Rebecca Saunders  from Murdoch University in Perth Australia.

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    Dr Rebecca Saunders
    BA (Hons), MA, Dip Ed, PhD.

    Scholarly Teaching Fellow

    About me

    I have worked as a teacher, manager, project manager and independent consultant since qualifying as a teacher over 20 years ago and taught in secondary schools, TAFE colleges and universities. I also spent four years working as a senior project manger in the Western Australian Department of Education and Training, where my portfolio included developing and implementing large scale state and national system change and professional development initiatives for teachers, in the areas of instruction, leadership, pedagogy and classroom management.

    I have many years of experience in designing, facilitating, evaluating and researching professional development programs and have been lucky enough to work with teachers in Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Australia and the UK. I particularly enjoy working with subject/content experts to help them to develop their teaching expertise and am the co-founder of the Tutor’s Development Network, a community of practice focused on building quality teaching and learning practices for Murdoch University tutors. I am an internationally qualified Tribes TLC ® District Trainer and currently working with several schools and colleges on long-term instructional change and leadership projects.

    I am particularly interested in the integration of innovative constructivist human capacity building models of change such as Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology and World Café with researched based change management and professional development practices, and I use these regularly in my work and research. I believe that empowering individuals to have input and ownership of their development and the organisational change process is the key to supporting to a more sustainable, cooperative, productive and happy working culture.

    I have worked at Murdoch University since 2008 and have written, developed and coordinated a wide range of units in undergraduate and postgraduate courses.  I am currently Academic Chair of the MEd Coursework program and the Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma in Tertiary, Adult and Workplace Education. My primary areas of teaching expertise and interest lie in instruction, pedagogy, adult education, assessment and educational psychology.

    Research areas

    My areas of expertise and research interest include:

    1. Instruction and instructional leadership
    2. Educational change and systemic educational change
    3. Teacher professional development
    4. Emotions and teaching and learning
    5. Vocational education and training (VET) & tertiary teaching

    I am a member of the American Education Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Groups in Educational Change, Educational Leadership and Cooperative Learning and I serve as a reviewer for:

    Current projects

    Mahat Meditation Research Project 

    This study is using a mixed methods approach to examine the impact of Mahat Meditation training programs on participants. We are trying to better understand if as a result of the meditation training and practice, participants have: (a) changed their perceptions of self; (b) changed their relationships with others; (c) changed their view of the world; and, (d) if there have been any changes to individual’s sense of wellbeing; and, (e) their perceived ability to regulate their emotions.

    Awards and grants


    • (2017) Postgraduate Research Award (PhD). Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER)
    • (2016) School of Education Prize for best PhD Dissertation in Two Years. Murdoch University
    • (2013) Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award American Educational Research Association (AERA) Educational Change Special Interest Group (SIG)
    • (2016) School of Education Teaching Excellence Award. Murdoch University
    • (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 & 2008) Nominated for the Vice Chancellors Awards for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Murdoch University


    Events and speaking engagements

    Saunders, R. (2010). Contemporary VET Learning: strategies for now and the future – the road less travelled a model for instructional professional development and change. Keynote presentation at VET Teaching Conference, 20-21 May, Queensland, Australia.


    Professional and community service

    • Academic Chair:  Masters of Education (MEd Coursework)
    • Academic Chair: Tertiary, Adult and Workplace Education
    • Transnational Education (TNE) Coordinator – School of Education
    • Co-ordinator: Tutor Development Network (TDN) – Murdoch University
    • School Board Member: Booragoon Primary School

    Doctoral and masters supervisions

    MEd Research

    • Alison Hilton (MEd Res). An Investigation of the Impact of LANTITE on Pre-service Teachers. (Principal supervisor)
    • Fiona Currey (MEd Res). Topic TBC


    • Andrea Dodo-Balu (EdD). The Challenges of Teaching and Learning at the Edge of Academe. (Co-supervisor)
    • Beril Erdogan (EdD). Educational Technology and Differentiated Instruction. (Co-supervisor)
    • Kerrie Goodsell (EdD). Perceptions of Upper High School-Aged Children about Literacy Support in Health Industry Classes in a Regional Technical and Further Educational (TAFE) Institution. (Co-supervisor)
    • Sharonne Telfer (EdD).  Changing Classroom Behaviour: A Mixed Method Study of a System to Support Teachers’ Implementation of Evidence Based Positive Classroom Behaviour Support Practices. (Co-supervisor)


    • Craig Butler (PhD). Investigating the Development of Vocational Education and Training Teacher Identity. (Co-supervisor)



    • Saunders, R. (2014). Effectiveness of research-based teacher professional development: A mixed method study of a four-year systemic change initiative. Australian Journal of Teacher Education.
    • Saunders, R. (2013). The role of teacher emotions in change: Experiences, patterns and implications for professional development.  Journal of Educational Change, 14 (3), 303-333.
    • Saunders, R. (2012). Assessment of professional development for teachers in the vocational education and training sector: An examination of the Concerns Based Adoption Model.  Australian Journal of Education, 56 (2), 182–204.

    Conference papers

    • Saunders, R. (2017). Instructional leadership and change: An investigation into the emotional experiences of teachers as agents of change. Paper presented at the Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER) Conference, 5 August, Perth, Western Australia.
    • Saunders, R. (2017). Using Instructional Leadership in the Adult Learner Classroom. Session presented at the Instructional Leadership International Conference, 13 & 14 October, Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland.
    • Saunders, R. (2013). Instructional Intelligence, Professional Development and VET Teachers: A Mixed‑Methods Study of Educational Change. Paper presented at Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) 16th Annual Conference, 3-5 April, Fremantle, Western Australia
    • Saunders, R. (2012). The Effectiveness of a Four Year Systemic Change Professional Development Initiative: A Mixed Method Investigation. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference, 13-17 April, Vancouver, Canada.
    • Saunders, R. (2009). Changing From the Inside Out: Inquiry into the Emotional Circles of Knowledge on an Educational Change Journey. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference, April 13-17, San Diego, USA.
    • Saunders, R. (2009). Examining the impact of a systemic change professional development initiative for vocational education and training (VET) trainers in Western Australia. Paper presented at Interdisciplinary Congress on Research in Vocational Education and Training, 25-27 March, Berne/Zollikofen, Switzerland.
    • Saunders, R. (2008). The Challenge of Change – examining the impact of a professional development initiative for TAFEWA lecturers. Paper presented at the Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER) Conference, 7 August, Perth, Western Australia.
    • Buckley, C. & Saunders, R. (2006). Changing world, changing mindsets, changing VET practice: Implications for VET policy and VET practitioners. Paper presented at Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) Conference, July 5-8, Fremantle, Western Australia.