The University of Newcastle, Australia

ECR Grants Announced

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Successful applicants of the Early Career Researcher (ECR) Development Fund have been announced.

Icon of a loudspeaker announcement

Congratulations to the following staff who are recipients of this inaugural grant scheme offered by the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE):

CEEHE received a dozen highly competitive applications.

The purpose of the CEEHE Early Career Researcher Development Funding is to support the development of interdisciplinary research in the field of equity in higher education, amongst early career researchers at the University of Newcastle.

This funding is designed to support early career researchers to carry out preparatory work to strengthen their capacity to apply for external competitive funding within a 12 month period. Outcomes from these projects will be shared in early 2017.

A short summary of each project is outlined below.


The ties that bind: Exploring the developing psychological contracts of low SES students in their social and place contexts
Dr Sarah Bankins

This project will focus on exploring how students from low SES backgrounds, particularly those from rural and remote areas within the Faculty of Business and Law, develop their reciprocal exchange relationships with the University (i.e. what they expect to give to and receive from the institution, termed the ‘psychological contract’) and the role of both social context (interactions with teaching staff, peers, administrators) and environmental context (physical campus and learning environments) in shaping the content and change in this exchange.

When comparing this process to other students a key outcome is understanding how, for low SES students, ‘contracting’ results in feelings of belonging to the University and its impact on their experience and retention.


Diversity in the Profession: An Investigation into factors that impact upon, and potential strategies related to changing the current lack of diversity in the speech pathology profession
Dr Nicole Byrne

Despite the numerous work areas that are included in the speech pathology scope of practice, there is poor understanding in the general public of the breadth of clinical services provided by a speech pathologist.

The speech pathology profession has been described as a “pink collar” profession, the workforce demographics largely consists of females, born in Australia. The speech pathology workforce lacks diversity (Byrne, 2015a). There are a few males that enter into speech pathology, few people from non- English-speaking backgrounds and even less people who identify as Aboriginal. Only 0.2% of the speech pathology workforce identify as Aboriginal (Health Workforce Australia, 2014).

This project will have positive benefits to other health professionals, in particular similar allied health professions which lack professional diversity, for example, occupational therapy.


Developing robust action-guiding theory: Helping teachers use professional ethics and the moral imagination to decide how best to action equity
Dr Daniella Forster

This project asks three types of questions: descriptive, interpretative and normative.

  1. How do educators define social justice and recognise dilemmas of equity in schooling?
  2. What roles should teachers’ sociocultural enactments, reconstructions and replications of professional ethics take in the moral culture of schools and how do they contribute to the discourses of equity and the ‘good’ teacher?
  3. What might useful ‘action-guiding’ theory look like, that would actually help teachers making normative judgements about equity in the complex environment of school?

The main aim of this work is to develop a robust methodological stance to investigate a project that brings philosophy into dialogue with empirical educational research. To date, no Australian research like this has been undertaken specifically in the compelling dilemmatic spaces of teacher professional ethics.


Domestic Violence and Higher Education Aspirations and Experience: Developing an Agenda for Institutional Recognition and Support
Dr Georgina Ramsay

Domestic violence in Australia is prevalent, and overwhelmingly committed by men against women (Goh and Moffat 2013). Numerous large-scale quantitative research projects point to the pervasiveness of domestic in Australia (ABS 2016; Lucke et al 2010; Mazza, Dennerstein, Garamszegi and Dudley 2001), yet qualitative research exploring how women re-constitute their lives following such experiences remains underexplored in relation to higer education (HE) in Australian contexts.

This project aims to contribute to an emerging scholarly, public, and political agenda on domestic violence by exploring how access to and participation in HE study in Australia for students who have experienced violence is presently approached in scholarly research, and included (or excluded) in HE and social welfare institution policies, procedures, and practices.


An investigation of the role of higher education in enabling greater representation of Indigenous Australians in the management of professional sport.
Dr Paul Stolk

This project is an initial step that aims to evaluate how access to, and participation in, higher education can increase the presence of Indigenous Australians in the management of both professional and elite amateur sport.

This research is significant because there is a dearth of Indigenous Australians filling either management roles or positions of authority in elite Australian sport, and there is no body of research analysing how higher education might assist elite Indigenous athletes to successfully career transition from professional sport to the contemporary employment marketplace.


Related news