Overseas Institutional Visit to Australian Catholic University and Queensland University of Technology Report

Fiona ScottFiona Scott (Education Pathway, University of Sheffield) undertook an Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV) to Australian Catholic University (ACU), Melbourne and Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane. Fiona reported to the WRDTC that the OIV proved valuable far beyond what she had anticipated:

My trip to Australia came at exactly the right time in my PhD journey. I had been extremely busy with data collection and teaching, right up until the day before I left the UK. The OIV gave me three months to stand back and consider my thesis from new perspectives and within a number of incredibly rich, supportive environments.

My doctoral research investigates preschool children’s engagement with television and related media and is a collaboration with my industry partner, CBeebies. My trip allowed me to spend time with both academic and industry figures in my field, building on existing research networks across Australia and disseminating early research findings from my own study.

scott1I spent five weeks as a visiting scholar with the Early Childhood Futures Research programme at ACU, Melbourne with my wonderfully supportive host, Associate Professor, Suzy Edwards. During this time, I met regularly with Suzy and final year PhD student, Jo Bird, as well as a number of other academics. The time I spent with Suzy was incredibly useful, allowing me to see more clearly the places where my own research collides with and diverges from traditional socio-cultural approaches. As a result of our many conversations, Jo and I are currently working on a joint publication focusing on our practical experiences as ethnographers in home (Fiona) and kindergarten (Jo) settings.

Some other highlights of this period included meeting with the CEO and Head of Development and Production at the Australia Children’s Television Foundation and presenting research at Improving Children’s Lives: Translating Research for Practice, Policy and Community Conference, the inaugural conference of the new Early Start Centre at the University of Wollongong, Australia (you can read more about the conference in my blogpost). After leaving Melbourne, I spent a week in Sydney, during which time I met for a wonderfully inviting meeting with the Controller of Children’s Television and other members of the team at ABC Kids.

scott2Next, I spent five weeks weeks as a visiting scholar in the School of Early Childhood at QUT, Brisbane with Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow, Professor Susan Danby. During this time I met regularly with Susan, as well as others including Professor Barbara Comber and Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni. My extremely productive time with Susan challenged and extended some of my methodological thinking, and Susan also helped me to narrow the focus of my thesis. Barbara Comber and Michael Dezuanni both spared time for incredibly constuctive discussions about social class. Towards the end of my time in Brisbane, I was also fortunate enough to take part in a workshop delivered by internationally renowned authority on qualitative methodologies, Professor David Silverman.

My trip concluded with a journey across the continent to Western Australia for the five-day Australian Association of Research in Education conference in Fremantle. During this time, I presented both individually and as part of a symposium with Susan Danby, Christina Davidson and Gillian Busch. The conference was an incredible end to the trip, allowing me to catch up with academics from my trip and past conferences (as well as meeting some for the first time!)