Teaching for Equity: How do we do it?

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Auckland - Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau
Cross sector
Project start date: 
January 2016
Project end date: 
March 2018
Principal investigator(s): 
Assoc. Professor. Lexie Grudnoff
Research team members: 
Dr Fiona Ell, Assoc. Professor Mavis Haigh, Assoc. Professor Mary Hill, Dr Kimai Tocker
Research partners: 
The partners in this project are teachers from two Auckland primary schools – Fairburn Road and New Lynn Primary – and teacher educators from the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland

Project description

This project focuses on teaching for equity. Using Knowledge Building software, a thirteen-member collaborative inquiry community of university-based teacher educators and primary teachers will develop rich explanations of teaching for equity and then conduct inquiries to determine how this enhanced knowledge may improve learning outcomes for priority learners.


The research question driving this project is: how and to what extent can the use of a web-based knowledge building tool by a cross-sector collaborative inquiry community build, utilise, and share knowledge of practice for the successful teaching of learners from priority student groups? Within the framework of the research question the proposed project has three main aims:
1. Generate and share knowledge about what it means to teach for equity. Specifically, we want to investigate the effects of a collaborative inquiry community facilitated by Knowledge Forum (Scardamalia, 2002) on teacher and teacher educator development of knowledge about practice that supports equitable outcomes for priority learners. (Please see below reasons for selecting Knowledge Forum)
2. Determine how, and to what extent, that knowledge can be used to transform practice to improve learner outcomes.
3. To evaluate the utility of a web-based knowledge building tool that is integral to the project as a professional learning tool, both face-to-face and at a distance.

Why is this research important?

This project is strategically important because it will build shared knowledge for practice about powerful ways of reducing current disparities in educational outcomes for priority learner groups, in particular those who are from low socio-economic communities, many of which are Māori and Pasfika learners. It is also important as it will generate new methodological knowledge about how collaborative inquiry communities may use
knowledge building web-based platform to enhance and refine knowledge of significance to their community.
What we plan to do
The project has two phases. Phase 1 involves knowledge building about facets of practice for equity. Phase 2 comprises equity-focused inquiry into the practice of participant teachers and teacher educators.


In Phase 1 we will capture: (i) Knowledge of teaching for equity built through collaboratively using the online knowledge building software, and (ii) mind-map and interaction data captured by the software.
In Phase 2 we will capture: (i) records of triadic interactions, (ii) inquiry journal entries (iii) interview data from two individual interviews spaced across the phase and (iv) transcripts of collaborative inquiry team meetings.


Data from Phase 1 will be analysed through: (i) thematic analysis and (ii) the use of a software application KBDeX to analyse the mind-map and interaction patterns.
Data from Phase 2 will be analysed as follows: Thematic analysis for data from (i), (ii) and (iii). Discourse analysis for data from (iv).

Contact details

Associate Professor Lexie Grudnoff
School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice
Faculty of Education and Social work
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142