Associate Professor Claire Sinnema
EdD, MEdMgmt, BEd (Tchg), DipTchg, LTCL
Claire's research focuses on educational improvement. Her work deals with the improvement of teaching and learning across multiple strands—educational leadership, curriculum, collaborative networks, practitioner inquiry and standards—fields that each influence (albeit in different ways) the nature of student experience in schooling, and the quality of outcomes for diverse learners. Her research is concerned with understanding how teachers and educational leaders can improve their practice. It is also concerned with the role of policy in such improvement. As such, Claire’s research and advisory work spans the design of education-related policies, the enactment of those policies in educational settings, and the interactions amongst educators, including those in networks, as they seek to improve teaching and learning.
Contexts for study have included teacher evaluation, evidence-informed collaborative inquiry, teacher's engagement with research evidence, principal and teacher goal-setting, educational leaders’ conversations aimed at addressing concerns or solving problems, teacher education graduate outcomes, and the national curriculum of New Zealand and other nations. Claire has carried out multiple national evaluations, including of the implementation of New Zealand’s national curriculum (2010), of the Teacher-Led Innovation Fund (2017), of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme in Aotearoa New Zealand (2015) and of the Croatian national curriculum. She also co-led other Ministry of Education funded projects including the Quality Teaching Research and Development project (2010) and the Best Evidence Synthesis in Social Studies/Tikanga-a-iwi (2008).
Claire utilizes a range of methodologies to pursue research including problem-based methodology, theory of action approaches, social network analysis and mixed-methods approaches.
Before pursuing her academic career, Claire was a primary school teacher, and Deputy Principal.
- has served on numerous reference, advisory and expert groups for national education bodies including the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, The New Zealand Education Review Office, The New Zealand Teachers’ Council, and others.
- has held a Crown appointment to the New Zealand Government's Ministerial Advisory Group on Curriculum, Progress and Achievement and she is also a member of the Welsh Government's Curriculum and Assessment Group.
- has carried out research and development and/or consultancy work related to Government education initiatives in New Zealand and beyond, including South Australia, Wales, Norway and Croatia.
- supervises Masters and Doctoral students and has a particular interest in qualitative, mixed methods and problem-based methodology/theory of action approaches and studies utlilizing social network analysis.
- led the Faculty of Education and Social Work’s 2015 Doctor of Education (EdD) Leadership cohort.
- is one of the deputy editors of the Curriculum Journal - https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rcjo20
- lead the organising committee for The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement to be hosted at The University of Auckland (21st-24th January, 2021, with pre/post events on 20/25 January) - https://www.icsei.net/
Research | Current
- The NET Project: Networks for Educational Transformation - Social network analysis of collaboration in educational networks.
- Social network analysis of educational networks
- Collaboration in educational networks
- Communities of learning/Kahui ako
- Problem-solving in educational contexts: Testing the validity of beliefs in problem-solving conversations
- Leaders' Problem Solving - An investigation into leaders' testing of the validity of their beliefs in problems solving
- Curriculum Reform and Schools as Learning Organisations
- Curriculum for Wales in Relation to International Curricular Trends
- Interpersonal skills/open-to-learning conversations (see for example, https://www.hbe.com.au/open-to-learning-leadership-how-to-build-trust-while-tackling-tough-issues.html)
- Leadership effectiveness (progressions of leadership practice difficulty and comparisons of perceptions of leadership effectiveness)
- Goal-setting in educational leadership and goal-achievement
- Teacher appraisal and evaluation
- The implementation of New Zealand's national curriculum
- Curricular comparisons - national curricula, and International Baccalaureate
- National curriculum policy and design
- National curriculum evaluations (see for example, https://thehub.sia.govt.nz/assets/documents/42417_Monitoring-Evaluating-web-06042011_0.pdf)
Effective Pedagogy and Practitioner Inquiry
- Teaching as inquiry (see for example, http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Educational_Practices/EdPractices_23.pdf)
- Inquiry-oriented practice
- Evidence-informed practice (see for example, the Best Evidence Synthesis iteration on effective pedagogy in the Social Sciences with Associate Professor Graeme Aitken https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2515/35263)
- Teaching standards - see, for example, the discussion paper on graduating teacher standards prepared for the New Zealand Ministry of Education - https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/ECE/2511/initial-teacher-education-outcomes)
- International comparison of teaching standards
- Teaching for Better Learning (TBL): An inquiry-oriented approach to teaching standards (see for example, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022487116668017)
Teaching | Current
- Research methods
- Educational Leadership
- Practitioner research
- Practitioner inquiry
- Open-to-learning conversations and their link to improving student outcomes.
