Professor Claire J. McLachlan

Claire McLachlan

Honorary Professor, Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research


Assessment and Evaluation in Education; Children; Early Childhood Learning; Early Childhood/Early Years Education; Education; Literacy Learning; Pedagogy; Teacher Education; Teacher Professional Learning/Development; Teaching and Learning

Qualifications: B.A., M.A. (Hons, 1st class), Ph.D

Papers Taught

About Claire

Professor Claire McLachlan is an Honorary Professor in the Wilf Malcolm Insitute for Educational Research in the Faculty of Education. She is currently Dean, School of Education at Federation University in Victoria, Australia. She was previously Head of School, Te Hononga School of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education and was formerly Professor of Childhood Education at Massey University. Claire has a B.A. in English and Education, MA (Hons, 1st class) and PhD in Education from Massey. She has taught education at Massey University, University of Auckland, AUT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Research Supervised

Current supervisions:

  • 1st supervisor, 2018 to present, Patricia Ong, Ph.D candidate, University of Waikato.
  • 1st supervisor, 2017 to present, Sela Teisana, Ph.D candidate, University of Waikato (with Lynne Parmenter and Timote Vaioleti).
  • 1st supervisor, 2016 to present, Joanne Hayes, Ph.D candidate, University of Waikato (with Sally Peters).

Completed doctoral supervision

  • Lisa Oldridge, Ed.D, Massey (with Mark Brown).  Thesis title: “Digital foundations: a study of perceptions and practices surrounding the use of ICT in ECE centres”. 2nd supervisor, 2006-2010.
  • Sue Stover, Ph.D, AUT University (with Andy Begg, AUT). Thesis title: “Play's progress? Locating play in the educationalisation of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand”. 2nd supervisor 2007- 2011.
  • Nicola Chisnall, Ph.D, AUT (with Nesta Devine, AUT).  Thesis title: “Montessori education in Aotearoa New Zealand: a framework for peace and social justice”. 2nd supervisor, 2010 -2012.
  • Karyn Aspden, Ph.D, Massey (with Kerry Bethell). Thesis title: “Illuminating the assessment of practicum in New Zealand early childhood initial teacher education”. 1st supervisor, 2009 - 2014.
  • Te Makao Bowkett, Ed.D.   Thesis title: “Towards collaborative pathways of leadership in education for Māori”.  1st supervisor January 2015 to 2016. Second supervisor 2nd supervisor, 2011-2014, with Marian Court and Wally Penetito.
  • Raewyne Bary, Ed.D, Massey.  Thesis title: “Whāriki for life: Weaving relationships with infants and toddlers in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood settings.” 1st supervisor (2012-2015) and 2nd supervisor (2016-2017).
  • Advisor, Timu Niwa, 2015, Ed.D candidate, Massey University.
  • Advisor, Samantha Heath, 2015, Ed.D candidate, Massey University.
  • Penny Smith, Ph.D, Massey. Thesis title: "Early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practices related to peer learning: a mixed methods study". 1st supervisor 2012-2015, 2nd supervisor 2016-2018 with Alison Arrow.
  • Chandan Boodhoo, Ph.D, Waikato. 1st supervisor, 2015 to 2018, with Prof John Williams.
  • Monica Cameron, Ed.D, Massey. Second supervisor 2016 to 2081. 1st supervisor 2014-2015, with Peter Rawlins & Tara McLaughlin.

Research Interests

Claire’s primary research interests are in early literacy, physical activity, early childhood curriculum, assessment and teachers’ beliefs about practice.

Claire’s research has predominantly been on literacy in the early childhood setting using mixed methods research, exploring how teachers can be supported to promote literacy understandings in young children, building on the platform of research started with her PhD, which examined teachers’ and parents’ literacy beliefs and practices with kindergarten children. The main research problem has focused on the role of teachers in promoting children’s literacy in the early childhood curriculum. An in-depth understanding of teachers’ beliefs and practices concerning literacy offers insights into how to strengthen early childhood teaching and improve outcomes for children and identifies implications for policy and professional learning.

Claire’s research has drawn the attention of UNESCO, the NZ Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office and the Education Council of NZ, who have sought advice and guidance on literacy in the early childhood curriculum. Claire was also a member of the writing team for the update of Te Whariki in 2016-2017. She has a strong and growing international reputation as an early literacy researcher.

Claire is experienced in a range of research methods, but is particulary interested in the use of mixed methods research designs for answering complex educational questions. She has successfully supervised more than 50 Masters and Ph.D/Ed.D students.

Recent Publications

  • Tyler-Merrick, G., Phillips, J., McLachlan, C., McLaughlin, T., Aspden, K., & Cherington, S. (2018). Early childhood education and care in Aotearoa/New Zealand: History and features. In S. Garvis, S. Phillipson, & H. Harju-Luukkainen (Eds.), International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care Early Childhood Education in the 21st Century (Vol. 1, pp. 127-142). Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203730553

  • McLachlan, C., Fleer, M., & Edwards, S. (2018). Early childhood curriculum: Planning, assessment and implementation (Third ed.). Cambridge University Press.

  • Rona, S., & McLachlan, C. (2018). Maori children’s biliteracy experiences moving from a Kohanga Reo setting to a Kura Kaupapa Maori, bilingual, and mainstream education setting: An exploratory study. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 53(1), 65-82. doi:10.1007/s40841-018-0107-6

  • McLachlan, C. (2018). Te Whariki revisited: How approaches to assessment can make valued learning visible. He Kupu The Word, 5, 45-56. Retrieved from Open Access version:

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