Dr Viv Aitken

Viv Aitken

Research Associate

Qualifications: Graduate Diploma of Teaching (University of Waikato), Doctor of Philosophy (University of Waikato), Master of Philosophy (University of Wales), Bachelor of Arts (University of Wales)

About Viv

Kia ora, I am delighted to continue as a Research Associate with the University of Waikato, having worked as a lecturer and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education from 2003-2013 and in the Theatre Studies department from 1995-2003.

From 2014-6 I was Associate Professor and Programme Co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT).

I continue to teach, supervise and research in association with Waikato and other academic institutions in NZ and overseas.

I also work as a Ministry-accredited facilitator and senior consultant with the Institute of Professional Learning (IPL) offering tailored professional development in schools around Aotearoa. My areas of expertise are curriculum integration, student agency, The Arts and inquiry learning. For more information click here.

A key focus for my research and practice is the teaching approach known as 'Mantle of the Expert' where learning takes place across the curriculum through a combination of inquiry, drama and powerful positioning. Increasing numbers of teachers and schools around NZ are adopting this approach and it is my privilege to support them in this mahi. In past years I have taught a summer school Masters paper in Mantle of the Expert. Click here for information.  I also host a website for teachers click here.

Key research projects to date include:

  • 2017 Research support and professional development for Otaika Valley School, Whangarei on TLIF project exploring Mantle of the Expert and writing
  • 2015 Co-convenor of Te Aho Tapu - the precious threads. National symposium on Mantle of the Expert, October, Hamilton
  • 2015 Lead researcher on BTP programme-related research project, EIT
  • 2013 Convenor of Te Kore - Drama New Zealand national conference, Hamilton New Zealand
  • 2013 Member of CUSP (Collaborative University-School Partnerships Research) TLRI-funded research project at Waikato University
  • 2013 co-author of Connecting Curriculum: Linking Learning - a book on Arts Based curriculum integration
  • 2009-10 member of the research team for Connecting Curriculum, Connecting Learning  TLRI-funded research into Arts-based Curriculum integration
  • 2009 Convenor of Weaving our Stories: Mantle of the Expert International Conference at University of Waikato
  • 2008-9 advisor to the research team on Art of the Matter - an investigation of teaching and learning in the Arts in New Zealand
  • 2009 Convenor of Weaving our Stories: Mantle of the Expert International Conference at University of Waikato
  • 2006 - 2010 facilitator for a weekly drama group in association with IDEA (IHC) in Hamilton. Performances included The Beast of Pak n Stack (2007)  A Wild West Tale (2008) and Circus Galore (2009) A TVNZ feature on the work of the group can be viewed here.

Papers Taught

Research Interests

My research to date has been in the areas of: Mentoring, School-University partnerships, Mantle of the Expert / Dramatic inquiry, Audience Response and Behaviour, Drama in Education, Process drama particularly Teacher-in-Role, Drama in inclusive settings, Arts in education, Relational Pedagogy and Applied Theatre

Recent Publications

  • Cahill, H., Hatton, C., & Aitken, V. (2018). Thinking through theory: bridging divides between theory and practice. In 9th International Drama In Education Research Institute: Tyranny of Distance. Conference held at University of Auckland's Epsom Campus, Auckland, New Zealand.

  • Aitken, V., Corkery, F., & Jones, K. (2017). Positions, storylines and speech acts: How five mentor teachers from EIT's Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) conceptualise their role in the partnership. Waikato Journal of Education, 22(3). doi:10.15663/wje.v22i3.364

  • Aitken, V. (2017). “It’s happening to us – now!” Dramatically enhancing literacy yrs 1-8. In Canterbury Literacy Association, Waitākiri Primary School, Burwood, Christchurch, New Zealand.

  • Aitken, V. (2017). The ‘mantle underground’: A case study in informal school-university partnership. In R. McNae, & B. Cowie (Eds.), Realising Innovative Partnerships in Educational Research (pp. 169-187). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Find more research publications by Viv Aitken


Adult Education; Curriculum; Drama; Early Childhood/Early Years Education; Education; Education Research; Learning; Learning and Education; Learning Centered Leadership; Professional Learning; Teacher Education; Teacher Professional Learning/Development; Teaching; Teaching and Learning; Theatre