- An evaluation of the national examination policy in the Indonesian education system.
- Enhancing the effectiveness of teacher performance appraisal in Vietnam: A theory of action approach.
- Open-to-learning™ leadership in Japan: A problem-based methodology investigation of program implementation.
- Developing leadership capability for rigorous inquiry.
- New graduate professional education: The impact on nursing practice and patient care.
- Improving the writing of second-language, Master of Professional Accounting students: A theory of action investigation of accounting academics’ actions.
- Improving the diagnosis and remediation of clinical reasoning.
- Samoan fathers' engagement in parent-student-teacher conferences: A theory of action investigation.
- Leadership of networks: A theory of action account of formal and informal leadership.
- Curricula for a better and more peaceful world: An inquiry into school-based curriculum.
Supervision areas: Curriculum (policy, implementation, design, comparisons); Leadership; Inquiry; Teaching as Inquiry; Teacher appraisal; Teaching Standards; Open to Learning Approaches; Evidence-informed practice; Social Sciences education. Methodologies: Qualitative; Mixed methods; Problem-based methodology - educational problems of practice; Social network analysis
- Alan, S. (2013). The influence of talk in professional learning communities. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Dissertation), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Bennet, M. (2018). Educational leaders’ problem-solving conversations with groups: Validity testing of key beliefs and patterns of problem-solving behaviours. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Brown, J. (2016). Building beginning teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) through induction programmes: An examination of how beginning science teachers build their PCK during induction. (Unpublished MProfStudies Dissertation), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Chalmers, H. (2018). Problem solving patterns in leaders’ conversations: Maybe we’re just hard-wired to think our beliefs are truth. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Davison, M. D. (2013). “It is really hard being in their shoes”: Developing historical rmpathy in secondary school students. (Unpublished Doctor of Education Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Dickin, J. (2015). Leadership of boys education. (Unpublished MProfStudies Dissertation), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Dobson, E. (2017). Revealing theories-of-action: The case of RTLB implementing collaborative-consultation. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Eastham, D. (2017). Partnerships for learning: Teachers' efforts to engage whanau. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Hannah, D. (2014). OTL conversations in different language paradigms. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Jaggs, P. (2012). Improving experienced principals’ capabilities in dealing with staff performance issues. (Unpublished MEd Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Jensen, G. (2017). Said and unsaid: Feedback to under-performing pre-service teachers. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Johnson, B. (2015). e-Portfolios: Empowering parents to engage with their child's learning. (Unpublished MEdLdshp thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Laycock, S. (2013). Leadership approaches to implementing professional learning communities in secondary schools. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Dissertation), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Lindsay, Z. (2016). A level playing field for learning? The impact of class placement decisions on Pasifika students' learning experiences in three secondary schools. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Makin, M. (2014). It is the conversations that matter: The nature and influence of leader-teacher professional inquiry conversations. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Mathews, P. (2013). Issues Involved in Measuring the Time-Use of School Principals A Methodological Exploration. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Dissertation), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Mentis, M. (2017). From Policy to Practice: The relationship between the intended purpose of an educational improvement initiative and its application in a group of schools. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Moselen, C. (2011). Is it all just Google? The research behaviour of education masters students (Unpublished MEd Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Nieuhaus, M. (2010). The relationship between teachers’ interpretations of Values in the New Zealand Curriculum and their teaching practices. (Unpublished MProfStudies Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Robertson, M. (2016). Associate teacher feedback to pre-service secondary teachers during practicum: The influence of an inquiry-oriented effective teaching model intervention. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Slatter, W. (2017). Food for thoughtL Food literacy for the 21st Century. (Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Svay, T. (2017). Understanding the Theories of Action Underpinning the Foundation Year Curriculum Design at Cambodian Tertiary Institutions. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
- Webb, T. (2014). The influence of academic counselling. (Unpublished MEdLdshp Thesis), The University of Auckland, Auckland.
