Keeping Connected Project

Keeping Connected: Young people, identity & schooling

A research project investigating the social and educational experiences of young people whose schooling has been disrupted due to an ongoing health condition.

School connectedness and retention is an established key to both immediate and long-term health, academic and life outcomes. Young people with health conditions often miss schooling and get caught in a spiral of catching up and disconnection from important peer relationships and from school. Taking an approach that foregrounds education relationships (rather than focusing on chronic illness), this study investigates the experiences and perspectives of young people whose schooling is disrupted by illness or accident.

Bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of education and adolescent health researchers, together with industry partners from the Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute, the research will illuminate the educational and social experiences of young people with an ongoing health condition. Utilizing visual and narrative approaches within a qualitative and longitudinal framework, the experiences and perspectives of young people will be elicited through in depth interviews over a two-year period. Data from a large-scale survey will complement the qualitative approach while the perspectives of parents, education professionals and health professionals will further elucidate the experiences of these young people.

Through examining the professional and institutional processes that support or impede young people's connection to education, the research will build a new foundation for best practice for the professionals and institutions who work with young people in this situation. The research will produce guidelines for improving the services offered by health and schooling professionals, and provide better knowledge about the processes by which disconnection occurs.

The project team

The Keeping Connected project brings together leading education and adolescent health researchers, together with industry partners from the Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute, in an innovative multidisciplinary approach to researching the experiences of young people.

the project team photo

Education Researchers

Professor Lyn Yates photo

Professor Lyn Yates

Foundation Chair of Curriculum, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Melbourne

Lyn Yates is a past president of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE). She is interested in schooling, inequalities, identities and social change, and in how Australian education policy and practice relate to these. Her past research projects include a qualitative longitudinal study of young people at four schools, following them each year from age 12 to 18.


Dr Julianne Moss photo

Dr Julianne Moss

Senior Lecturer
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Julianne Moss's research interests centre on curriculum reform, curriculum theory, teacher professional learning, particularly in the context of issues of understanding student diversity, educational exclusion and social inclusion. She has contributed a range of academic and professional publications.

Julianne has a longstanding interest in the role of the visual arts in education, and over the past ten years has been researching and developing visual methods for researching education. She is currently publishing on issues of researching education, digitally. In 2008, the book Researching Education - visually, digitally, spatially, Sense Publishers, bold visions in Education, Research Series, Rotterdam, The Netherlands was launched.


Dr Julie White photo

Dr Julie Whites

Senior Lecturer
School of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, La Trobe University

Dr Julie White is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at La Trobe University, Melbourne, where she lectures in Research Methodology and Intercultural Communication. She coordinates the Masters level program and supervises a large number of doctoral Students. Her particular research interests are in narrative, identity, pedagogy, performativity and creativity. She is a researcher on two Australian Research Council funded projects and is a member of the editorial boards of Creative Approaches to Research, Qualitative Research Journal and Transnational Curriculum Inquiry.


Dr Trevor Hay photo

Dr Trevor Hay

Senior Lecturer
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Trevor Hay is a writer of both academic and literary works, who has published a number of books based on ethnographic, biographical and fictional approaches to the depiction of identity. For many years he has been writing and researching in areas to do with teachers and cultural identity. He has published a number of works in collaboration with Julie White, exploring the relationship between narrative theory and narrative method in educational research.


Dr Peter Ferguson photo

Dr Peter Ferguson

Senior Lecturer
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Coming originally from a teaching background, Peter Ferguson's academic research in recent years has focused on students' perceptions of schooling, particularly during the middle years; curriculum design and implementation; assessment; and, teacher accreditation and professional standards frameworks He teaches in the Primary Bachelor of Education, the graduate Diploma of Education and the Masters programs at the University of Melbourne. He also supervises twelve post graduate students researching in various areas of students' and teachers' perceptions of learning and teaching priorities and policies as well as curriculum design and implementation.


Dr Mary Dixon photo

Dr Mary Dixon

Senior Lecturer
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Mary's role is primarily that of research and she is currently lead Principal Investigator on 2 projects: 'Singaporean Teachers Espoused Beliefs' and 'Pilot study on the implementation of "Strategies for Effective and Engaged Development" (SEED) in early Primary years'.


Dr Pamela St Leger photo

Dr Mary Dixon

Associate Director
MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow

Pam St Leger has a background in teaching in secondary schools and tertiary courses. She works in the Centre for Program Evaluation where she teaches and researches evaluation approaches. As part of her work in the Centre, Pam also undertakes evaluation consultancies, particularly in program design and implementation. These have included evaluations of education and other social programs that involve young people.

