed to address Program Standard 1.2 of the Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programs in Australia Standards and Procedures document (2015) requiring that “pre-service teachers…have successfully completed a final year teaching performance assessment prior to graduation” (p.10). Investigating the preconceptions of Pre-Service Teachers (PSTs) prior to learning about the full requirements of the TPA task, and their experience during and after TPA completion, will provide important information that may guide how HEIs can best prepare their students to undertake a TPA, and to guide future policy and practice in ITE.

Therefore, the aim of this research is to:

Better understand the preconceptions of pre-service teachers’ (PSTs’) preparedness for undertaking a Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) and future classroom teaching.

PhD Research (Completed 2018)

Pre-service Teachers’ Evolving Perceptions and Responses to Teaching: Changing Career to Find Meaning and Purpose

Supervisors: Morrison, C., Williamson, J. & Gardner, C.

Commencing pre-service teachers enter initial teacher education programs with diverse preconceptions, understandings, beliefs and values about the teaching profession. A complex mix of personal, professional and contextual factors shape their perceptions about the challenges and rewards associated with teaching. These, in turn, influence their development and preparation for the classroom. Contemporary framings of initial teacher education emphasise the importance of interrupting and disrupting pre-service teachers’ preconceptions while helping them to develop more informed perspectives through critical engagement with theory and the practical realities of classroom teaching. Pre-service teachers’ motivations and aspirations are essential to this process, as they provide the enthusiasm and momentum for reconceptualising perceptions about themselves, the profession, and the lived experience of classroom practitioners. This study investigated the effects of new theoretical knowledge and practical applications of this knowledge on pre-service teachers’ perceived preparedness for classroom teaching. Their changing perceptions were investigated to examine evolving responses to theoretical and practical components of their initial teacher education program, from commencement to completion. This study utilised a modified case study employing a mixed method design involving the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data, collected through questionnaires, semistructured interviews, classroom observations and participants’ journal entries. These data revealed parallels between Tasmanian pre-service teachers and other cohorts represented in the literature. Through the contextual lens of the participants’ demographic and preferential profiles, a variety of extrinsic, intrinsic and altruistic motivators were identified within the deeply personal and philosophical drivers for creating change in their own lives and careers. Equally, a change in emphasis, from the pragmatic considerations of the nature of teachers’ work to an altruistic view of the contributions to be made through teaching was 6 evident in the narratives of the participants. Additionally, the opportunity to embody and enact lifelong learning was exposed as a particularly motivating aspect of the teaching profession. Significantly, further analysis emphasised that these pre-service teachers approaching transition into the profession had embarked on a process of continual recalibration of themselves in order to align with the priorities of the profession. As such, they described the quality of their initial teacher preparation in relation to the influence that their learning contexts had on them, and how these had created the impetus for change. For some, this presented a particular level of challenge, highlighting perceptions about disconnections between stakeholders working within initial teacher preparation and those supporting beginning teaching. This study is both unique and significant in that it contributes to the limited body of knowledge about pre-service teachers within the Tasmanian context, emphasising parallels with those found within other Australian contexts. This study also highlights the unique contextual factors shaping initial teacher preparation in Tasmania and captures the discrete evolution of participants’ perceptions from commencement to program completion. These insights will be of particular interest to educational researchers, teacher educators, school leaders, and system administrators interested in contributing to the strength and capacity of initial teacher preparation and that of the future Tasmanian and the wider national teaching workforce.

Investigating the impact of an embedded approach to teaching Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) in initial Teacher Education and Education Support courses.

Collaborators: Stephenson, E., McCarthy, R., Hicks, D. & Bowen, Andy.

This four-year study will explore the implementation of an embedded approach to the teaching and learning of trauma informed practice (TIP) within the School of Education (UTAS). The aim of the study is to investigate the impact of this embedded approach on tertiary student beliefs, attitudes, understanding and skill development in relation to TIP. All students enrolled in the first year of the Bachelor of Education (Primary) and the Bachelor of Education (Health and Physical Education) degrees and the Associate Degree in Educational support will be invited to take part in the study. This is a mixed method study, using two types of data gathering methodsÍž the 'Attitudes relating to Trauma Informed Care' survey and focus group interviews. Insights gained will be used to inform further iterations of the design of the embedded approach to improve tertiary student outcomes.

