About the project

About the project

Background and summary

English education is mandated in schooling for all Australian children and young people. While the value of English is agreed, the subject content, the knowledge English teachers should have, and the pedagogical approaches used are highly contested.

This project explores the literary education of Early Career English Teachers (ECETs) in order to understand the role that literary knowledge plays in their teaching.

The project aims to understand how ECETs' literary knowledge develops and changes across the three stages of undergraduate study of English, pre-service education, and early career English teaching.

The key research questions ask:

  1. What role does literary knowledge have within secondary English curriculum and pedagogy?
  2. How do institutional and social contexts, such as tertiary study and teaching experience, shape ECETs’ literary knowledge?

Significantly, this project brings together the disciplines of education and literary studies to explore these key research questions and consequently, this project will impact on understandings of discipline and subject, and have pragmatic outcomes for policy development and for tertiary undergraduate and pre-service curricula.

Project details

This project aims to produce a new empirical study of the role of literary knowledge in the making of English teachers, focusing specifically on understanding the experiences and approaches of Early Career English Teachers (ECETs) as they make the transition, via teacher education programs, from university student to school teacher.

It will explore:

  • key institutional settings
  • practices and policies in an investigation of ECETs’ experiences of literary education at tertiary level
  • the knowledge and values they bring to their work as English teachers
  • the professional learning they undergo in their first years of teaching.

The project is funded for three years by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP160101084).

Using a nation-wide survey, documentary analysis, symposia and a longitudinal study of ECETs in different states over their first three years of teaching, the project will provide foundational evidence and insights for a more coherent and productive approach to the diverse field of Literary Studies, and will produce knowledge that is important to curriculum policy and to the education of English teachers.

More broadly, this project is framed within, and will make a new contribution to:

  • understanding Literary Studies as a field
  • debates over disciplinarity and knowledge
  • research on literary studies in the context of schooling
  • current curriculum studies debates about schooling in the 21st century.

This project proposes a multi-faceted but integrated investigation of literary knowledge that will enable a better understanding of the meanings, practices, relationships and influences currently at work in the making of English teachers nationally and internationally. It aims to produce a new knowledge base for future discussions and decisions about what is important in literary studies in the school curriculum, within tertiary disciplinary contexts and in teacher education.


University of Western Australlia
Deakin University
Western Sydney University
Australian Research Council