Appointments (recent, selected)
- 2019 - Appointed as external expert to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Developing (OECD) country review team assessing curriculum reform progress in Wales
- 2018 - Appointment to the New Zealand Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG) on Curriculum, Progress and Achievement
- 2019 - Member of the Welsh Government's Curriculum and Assessment Group
Selected invited keynote addresses
- February, 2019 – Invited Keynote Address for the Education Hub (Rotorua and Christchurch): Teaching as Inquiry with Rigor
- December, 2018 - Invited Keynote Address at the International Conference on Teacher Education Research hosted by University of Thai Nguyen, Vietnam - Educational Improvement: Insights from policy, research and practice in the New Zealand Context, and implications for Teacher Education
- April, 2017 – Invited Keynote Address for the New Zealand Education Review Office Professional Practice Forum: The Role of High Quality Problem Solving in Relation to Inquiry, Evaluative Thinking, and Knowledge Building for Improvement
- October, 2015 - Invited (by the Norwegian Secretariat) Keynote Address to Ludvigsen Committee Conference on Pupil’s learning in the School for the Future: Curriculum Leadership in Times of Curriculum Change
- March, 2013, Novotel Hotel, Rotorua - Invited Keynote Address to the He Kakano Conference: Teacher appraisal and inquiry-oriented conversations: Sowing the seeds of appraisal for learning
- November 2011, Copthorne Hotel, Waitangi - Invited Keynote Address to the Northland Principals’ New Zealand Curriculum Symposium: Beyond compliance in curriculum implementation: Attending to curriculum complexity, learner experience and theory engagement.
- April 2011,Rosebank School - Invited Keynote Address to The Waitakere Area Schooling Improvement Project: Teaching as inquiry: Strengthening Inquiring practice
- April 2011, Crowne Plaza Hotel - Invited Keynote Address to the National Aspiring Principals' Programme (NAPP) Hui: Leading pedagogical change through inquiry.
- June 2009, Waipuna Hotel - Invited Addresses for the University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership Seminar Series: Leading the Curriculum" A Leadership and Teaching Framework for Improving Student Outcomes
Winner of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Outstanding Article Award for exemplary scholarship - Sinnema, C., Meyer, F., Aitken, G.. (2017). "Capturing the Complex, Situated, and Active Nature of Teaching Through Inquiry-Oriented Standards for Teaching." Journal of Teacher Education 68(1): 9-27. Available Open Access at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022487116668017?journalCode=jtea
Chair of the organising committee for the 2021 International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement that was to be hosted by the University of Auckland, New Zealand - January 21st - 24th, 2021. This event is not longer taking place due to the Covid-19 situation.
Programme Leader of the 2015 cohort of the Doctor of Education (Leadership) offered by the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.
This aim of the EdD (Leadership) was to develop scholarly practitioners as they become leaders who are self-reflective, ethical and knowledgeable as they lead improvement that serves diverse communities and learners in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The programme was aimed at practitioners in diverse educational settings including early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and inclusive education contexts. In the EdD (Leadership) student carry out research that is ethical, rigorous and focused on problems of practice in order to contribute to educational improvement, make an original contribution to knowledge and engage with and serve relevant communities of practice.
This doctoral pathway was for those who aspire to use and conduct empirical research to build their own and others’ educational leadership capability. Seven EdD candidates are currently enrolled in Part II of the programme.