A pilot project to investigate the effectiveness of the Trauma Informed Communities Framework.

Collaborators: Stephenson, E., Hicks, D. & To, V.

All communities are touched by trauma. When a community is not trauma aware, practices are not trauma informed, leading to ‘unsafe’ responses that intensify unwell feelings, compounding effects of previously lived traumatic experiences and alienating an individual. This has a negative impact on learning, development, and wellbeing. A trauma informed approach enables individuals within a community to function effectively. The Trauma Informed Communities (TIC) Framework was developed to raise awareness of the impact of trauma and offer strategies to support trauma informed practice.

This twelve-month mixed methods study is designed to pilot the implementation of the (TIC) framework within the School of Education (SoE) at UTAS and at Launceston Church Grammar School (LCGS), Junior campus. The aim of the study is to explore the effectiveness of the framework in supporting the development of a trauma informed community. Insights gained will be used to amend and improve the TIC Framework, which can then be used in other communities to inform and support Trauma Informed Practice (TIP).

Has Covid-19 changed the public’s engagement with, and understanding of science?

Collaborators: Chase, J., Corry, R., Konkes, C., Seen, A., Fraser, S., Hatisaru, V., Wood, G. & Coady, D.

In this project, we will explore the hypothesis that:

The immediacy and potentially direct personal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a greater engagement with, and understanding of, science by the public.

A multidisciplinary team will gather data to answer the following research questions:

1.            To what extent do UTAS staff and cohorts of UTAS students from across disciplines understand the nature and process of science?

2.            Are there any correlations between overly simplistic understandings of science and dismissive attitudes towards particular theories, and/or the scientific enterprise in general?

3.            Has the COVID-19 pandemic, through the increased focus on science and its use in guiding decision making, led to a more sophisticated understanding of the nature and process of science amongst research participants?

Fields of Research

  • Teacher education and professional development of educators (390307)
  • Higher education (390303)
  • Learning sciences (390409)
  • Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development (390102)
  • Education policy (390201)
  • Sociology of education (390203)
  • Sociology and social studies of science and technology (441007)
  • History and philosophy of science (500204)

Research Objectives

  • Teacher and instructor development (160303)
  • Learner and learning (160199)
  • Higher education (160102)
  • Pedagogy (160302)
  • Workforce transition and employment (160206)
  • Other education and training (169999)
  • Policies and development (160205)
  • Professional development and adult education (160104)


Total publications


Journal Article

(1 outputs)
2022Brett DB, Parks M, 'Demonstrating 'impact': insights from the work of preservice teachers completing a graduate teacher performance assessment', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 47, (1) pp. 49-65. ISSN 0313-5373 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.14221/ajte.2022v47n1.4 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Brett DB


Chapter in Book

(2 outputs)
2021Parks M, Morrison C, 'Redefining Boundaries in Initial Teacher Education: Creating a Collective Vision and Approach to Preparing High-Quality Graduate Teachers', Teaching Performance Assessments as a Cultural Disruptor in Initial Teacher Education, Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd., C Wyatt-Smith, L Adie and J Nuttall (ed), Singapore, pp. 115-128. ISBN 978-981-16-3704-9 (2021) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2019Parks M, Morrison C, Gardner C, Williamson J, ''TEACHING ... IT JUST FEELS RIGHT': Contemporary Perspectives of Career-Change Teachers and Their Motivations for Teaching', Opportunities and Challenges in Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Teachers' Voices Across the Pipeline, Information Age Publishing (IAP), CR Rinke and L Mawhinney (ed), United States, pp. 69-90. ISBN 978-1-64113-660-0 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Gardner C; Williamson J

