Doctoral scholarship for Whakatane High School guidance counsellor

13 February 2014

Judith Graham

Doctoral scholarship: Whakatane High School guidance counsellor Judith Graham Graham is the recipient of a scholarship awarded by the Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research

How children learn outside formal lessons is being studied by Whakatane High School guidance counsellor Judith Graham. Ms Graham is the recipient of a doctoral scholarship awarded by the Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research at the University of Waikato.

Her scholarship assists with living expenses and course fees, and she has chosen to study part-time, continuing work at the school where students and teachers will be involved in her research.

Fostering student development

“I want to find out how the key competencies, as set out in the New Zealand curriculum are fostered, evidenced and traced,” says Ms Graham. “And in particular I want to see how secondary school teachers can foster student development of key competencies in incidental or unplanned moments, in the playground for instance and during informal interactions with each other, teachers and other school staff.”

The five key competencies are thinking; using language, symbols, and text; managing self; relating to others; and participating and contributing. “I want to find ways to help our understanding of student behaviours, which may then influence our interactions with them,” says Ms Graham.

She says being based in the school will be ideal. “It will enable staff to explore the opportunities for incidental learning, and address and test issues and situations in a practical way. They’ll be able to practise what they’ve learned and talk about what they have noticed.”

Teachers and counsellors

Ms Graham says the idea for her doctorate came from a government Teaching Learning and Research Initiative she was involved with that looked at how counsellors use key competencies in the work they do. “And I think there can be a melding of the skills of teachers and counsellors, so that when staff are interacting with young people, they will have a variety of techniques to call on.”

Ms Graham’s doctoral scholarship is one of six offered by the University of Waikato’s research institutes. They have been awarded for the first time this year in areas of education, environmental science, demography and economic analysis, business and leadership, professional learning and development, and Māori and indigenous development. Ms Graham began her study this year.

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