Researchers from the Centre for Adolescent Health

Dr Lyndal Bond photo

Dr Lyndal Bond

Associate Director
MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow

Pam St Leger has a background in teaching in secondary schools and tertiary courses. She works in the Centre for Program Evaluation where she teaches and researches evaluation approaches. As part of her work in the Centre, Pam also undertakes evaluation consultancies, particularly in program design and implementation. These have included evaluations of education and other social programs that involve young people.


Dr Sarah Drew photo

Dr Sarah Drew

Senior Researcher
Adolescent Health and Social Environments Program
Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children's Hospital

Sarah Drew was awarded a PhD in public health in 2004. She has a background in sociology and youth studies and several years experience teaching undergraduate and post-graduate medicine and humanities students in relation to social aspects of health. In her position as postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Sarah has taken a leadership role in the qualitative components of a range of projects.

These projects investigate ways in which social environments impact on the health, wellbeing and identity development of young people, as well as related impacts on life chances and transitions to young adulthood. Sarah's work focuses particularly on the importance of school experiences for both 'healthy' students and students with chronic health conditions. She also works to establish and evaluate innovative qualitative research methods for use with young people.

Project Officer

Ms Hannah Walker photo

Ms Hannah Walker

Project Manager and Research Assistant
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Hannah Walker is the project manager on the Keeping Connected project. She has worked as a social researcher for many years and has experience in a number of disciplines including Sociology, Medical Ethics, and Public Health. She is working with the project team on the qualitative aspects of the project.

Industry Partner

The Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Education Institute is proud to be the Industry Partner of the Australian Research Council-funded Keeping Connected study. The RCH Education Institute’s dual areas of focus are to deliver evidence-based, best practice education support to children and young people associated with the RCH, Melbourne, reflecting the principles of patient/student and family-focused practice; and to take a leadership role in the generation, transfer and exchange of knowledge relevant to the education/health interface for children, young people and families, relevant professionals and the broader community. The RCH Education Institute is funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), with additional support from donors and supporters.


Dr Julie Green photo

Dr Julie Green

Deputy Director and Head of Research

Julie Green leads a research  focus at the health-and-education interface and what these dual issues mean for  the development and wellbeing of children and young people, families and  communities, and for professionals from both health and education fields. Her  research interests also include the development of supportive learning  environments for children and young people, health literacy, health communication  across the home-school-hospital-community spectrum, social inequalities and  social inclusion.
Julie also holds  appointments as Senior Fellow in the Department of Paediatrics and the  Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne and  Research Fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.


Glenda Strong photo

Glenda Strong

Executive Director

Glenda Strong believes in providing every child and young person with rich and  meaningful learning and development opportunities and supportive educational environments, so they can reach their full potential as lifelong learners. She has extensive experience working in the Victorian education sector, with almost 30 years in roles ranging from classroom teacher to executive roles in DEECD central office and as the Regional Director of Barwon South Western Region. During this time she was awarded a Public Service Medal for her contribution to education generally and the early years of schooling in particular. This experience coupled with her intense passion for children and young people ensures she successfully leads the RCH Education Institute in meeting the education needs of children and young people, and their families. Her leadership in this field ensures RCH Education Institute research and practice contributes to the combined intelligence of the education, health and welfare sectors and therefore the wellbeing of Australia’s children and young people.

Publications & Conference Presentations

Project reports

Keepinßdentity, social connection and education for young people living with chronic illness (2010)

This report brings together the Keeping Connected project findings and discusses key themes and issues for attention. The report highlights the clear and pressing need for a system of advocacy on the part of the young people and families within both health and educations systems - and between schools and hospitals.

Keeping Connected: Identity, social connection and education for young people living with chronic illness [PDF 1.8mb]

Keeping Connected: Young people's stories of living and learning with an ongoing health condition (2009)

This report was written in December 2009 for the 31 young  people who participated in the longitudinal case study component of the Keeping  Connected project. Their stories and photos form the central focus of the report.

Keeping Connected: Young people's stories of living and learning with an ongoing health condition

This is a project report written for the 31 young people who participated in the longitudinal case study component of the Keeping Connected  project. The report is the result of three years of regular interactions with the young people who were aged 10-18 years at the start of the research and  forms the core part of the project.

The report brings together their stories and photos about:

  • who they are
  • how they manage their lives with an ongoing health condition
  • their educational lives
  • and their hopes and aspirations for the future

Journal Articles

Yates, L. (2010) The story they want to tell, and the visual story as evidence: young people, research authority and research purposes in the education and health domains. Special issue: Visual Research Methods and Issues of Voice. Visual Studies (in press)

Guillemin,  M. & Drew, S. (2010) Questions of process in participant-generated visual methodologies. Visual Studies. (in press)

Ethnography versus Case Study, Julie White, Sarah Drew and Trevor Hay (2009), Qualitative Research Journal, Vol 9, No 1, pp 18-27

Non-reffered Articles

Keeping Connected: Young people living and learning with ongoing health conditions, Hannah Walker, Curriculum Leadership, Vol. 8, Issue 14, 21 May 2010. This article looks at the early findings from the research and highlights some key messages for schools in supporting young people with ongoing health conditions.

