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Inspiring engagement of learners as curriculum agents; co-creating & personalising learning

Keynote 5 | Professor Donna Pendergast AM | Friday 2 August, 10:50am | Grand Ballroom


Student engagement is a tri- dimensional construct comprising behavioural, social and emotional, and cognitive dimensions; typically framed around teacher actions. In this presentation, an exploration of engagement where learners are curriculum agents, co-creating and personalising learning in collaboration with teachers, is explored using the same tri-dimensional construct, this time with a focus on the actions of students. Personal and social aspects of agency and self-regulation for co-creating curriculum are underpinned by constructivist learning theory, enabling learners to construct knowledge and meaning from their lived experiences rather than being passive recipients of the curriculum. This concept has been described as self-authorship. This requires a shift from predominantly transmission modes of learning delivered by teachers to students, to a co-created space where students take responsibility and learning is personalised. Letting go of the control of the curriculum and how it is delivered and assessed to enable co-creation by privileging student voice and curiosity is courageous, exciting and challenging.  It can also be highly rewarding, leading to powerful learning outcomes, including alignment with 21st century competencies, such as persistence, adaptability, collaboration, resilience, critical and creative thinking – learning that is potentially transformational and empowering, for both students and teachers.  This presentation explores these concepts along with some of the practical considerations and approaches to co-creating with learners as curriculum agents. 

Professor Donna Pendergast AM

Director Engagement, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Griffith University

Professor Donna Pendergast is Director, Engagement in the Arts, Education and Law Group and former Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Australia (2009-2023). She commenced her career as a secondary school teacher. Her expertise includes student engagement and teacher professional learning. Donna works at state and national levels shaping education policy including as: a member of the Board of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) (2018-); Chair of the Teacher Education Expert Standing Committee (TEESC) of AITSL (2019-); and in the former roles as Chair of the Queensland Educational Leadership Institute (QELi) (2018-2022); Chair of the Queensland Council of Deans of Education (QCDE)(2016-2022) and Vice President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE (2021-2022). Donna is a member of the National Council for Be You, the school based well-being arm of Beyond Blue (2021-). She is a passionate middle years advocate and is an ambassador of Adolescent Success. Donna has been acknowledged for her leadership impact and is the recipient of the Griffith University Vice Chancellor’s Research Supervision Award for Excellence (2016); Australian Council for Educational Leadership Miller-Grassie Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education (2018); Australian Council of Deans of Education Award for Outstanding Service to Education and the Council (2022). In 2024 she was invested as a Member of the Order of Australia, received n the first King Charles Australia Day Awards, for significant contributions to education.

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