Areas of expertise
- Educational improvement
- Educational leadership
- Curriculum- design, policy and implementation
- Collaborative networks in education
- The use of social network analysis in educational improvement
- Policy - design, enactment and evaluation
- Teaching standards
- Teaching as Inquiry/Practitioner Inquiry/Evidence-informed practice
- Practitioner research
- Teacher appraisal/Teacher evaluation
Chair of the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice Research Committee
Member of the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee
Member of the Faculty of Education and Social Work Research Committee
Member of the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice Post-graduate Committee
Member of the University of Auckland Information Technology Faculties Forum
- Member of the International Consortium on Schooling Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) - www.icsei.net
- Member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) - www.aera.net
- 2019 - Member of the Welsh Government's Curriculum and Assessment Group
- 2018 - present Member of the Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG) on Curriculum, Progress and Achievement
- 2015 – present Member of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and Ministry of Education Educational Leadership and Teaching Practices Advisory Group
- 2014 - 2015 Member of the Academic Experts Group for the New Zealand Education Review Office’s (ERO) review of Evaluation Indicators for School Reviews
- 2014 – 2018 Academic Advisor to the Centre for Educational Leadership, The University of Auckland
- 2014 – 2018 Member of the Board of the Centre for Educational Leadership, The University of Auckland
- 2013 The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement -Social Sciences Panel for the Educational Assessment Research Unit at the University of Otago, in collaboration with the New Zealand Council for Educational Research
- 2011 – 2013 New Zealand Teachers’ Council – Steering Group Member for Teacher Appriasal and the Registered Teacher Criteria
- 2011 New Zealand Government Treasury – Advice on teacher evaluation policy and practice in New Zealand
- 2011 – 2015 Member of Learning Media Associates
- 2011 – 2013 Ministry of Education/Learning Media Ruia Appraisal Tools Advisory Group
- 2010 - 2012 Ministry of Education National Curriculum Advisory Group for the New Zealand Curriculum and National Standards
- 2010 - 2012 Lead consultant, Learning Media, Ruia: Tools to Support School Leaders Project for the Ministry of Education
- 2009 – 2010 Representative for the Ministry of Education on the Social Studies National Education Monitoring Project Team
- 2009 Ministry of Education The New Zealand Curriculum Implementation National Advisory Group
- 2008 – 09 Ministry of Education Curriculum Implementation Materials Advisory Group
- 2008 – 09 Core Education Early Childhood Education Information and Communication Technology Professional Development Project Advisory Group (ECE ICT PD)
- 2008 – 09 Ministry of Education/Learning Media QTRD Publications Advisory Group
- 2008 – 09 Ministry of Education/Learning Media Social Sciences Publications Advisory Group
- 2008 Cognition Consulting Social Sciences Resource Material Advisory Group
- 2006 - 07 Ministry of Education New Zealand Curriculum Project Reference Group
- 2006 - 07 Ministry of Education Social Studies in the New Zealand Curriculum Advisory Group
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Doughty, L., McKillop, A., Dixon, R., & Sinnema, C. (2018). Educating new graduate nurses in their first year of practice: The perspective and experiences of the new graduate nurses and the director of nursing. Nurse education in practice, 30, 101-105. 10.1016/j.nepr.2018.03.006
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Robyn Dixon, Lesley Doughty, Ann McKillop
- Sinnema, C., & Aitken, G. (2016). Teaching as inquiry. In D. Fraser, M. Hill (Eds.) The professional practice of teaching in New Zealand (pp. 79-97). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Graeme Aitken, Mary Hill
- Sinnema, C. E. L., Ludlow, L., & Robinson, V. M. J. (2016). Educational Leadership Effectiveness: A Rasch Analysis. Journal of Educational Administration, 54 (3), 305-339. 10.1108/JEA-12-2014-0140
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Viviane Robinson
- Sinnema, C. (2015). The ebb and flow of curricular autonomy: Balance between local freedom and national prescription in curricula. In D. Wyse, L. Hayward, J. Pandya (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (pp. 965-965). London.
- Le Fevre, D. M., Robinson, V. M. J., & Sinnema, C. E. L. (2015). Genuine inquiry: Widely espoused yet rarely enacted. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 43 (6), 883-899. 10.1177/1741143214543204
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Viviane Robinson, Deidre Le Fevre
- Sinnema, C. E., Robinson, V., Ludlow, L., & Pope, D. (2015). How Effective is the Principal? Discrepancy between Teachers’ and Principals’ Perceptions of Principal Effectiveness. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 27 (3), 275-301. 10.1007/s11092-014-9209-y
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Viviane Robinson
- Robinson, V. M. J., Sinnema, C. E. L., & Le Fevre, D. (2014). From Persuasion to Learning: An Intervention to Improve Leaders’ Response to Disagreement. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 13 (3), 260-296. 10.1080/15700763.2014.922997
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Viviane Robinson
- Sinnema, C., & Aitken, G. (2014). Teachers’ use of research to improve practice: Why should we, how could we?. In A. St George, S. Brown, O'Neill J (Eds.) Facing the Big Questions in Teaching: Purpose, power and learning (pp. 146-153). North Shore, N.Z.: Cengage Learning. Related URL.
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