Conference Publication

(3 outputs)
2013Parks MC, Ngwenya E, Pietsch B, Gardner C, Williamson JC, 'Australian teachers, principals, and pre-service teachers - Expectations and realities: Australian reports in an international context', 2013 Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 27 April-1 May 2013, San Francisco, USA, pp. 1-41. ISSN 0163-9676 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Ngwenya E; Gardner C; Williamson JC


2011Hinds M, Williamson J, Gardner C, 'Teaching I can see myself not doing that forever': the beginning teacher experience - A study of the changing career expectations and required competencies of beginning teachers', Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) Conference 2011: Valuing Teacher Education: Policy, Perspectives and Partnerships, 3-6 July 2011, Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 1-16. (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Williamson J; Gardner C

2011Parks MC, Williamson J, Gardner C, ''Teaching...I can see myself not doing that forever': The beginning teacher experience - a study of the changing career expectations and required competencies of beginning teachers', Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, 3-6 July 2011, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, pp. 1-14. (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Williamson J; Gardner C



(1 outputs)
2018Parks MP, 'Pre-service teachers' evolving perceptions and responses to teaching: changing career to find meaning and purpose' (2018) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Capturing Professional Teaching Practice: Innovative use of digital portfolios to enhance graduate teacher performance and career progression (2021)$20,000
University of Tasmania ($20,000)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Pullen DL; Parks MC; Richey SM; Bown AN
What is knowable in science and elsewhere? A cross-disciplinary approach to distinguishing science from scientism. (2018)$10,455
The ongoing public debate around anthropogenic climate change makes one thing clear: scientists can have a hard time getting their message across to the public. Various explanations have been given for the lack of public acceptance of the reality of anthropogenic climate change-from individual biases to manipulation of the media by those with vested interests. In this project, we will explore the hypothesis that: scientists have trouble communicating their findings to the public due to many members of the public having overly simplistic understandings of the nature of natural science. In particular, for example, we are interested in the apparently paradoxical idea that such resistance by the public can be the result of Scientism-an excessive or dogmatic belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques. Those who view science this way may hold scientific discussion to an unrealistically high standard, and when a theory inevitably falls short of this standard (e.g. when there is seen to be disagreement among experts on climate change), the theory is dismissed as unsettled or a result of bad science. Alternatively, scientific claims may be dismissed as presumptuous or arrogant.In this project a multidisciplinary team will:1.Provide epistemic insights through the exploration of what is knowable in science from a cross-disciplinary perspective.2.Gather baseline data about:(i) the extent to which academic staff teachers, and cohorts of students from across disciplines, understand the nature and process of science;(ii) any correlations between overly simplistic understandings of science and dismissive attitudes towards particular theories, and/or the scientific enterprise in general.This is a pilot for a larger study which will gather a larger data set, and test the effectiveness of one or more interventions that will be designed to aid in the development of a more sophisticated view of science.
University of Tasmania ($10,455)
Grant - CALE Hothouse Alignment Scheme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Fraser SP; Chase JK; Coady DA; Corry RL; Parks MC; Konkes C; Wood G; Seen AJ
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) for Higher Education: How do we teach what we know? (2018)$9,947
The study investigates Pedagogical Content Knowledge ( PCK) for lecturers across a broad range of disciplines in higher education. It poses three questions:1. Which aspects of their own discipline knowledge do university educators consider crucial for effective teaching? Do lecturers consciously consider this question and, if so, what guides their choices?2. How do dominant beliefs about particular disciplines influence the PCK needed to teach a particular discipline?3. How might a shared understanding of PCK across our disciplines enhance teaching and learning in higher education?
University of Tasmania ($9,947)
Grant-CAL Hothouse Research Enhancement Program
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Oates GN; Beswick K; Chase JK; Fraser SP; Parks MC; Konkes C; Ross K

Research Supervision




PhDSupporting Australian Early Career Teachers Towards Success in Remote and Isolated Teaching Contexts2020
PhDSo What About STEM Skills in the Workforce: Perspectives from Industry2022