Babbling Beasts and Where to Find Them

Melanie Hobbs
Wednesday 19 July 2017, 4.00pm – 6.00pm
Venue: Curtin University, Room: 501.201:CT
Afternoon Tea from 4.00pm-4.30pm
Presentation from 4.30pm-5.30pm with the remaining time for Question & Answer/Feedback

“I heard him say he liked to put animals in his stories because it made the humans look worse.”
Ceridwen Dovey, Only the Animals.

We tend to think of stories of talking animals as belonging to the realm of children’s literature, however several contemporary writers of literature are experimenting with the animal voice for a variety of purposes; moral, satirical and subversive. By familiarising ourselves with these writers, we are better able to engage students in the analysis and creation of imaginative texts. By reading stories about talking animals and experimenting with animal narrators in their writing, students gain a keen awareness of point of view, voice and perspective; concepts which feature in the upper school English courses. The evolution of the talking animal story also makes for an interesting lesson on the relationship between context and meaning. In this presentation, Melanie will provide an overview of the history of the talking animal story, examples of texts with anthropomorphic narrators, details about her research on the link between canine narrators and themes of death in contemporary writing, as well as practical strategies and resources to use with English classes from Year 7 to 12 (with special emphasis on the Year 11 and 12 ATAR English course).

Melanie Hobbs is a teacher of English who has worked in public schools in the country and metropolitan area for over eight years. She recently completed a Master of Curriculum Studies degree at the University of Western Australia. Melanie currently teaches English at Darling Range Sports College and lives in the Perth Hills area with her husband and their cheeky dog.

Challenges and opportunities in mixed-methods child-centred research: reflections from reading research with children and adolescents

Dr Margaret Merga
Wednesday 9th August, 4.00pm – 6.00pm
Venue: Murdoch University, ECL Post-grad Suite, Room 460.2.031
Afternoon Tea from 4.00pm-4.30pm
Presentation from 4.30pm-6.00pm with the remaining time for Question & Answer/Feedback

What is the point of using mixed methods? What are the risks and benefits of giving children a voice in your research? How can you avoid satisficing in interviews with children? Why is piloting so important? How can we get mixed-methods research past the ire of peer- reviewers?

Margaret will address this diverse range of questions and more in relation to her recent research studies examining current attitudes toward and influences on recreational reading. She will draw on her direct experiences conducting relatively large-scale research with minors that value children’s experiences and opinions, positioning children as knowledgeable social agents, rather than objects to be observed. Margaret will leave time for questioning and discussion, so come prepared to exchange ideas!

Dr Margaret Kristen Merga has conducted a number of research studies examining reading as a social practice across the lifespan. She has published papers reporting on the findings from these mixed-methods studies across a range of international journals and she is strongly committed to research translation so that educators can use her findings as soon as practicable.

These seminars are highly suited to teachers, post-graduate students interested in action research and schools with active Professional Learning Communities.

RSVP Michelle Murphy for catering purposes.

These seminars are generously sponsored by the Teachers Mutual Bank.

Previous Seminars


Where to Now in Your Action Research in Education Project?
Presented by Dr Pauline Roberts

Drafting Your Action Research in Education Project: Key Items for Consideration
Presented by Dr Gregory Hine


Complexity thinking and education research
Presented by Professor Brent Davis

Power and participatory methodologies in school-based intervention research
Presented by Professor Liesel Ebersohn

Multimodal Approaches to Video Analysis
Presented by Associate Professor Kay O’Halloran and Dr Sabine Tan


One hundred tonne plan: Sustainability cross curriculum priority action
Presented by Dr. Elaine Lewis

Visualising with 360 degree video: Capitalising on embodied perspectives in teacher education
Presented by Dr. Khadeeja Ibrahim-­Didi & Dr Matt Byrne


Teachers scaffold to create opportunities for student engagement and learning – do they and how can we know?
Presented by Professor Marja Vauras

Is NAPLAN a high-stakes test? And why does it matter?
Presented by Dr Greg Thompson

An examination of Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow in Western Australian school leaders’ work and learning
Presented by Dr Neil MacNeill

Resisting a ‘back to basics’ agenda: Literacy education and online discussion
Presented by Dr Wendy Cumming-Potvin (with co-author Dr Kathy Sanford)


Design-based research: Research that makes a difference in education
Presented by Professor Jan Herrington

It’s not just rock ‘n’ roll: Contemporary youth media, music, and critical pedagogy
Presented by Professor Shirley Steinberg, University of Calgary

Critical pedagogy and qualitative research: A conversation with Shirley Steinberg
Presented by Professor Shirley Steinberg, University of Calgary

Pathways into university for international students: Which ways for success?
Presented by Associate Professor Rhonda Oliver

Keeping cool: What makes a resilient teacher?
Presented by Dr Susan Beltman and Dr Caroline Mansfield


Working to be different: Change for social inclusion
Presented by Professor Brenda Cherednichenko

Towards academic excellence: A qualitative study of students, parents and teachers
Presented by Dr Lesley Williams

Literature in Australian schools, 1945-2005: A first look at the data
Presented by Associate Professor Tim Dolin and Dr John Yiannakis

Prior to 2011