Associate Professor Fiona Ruth Ell

PhD, MA (Hons), BA, DipTchg


Fiona is an Associate Professor and Head of Initial Teacher Education.  She specialises in primary mathematics education and professional practice for primary student teachers. She is a fully registered primary teacher. Fiona’s research centres on how people learn in complex social contexts. She is involved in several research projects looking at how people learn in initial teacher education, in particular on practicum. She is also involved in projects centred on schooling improvement and the learning of mathematics. Fiona supervises PhD and Masters students in mathematics education and topics related to initial teacher education and teacher professsional learning.

Teaching | Current

• EDPROF 739 - Differentiating learning in mathematics and literacy

• EDPROF 756 - Responsive practice in mathematics and literacy 

• EDPROF 753 - Working together to accelerate learning

 EDCURRIC 760: Making a difference in mathematics and statistics education 

Postgraduate supervision


• Jo Knox: Proof in primary classrooms

• Megan Clune: Technology and mathematical processes

• Viv Mackisack: Becoming a mentor teacher


• Bridget Wadham: Home-school partnerships in mathematics in diverse school communities

• Sonja He: Mathematics identity and learning mathematics through science

• Angela Spavin: Early career teachers' use of theory in practice


• Atesh Ram: Professional learning needs of Fijian numeracy teachers


  • TEFANZ emerging teacher educator award 2011


• Head of Initial Teacher Education

Areas of expertise

  • Mathematics education
  • Initial teacher education
  • Teacher professional learning

Committees/Professional groups/Services


Member of the AITSL Expert Panel for advice on teacher performance assessments in ITE in Australia

Member of the 'Success for All' Ministry of Education working group on inclusive education 

Member of the national executive of TEFANZ (Teacher Education Forum of Aotearoa New Zealand)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Ell, F. R., Simpson, A., Mayer, D., McLean Davies, L., Clinton, J., & Dawson, G. (2019). Conceptualising the impact of initial teacher education. The Australian Educational Researcher, 46 (1), 177-200. 10.1007/s13384-018-0294-7
  • Ell, F., Haigh, M., Cochran-Smith, M., Grudnoff, L., Ludlow, L., & Hill, M. (2017). Mapping a complex system: What influences teacher learning during initial teacher education?. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 45 (4), 327-345. 10.1080/1359866X.2017.1309640
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mavis Haigh, Lexie Grudnoff, Mary Hill
  • Cochran-Smith, M., Ell, F., Grudnoff, L., Haigh, M., Hill, M., & Ludlow, L. (2016). Initial teacher education: What does it take to put equity at the center?. Teaching and Teacher Education, 57, 67-78. 10.1016/j.tate.2016.03.006
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mavis Haigh, Mary Hill, Lexie Grudnoff
  • Ell, F. R., & Haigh, M. (2015). Getting beyond "gut feeling": Understanding how mentors judge readiness to teach. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43 (2), 143-155. 10.1080/1359866X.2014.934200
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mavis Haigh
  • Cochran-Smith, M., Ell, F., Ludlow, L., Grudnoff, L., & Aitken, G. (2014). The challenge and promise of complexity theory for teacher education research. Teachers College Record, 116 (5), 1-38.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Graeme Aitken, Lexie Grudnoff
  • Haigh, M., & Ell, F. (2014). Consensus and dissensus in mentor teachers' judgments of readiness to teach. Teaching and Teacher Education, 40, 10-21. 10.1016/j.tate.2014.01.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mavis Haigh
  • Cochran-Smith, M., Ell, F., Grudnoff, L., Ludlow, L., Haigh, M., & Hill, M. (2014). When complexity theory meets critical realism: A platform for research in initial teacher education. Teacher Education Quarterly, Winter (1), 105-122.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 2, Room 201B
New Zealand