"Down but not out", Darragh O Keeffe, Education Review, pp. 8-9, February 2010

Keeping Connected: Young people, identity and schooling, Katie Wright & Margaret Robertson, Curriculum Leadership, Vol. 5, Issue 22, 13 July 2007

Media Reports

"Exposing the Damage", Genevieve Costigan, The Voice, Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 7, March 2009

New School of Thought on Ill Kids, Margaret Cook, The Age, 19 March 2007

Study into how adolescent illness disrupts schooling, UniNews, Vol. 16, No. 3, 5-19 March 2007

Publications

Selected Conference Presentations 2007-2010

Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2009

Canberra, 29 November - 3 December 2009

The Keeping Connected project team presented a symposium at the AARE International Research Conference at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.

The symposium title was: Adolescents living and learning with chronic illness: Resilience, goals and life trajectories.

View the abstracts of the papers presented as part of the symposium.

Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2008

Brisbane, 30 November - 4 December 2008

The Keeping Connected project team presented a symposium at the AARE International Research Conference at the Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus. The conference theme was 'Changing Climates: Education for Sustainable Futures'. This current social concern applies equally well to education and the various policy, funding, institutional and social domains that shape the work of teachers and educational researchers.

Below are the papers presented as part of the Symposium.
Research Design and the Keeping Connected Project [presentation in pdf, 372Kb], Lyn Yates.

Negotiating partnerships to build strategy for supporting young people with chronic illness in schooling [presentation in pdf, 1.9Mb], Tony Potas, Pam St Leger, Julie Green

Panel on "Schooling, identity and social connectivity: Sustainable futures for young people with chronic health conditions" [pdf, 48Kb], Pam St Ledger.

Schooling, identity and social connectivity [pdf, 124Kb], Julianne Moss.

American Education Research Association Conference 2007

'Connectedness' and the hospital/schooling interface: evidentiary and ethical issues in a collaborative research project using visual and narrative methods [pdf, 72Kb], Lyn Yates, Panel on "Methodological issues in study of urban youth", American Education Research Association Conference, Chicago, April 2007

Events

Young People Living and Learning with Ongoing Health Conditions

29th & 30th April 2010
Conference at Graduate House, University of Melbourne

This two day conference explored the findings of the Keeping Connected  project, along with some of the latest research and practice at the  education-health interface from our research partners at the Royal Children's  Hospital Education Institute. It brought together health and education professionals from Universities, schools, government departments and community  organisations to discuss schooling, identity and social connectivity for young people with chronic health conditions.
This conference was organised by the RCH Education Institute, with support from the R.E. Ross Trust.

Colloquium with Professor Pat Thomson

11th & 12th August 2009

This two-day colloquium was facilitated by Professor Pat Thomson, the Director of Research in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. The project findings were explored by the whole project team, with valuable input from Professor Thomson. The group pulled together narrative and visual material for deeper scrutiny as a type of 'cross-case' examination of the case-study longitudinal research and to elicit major themes from the data.These themes are  being explored further and compared with perspectives voiced by focus groups and interviews with health professionals and education staff.

Professor Thomson is an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia, a Visiting Professor at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia and Director of the Centre for Research in Equity and Diversity in Education (CREDE). She was awarded a Public Service Medal in 1991, a Fulbright Scholarship in 1992, the Garth Boomer Curriculum prize from the Australian Curriculum Studies Association in 1995, and the Australian Association for Research in Education Outstanding Thesis award in 2000.

Conference

21st July 2008
Royal Children's Hospital

The conference was designed to provide professional development for teachers and other education and health professionals working with young people who have  experienced disruption to their schooling following illness or accident. It profiled research in progress for the Australian Research Council (ARC) "Keeping Connected" project. The conference provided an opportunity to engage with other professionals working with students in similar situations and to learn more about the support provided to students by the RCH Education Institute.

For more information about this presentation please contact Dr Peter Ferguson via email: p.ferguson@unimelb.edu.au or phone (03) 8344 4235.

Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute Scholarship

24th May 2007

At the recent Education Faculty awards night, Brenda Tait was announced as the recipient of the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) Education Institute  scholarship. Brenda has a BA (Hons) from La Trobe University majoring in Sociology. Her Honours research examined constructions of identity for young people in the absence of traditional pathways for work. She has worked in the Intellectual Disabixlity field, primarily supporting school aged children.

Over the last five years she has been involved the human rights organization, Amnesty International, in a variety of voluntary and unpaid roles. Brenda is the parent of two adult sons. She strongly believes that the ethnographic study of the RCH Education Institute is an important opportunity to document and reflect upon the history, culture and workings of a unique institution within the field of education and health.